The Indestructible Frankie (Part 1)
Frankie loathed meetings with the record company executives. The uppity board room. The rows of man-drones wearing three piece suits and sporting Steve McQueen haircuts. The hum of the A/C blowing stale air beneath soul crushing florescent lights. As a thrice platinum rock star, Frankie expected five things out of life: money, drugs, vodka, party girls, and fast cars.
Wilshire Boulevard was a nightmare at 10 AM. Do people really wake up this early every day to go to work? Frankie zoomed his gleaming yellow VW bus up to the valet booth. A Clinton/Gore ’92 bumper sticker adorned the rear bumper.
“Frankie, it’s great to see you again. My kids love your new album. Hey, man, what happened to your arm?,” asked the valet.
“Just a little boo-boo, dude,” replied Frankie with a cocaine grin, tossing the keys to the valet.
* * *
Stan was there to greet Frankie as the elevator doors parted ways on the 23rd floor.
“Frankie baby! How’s that arm doing? I thought we had agreed to meet at 9 AM. Anyway, don’t worry about it. The boys are ready for us in the boardroom.”
Frankie entered the boardroom and greeted everyone by waiving with a limp and uncommitted left hand.
All the men took their seats, and a bald man with a perfectly round torso stood at the head of a comically long boardroom table.
“I’ll get started. Frankie, I was sorry to hear about your little trip and fall last weekend on the Sunset strip. Look, if you guys want to get high and drink and bang strippers all over L.A., be my guest. Just watch where you’re walking! This record company has invested more money in your band than Dolly Parton spends on bras, which makes you our asset,” said the bald, round man.
Frankie just sat there, slumped in a big red tufted leather chair, high from the pain pills his doctor had prescribed. He had gulped down half the bottle of pills in one night. Frankie’s dark sunglasses covered his bloodshot eyes, which had closed and transformed into a pair of dark slits.
“The tour kicks off in two weeks, and we can’t cancel the dates. The concert crew is run by the Teamsters, and the Teamsters answer to those Italian fellows who drive Cadillacs and carry chrome plated pistols, if you catch my drift. We owe a ton of dough in advance for these dates, come rain or shine, broken arm or not. So we cannot and will not cancel any of the shows,” said the bald, round man.
Frankie snapped out of his trance and stood bolt upright, forcing the leather chair to shoot backward and crash to the floor.
“I hate dealing with you suits. Do any of you guys actually play an instrument, or do you just drive around in your station wagons all day, whistling along to top 40? I built The Durty Bastards from nothing in my parents’ garage, and I won’t stand by and watch some hired gun hack fill in for me on guitar!”
“Sit down, Frankie, and listen closely. As far as the fans will know, Frankie will be playing guitar at each and every scheduled show, from Boise to Tulsa. We found a guy who looks just like you, only he is a little bit taller. With the right wig, makeup, big dark sunglasses and stage costumes, your drunken fans will never know the difference. Don’t worry about his playing ability, either. We’ll have your guitar tracks pre-programmed, so all this dunce needs to do is dance around a little bit, make kissy faces at the broads in the front row, and try to look like you while he’s holding the guitar,” said the bald, round man.
“You mean all this two bit impostor needs to do is hold MY GUITAR, the one that I built custom in my parents’ garage, and do his best to bamboozle my audience! If word ever gets out about this, The Durty Bastards will be finished!” screamed Frankie.
“Relax. We’ve already had a little pow wow with the fellas at all the music mags, and they know everything. They have agreed to keep their collective traps shut. In exchange, The Durty Bastards will grant them multiple exclusive interviews with each member of the band, and exclusive photo shoots when the new album is released. Aside from the few music reporters out there, no one else will be investigating this. Hell Frankie, it’s not like Woodward and Bernstein are going to burn much shoe leather getting to the bottom of this mystery. Frankie, this is a done deal. Get yourself down to the Bahamas, get some sun, meet some babes, and drink some Mai Tais on the beach. Come back to L.A. in three months tanned, rested, healed, and ready to rejoin The Durty Bastards on the second leg of the tour.”
Frankie scanned the boardroom, studying the faces of six sweaty men wearing cheap polyester suits, before making an undramatic exit. He stepped into the elevator, retrieved his VW bus from the valet, then slowly drove down Wilshire Boulevard toward his empty mansion. Frankie slept soundly until 8 PM, waking up just in time to catch a reruns of Airwolf on T.V.
Copyright J.S. Lender 2019