Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)
TITLE: Frankie's Hankies
By Jack Taylor
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A hanky in the hands of Frankie could keep you mesmerized for hours. King Richard II may have intended these colored linens to be for nose blowing but Frankie could blow your mind with the way things appeared and disappeared under the twirls and curls of paisley cloths. He was a showman extraordinaire and he made me smile.
Under Frankie’s supervision hankies that you yourself had cut in half appeared unscathed, thimbles and pencils penetrated the tightly woven cloth without leaving holes and the lifeless material itself turned into animals like a mouse who hopped up Frankie’s arm and into the lap of a child.
Frankie single handedly restored the honor of the hankie. The Bloods, with their red bandanas, and the Crips, with their blue bandanas, had turned something beautiful into something fearsome and desecrated the colored hankies by terrorizing neighborhoods. One day last August, Frankie moved into the middle of a park where two dozen teens overdosed on testosterone were ready to rumble. I was right behind him.
My heart nearly beat out of my chest and every drop of water left my mouth and drained out my armpits. Frankie didn’t show a twitch of fear. He pulled out a white handkerchief and started to wave it wildly over his head. I wanted to run but there was no way I was leaving Frankie. With his plethora of magical white hankies my little brother had the gang bangers sitting at his feet and applauding. He even coaxed the bandanas right off the head of the leaders and made a switchblade disappear. He knew how to erase the boredom where idle minds created chaos.
Frankie also knew how to turn the drab into the debonair. His hankies were folded into special pocket pieces. When Dad was here he would sit watching Frankie crease and uncrease the handkerchief into shapes called the Presidential, the Cagney, the Cooper, the Astaire and the Diagonal Shell. Dad’s friends began to call on special occasions to see what Frankie could do for them.
Hankies have been used by European Sports Fans to cheer on their champions. They’ve been used by hard working farmers to wipe the sweat off their brows. They’ve been used by previous Hong Kong judges to put on the heads of convicts to signify a death sentence. But few hankies have been used to build a reputation like Frankie had.
Frankie didn’t start his hanky tricks until he was ten. That’s the year he was crushed by the drunk driver as he rode home from the library on his bike. In his backpack were three books on magic tricks. He was in the hospital having surgeries for most of the next twelve months. I took off that year of school to keep him going while mama worked. I wanted him to walk, to run, to ride. He never did.
It was that year I began to take him down to the church. Although our family hadn’t been religious it seemed the right thing to do to get any help we could. I begged Jesus for miracles and while nothing seemed to happen on the outside it seems like things happened inside for Frankie and me.
When Frankie realized he’d be in a wheelchair the rest of his life he began to focus on things he could do instead of things he couldn’t. Each week he sent me to the library to fetch more books on magic. Each week he began to mesmerize me with more and more wonders and slight of hand. But hanky tricks, or “hanky-panky” as he called it, were his favorite.
The day I left for College was the hardest day of my life after the day I found out Frankie had been run over. My little brother gave me a monogrammed handkerchief and my own book of tricks. On the days I’m missing him extra I pull out that handkerchief and try a few of those tricks and I say a few extra prayers. He still makes me smile.
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