by Damon L. Fordham
After running home from school one day, ten year-old Lucas Moore was anxious to go to the playground. But his mother had not returned home from work yet, so he decided to go next door to the home of Mr. Ernest Potts, who had served as Lucas' unofficial "grandfather figure" since his own father died a few years earlier, to ask for permission to go to the park. "Oh, well, figured Lucas as he anticipated the possible reaction of his overprotective mother, "better safe than sorry."
As Lucas entered the Potts' home, Mr. Potts and his wife greeted him as Lucas jumped up and down with excitement from his good news. "What's the matter, fella?' asked Mr. Potts, "You're jumpin' up and down like you're gonna burst?"
"Guess what!" said Lucas once he calmed down. Frankie Charles is gonna be at the community center today." Mrs. Potts, who had been knitting, nearly stuck herself in the finger with one of the needles by accident at this news.
Frankie Charles?" explained the old man. "Boy, I wouldn't mind seeing that myself! I'll never forget that time he scored four touchdowns during that championship game!"
'Yes, sir!" replied Lucas, "He's gonna be signing autographs for us!"
'Well go right ahead!" said Mr. Potts. "See if you can get one for me too while you're at it." Ernest smiled as he watched the boy dart out of the door. "I tell you. That boy's just about as excited about Frankie Charles as I used to be about Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson, and I can't blame him." He turned to his wife and said, "Oh well. I guess you wouldn't know nothing about no Frankie Charles."
"For your information Ernest Potts," began Mrs. Potts as she looked up from her knitting, "I happen to know a whole lot more about Frankie Charles than you do."
"Oh really?" said the old man. "And what, may I ask, do you know about Frankie Charles?"
"For one thing," she replied, "One of my church sisters is Frankie Charles' cousin and we were talking about him the other day. I didn't want to say anything in front of the boy, but I have news for you about Mr. Franklin Charles....
As Lucas arrived at the community center, he saw a great, big platform that was set up outside for Frankie Charles as hundreds of children waited. Several minutes later, the crowd cheered as a black limousine pulled up and Frankie Charles, wearing a black suit and sunglasses, made his way to the platform as he waved to the children.
Lucas looked in awe as Frankie got up to the Microphone and said. "Kids, there are three things you gotta do if you wanna be like me. You gotta work hard, stay in school, and stay away from those drugs!" The children cheered loudly once again along with the handful of adults in the audience.
Just as Frankie was about to continue his speech, the crowd heard a loud siren approach the area. As the crowd turned to look, a police cruiser suddenly pulled up. Two officers immediately jumped out of the car, pulled out their guns and said, "FREEZE Frankie, you're under arrest!" Lucas and the rest of the crowed gasped in shock. Frankie was about to run, but another squadron of police immediately arrived and drew their guns also. After Frankie surrendered, the officers searched Frankie's pockets and one yelled "GOT IT!" and pulled out a plastic wrapper filled with crack cocaine.
The children booed, cursed, threw rocks, and balled up paper at Frankie as the policemen handcuffed the football star and led him to the squad car. As for Lucas, he burst into tears and ran all the way to the Potts residence. 'Well," said Mrs. Potts, "I can guess what happened." She caressed the child as he cried, "Frankie ain't nothing but an old dope addict! I ain't got no hero no more!"
'Yes you do." said Mr. Potts in a calm tone of voice.
-Who?- asked Lucas as he wiped his eyes.
"Go in the front bedroom," said Mr. Pofts, "he's right in there."
Lucas walked slowly to the front bedroom. As he opened the door, he noticed something that stood right in front of him.