Oh man how did I get here? The Judge must have had the same thoughts because as he shuffled the papers in front of him on his desk he said to the bailiff “Okay just why do we have these fine people assembled here today?”
I looked to my far left and there was Theresa my high school sweetheart, ready to testify against me. She still looked like she could wear that cheerleader outfit that I remembered her in, so many years before. To her right, standing between Theresa and the prosecutor was Donna, another girlfriend, ready to bad mouth me and hoping to put me away. Donna still looked great, though I haven’t seen her in a while, a little heavier I guess, but she still reminded me of Della Street from Perry Mason.
After asking everyone in front of the bench to raise their right hand and take the oath, the bailiff opened up and said “Your honor this is stemming from a 1979 warrant . In this warrant Mr. Frailey is charged with two counts of assault and battery, stalking and making threats.”
The Judge gave the girls the once over, then looked at me and said “You’ve heard the charges Mr. Frailey, how do you plead?
Shaking my head I replied “Not guilty, uh, maybe guilty your Honor but with extenuating circumstances.”
The Judge then said “Make up your mind Sir, which is it, Guilty or Not Guilty?”
I said “Sir, I’m not guilty of stalking anybody. I haven’t made any threats to any body, and if standing up for yourself and demanding the return of your property is a crime, then I’m guilty but with extenuating circumstance.”
Standing next to me on my right, was my Dad, in his military uniform, dress whites with his medals and brass, shining bright. “And who is this gentleman standing next to you?” said the Judge.
I answered “This is my Dad, Lieutenant Julius R. Frailey.
“Why are you here Lieutenant Frailey, in what capacity?”
My Dad standing erect, looking sharp and with military precision said “Your Honor, I came to court today to stand beside my son and to verify what he says is true. I wore my uniform so that you will know that I am a man of honor and that what I say is the truth.”
The Judge gave Dad the once over and said “Let the record show that Lieutenant Frailey is an Officer in the United States Navy,” then he looked over the top of his glasses at Dad and said “Am I correct?”
Dad answered back “Yes Sir, by the grace of God and an act of the United States Congress”
The judge said to no one in particular that one the medals on Dad’s chest looked like a combat medal and Dad answered him, “Affirmative sir, with a cluster,” and then he nodded towards me and added, “He has one too”.
The judge chewed on that for a moment and said “This sounds like it’s gonna be good, then he looked around at the two girls wanting to press charges against me and said “Okay, who wants to be first?”
Theresa always reminded me of Heather Locklear, you could tell she was anxious to speak, she stepped forward and said, “He beat up my ex-husband broke his jaw, after my Daddy told him not to come around me no more.”
I got the side eye glance from the Judge and grimacing I kinda nodded, not wanting to interrupt.
Then the Judge turned to Donna and asked “What about you young lady, what have you got to say?”
Donna was cold and calculating, you could tell that she was chomping at the bit to get her voice heard. “He was my live in boyfriend,” he was calling other women on my phone, when I wasn’t there. He lost his job and started working out of town. I broke up with him and he stiffed me with all of the bills. I told him I didn’t want to see him and for him not to come back to my house. When I got “married” to a fellow from work, Mike came by our house and got into a fight with my new husband. I had to call the police. They came and chased him through the woods. He got away circled back and used his truck to push the police cars out of the drive way so he could escape while they were in the woods, searching for him with the K-9 units.”
When the Judge heard this he just started shaking his head from side to side and clucking with his tongue then he says, “Mr. Frailey, this doesn’t sound good. Just what do you have to say for yourself in response?”
“Your Honor” I replied “It’s a long story, all of that happened years and years ago.”
To this the Judge looked at his watch and said, “This is the first case on the docket this morning Mr. Frailey, I got all day, let’s hear it.”
Just about that time, you could hear a noise in the back ground, the doors to the courtroom opened and in walked Maudie Mae, my present day girlfriend. She had stopped to use the bathroom, since I was running late, I had gone on to the courtroom with out her. All eyes in the courtroom turned to watch her walk in. She was drop dead gorgeous. Tight dress and high heels, she was working it. She was Indian but looked Polynesian, wearing heels, pearls, a black dress and her long brown hair draping down her back. All eyes in the courtroom were upon her, as she sashayed past the rows of seats and neared the bench, she stopped an asked the judge if she could approach the bench as a friend of the court. The judge nodded then asked in what capacity and she said as a witness for the defense. Maudie stood beside me and grabbed my hand.
The judge then looked at me and asked me “just how is it that you surround yourself with all of these beautiful women?”
I said “Well, I use to make a lot of money.”
He said then “Hell son, I make a lot of money. Just how much money do you make?”
I told him that I met Theresa when I was in High School. My parents bought me a car so that I could drive home and give my Mom morphine shots in the middle of the day after she had her leg amputated from bone cancer. I figured that me driving a car in the 10th grade made me look like a big shot, and that’s probably what Theresa liked about me. I told him when I met Donna, I was selling cars and made about $1500.00 a week. Ever since I met Maudie, I had settled down working for my Dad, I only made $225 a week and had a furnished apartment with utilities.
The Judge turned his glance towards Maudie (He could barely keep his eyes off of her) and she told him, “I’m not in it for the money.”
I asked the judge if he wanted me to start at the beginning? He said “Yes, by all means.”
I started by telling him that Theresa and I were High School sweethearts. After graduation I enlisted in the US Army. The Judge looked at my Dad and said “I find it hard to believe that you let him enlist in the Army”
Dad told him that as soon as he found out about it, and added to the fact that I had to wait a month before my swearing in, he took me down to the Navy Recruiter and had me sworn in that day. It was wartime and he didn’t want his son to be cannon fodder.
The judge turned to me and said “Okay Mr Frailey, uh, Mr. Frailey Jr. get on with it.”
I told him that I needed to go back a little further and tell him about Senior Skip Day.
My parents had bought me a nice Seiko watch, one with an alarm. I could set the alarm so that it would remind me that it was time for Mom’s medication. I would take a break from school, drive home to administer her “meds” then return to school to finish my classes. I told him that in my Senior year, my Dad was serving in Viet Nam and my mom was an invalid, I helped run the house, my family’s trailer park and took care of my little brothers. When the day came around to order class rings, my friends and fellow students chipped in and bought me the nicest ring available because everyone was aware of my situation. It was a nice gold ring with a sapphire and in the center the gold letter P was inset into the stone to symbolize Paxon, the high school which I attended for 6 years. (Jr and Sr).
Then he wanted to know what this had to do with Senior Skip Day and the case at hand. I told him that it was a long story and that I was just getting started.
On Senior Skip Day, I drove myself and several of my friends to Jacksonville Beach. One of my best friends was Kenny, who was also knew Theresa from our neighborhood. We wanted to go surfing, I took off my watch, my ring, and along with my wallet put them inside my penny loafers and hid them under the seat of my car. When I came back to the car, everything was gone. My watch, my wallet and my ring were missing. I was devastated.
Then the Judge started looking at his watch, he said he could sympathize with that, he said it was because his family had given him his watch when he graduated from college. Then he said “What year was this Mr. Frailey?” I told him, 1969. He looked up at me and asked me “Do you mean to tell me that you enlisted in the military, in 1969 during the middle of the Viet Nam War?”
It was Dad’s turn again, he said “Yes sir he did, against my better wishes, but he did.”
The judge said “Well I commend you, but does all of this have to do with the price of tea in China?”
I got back to my story; I told him that while I was in boot camp I got the all dreaded “Dear John” letter from my girlfriend of two years, Theresa. There wasn’t much I could do or say about it, because I was committed to boot camp and didn’t have freedom to do as I pleased. From boot camp I went to Sub School in Connecticut and from there I was transferred to UDT School in Puerto Rico. The Judge interrupted to me asked me what was “UDT School.” I apologized and told him that I forgot that civilians weren’t familiar with military acronyms. UDT stood for Underwater Demolition School, eight weeks of some of the most rigorous physical training on earth. I told him I wanted to be like my Dad. I believe I noticed my Dad, still standing at attention, stand a little more erect after that.
He wanted me to describe the training and I said “Well, start with swimming two miles a day to an island off the coast and back, before breakfast. Then, doing a thousand pushups a day, a hundred at a time and hundreds of pull ups. Next, was running up and down a beach with your squad carrying a log on your shoulders. The only clothes I wore, was bathing trunks, a pair of flip flops and my dog tags, wrapped with black tape so that the sharks and barracudas wouldn’t be tempted to take a bite. Just me repeating all that I’ve went through, almost made me tear up, but I gotta tell you, I was getting the feeling that I was beginning to sway the judge over some. I figured now was the time to set the hook.
“Your Honor while I was half way through the training, not knowing if I was gonna complete the course or not, I was a little guy at the time and a lot of the other guys had already tapped out. Yeah, it was that tough. I received a letter from Theresa’s parents telling me that she had gotten married, I only found out later that it was to one of my best friends, Kenny. They thought that it would be for the best if I didn’t write Theresa anymore letters or try to contact her in the future.
From then on, every breath I took, every step I took, every move I made, I had one thought in mind. I’m gonna show that bitch. Even if it takes my last breath. From then on, when I swam, I attacked the waves, If I couldn’t swim over them, I went through them, if it was hot or if it was cold, I didn’t care. I pulled myself through the cresting waves with cupped hands reaching out and pulling them back, stroke by stroke. I tasted so much salt water that I wanted to choke. I was gonna show that bitch. I did my thousand push ups every day, I started doing them with one hand, either hand, didn’t matter. I was gonna show that bitch, when I saw better men than me tap out, it didn’t phase me. I wasn’t going to ring that bell, they were gonna have to carry me off.
The Judge said “Excuse me, ring the bell?”
I said “Yes Sir, they had a bell hanging from a pole on the beach, if any one wanted to tap out, all they had to do was ring that bell and you would get shipped stateside, back to your previous duty station. I had made up my mind, it wasn’t gonna be me.”
After school I was transferred to back to my duty station, a nuclear sub, the USBNS Thomas Jefferson.
It was Dad’s turn again, “He can’t tell you where they toured, it’s top secret, but he did get a combat medal because they were in a Combat Zone.”
The Judge jumped ahead of me on my story and interrupted me and said “So you are a military bad ass that came home a jilted lover and then you go whip your ex-girlfriend’s husband’s ass, right?”
I told him “No sir, not at all. I moved on. My first month in Puerto Rico after graduating UDT School, I spent my whole pay check at the Black Angus in San Juan. I forgot about Theresa right about then.”
The Judge looked at me and said “Oh, I’ve heard about the Black Angus, tell me more.”
I told him that everything he had heard was probably true. “It was a Casino on one side and a night club/whore house on the other side. I said that with beginner’s luck I had won over $300 at the Black Jack table. Then I went to the bar and boy what a bar. The bar itself was circular and it rotated. All the servicemen would sit at the bar as it went round and round. Standing in front of the mirrored walls were some of the most beautiful women on earth, ready to please you at a moments notice. The cost? Oh, only five dollars a shot, plus later as I found out, a couple shots of penicillin. That’s right, only 5 bucks each time. I spent my whole wad in one night. “Theresa who?” I said. “I moved on.”
I could tell the judge was enjoying my remembrances, then he grinned and shook his head and said “Just exactly what does all of this have to do with you breaking Mrs. Hick’s husband’s jaw?”
“Okay, okay” I said, “I’m getting there. Like I said I was motivated. I still wanted to prove that she made a mistake. When I got out of the service, 3 years later, I wanted to prove to the world that I was somebody. I wanted to buy a new corvette to show off. A new one was $7,200 on the showroom at Nimnicht Chevrolet. At the time, I was driving a Volkswagen. I had my work cut out for me.” I told the judge that I started selling cars myself because I needed a better than average income to achieve my goal. Along the way, my goals changed. I was wearing fancy clothes to work, patent leather shoes, fitted shirts and silk ties. I made very good money and had saved over 6 thousand dollars towards buying my new car but by then I realized that by being top salesman at Duval Ford was a sign of success, I could drive any new car I wanted for free.
“I met lots of pretty girls. Quite a few seemed attracted to me. I changed my goal from a new corvette, to a new Rolex watch. I settled on a Presidential with the Oyster face. It cost me around $5,500. I bought it from Underwood Jewelers. It fit right in with the flash I wanted, I was selling cars. Top man needs to look like top man. I had all of the tools, I just wanted the flash. That’s how I met Donna, uh Miss Holloway. I sold her a car, we dated and then I moved in with her, helped her with her bills and bought new furniture for her house.”
“One day I was working on the point when I saw a green ’68 Ford Falcon pull up on the lot. It looked familiar. Hey, that looked like Theresa’s car, the one her parents bought her for graduation. I hustled over and told the other fellows I got this. I opened the door and sure enough it was Theresa alright, looking good as ever. On the driver’s side Kenny got out, durn he grew some since I seen him last.
I greeted them both, no animosity. I was ready to sell them a car. Theresa walked off a little ways to look at the inventory and Kenny and I shook hands and when we did, I noticed his ring. It looked like a Paxon High School ring, just like my old ring, only Kenny graduated the year after me, their rings were different. I noticed it had the inlaid “P” like mine did and then I saw that it had a piece of the gold “P” chipped in the same place as mine.
Then it dawned on me, this thieving son of a bitch was wearing my ring. I gripped his hand even harder and turned his wrist over so that I could get a better look. When I did that, he reached over with his left hand to grab mine and pull it back. When he did this, I saw that he had on my Seiko watch too, the one my parents had given me, the one I thought all of this time had been stolen by a stranger.
Theresa didn’t get to see all of the action but I had a lot of rage in me built up over the years. All those miles I swam against the current in the ocean. Thousands of push ups and chin ups, the miles I ran on the beach, it all came to a boil. Kenny wanted me to let go of his hand and he shoved me with his free hand and when he did, I let go and let him have it with hard right.
I didn’t know I broke his jaw at first. It was a one punch ordeal and then it was over. I told him he could keep the damn watch. Theresa was crying. I know she didn’t know what was what. I tried to tell her. I don’t think she believed me. She wanted to leave and they did. I told her I would call her to explain, she said don’t bother.
I was fired instantly. No matter for what reason, a sales force can’t tolerate fighting. Guess I did have a quick temper, I always did. I hated it too, that was such a good job.
When I got home, I told Donna that I had gotten in a fight with a guy that I found out had stolen my belongings at the beach a long time ago and lost my job. I didn’t mention Theresa. I tried to call Theresa a few times to explain. I didn’t know about caller I.D. in those days. I wish I did.
I started a new job, as a traveling tool salesman. The money was fantastic. After a rough start, I was making seven hundred a day sometimes a thousand or more, if I hustled. The main drawback for a man with a girlfriend or a wife back home, was constant travel and that’s the part I enjoyed the most.
I tried to keep Donna satisfied by buying her new furniture, nicer cars, flying her out for the week end, night clubs and the whole enchilada. What I didn’t know was that Theresa had returned my calls and spoke with Donna. She asked Donna to make me leave her alone, stop pestering her. That wasn’t it at all. I just wanted my watch and my ring back and to tell her what had happened. I know now, that no matter what I said, it wouldn’t have done me any good but at the time, I wanted to try.
I called home from Davenport, Iowa. Donna told me that she had spoke with Theresa over the phone and Theresa had told her that I had been calling trying to hook back up with her. Donna was mad, she told me that I didn’t live there anymore, that she had discarded my stuff. That everything I had bought her was hers now, I forfeited it. I was heartbroken, because I had hope that it would work out between us, the stuff I could replace, no big deal. Before I hung up she told me that she had started dating a guy from work, don’t bother coming by her house. After our conversation I thought, damn that. I want my clothes and my belongings. My Rolex was in the drawer by the bed. Yeah, the same Paul Bunyon bed that I had just paid over $1400 for a month before.
I drove home from Davenport, Iowa. I had a Crew Cab, dual wheeled Chevrolet truck, with a 455 cubic inch motor. It was petal to the metal all the way. I was on a mission.
I pulled up to the house and Donna answered the door but wouldn’t invite me in. She said she had just gotten married to her new boyfriend and that she had filed a restraining order and was calling the police. When she left the doorway, her new man stepped forward. I could see on his bare arm that he was wearing my Rolex.
That set me off. I reached up and grabbed him by the front of his shirt and jerked him into the yard. I never thought about how big he was, the police coming, right or wrong. I was mad as hell yes, but I wanted my damn watch. I was sick of this crap.
I popped him a few times I admit, I probably shouldn’t have I guess. But the bastard was sleeping with my girlfriend before she and I had properly separated, he was sleeping in my new bed and now he was wearing my pride and joy, my Rolex.
I got my watch back. He gave it up after taking a couple bites of a knuckle sandwich. Just about that time I could see the police coming up the long driveway. I knew it wasn’t gonna play out well for me. I had worked at the County Jail before, remembering how tiny those cells were, I didn’t want no part of the jail house. I lit out for the woods.
I crossed the railroad tracks and jumped full stride into the palmetto bushes, scared a young deer that was taking a nap. Then I got to the swamp. This is good I thought, they won’t follow me in there. I took off my boots, pulled about 600 dollars out of my pocket and my Rolex and put them in my boots then shoved them up under a palmetto bush.
My thinking at the time was that later, when the coast is clear, I’ll come back for my stuff. It wasn’t long after that, I heard the dogs on my trail. I ran lickity split through hell and high water. They weren’t gonna catch me on my terms. I saw a place where there were just the tops of fence posts sticking out of the water. Thinking that the recent rains had flooded the area and there must be strands of wire strung out in between the post, just under the surface. I climbed on top of the wire, holding on to tree limbs to help me keep my balance, I walked this “high wire” across the flooded area to a much safer spot. I circled back around the swamp and came up on my truck that was boxed in by two police cruisers. No one in sight, it was almost dark. I got into my truck, fired that big motor up and pushed those two police cars into the ditch and out of my way. Then realizing I was going to need some help, I went to my Dad’s, a few miles away.
I parked the truck right out front and knocked on the door, Dad answered. He was home alone. After Mom died, he had remarried. His wife and step-daughters were out shopping. I filled Dad in on what was going on. He said “you need a bath, some clean clothes and a pair of shoes. “
He took me to his bathroom in the rear of the house to clean up and as I was showering, I could hear the doorbell ring. I turned off the shower and listened. I could hear Dad saying, “No he’s not here.” Then, another voice asking “Do you mind if we come in and look?” He told me later that they pushed him aside and came in anyway. He told them that he didn’t appreciate them not taking his word for it, but couldn’t stop them.
As I got out of the shower, I dripped mud and water everywhere. I looked for a place to hide and with water dripping off of my naked body, I settled on the bay window. From the inside it was just a heavy drape, hanging to the floor. I knew that on the other side, was a little cubbyhole, built so that dad could sit in the bay window and read during day light hours.
After I got behind the curtains I could see the beam of flashlights searching the grounds around Dad’s house. Suddenly I heard nearby voices from inside the bedroom. A voice rang out “He was here, I can see the mud on the floor and water dripping from where he stood.” Then Dad’s voice saying, “You didn’t ask me if he had been here, you just asked me if he was here now.”
This seemed to satisfy them for the moment, they left reluctantly. After they had been gone for a minute or so, Dad met me in the doorway to the bedroom. He grabbed his chest and said “Oh Son, I thought they had you. You’re going to cause me to have a heart attack.”
He looked at the mud on the floor, the mess I had made, water dripping every where. He apologized for letting them in the house. He said “I’m sorry Son, I tried, but they just came on in.” I said “I know Dad, I heard the whole thing.”
Our dilemma wasn’t over. Dad asked me what was I going to do? I told him not to worry, I was in Dinsmore and they won’t ever catch up with me in Dinsmore. Dad said that he was worried that they didn’t intend on taking me alive. I said “Well Dad, why do you think I was running so hard?’
Dad then hatched a plan. He wanted me to take the keys to his truck with the camper shell and drive out the back way of the trailer park. He told me to stop by the dumpster and wait for him to take my truck. He said he would drive my truck out the front entrance as a decoy, for me to wait until he drew them off and for me to ease out the back way afterwards. The old pigeon with a broken wing trick.
I am alive today to tell you that his idea worked. Just as soon as he pulled out the front, he was swarmed, surrounded, yanked out of the truck, and put in the ditch face first in the mud, hands cuffed behind his back with guns drawn and held to his head.
Dad nodded his head in agreement to the Judge as if to alibi the events as I stated were true.
Then Judge shook his head in disbelief and then, with a grin he said, “The things we do for our children. ” He looked at me and asked me “Was it worth it? Did you ever get your watch? Did you go back and look for it?”
I had to tell him no, that watch was gone forever, not only did I not find the watch, I couldn’t find the boots or my wallet either, I told him that I thought that a K-9 officer was probably wearing my watch right now.
I had the Judge sitting on the edge of his seat now, it must have been getting close to lunch, because he kept looking at his watch. When I started speaking again, I told him, that “I left Jacksonville and was gone for many years, When my Dad told me he needed some help, I had to square up with the law first. I turned myself in, Dad let me drive his new Jaguar to the police station, then he bonded me out. In the meantime I had met Maudie. She was the prettiest girl I had ever seen.” Heck she was the prettiest girl most anybody had ever seen. I courted her for over a year. There weren’t any problems in our relationship, and I didn’t chase her, really it was the other way around. I told the Judge that I had “moved on.”
The Judge then studied the top of his desk for a minute, twiddling a pen between his fingers and said “Do you mean to tell me that this is all about a wristwatch?”
I replied “Yes Sir, that about sizes it up.” He asked me if that was why I wasn’t wearing a watch today. I told him, “Yes sir it is.”
He then turned to Maudie who was doing her job of just standing there and looking good. As pretty as my two exes were combined, they couldn’t hold a candle to Maudie and they knew it and by the looks of the judges eyes, he agreed. “What about you young lady what have you got to say about all of this?” he asked her. She replied “He’s moved on.” I’m pretty sure that every one in the courtroom believed her.
The Judge picked up his gavel. He surveyed the courtroom, then he looked at his watch. He said that he was gonna fine me $2,500.00 plus court cost, withhold the adjudication of guilt with the premise that I was to leave these two young women alone and that “if I ever came back into his courtroom with a complaint from either of these two women again, that he would see to it, that I would know what “Time” it was”. Case dismissed.
To this day, I still don’t wear a watch.