Frank woke up. He opened his eyes to a sun-drenched room decorated tastefully. Family pictures decorated the light blue walls. They showed a beautiful, red-haired woman with a pair of red-headed kids, a boy, and a girl, at different stages in their life. Frank was laying in the middle of a king-size bed; he enjoyed the sensation of the blue silk sheets. Their color was darker than the walls. He rolled over twice to get to one side, then sighed and sat up with his legs hanging off the bed. As he considered his day the redhead from the pictures entered the room in a hurry.
She passed by Frank leaving a trail of clothes behind her. She reached the bathroom naked and after a second, Frank heard the water running.
“Damnit, I should’ve moved faster,” he grumbled to himself. “Ah well,” he said and pushed himself off the bed to enter the restroom. The master bathroom was half as big as the bedroom; but, still larger than most people’s living rooms. He padded straight to the running shower dropping his boxers along the way. He opened the shower door and stepped in behind the woman who was about to start washing her hair.
The second Frank was behind her she rinsed the shampoo off her hands without lathering her hair. Then she stepped out of the shower without giving Frank so much as a glance.
“Love you too, dear,” he said with a self-satisfied, sarcastic smile and stepped into the still running water. She ignored him as she followed the trail of clothes back out of the bathroom. She gathered her, and only her, clothes as she went. Frank closed his eyes and enjoyed the warm water raining on him. “That settles it,” he decided. “There’s nothing else I can do…” His mind sat quietly for a moment, then his perspective shifted. “There’s nothing I CAN’T do.” His mood improved for a split second, then somehow worsened again. “Yeah, but I’m doing it alone.”
He should have known better than to trust a genie but he could not see any way for his wish to go wrong. It turns out the genie was very creative. After several years he could not bear the loneliness anymore and decided to get serious. If he was caught, at least he’d get some attention for a little bit. Yesterday, at lunchtime, at the busiest restaurant in the business district, Frank slashed every single diner and most of the staff.
Everyone survived; Frank is not a killer. He used a box cutter to swipe at legs and arms. No one noticed Frank despite the sudden panic of wounds appearing. He waited in the restaurant holding the bloody blade until the police showed up. He was still seated when they left. He wished he could commit any crime without being caught; the genie’s magic made sure no one would ever notice him again.
The first week had been rough. Frank got fired for not showing up to work, despite being in front of his boss when it happened. He struggled with restaurants and other services for a few days until he realized he could just take what he wanted. The internet made communication possible at least. All his friends thought he was abroad. He’d check in every now and then but it wasn’t the same as hanging out with them. That lasted for about a year, but it’s hard to maintain a friendship without any facetime. Cameras ignored him completely, but he felt glad he could still see his own reflection in mirrors even if no one else could.
Frank decided he wasted enough water soaking; he never lathered up. He turned off the water and got out to dry off and dress. He made his way downstairs and into the kitchen. The red-headed family was gathered around the table eating breakfast when he came in. None of them looked up. The stranger in their house grabbed a donut from the table and left three bills laying on the counter. All 100s. Sure, the money was stolen too, but it was the gesture that mattered to Frank.
He inconvenienced this family, even if they didn’t know it. He definitely made the mother uneasy. Over the years he learned that everyone would ignore them as much as they could. If he was in a situation that could not be ignored, they would feel uneasy and move somewhere else. For reasons unknown to her, the mother decided to sleep with her children the night before. Frank was not trying to pay them but he hoped the extra cash might brighten their day a bit as an apology.
Frank lost his apartment shortly after losing his job; but, before he realized he could steal the funds he needed. By then he had developed the habit of walking into any nearby house for the night. He slept in garages and basements at first, not wanting to be seen by the homeowners. Now he was grabbing food off their table on his way out. He left the kitchen, walked through the living room, then out the front door.
The portly, blonde man stretched once he was out of the house. He wore a red flannel shirt, blue jeans, and hiking boots and a black canvas backpack on his shoulders. He climbed down the front steps of the house and casually walked along the narrow path to the sidewalk. An attractive tan woman in short shorts was walking her dog through the neighborhood.
“Morning!” she smiled cheerfully as she walked past Frank.
“Mornin'” Frank nodded grumpily out of reflex. His eyes went wide for a moment.
“MORNING!” the homeowner yelled out from behind him. Frank sighed, hung his head, and walked up the sidewalk wondering what he might do today.