Fallen, chapter 1

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Wednesday afternoon in Oakland, California. It was a sunny day, which was completely normal for Oakland. There was a girl in her mid-twenties handing out fliers near an elementary school. Nothing unusual. The girl went away. A man came out of the school with his son and buckled him into the back seat of his car.

"Daddy, can we have ice cream?" The little boy asked. His father closed the car door and picked a flier out of his windshield wipers. He shrugged.

"We'll see, Franky," he replied. Franky's father looked at the flier as he buckled his own seatbelt. The Underground Opera presents Romeo and Juliet. He put it aside and started driving home.

His house was a large one, and a nice one too. Well, of course it would be awesome; he was a mini-tycoon. Frank Wright was the owner of La Musicale, Berkeley's music mall.

Though it started out as a small instrument repair shop consisting of only Frank and a friend, it had now expanded to a large, three-level, musical department store, catering to some of the most exclusive customers. Despite its fame and financial prosperity, there weren't very many employees, but that was the specialty of La Musicale

As Frank fumbled for his keys, the door was opened suddenly. "Hey Tre," said the person at the door.

"Hi Bill. What are you doing here? No, scratch that. How did you get into my house?"

"Spare key," Bill replied dangling it in front of his friend's face, "under the mat, huh? Very original. There was some kind of problem at work and the company's electricity got cut off. There was no point in making us stay, so I called in here. Got here just a minute ago, actually," he chuckled. Frank pushed him aside and went inside with his son.

"So, Frankito," he said, "What do you want for a snack?" He went over to the counter.

"Um... I want crackers! Crackers! Crackers!" Frankito exclaimed, earning a laugh from Bill. "What's so funny, Uncle Billie?" he asked, cocking his head innocently. Billie patted him on the back.

"Nothing Franky. You're just way too similar to your father." He shook his head. "What do you think Tre?"

"Huh?" Tre looked over and put down the flyer, "Bill, you need to stop calling me Tre. We're not teenagers anymore. I don't call you Billie."

"But you could if you wanted to," Bill replied with a cheeky grin. "You can call me Bill, Billie, Billie Joe, or Jillie Boe! Truth be told, I don't care. Although my boss keeps calling me William." The older man frowned, "I wonder if he's noticed that my name is Billie Joe on all of the documents." Frank laughed at his friend and was immediately repaid with a slap on the head.

"Hey!" Frank complained, "You're allowed to laugh at me, but I can't laugh at you? That's no fu... fun!" he rectified, remembering that his son was still there. Bill laughed again.

"Do you understand why you're still Tre? I mean, come on! You have your big music store and everyone calls it La Musicale, but I know you remember what it used to be called. Remember? Tre's Place. And you're still Tre. You still curse and scream and get hyper." Bill looked up at Frank. "Hey, what is that?" He snatched the flier out of Frank's hands. "The Underground Opera? Wasn't that the name of one of the old bands at Gilman?" Frank took the flyer back.

"Yeah, actually, that's what caught my attention. It looks like a theater troupe. You want to go?" He asked, looking between his friend and the sheet of paper. Bill looked at his watch.

"Listen, Tre, I have to go pick up Joey since Adrienne's working today. I'll stop by after dinner and maybe we can try and talk our women into going with us." He got up off the chair.

"I have no woman, not anymore." Frank said somewhat bitterly. "But yeah, okay. See you then...Billie." Both men smirked as Billie walked out. Frank closed the door behind him and cleaned up Frankito's snack. "When's mommy coming?" he asked his son. When Franky shrugged, he headed upstairs to call his ex-wife.

***

Ding-dong. Grumbling about the damn doorbell, Frank opened the door to see Billie and his wife.

"Hi Tre," they said in unison, grinning at Frank's reaction.

"Come on, Adie! Not you too?" Frank tried to look miffed, but his eyes sparkled. He led his two long-term friends into the house He went upstairs to put on a clean shirt, and then came bounding back down the stairs as quickly as he went.

Frank told them to put their coats in the closet and the threesome chatted as they went into the living room for beer and chips.

"So, why are we here?" Adrienne sat curled up next to her husband and shrugged, "Billie told me that you had and idea I would like, Fra—I mean, Tre." She smirked at Frank who sighed hopelessly. "So, Tre Cool, what is your idea?"

"Jesus, Adie. I'm not Tre anymore. Tre is gone. Bye-bye Tre. I. Am. Frank. But tonight, we are here for a different reason." He produced the flyer that he found on his windshield in the afternoon. "I propose that tomorrow night, we all go see the Underground Opera's performance of Romeo and Juliet." He gave the flyer to Billie who glanced at it, nodded, and passed it to Adrienne.

"But Tre, why the sudden interest in Shakespeare?"

Frank groaned. "Adie! Why are you joining him?" Adrienne, and Billie laughed. Frank chose to ignore them and plowed on. "I just wanted to try something new. The name caught my interest actually."

"Same here," Billie interrupted, "Underground Opera is the name of one the old bands at Gilman. So, are we going or what?"

Adrienne looked thoughtful for a moment. "I think I've heard of these people. They were in the newspaper a few days ago. The article was something about how they add their own interpretation to well known plays. They entire group gets together and decides what they want to do with each play, right down to costumes, music, the acting itself. I really think we should go."

"Its settled then." Frank stood up and put the flyer away, "We'll go tomorrow night."

"But will we get tickets," Billie cocked an eyebrow with question.

"I'm sure we will." Came the confident reply.

Billie got up and helped himself to Frank's refrigerator. "So, who wants another drink?"
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