Jack and Frank
by David Rae
Jack was what you might call soft. Mum told me not to be mean, but Dad says Jack needs to toughen up. Dad’s right, once Jack gets past third grade, he’ll learn all about life. I’m trying to teach him for his own good. He’s just so gullible. He makes it easy.
“What’s that behind you, Jack?” He turns around to look every single time. “Mum, Frank stole one of my chips.”
Mum would start on me. “That’s your brother; be kind.” But Dad would be laughing. I could see.
“Chip off the old block,” Dad would say. Mum would get mad, but it was Jack’s fault.
“Jack, there’s ten cents.” He bends over, just asking to be kicked. What did they teach him in kindergarten?
“You boys help Dad bring in the groceries,” Mum shouted.
“You heard your mother.” Dad laughed, nipping into the basement to watch the game. I wanted to watch the game too. Maybe Dad would let me sip his beer, but Dad shook his head.
“You help Jack,” he said and closed the basement door.
“Hey Jack,” I said. “Those boxes look heavy. I’ll sit in the trunk and hand you the groceries.”
“Ok,” agreed Jack. It was like taking candy from a baby. I sat in the trunk and handed Jack cans and bags and he carried it all to the house.
Finally, the little twerp had moved everything.
“Good job,” I told him. “That’s everything except those candy bars.”
“Candy bars?” Jack’s eyes lit up.
“Yeah,” I said. “Dad told me we could each have a candy bar after we moved all the stuff. Too bad they slipped into that hole in the trunk... I tried to reach, but my hands are too big.”
Jack held up his hands with excitement. “I’ve got small hands,” he cried.
“Well, so you do,” I said. “If only you could get in here.”
“You could help me up,” Jack said.
“Great idea.” I slipped down and boosted Jack into the trunk.
“I can’t see them,” called Jack.
“They’re right at the back,” I replied. Jack crawled into the trunk.
I slammed the lid down. I knew he’d go for it. Jack started crying out straight away. It was funny, but the last thing I wanted was Mum getting on at me, so I let him go almost straight off after I made him promise not to tell.
He was crying when I let him out.
“Don’t be such a baby,” I told him.
“It was dark.”
“Only babies are afraid of the dark.”
“There could have been spiders.”
“But there wasn’t, was there?” I asked. “I’ll go in, and you can shut the boot on me. I’m not afraid of the dark or of spiders.”
I climbed in and Jack closed the trunk.
“You want out now?” he asked.
“It’s fine in here,” I called. “You’re making a fuss over nothing.”
It was dark in the trunk. When I opened my eyes, it was no different from when they were shut.
“How about now?”
“No. It’s nice in here. Nice and cool. Think I might take a nap.”
I wasn’t going to take a nap. I just wanted to show Jack that I wasn’t afraid. I lay there in the dark.
After a bit, I’d had enough.
“Ok Jack, you can let me out now.”
But Jack didn’t’ answer. I guess I deserved that.
“Alright Jack, I’m sorry I locked you in.”
Still no answer.
“Hey look,” I called. “There really are candy bars in here. Open up and I’ll share them with you.”
I listened but could hear nothing.
“Mmmm. You better open up before I eat yours.”
“Come on Jack, I’m sorry.”
It began to get hot. I put my hand on the lid of the trunk and started banging.
“Joke’s a joke, Jack.”
The air started to feel stuffy. It was hard to breathe and my head felt strange. I started shouting at the top of my voice and banging as hard as I could.
“Jack, Jack, where are you?”
I shouted until I couldn’t breathe anymore.
When Mum came back from the market, the trunk of the car was full of big boxes that had to be carried into the house. Dad said me and Frank should help. So, we carried the shopping while Dad went and watched the game on television.
When we finally moved all the shopping, I told Frank that we should close the trunk and go play, but he said that there was candy in the trunk. I looked but couldn’t see anything, and he said I needed to get into the trunk to reach it.
I always like to be helpful so I climbed into the trunk and reached as far back as I could but then Frank slammed the trunk tight, and I was trapped in the dark.
Frank had played a trick on me. Frank was always playing tricks. I wasn’t frightened at first. I thought the joke was on Frank because I could eat the candy bar all by myself instead of sharing it. But there wasn’t a candy bar I could find. It was very dark, and even though I shouted and banged on the lid, Frank didn’t open it until after I promised not to be mad.
I told Frank that he was mean to play a trick like that. But he said it was a joke and no harm was done. I said it was very dark in the trunk. He asked me if I was afraid and I said no, but there could be spiders in the trunk and he said there wasn’t and anyway if it was such a big deal he would get into the trunk and show me there was nothing to be afraid of.
Frank climbed in the trunk and I closed the lid. I asked him if he wanted to come out and he said no, it was fine in there. I asked if he wouldn’t rather come out and play, and he said no thanks he was quite happy where he was.
Just then Mum came. It was time for lunch, and she’d made soup that had to be eaten before it got cold and no nonsense, come right now. she said. But Mum, I said, Frank is in the boot of the car, and I can’t go away and leave him. What nonsense. She told me; something should be done about that overactive imagination of mine and I shouldn’t go telling lies to my own dear Mum. I moved towards the car and shouted, but Frank kept silent so she pulled me into the kitchen and put a bowl of soup in front of me and told me to eat it all.
There were two soup bowls on the table, one for me and one for Frank. Mum asked where Frank was, once again I told her he was in the trunk of the car. Mum glared and told me not to tell lies. I wasn’t lying.
When Mum let me leave the table, I raced straight to the car. Poor Frank had been in the boot for a very long time. He’d been crying and wiping his eyes with his hands and they were all dirty. Mum was cross and said I was wicked to have locked Frank in the car boot and he could have died in there because there was no air. When Dad found out, he was angry too. For at least three days, everyone was angry.
I think it will be a while before Frank plays a trick on me again, but if he does...
Top photo cred: Andrew Seaman, Unsplash.com
David lives in Scotland. He loves stories that exist just below the surface of things, like deep water. He has most recently had work published or forthcoming in; THE FLATBUSH REVIEW, THE HORROR TREE, LOCUST, ROSETTA MALEFICARIUM, SHORT TALE 100 and 50 WORD STORIES. You can read more at Davidrae-stories.com.