“Now this Ya’ll, is the Mississippi boogie woogie.”
The band began to play. The man in red stood at the front, he began to sing. The bar was poorly lit. Frank looked to his right; a girl no more than ten sat on a bar stool, staring at him.
Frank frowned. “Where am I?” he asked her.
The girl sighed, snubbing her cigarette out on the bar. She took up her beer, hopped down of her bar-stool and walked out, shaking her head. Frank watched the band.
“…we’re gonna boogie-woogie, all night long,” the man in red told him. Frank looked at the door where the little girl had gone. He got up and followed. Out on the streets it was dark and dirty–dirt; houses, packed snug, no more than two stories high, flat. Each was a different color, all chipped, faded; cringing against the humidity. Frank walked. Each house had wide open doors, music played people danced, or slept, or drank. Women wearing nothing of any real importance meandered about. One grazed Frank’s arm with a finger as she passed. Frank frowned, she smiled, her teeth were black.
“Where am I?” Frank asked her, but she only smiled and only moved along. Frank walked on.
Nowhere was crowded, nowhere was dead; nowhere was exactly quiet. As he got further and further he found that nothing was changing, no exit was in sight.
So, he began to run, at first, then jog.
“Ho!” someone called. Frank slowed, stopped. He turned and saw a man, a great big man covered in hair sat on the end of a porch. Frank took in the scene. Behind the man, through open doors, he saw a bar, a stage, a man in red stood at the head.
“Now this Ya’ll, is the Mississippi boogie-woogie.”
The band began to play. But that wasn’t the oddest thing. Above the hairy man an old woman hung; nude, rope-to-neck from the second story balcony.
“Oh don’t be shy,” the hairy man called, waving him over. Frank approached, slowly. The hairy man had an unlit cigarette in his mouth.
“Can you give me a hand?” he asked. Frank watched the old woman as he got closer.
“Oh, don’t mind her,” The hairy man said, reaching up a hand. He tickled under the hung-woman’s left foot. She twitched and coughed.
“Would you leave me alone!”
The big hairy-man laughed, then shrugged. Frank felt a bit queasy.
“I’m Charlie,” the man said, holding his hand out. Frank didn’t take it.
“Will you help me Frank?” Charlie said, holding out a box of matches. Frank took them. Charlie leaned forward with his cigarette pointing at Frank. Frank lit it, passing back the matches.
Charlie took a drag, then, finger to his lips, put the cigarette close to the bottom of the hung woman’s foot. She kicked out, knocking the cigarette into the dirt.
“Ah! You bitch!” Charlie called up at her. The woman laughed–or tried to, the rope cut her short.
“Where am I?” Frank asked Charlie as Charlie fished his cigarette out of the dirt.
Charlie looked up the street one way, then the other. “The land of misfit toys,” he decided, seemingly in the moment.
“Are you dead?” Frank asked.
Charlie chuckled, “oh, certainly.”
“Is everyone here dead?”
Charlie nodded, sucking his cigarette back to a full cherry.
“Looking for anyone in particular?”
Frank didn’t nod, but did say–quietly, “yes.” Then added, “so, they are here?”
Charlie shrugged. “Did they have any shred of hope in them when they died?”
Frank looked into the bar. The man in red was hitting the trumpet, hard–so hard, his ears must’ve popped. Frank sighed.
“I hope so,” he said.
At this, Charlie laughed; he laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
**For more WHWFD click HERE
**Note for new readers: What Happened When Frank Died is a series of stories we have done every Saturday since our challenge began. You can read however many you want in whatever order you want. They are each individual stories. There is a backstory that you can figure out by looking for clues in all the stories but it is not necessary to enjoy them individually.