The thing about Frankie is that Frankie isn’t dead. I know he isn’t dead, I’ve seen him walking about, I’ve joked with him. I know Frankie is alive, but I couldn’t help but file him in the same likes of my grandmother and an old sick friend from high school. The reason why is because I saw him dying. I saw his face turn purple, scrunch up in horrific pain. I watched him try and fail to suck in air and then become too weak to even fight for that. I watched his eyes well up with tears and those tears run down his cheeks and finally I saw his face slip slowly from that horrific pain to a strange sort of contentedness. I wasn’t sure what death actually looked like, so I had no real reference for what it might look like.
Frankie had gone into work on a day when he probably shouldn’t have, he was acting out of character, acting belligerent, confused, hostile, paranoid. Frankie wasn’t acting like Frankie and in retrospect that should have been warning enough, but we let Frankie be and chalked it up to everyone has a bad day. At about noon, he took his lunch break and disappeared for two hours. We found him unconscious on the floor of a storage closet. We weren’t sure what to do or how to do it. 9-1-1 was called once we realized he wouldn’t respond to our calls. As the paramedic took him away I couldn’t help but think, ‘how animal the situation was.’ He didn’t cry out for help, he just found a quiet place to lay down and die. You’d hear about old dogs doing that. Wandering off at the park and just disappearing. The family would look for it for days and someone would find its body curled up under a tree.
Frankie was driven away in a whirl of blue and red and that was the last time he worked with us. He got some other job somewhere else, I assumed it was because he didn’t think he could live down dying on the job. That’s probably why most people try to do it just the once. He’s dropped by a couple times, just to show his face, let people know he’s okay; alive. And again, I’ve seen him, hung out but I guess being dead isn’t something you can just shake off. If I had to pin a reason to it, I guess it’d be because before he died; he was just Frankie from work, after he died; he was interesting.
I don’t tell him about me thinking about him as a dead man. I’d think he’d laugh about it, probably be cool about it, but it seems like bad manners to say it. So I pretend he’s alive, because technically he is. I hang out with the corpse, we’ve gone drinking. The sad truth is, we’ve become better friends after he died, than we ever were when he was alive, although technically he is. I study him, expecting him to drop dead, he hasn’t yet.
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