The Mysterious Mr. Franks

Boris Karloff

Boris Karloff

From the Unlife and Curse of Sean Becker

I drained enough blood from that carjacker to slake my lust for one evening, but had to get out of there and across the Bay to avoid the police the old woman called. You’d think she’d have been a little more grateful that I saved her from being beaten and her car stolen, but I must have been as terrifying to her as her would-be assailant.

Glad I found this all night diner. Blood with a coffee chaser. Just what every vampire needs.

Past 3 a.m. according to the clock on the wall. Only one other guy in the place, also nursing a cup of java. I know it’s cold outside, but he’s bundled up like the Invisible Man. Of course given that I’m a vampire, maybe I’m due to meet another Universal Studios monster.

I see him reaching for a napkin and his sleeve rides up. Nasty scars on the wrist and across the back of his hand.

The waitress refills his coffee and I hear him say thanks with some sort of accent. German, Swiss, it’s hard to tell.

The waitress moves down the counter toward me and refreshes my cup as well.

“Thanks.” I can see she’s upset. “Anything wrong?”

She leans over me and whispers, “You should see this guy’s face, like he’s been in an accident or something.”

I copy her lowered volume. “Bandages?” Maybe the Invisible Man thing isn’t so far fetched.

“No, like scars across his cheeks. On his neck too as far as I can tell. Must have gone through the windshield or something.”

Realizing that too much whispering between the two of us will make her other customer suspicious, she backs off, then takes the coffee pot back to the warmer.

I chuckle to myself. If she thinks the other guy is scary, she could get a load of me when I decide to have “dinner”.

Sure enough. My clandestine conversation with Beverly (I saw her name tag) has drawn his attention. He’s looking over at me. Then he picks up his cup, gets up and starts walking over. Is he going make trouble, not that it would do him any good? No, I doubt he’d bring over his coffee if he were going to punch me out.

“Mind if I sit next to you?” Yeah, definitely German or Swiss, but the accent is pretty faint, like he’s been speaking English for some time. Arnold Schwarzenegger should take lessons from this guy.

“No, not at all.” What else am I going to say?

Beverly was right. His face looks like it was part of a quilt, all patched together. He’d be kind of good looking without the scars. He extends his patchwork right hand, “Pardon the intrusion. My name is Adam Franks.”

I accept the handshake. “Sean Parker. Pleased to meet you.” I suppose I could have used my actual last name. Sean Becker died a year ago a thousand miles away, so it’s unlikely anyone would make a connection, but who knows?

“I don’t usually approach strangers Mr. Parker, but you seem like someone who can be trusted.” I wonder how he worked that one out?

“Trusted with what exactly?”

“I have very rarely associated with others over the course of my life. I must admit that now and then, it gets lonely.”

Oh great. Is he gay? Am I being hit on?

“Sorry to hear it,” I say out loud instead of what I’m thinking.

“I have lived long enough to have become quite intuitive of people, even though I keep my distance. I suspect that you and I are kindred spirits.”

He looks around and sees the waitress is killing time chatting with the cook.

“I have met others of your kind before Mr. Parker, if that indeed is your name. What are they called…?”

He lowers his voice to a whisper. “Vampires?”

Oh great. He’s not hitting on me, he’s another night stalker like I am.

Wait! Those scars. That should be impossible. I’ve been cut more than once, deep enough to put a man in intensive care, but I’ve healed in seconds. No scars.

“That’s kind of crazy, pal. Have you been watching too many horror movies?” I try to play it off. I have no idea how he can tell, but I’m eyeing the exit and getting ready to run.

“Fear not, my friend. I am not here to give you away.”

“So, what do you want?”

“Merely to talk for a while over a cup of coffee to someone who may understand my life.”

“What life is that?”

He pulls his hood back and opens up the top of his coat. “I presume you’ve read Mary Shelley’s novel, the only one of her works to still be recognized in the 21st century.”

“So you’re telling me you’re…”

I had the wrong Universal Studios picture. Not the Invisible Man. Frankenstein.

“Essentially correct, sir.”

He’s exceedingly polite for a monster, but then for a vampire, I can be well-behaved when it suits me.

He hurriedly restores his coat and hood to their original positions. “I do not like to show my scars if I can at all prevent it. I find people become uncomfortable. Besides, I spent a great deal of time in the Arctic when I was young and I detest the cold.”

“I don’t blame you.” I had read Shelley’s novel, “Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus.” It was required reading in some college English class I took once.

“But that would make you…” I tried to remember when the events in Shelley’s novel took place. “…about two-hundred years…” I let my voice trail off. Beverly was walking over.

“You men up for another refill?”

Franks said, “None for me, thank you.”

I held my hand up, “I’m good, thanks.”

“Suit yourselves.” Beverly smiled as she turned away, but I could tell Franks’ appearance disturbed her. I didn’t blame her.

After she was out of earshot, “So, you’re immortal?” I don’t know why I believed him. He could be just another crazy in a world of crazies. On the other hand, I’m a vampire who’s supposed to have a nearly limitless lifespan, so why was Frankenstein’s monster so impossible?

“Extremely long-lived I presume, thanks to the process by which I was brought into being, and it has been more like two-hundred twenty years.”

“So, what have you been doing with your life all this time?” I was kind of curious. If he really was the monster, if he really had lived over two centuries, I could be looking at my future self, minus the scars.

“I spent a long time secluded in the Arctic, perhaps a quarter of a century. I had killed. I feared mankind, their response to me.”

“No wonder you hate the cold.”

He continued as if I hadn’t said a word. “Then I walked South. I don’t know why. I suppose I was just lonely and no longer cared what people would do to me.

“I was often shunned by others. I kept myself apart, took odd jobs. I have a horrifying body but an agile and intelligent mind and of course, I had a great deal of time, so I became educated.

“I speak several languages. I’ve travelled a great deal. I learned how to invest. I’ve created false identities and amassed a modest bit of wealth. I now do not have to take work.

“Occasionally, I meet interesting individuals such as yourself, Mr. Parker.”

“Becker, actually.”

“Thank you for trusting me, Mr. Becker.”

“So what about your name?”

“My creator failed to give me one, I suppose out of the realization of the horror he had committed, daring to play God. However, I was once called ‘Adam’ and I borrowed a portion of the fictional version of my creator’s surname since in your language it means ‘stone of the Franks’. Other of my identities include the word ‘stone’ in the name.

“Wait. Victor Frankenstein isn’t your creator?”

No. My creator did keep notes of the process by which I was brought into being. What scientist wouldn’t? Somehow, Shelley came into possession of them years later and crafted her fictional work out of the bits of fact she was able to comprehend.

“Shelly could have hardly used his real name. First of all, it wasn’t contained in his notes. Secondly, she would not have revealed his true identity, defaming his family once she discovered the truth.”

“So not everything in her novel describes the events of your life.”

“Not everything, but more than I’d like to admit.”

“I suppose I’ll eventually have to consider that. Taking new identities I mean. I have been…like this only about a year or so.”

“I see. New at the game, eh?”

“I don’t consider it a game, Franks.”

“Please forgive me. A poor attempt at humor. After all these years, humor is one of the few tools that help me to survive.”

“We have more in common than I thought, Mr. Franks.”

“Oh, Adam, please.”

“Sean.”

“Pleased to meet you, Sean.”

“Same here, Adam.”

He looks out the window momentarily as if in thought.

“It occurs to me that I probably should be off. I have a room nearby that I have rented. I should return to it before the sun rises. I suspect you will also need to seek shelter.”

Dawn won’t be for over an hour but he’s right.

“You only go out at night?”

“I attract not so much attention that way. Besides, I require very little sleep.”

“I’ve enjoyed our talk, Adam. Thanks.”

“I regret we have so little time, Sean. I would have enjoyed listening to your experiences.”

“I can assure you, they’re not enjoyable.”

“To be blunt, Sean, neither are mine, but it still helps to speak of them occasionally.”

I realize he’s right. Who do I have to talk to except God and He’s not answering.

“I see what you mean. You planning to stick around for a while?”

“I expect to be here for several more days. The freighter I have booked passage on does not depart until the end of the week.”

“Do you want to meet here tomorrow night? We could share some more stories.”

“I would enjoy that very much, Sean. Until tomorrow night.”

He stands and extends his hand again. I do likewise. “So would I, Adam. So would I.”

I’m afraid Beverly will have to put up with us for a few more early morning coffee klatches. Dracula and Frankenstein have some catching up to do.

This is the fourth in the series of short stories about Sean Becker, a Christian who has become a vampire. He was first featured in Even Coffee Doesn’t Help. Click through the link at the end of that story, read and click the next link. Eventually, you will get back here.

The next story in the series and a direct sequel to this one is In Sunlight.

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8 thoughts on “The Mysterious Mr. Franks

    • I was actually thinking of having Sean have an encounter with a Werewolf, but I thought about how difficult such a being would have in concealing its identity in an urban setting. Then I thought about Frankenstein’s monster. There used to be a comic book put out by Marvel in the 1970s about the monster’s adventures in the modern day, him being long-lived/immortal. I thought back and recalled that the creature in Shelley’s novel didn’t look like the movie or comic book version, just a patchwork of different body parts. He was also intelligent and learned to read.

      I decided to adapt the original creature for modern times, a learner, a wanderer, who by simply living long enough, knew how to amass enough funds to be able to sustain himself and stay out of public attention. So I created the chance encounter between Sean and “Adam”. After I wrote it, I got an idea for continuing their association, at least temporarily. I’ll write it when I get the time.

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  1. The first created man borrowing the first man’s name. I’m not sure where this is going. The interaction of two monsters does slow the pace and although the spilling his soul part. I’m curious to the path ahead.

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    • Originally, I had planned to have Sean meet the Invisible Man, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. I wanted to put together two Universal Studio monsters if they really did meet in “real life”. Not a lot of action true, but I was curious how things would pan out between them. There’s a sequel to this story.

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  2. Interestingly enough, in the old “Fantastic Four” comic books from the 1960s, it was proposed that the arch villain Dr. Doom might also be the time traveling Rama Tut, and even a third time traveling character. Doom met Tut face to face once and was shocked by the possibility.

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