Chapter 40:

Last Man Standing


“Oh… you three again. So… you’re still here, too.” The swimmer spoke in the same dark voice he had when they first ran into each other.

“About… that.” Frankie shivered, clearly quite intimidated by Gills. “Um… here.” She held out a few thousand bucks.


“T…take it, please. And… leave.”

“Of all the…” he groaned, wriggling the fingers of his right hand in frustration. “Lemme guess- you’re the sourpuss bribing everyone to screw off so you can have your little birthday party?”

“Here… I have… more, sir.” Frankie doubled the wad of cash in her palm, looking up at him expectantly.

“I don’t want your money, little girl- I want to spend my day here.”

“You…” Frankie stuttered, her hat and hair falling as she stared downward so that her eyes were invisible. “Y-you really scare me, sir. So please… if you would, just…” Frankie held out all the money she had left, bowing to the man.

“I’m not leaving this park for any reason. Sorry, kid, but that’s life. You can go run around the to the other side of town, I’m sure you won’t even see me.”

“Please!” Frankie begged, shoving the money at him. But the man just sighed in disgust.

“Didn’t you ever hear the phrase, “it’s a free country?”

Frankie held the money to her chest, unsure of what to say.

“It’s no good, kid.” Umi rested her hand on Frankie’s shoulder. “Let’s just go someplace else. Stop by the pool or something.”

“I hate pools.” Frankie bemoaned as they turned tail and started to walk away from Brice.

“We can go somewhere else then. Why is that, though? Nobody else will there, I’m sure.”

“It doesn’t matter. Pools just remind me of being on that stupid swim team again.”

“Stop right there.” Brice Gills suddenly interrupted, making Katie jump as she turned back to him to see he hadn’t moved an inch since they started leaving. “Did you just imply you were… a swimmer?”

Frankie rotated back towards the man, Umi following closely as she watched over the girl.

“Not anymore… just something I had to do once.”

“Mr. Gills, sir, we’re terribly sorry.” Umi apologized. “She’s just had a rough day. We’ll be on our way now, we really will-“

“I’ll give you a chance, kiddo. You beat me in a swim meet, I’ll march my ass right outta here. Now how’s that sound?”


“W-what?” Umi spun. “Why are you-“ she leaner to Frankie. “You- you know this guy’s been in the Olympics, don’t you? He’s one of the best swimmers in the world, I don’t see why he’s-“

“The lady said it was fine.” Brice decreed, waving his hand in the air. “Meet me at the Angelfish in an hour. We’ll go one lap, all the way across. That’s a deal.”

As the athlete walked off, Frankie was left staring at the spot he’d once stood in.

Pope Evaristus
Steward McOy
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