Pretty As As Pretty Does
The Fiction Of Uncle Frank
I sat to the side of the old scarred desk of
Detective Monroe. The top of the desk was precise and
neatly kept with coffee mugs and staplers lined up like
soldiers on the edge of the desk. Of the five mugs on his
desk, only one was in use. That one mug had a picnic
napkin underneath it, presumeable to keep any condensention
marks off the wood top of the desk. Of all the items on
the desk only one, my folder, showed any discord. The
pages inside were warped with sweat from Monroe’s hands
and one even showed a blotch of tomatoe sauce. I wondered,
absently, if he had a more pristine version stashed away
Detective Monroe resembled more my folder than his
desktop. His dress shirt was rumpled with large sweat
stains under the arms despite the cool tempreture of the
office. He had the scraggly wino style three day bear
growth from his high cheeckbones to chest. An inflamed and
scabby sratch ran down the side of his face, parallell to
his ear. There was a smear of blood on his collar, right
above the inflamed scar. I couldn’t tell how many days ago
the smear of blood had occurred to the shirt.
With a sigh he placed his phone back on the
cradle. I noted the extreme gentleness in which he did
this. Even more, I noted that his fingernails, despite the
rest of him, were nicely rounded and clean. This troubled
“They haven’t found it yet.” He said, leaning back
in his chair but not looking at me.
I shrugged. It was my only response. My attention
had been drawn, again, to the spot of sauce on the corner
of the page in my file. I realized, suddenly, I was
hungry. I wondered what the sauce had been too. I gave a
“You could tell us where it is at.” He said, still
not looking at me.
“If I had any idea of what it was that you think
Uncle Frank left behind for me, then I would tell you. But…
reality bites here. I don’t know what you’re looking
for.” I said.
He snorted. “He raised you, technically.”
“Yeah.” I said, my only response.
“What about your mother, your father?” He asked.
Reaching out, he adjusted the handle to one of his mugs.
“I don’t remember much of either of them. Uncle
Frank didn’t talk about either of them much, either.”
“Really? When he did talk about them, what did he
say?” Detective Monroe was keeping the conversation light,
I knew he was looking for an in, a way to gain my
sympathies, a way to latch onto the package he was talking
I waited to answer until the detective looked my way. “Hey
said they were poor people.” I said.
The detective paused in his fiddling. “Poor.” He
repeated. He blinked twice, as if something was not
computing in his head. “Poor?” He asked me.
“Poor.” I said. “That is all he ever said about it.
“You didn’t ask?” He was perfectly still, as if my next
words would change his world.
Before I could answer the phone rang. He snatched it up,
listened for several minutes. I turned my attention back
to his desk. The top of the desk was neatly kept, as was
the side. I did note a wedge of cardboard slid under a
foot to keep it from wabbling. The wedge of cardboard,
however, was compressed enough that pressure on that one
leg would probably have the desk give one good wable. I
considered the implications of this and the possible
outcomes until the Detective set the phone down again.
“They did not find it.” He said carefully.
“Can I go then?” I asked.
“No. I think we may have to hold you a little longer. We
just need to make sure you understand how we see things
here.” He said. He was fiddling again with his mugs.
“You’re going to put me in jail?” I asked, somewhat
“Just in an interrigation room for a while.” He said.
“Sure.” I stood, placing pressure on the wobbly corner of
his desk. I had made the move look natural, as well as my
shocked look and ‘eep!’ as the mugs slid off and shattered
on the floor. The room, as rooms are prone to at such
times, went silent. A muscle bunched in his cheek. “Oh,
no!” I squeeked and stood for a moment, then grabbed his
wastebasket. “Oh, no! I am so sorry. I had no idea!” I
was blathering the way I had been taught by Uncle Frank.
“Don’t - not with your hands!” Detective Monroe scolded
as I gathered the shards up.
But his warning was too late. A shard embedded itself into
the side of my hand while another cut open my palm. I gave
a cry at this and reached for my chair which, due to my
fumbles, fell backward with a smack to strike one of the
mugs which only broke in half. The mug half it hit was
flung up to hit the concrete wall we were next to only to
truly shatter this time into bits that sprayed everywhere.
The side of my face and arm received most of it’s
“Oh, God!” He breathed, reaching to pull me out of the
I stood up quickly, using the wobbling corner of his desk
again, only to feel the top of the desk slide – and
continue to slide in my direction. I grabbed at it, giving
the appearance of trying to push the top back into place,
while nudging it further off the base by lifting my knee
up. The result was the desk top slid fully off, struck my
legs, then tilted and landed on my foot. I gave a shriek
at this – not faked.
The sound, I believed, galvanized his co-detectives into
gear. There was an explosion of movement. I was The desk
top was lifted from my foot, then I was lifted from the
scene. The person lifting me was younger, more muscular,
and horrified looking. Detective Monroe was left in the
background, answering angrily snapped questions.