Thursday, 12 March 2020

Being Frank

by James McMillan

Jack Daniels with some ice

I seem to be standing behind huge dark red velvet curtains. I realise I smell wonderful and when I touch my face, discover that I have recently had a very good shave then splashed on something that smells great.

I become aware that I am wearing what looks like a black dinner jacket with satin lapels. I have a black silk bow tie comfortably round the neck of what feels like a very expensive shirt and looking down I see shiny black patent leather shoes so comfortable I wonder if they were specially made for me?

I don’t know who I am, where I am or what I am here for, but I do know I am not used to all this.

On the other side of the curtains, it sounds like there is a large crowd and they are making a lot of noise. I hear loud voices, the laughter of men and women, shouts, shrieks, squeals and there must be something happening here or about to happen very soon. There is definitely excitement in the air.

A young guy as smartly dressed as me appears. He carries a microphone on its stand and he bows to me then pushes his way through the curtains where he seems to be greeted with massive cheers, applause and loud whistles. The sound system comes to life and I hear the young guy say very clearly, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, Pirate Bay Casino, Las Vegas, is proud to present for this one very special night only, the return of Mr – Frank – Sinatra!’

The huge red velvet curtains open and I am standing on stage in front of thousands of people in a massive theatre which has five tiers. The crowd seems to have come out of their seats and are standing and applauding like crazy. Cameras flash from all sides.

I hear another curtain opening behind me and I turn around and there is the maestro himself Mr Nelson Riddle and the boys in his band who are also standing and applauding wildly. 

I shout at Nelson ‘You are supposed to be dead!' 

He seems to find this funny and grins then blows me a kiss. Nelson died years ago. Frank died years ago. But I am looking at Nelson now and he seems to think I am Frank.

I turn to look in the wings of the stage and they are crowded.  There are the stage people who are running the show, the theatre’s technicians and security personnel but there a lot of others who all seem to be dressed for a big night out. They all seem happy and I see more cameras, more flashes. A blonde lady in a sparkling red gown catches my eye and seems to smile knowingly. They say Frank always enjoyed a lady’s company just before the show. Have I just been Frank with her?

I applaud all corners of the theatre then take the hand mike from the stand. The theatre looks impressive. The gambling business must still be going well. The bosses will be out front in the best seats in the house with their special guests. But they have sent some guys to keep an eye on things. I see them at the side of the stage. Well, let’s give them a show.
I nod to Nelson who waves his hands and the band starts to play the opening to ‘Come fly with me’. I know it but as soon as I start to sing Frank’s voice comes through the speakers! So, I now know this Frank is only supposed to move his lips. I see the monitor on the stage has come alive and is showing the lyrics so I can get my lips moving at the right times. This is great. I can do this. I can be Frank!

I steal a glance at the side of the stage and see that everyone looks happy. 

I look at Nelson Riddle who is having a ball. So am I. We were made for nights like this.
The band plays on and I am Frank.

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