by Alex Azar
There was nearly a year gap in-between ‘E’ and ‘F’ not because I couldn’t think of what to write, but I had been focusing on some of my other work, and unfortunately let the Alphabet Project fall by the wayside. Once I did decide to write this, it came pretty naturally, and really reinvigorated me to do this, so much so that it was done in a day. And I really like this one for two particular reasons; one, the first line. Not even, the first part of the first line, I feel really should grab your attention. And secondly, the story is disturbing, but on a different level than most of my other stuff, like Anger Management, enjoy!
Freddie’s mom lied to him when she said his dad was an ornithologist; well she actually called him a bird specialist. His father had, in fact, left them for a girl half his age when Freddie wasn’t even a year old. This lie, however, lasted longer. Approaching the big ‘one-oh,’ Freddie still thinks his dad is studying exotic birds in Madagascar.
An avid bird watcher in his own right, Freddie grew to love all things ‘bird.’ And lacking any male guidance or figurehead, he unknowingly attempted to fill that void with another love, comics. Living a dual life like one of the heroes from his books; Freddie spent half the time as his mom’s little bird genius, and the other half as a comic recluse who lacked all social skills.
Trying to encourage both of his passions, his mother helped him fuse the two into a comic character they called Falcon-Man. This brought the two closer, but didn’t help Freddie gain any friends.
Falcon-Man was everything Freddie looked for in life, a loving father to his son Birdie, able to communicate with birds, fly, a genuine hero. This was the person he pictured his father to be, when he allowed himself the luxury of ignoring the truth he knew in his heart.
Unfortunately, this obsession had an adverse affect on Freddie, who now only answered to Falcon-Man, even at school, often to be ridiculed and nicknamed Birdbrain. He spent most of his days in his own world, with hand towels tied to his arms in place for Falcon-Man’s wings. He would cry and threaten to hurt himself whenever his mother would take the towels in order to wash them.
Afraid of what might happen if this continued, his mother sent him to a psychiatrist. After a few sessions, the psychiatrist suggested to try and integrate other children into his world to build social skills. And from there, try to bring him into their world.
Freddie’s mom set up some play dates with other kids from his school. Some of the other kids really got into the world of Falcon-Man, particularly the boy who played Birdie, a product of a single parent home as well. These play dates were to culminate at Freddie’s costume birthday party at their apartment.
There was no question what Freddie wanted to be for the party, nor Birdie, who arrived in a homemade costume that left much to be desired. Falcon-Man, on the other hand, wore a hand sewn spandex/pleather outfit complete with helmet and wings made of wire and mesh.
As the kids went about their business, Freddie’s mom thanked the other parents for allowing their children to play with Freddie who has become the 4th grade black sheep. As the women went about their conversing, which gave way to gossip, the children continued to play throughout the apartment.
One of the children who was several years older than the rest, but was kept back due to a ‘lack of initiative’ mocked Falcon-Man and Birdie for acting like such babies. Birdie stood up for the two exclaiming the bully wouldn’t call them babies if he saw what Falcon-Man could do.
After listing off the various powers that comic Falcon-Man has, Birdie ended with flying, saying it in a way he believed meant the end of the argument. Bully didn’t seem impressed and asked to see it. So while the parents talked in the kitchen and living room, the children made their way up the stairs to the building roof, complete with pigeon coup.
Birdie tried telling Freddie that he didn’t think this was a good idea, that this wasn’t the comics, but Falcon-Man would have none of that. Bully pushed Birdie out of the way, telling him to shut up and let the hero fly if he wants to fly.
At this point the parents noticed the lack of noise coming from the children, and began searching throughout the building. Falcon-Man, standing on the ledge of the 10-story building, looks back to Bully and Birdie, telling them not to worry he’s ready to fly.
Just as Falcon-Man is about to take flight his mother exits the front of the building and looks up to see her son standing on the ledge of the building with his arms stretched out. She yells, pleading for him to get off the ledge and back in the building. Looking down Freddie sees his mom and waves to her, not quite hearing what she said. Still waving to his mom Freddie shouts back telling her not to worry, “I’m going to see dad finally.” His words weren’t heard over the noise of the traffic, but his mother, ten floors down knew their intent and was helpless to stop what happened next, as she watched her son take flight.