THE LIFE AND TIMES OF FAST FREDDIE

FOREWORD BY MISAKMAN:

The following tale focuses on the fabled Frederick Fournier a.k.a. Fast Freddie, no mere footnote in history but known forevermore as the foremost flimflam man in recent memory. Though at times this may seem a bit too far out to be factual and not fictional, what follows is a true firsthand account from the memoirs of Francis (Frankie) Fletcher, the federal agent most intimately familiar with the case and a forthright fellow not prone to falsehood who is considered the final authority on all things Fournier...

GROWING UP WITH FREDDIE

Fast Freddie earned his nickname as a small fry since even then he had a flair for fleecing people. We never figured out how he finagled it, but at fish he beat all of us fledgling card sharks with facility and wound up with a fantabulous collection of cool stuff including a toy firetruck, a flexible flyer sled, a fantail goldfish with the fishbowl, a jar of fireflies, a ferret, my pet frog, and some fiddler crabs. He was also a fiery competitor who never accepted failure and fared well in all forms of endeavor. When I have flashbacks to our boyhood in Falmouth MA., I'm still filled with admiration for my friend's finesse no matter how formidable the challenge.

I remember one afternoon we were passing the football field when he decided to try and kick a field goal from the fifty yard line. Later, even though it became dark and he was footsore, he had me turn on the floodlights till he nailed it on his fiftieth try!...and only then did he take his footbath. With hands like flypaper he never fumbled the ball as a flankerback and I still cherish the photo I have of Freddie in the foreground with defenders flailing at him while falling down all around him. At baseball whatever you threw...fastball, forkball, fadeway pitch etc...you couldn't fan him and he'd hit it farther than anyone. And I fondly recall when I'd hit fungoes out to him he was like a Venus flytrap with that fielder's glove he got for his fifteenth birthday that he broke in with a special flaxseed oil. He was so fleet on the track that he could fly past everyone in a footrace, especially flatfooted me with my fallen arches and orthopedic footwear! At hoops his fallaway jumper made him a frontcourt menace, while on the fairway, whereas I'd foozle any big shot, he'd hit the flagstick from beyond the green like he was Ray Floyd or Nick Faldo.

He could fling a Frisbee the farthest, beat everyone at the funplex at foosball, shimmy up the flagstaff faster than all of us, and show perfect form with his forehand at tennis. With an insatiable flavor for danger, he'd have us running along the footway by the railroad to hop a flatcar and sneaking rides on the Woods Hole ferry by hiding in the forecastle. No fraidy-cat as a freediver, he'd freak me out by staying under with the fishies seemingly forever before coming up for fresh air. Then with the utmost fortitude he could also navigate whitewater flumes in his foldboat while I rowed fretfully in back. When I'd ride in his vintage Ford Fairlane with the cool fins he loved to flirt with disaster and fray my nerves by never using the flashers or foglamps when needed and fishtailing on purpose so the car would nearly flip over leaving me so frightened I'd be curled up in the fetal position. Always in fine fettle, if he caught the flu he'd be back full-bore with no fatigue or fever with a temperature of 98.6 Fahrenheit in a few days while I'd still be febrile and in flagging health for a fortnight (fourteen days!).

OFF TO SCHOOL

Our friendship continued through college though I went to the University of Florida for crimefighting and he went to Fordham to study finance. He moved to fullback as a footballer there but one fateful day he suffered a ferocious hit that fractured his femur, fibula, hip flexor, and left foot. Too fragile after that, he had to forgo sports but became fixated on operating a full-fledged casino from his frat. Although he preferred to be the floorwalker, he could jump in and run a mean fantan game, be the consummate faro dealer, while at poker he always knew when to fold 'em and could get a royal flush more often than any fella alive. Anyhow, far from a flunkout, he could've been a Fulbright scholar if he felt like it. However, being forced to sit in a classroom made him fidgety so he considered himself a freedman when his school days were finally over.

Back in Falmouth after college, we sat at a soda fountain at the local Friendly's for our Fribbles and frankfurters and discussed the future. With the considerable funds he'd earned from his casino at Fordham, Freddie, a boxing fanatic, decided to make a foray into fight promotion, and though it seems foolish now, I first had to pursue my festering fancy for a music career and made good on a family connection and got an audition before Arthur Fieldler!

FRANKIE'S MUSICAL INTERLUDE

By chance my Uncle Farley, a first-rate mechanic, had earned Fiedler's fidelity by replacing a fan belt and fixing a flat for the famed maestro which fortunately allowed him to get to his Friday Night at the Pops a fraction of a second before showtime. Even though I had no formal training, I was fairly well-versed in many styles having feverishly practiced during my free time on four different instruments for many years. Firstly, to show off my flashiness as a flautist, I played a fugue on my fipple flute. Then I followed with a fantasia on the flugelhorn, French horn, and fife.

When I finished, Feidler frowned and said, "If I feigned interest I would be fibbing so I'll be forthcoming and say this performance was so frightfully bad it was like a wreck of two freight trains, no mere fender-bender. It was about as much fun as getting a fruit fly out of your ear with a forceps when your finger can't reach. Now I don't want to seem like a fatalistic old fossil or a flippant funnyman but going forwards...there's always Uncle Farley's filling station.

But now if by some fluke you find enough flakes on the fringe in need of frontal lobotomies who become fervent over this freeform futuristic music (of which you are at the forefront) where every note is flat and the beat fluctuates, then maybe it's feasible you can achieve fulfillment of your musical ambitions.

These would be the same folks who list among their favorite things:
  • Having their fingers crushed in a folding door and then their fingernails ripped out
  • Chewing aluminum foil on their dental fillings and flossing with sharp wire, and
  • Having fishhooks flung in their eyes and then yanked out forcibly.

Now I know they're putting a lot of funny stuff in the water besides fluoride these days so your cult following of freaked out weirdos operating on this odd frequency may be out there."

I knew the old fogey was being facetious like W.C. Fields, but I still dreamt of being famous like the Fab Four, Peter Frampton, or at least Foghat. Never much of a folkie, I opted for an electric Fender guitar over an acoustic and plugged it into a fuzzbox, but when the feedback made every follicle of my frizz stand up like fescue, I became flustered and never put my flatpick to the fingerboard to play a single fret ever again.

FREDDIE'S BOXING CAPER

Freddie had in his fold the finest flyweight fighter in the land, Paco El Flaco. With a combination of feral firepower, fists of fury, fancy footwork, and a firm grounding in boxing fundamentals, he was favored to win his next fight. Now though it was true his foe Diego El Fuego was built like a fireplug, had shed his flab, and was known for his feints, it was still fishy how easily he floored Flaco in the fifth round. It was rumored the fix was in and that sly fox Freddie while wiping Flaco down with the facecloth after the fourth round whispered to him to take a fall. In the ring, Flaco suddenly appeared flaccid and started floundering and was easily felled by Fuego.

By this time I was the new fair-haired boy with the Feds and was ordered by Felix Feliciano my boss, "Flush out this freewheeling fraudster who foreordains matches. You've proven thus far that this type of fieldwork is your forte." Indeed I'd already collared a firebug who'd ruined much forestry and then a flasher who liked to flaunt his foreskin.

I tracked down Freddie, quite the baseball fan, at a Red Sox game where I noticed him in the front row seats near left field. We had always been among the Fenway faithful growing up, with Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn being our faves. Dressed as a roving Fenway franks vendor I circled him from above like a falcon in flight foraging for food stalking his prey. Fortuitously for Freddie, a fly ball that started fair curved foul and whacked me on the forehead knocking me flatout cold. I had been so fervid for the bust I hadn't the foresight to check the important factor of the direction the flags were flapping to avoid this from befalling me. Apparently, my badge had landed near Freddie's feet upon which in the ensuing fuss with others fretting over me he fled to Logan Airport to catch a flight out of town under some fictitious name or another. Fiddlesticks!

Back at the office, a frazzled Felix was fuming over my feeble efforts. Angry that I had flubbed up, he uttered a fusillade of F-bombs worthy of a freebooter pirate or a fractious fishwife, fulminating longer than any filibuster. But when I informed him of my tip that Freddie had been sighted at a fleabag flophouse in Oklahoma near the home of the notorious felon, the late Pretty Boy Floyd, off I went.

FREDDIE AND THE STASH

Knowing the fuzz would search his farmstead, Floyd had supposedly hidden a fortune garnered from his flagrant bank heists in the fusty fungus-infested cellar of this nearby flophouse. Freddie did not dismiss this legend as mere fabrication from fabulists and it lit a fuse within his fecund mind where he formulated his next scheme to find Floyd's stash.

A lot of freaky things went on in this foul fleshpot. In one room a drug fiend in need of a fix was freebasing cocaine while furtively making filmstrips of the fantasies and fetishes going on in the adjoining rooms. To his left a husband frustrated by his frigid wife was paying a young filly for a fling involving foreplay like fondling and French kissing to be followed by furious fornicating. To the right a foursome of a guy and three floozies were getting fresh with one another on a featherbed. I couldn't even fathom what forbidden acts were being committed elsewhere in this old firetrap of a place badly in need of fumigation.

Fast Freddie was no fuddy-duddy but had no time for any of that fiddle-faddle upstairs and was farsighted enough to pay a fin or two to the doorman to forewarn him of any unfamiliar faces. So when I arrived, the doorman whispered down, "You better flee. There's a strange feller here...and thanks for the fivers!" Armed with this foreknowledge, Freddie quickly pried out the last fourpenny nails from a loose floorboard, turned on his flashlight, and Viola!...found Floyd's loot, all four hundred grand of it and split. Fie!

Back at the office, a faultfinding Felix, flabbergasted over my futility, had a fit and gave me a lot of flack for my foibles and floundering performance, but when I informed him of my tip that Freddie had been seen up at some fairgrounds in Fayetteville N.C., off I went.

FREDDIE AT THE FAIR

This fair was quite the funfest with more festoons and fireworks than the Fourth of July, a flyover of F16s, fakirs who were firewalkers able to cross flaming coals sans footgear, funambulists performing daring feats on the highwire without falling, and more! In one area there was a fiesta complete with fajitas and frijoles along with flamenco dancers who could also do a fierce fandango (and even the farandole) upon request. Elsewhere they served fondue and fetuccini alfredo and bowshaped farfalle with flagons of frothy brew like Falstaff beer and Foster's ale. I slipped the ferris wheel guy a fivespot to go extra slow so I could get a nice full view of every bit of square footage of the place with my field glasses once I reached the top.

Having no luck there, I went to the function hall there where in front you could dance to Latin freestyle (a forerunner to house music) and further back you could enjoy a floorshow featuring a group recreating fifties era doowop a la the Flamingos and the Five Satins (I myself prefer the funk stylings of the Fatback Band and the flower power anthems of the 5th Dimension). I arrived in time for the finale and who was the frontman behind the footlights but Fast Freddie looking fly in flashy finery singing falsetto!

I was trying to fit in with the festivalgoers and feeling famished, ordered from the bill of fare of a Fong's Oriental from where I had a good frontward view of the stage. Now I don't know if it was the egg foo yung or the fortune cookies or the fizzy Fresca but I let out a fart like a foghorn blast. Doesn't a fearsome seven-footer who looked like Frankenstein storm over and feistily bark, "Hey fathead, because of you my wife is now faint and can't finish her meal and this place smells like that friggin' farm off the freeway where they sell that manure fertilizer." Another offered, "Smells fetid like formaldehyde to me and this fool probably released enough CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) to kill the freakin' ozone layer." I tried to contain this flammable situation and put an end to this silly foofaraw by apologizing for my faux pas. I also suggested that since the fragrance was admittedly not redolent of a flowerbed or frankincense, perhaps we could spray some air freshener. I was granted no forgiveness to end the firestorm of controversy but was furthermore accused by another pointing his forefinger at me of forgetting to flush my feces down Fong's toilet.

Now I had indeed used the bathroom facility beforehand and had quickly issued forth from my fanny a fantastic mound. Frankly, it was majestic like Mt. Fuji and no mere foothill rising as it did a few inches above the water with no floating fragments either! Yet I had flushed this masterpiece down and explained that if the handle had been faulty I would have fixed it without fail. You know...I forgot that in my formative years my father told me to use some forethought and not mention filthy things like poop so please forgive me for descending to the level of farceurs like the Farrelly Bros. (especially if you were just now feasting on fudge or falafel). But you know...father also said even filmdom's finest foley artist would be flummoxed trying to reproduce the fullness of the sound of my flatulence.

Then I heard footsteps and Wham! Someone whacked me from behind with a folding chair and then another delivered a forearm smash to my head. A frenzied free-for-all ensued as others stabbed me with forks and other flatware and even flayed me with fronds plucked from the decorative ferns. Someone else conked me with a frying pan filched from the kitchen leaving me too fuzzyheaded to fend for myself and engage in fisticuffs. Then Frankenstein punched me flush on the jaw flattening me like a piece of fiberboard while others stomped me leaving footprints on my face.

As I frantically fought for my life I noticed Freddie onstage looking to and fro to locate the focal point of the fracas. Upon noticing me, he turned on a stage prop, a fog machine, then simply faded from view. Apparently, at this flashpoint he made his escape down a flight of stairs after opening a trapdoor to foil me again. Foo!

Of course my fear that Freddie wasn't there to just flex his musical chops was justified. During the festivities he'd arranged for a fleet of flatbed trucks to grab several Ferraris from the parking lot and get 'em to the fencer of stolen goods for a tidy financial windfall.

Back at the office, Felix flipped out and made it clear I faced the frightening prospect of being fired for my falloff in performance. This hit me like a flatiron since I was a fortysomething guy with flecks of gray with a now uncertain future. Not very flush with cash, I would be facing foreclosure if this happened. However, when I informed Felix of my tip that Freddie was in France cranking out funny money, he stopped frenetically flouncing about and sent me off.

FREDDIE IN FRANCE

Now out in Fontainebleau Freddie had rented not just a flat but a chateau with fluted columns and sizeable frontage. Normally a frugal no-frills kind of guy, he was being pretty flaunty and frivolous about town not only dressing foppishly in high-fashion frippery but tooling around in a Ferrari Pininfarina with foxy ladies in fur coats. He would claim that he was simply drawing from a trust fund courtesy of his fabulous lineage and point to the wall where faded ferrotypes of his royal forebears hung as well as a coat of arms with a large fleur-de-lis surrounded by elaborate filigreed fretwork. In truth, he had developed a foolproof method of counterfeiting francs and was operating from an abandoned farmhouse nearby. Since he'd been so fastidious and fussy, they came out so flawlessly duplicated that if you flicked them they had the same exact feel as real francs.

However, the farmer on the neighboring farmland was getting fed up because he couldn't quite figure out why his fuses kept popping so frequently. So he decided to follow a particular wire from his box past his fertile fields then past the fallow to the next farmyard where he found Freddie's mint functioning full throttle stealing his power! Fit to be tied, the farmer started chasing Freddie with a pitchfork but Freddie took off in his Ferrari. By the time my flight reached France, the aforementioned had already occurred and Freddie had again forestalled our meeting. Phooey!

So I called Felix on the phone and he yelled, "You featherbrained flunky! You were foolhardy enough to let this funster slip through your fingertips again?" I replied, "Flapdoodle! My plane was delayed with a cracked fuselage and a flameout in a fanjet so I wasn't futzing around!" Anyway, when I informed him of my tip that Freddie was involved in forgery of a famous painting somewhere in Europe, I was off the hook.

FOURNIER THE FORGER

Recalling his fondness for the self-portrait of Fabritius, Rembrandt's finest pupil, I flew to Rotterdam forthwith! Alas my hopes were fizzled again when I read a note I saw fastened to the back of Fabritius which said "Frankie boy! You've been following me ever since Fenway! Hey, those phony francs were only a foretaste of my artistry! Some hifalutin fellow has forked over a phenomenal sum for the original of this fake for his private collection. In an operation fraught with difficulty for anyone else, I facilely swapped this facsimile for the real one. Too unique to be a fungible asset, it fetched a hefty price from my secret client and fattened my wallet considerably. You must agree I showed great forbearance and was most self-effacing creating this fraudulent one careful to resist any flamboyance or personal Fauvist flourish. As a result the fakery is so finely executed there's not a flyspeck of difference on Fabritius or even the frame!"

Back at the office, Felix said I was a feckless featherweight with flimsy excuses, but when I informed him of my tip that Freddie was near Fresno getting a facelift I was off to Cali.

FREDDIE IN CALI

Actually, Freddie went beyond the plastic surgery film stars demand and was changing his features to look different than the photo on the flysheets Felix was circulating far and wide that said 'WANTED' in huge font. Not only did he remove freckles and furrows and much more but was constantly changing his hairstyle from say flattop to fro and his facial hair from say fuzzy beard to Fu Manchu mustache. On his trail like a foxhound, I wound up at San Francisco Bay where I found out Freddie had just purchased a large fishing boat with many gallons of extra fuel and had sailed off to the foamy sea.

Back at the office, Felix flatly refused to let me continue in the field at this point, but aware of my finances, instead of firing me or putting me on furlough, decided to keep me on as a fix-it i.e. maintenance man.

FELIX TAKES CHARGE

To prove he was no mere functionary, just some figurehead directing a fruitless search, Felix jumped into the fray and took command of the Fast Freddie foxhunt. The fulcrum of Felix's campaign to not get fired soon himself by his flinty superiors was to bring the embarrassing Freddie case to fruition quickly since after all, his continuing exploits weren't mere filler but always front page news.

With much fanfare he put together a flotilla of sorts to pursue Freddie's boat with himself at the flagship (He figured, "Frig it. I'll take a frigate.") and with anything that floated---flyboats, fireboats, flatboats and flatbottom boats, ferryboats, even freighters...you name it!---fanning out in all directions. Not only that, he had any flier available who had a flightworthy craft up in the sky combing the frontier of the Pacific Ocean and even doing flybys in key spots.

Some freakish weather patterns aided Freddie's escape as the sea behind him became fogbound. Unfortunately, his old, shaky vessel went on the fritz barely maintaining flotation and sinking due to worn out ferrules, cracked flanges, and a broken flywheel all so far gone that mere fixative wouldn't hold fast for very long and became unglued. It wasn't like as a fugitive he could just shoot off a flare, so he waited until he ran into some friendly fisherman and hopped a ride. Some flightseers on vacation from Finland reported having flown by some flotsam in their floatplane, but in the end our frogmen wearing those strange formfitting suits and flippers couldn't track him from there to the faraway island near Fiji where he was taken.

POOR FRANKIE FLETCHER

So here I was a fortyish guy who had dreamt of being a flyboy or firefighter if not an FBI agent yet serving as the building's factotum or glorified footman. I replaced fluorescent as well as regular filament lightbulbs, replaced footworn frayed flatweave rugs with newer fluffier floorcovering, and served as the flagman in the parking lot. On the computer I'd format disks then construct firewalls to protect our files and load the fanfold paper into the continuous feed computer printers as well. But then I'd have to furbish doorknobs and nameplates etc. to remove all foreign matter and fingermarks. I was so forlorn and miserable I even let 'em test the new flakjackets on me to see if they were really flameproof.

I was in a funk all day and had a fitful sleep each night over the demotion foisted upon me, so I decided to utilize my flextime, a nice fringe benefit. This freed up some afternoons to try and clear my fuddled mind. As a flyfisherman who preferred saltwater to freshwater, I forwent fluvial treats like trout and caught my own flatfish like fluke and flounder instead of buying them from the fishmonger. I now had time to repair the flashing on my roof, replace the fasciaboard out front, fix a leaky faucet, build a footbridge over a tiny fishpond out back, extend my formica countertop, and add some fiberglass in the attic in case we had a frosty winter. I even bought a fireguard so the flickering flames from the fireplace wouldn't escape and cleaned out the flue.

I flip-flopped over whether to actually quit on Felix but realized I had no fallback job. Prior to joining the force I had toiled for a factoring company as a financier of sorts helping firms maintain cash flow. One day I filled out the necessary forms and advanced serious funds to this particular factory which manufactured home furnishings like futons, finials, and footstools etc. to sell to furniture stores They were on a firm footing at the time, but before they could fulfill and ship out the large purchase order which I had funded they filed Chapter 11. This fiasco almost brought on the foldup of our company too since this was no ordinary fleabite and I was held fully responsible and fired. Feeling this was not altogether fair, I defenestrated the following items...a water fountain, a fax machine, a fireproof safe, a foldout desk, a fruitwood filing cabinet, and my boss' stupid footrest...sending them all crashing down to the forecourt from the fortieth floor. Obviously this wasn't a very fond farewell so I realized I was in fairyland to believe rapproachement wouldn't be foredoomed.

FRANKIE GETS FAT

The professional flogging I had taken as the fall guy for the faltering Freddie case had really fazed me. Part of the fallout was that I was no longer fit as a fiddle but became a fatso gorging like a finback whale raiding the fridge and freezer while my foldaway exercise bike collected dust. I even stopped frequenting the fitness center and stopped paying my membership fee. For breakfast I'd have Frosted Flakes, French toast, a frittata omelet, and flapjacks instead of simple farina. For lunch I indulged at all the fast food franchises consuming fatty burgers, French fries, filet of fish sandwiches, and high fructose soft drinks instead of fresh salad topped with feta. For supper I'd dine out and order chicken fricassee and either Scotch fillet steak cut from the forequarters or foreshank steak, another fine cut with fritters on the side instead of my usual stew of broccoli florets, fennel, and fava beans so rich in folic acid. For dessert I'd get floury creamy confections like flan with frangipane filling or tutti-frutti ice cream flambé. Back at home I'd mix up a frappe and either heat up a frozen dinner or make a Fluffernutter sandwich on focaccia bread before retiring. Maybe Freud could explain why such a formerly finicky fussbudget like myself had forgotten about self-restraint and become such a freakout you might as well've put a feedbag around my neck.

FRANKIE VISITS FERDINAND

Feeling forsaken, I could've joined the Freemasons or consulted a fortune teller but instead sought counsel with my friend and confidante Ferdinand, a Franciscan friar, a man of faith who never spoke falsely. When he wasn't fasting he'd allow himself only bland flatbread for food and simple water for fluid. Somewhat fanatical, he'd often remove his frock and practice self-flagellation, administering to himself forty lashes without flinching.

We walked down a flagstone footpath through the forest at the friary and sat down at a bench under a fir tree while the finches chirped. A veritable fount of wisdom I didn't even consider fallible, he nevertheless looked to the firmament for guidance. He then looked at me with furled brow but forgave me for being so faithless and fickle then said these fortifying words in his folksy manner, "You should realize your current fix is not a fait accompli since you will soon be allowed to forge ahead with the furtherance of your career."

FREDDIE'S OLD FLAME

Sure enough I got a call from Felix that a former female accomplice of Freddie's, one Florence 'Fifi' Fonseca, wanted a face-to-face fireside chat with only agent Frankie Fletcher, his old friend, to correct some fallacies she said the FBI flacks were spreading about her beloved. I knew of this femme fatale from studying Freddie's folder (actually a massive folio) and always wished to visit her in the flatlands of Fon Du Lac WI. where fate had brought them together.

It was well-known that she still had feelings for him ever since she fell for him many years ago and it was folly to think she'd fess up to his whereabouts and fink on him if she knew. Nevertheless, I was figuring at the very least I could gather more factoids and flesh out his character to get a fuller picture of Freddie the man. On this front I opened the floodgates by simply mentioning Freddie's name whereupon she became instantly flushed and felicitous and proved a most flaky, flighty flibbertigibbet. She was still quite fetching in a festive fuchsia dress of finespun fabric with a fleurette pattern showing off her feminine figure. She certainly was no flat-chested sprite in need of falsies and had flowing flyaway flaxen hair a la Farrah Fawcett that glowed in the firelight.

FIFI'S STORY

She had been an innocent fawn of a farm girl doing her filial duty by feeding the chickens, chopping firewood, and tending the flocks of furbearing animals. Freddie, fresh from robbing the local Wells Fargo (well that was our finding though we could never firmly establish it), ditched his getaway vehicle, a Pontiac Firebird, when it failed him and took flight in the forestlands. He went fording through streams and footslogging through muddy fenlands until dehydrated form the frizzling heat, collapsed facedown at the foot of Fifi's stairs. With great faculty for nursing she babied him like a tiny foundling or young foal until he was back on his feet. He fancied her too and said, "A frisky little firecracker like you can't just fritter away your life flitting about this farm." He didn't just make her heart flutter but caused nuclear fission within her which exploded in a fireball and though her daddy forbade her, it was a foregone conclusion the smitten girl just had to be footloose and fancy-free-like a 1920's foxtrotting flapper with a cute little forelock-and go off with her fascinating new beau for a spell.

It was said she was the one who drove the forklift right into a Frederick's of Hollywood window so Freddie could grab all the frilly frou-frou underwear and fishnet stockings after which she then drove the getaway car, a Ford Falcon, by flooring it like it was a Formula One racing car. But Freddie was more old-fashioned than his freethinker reputation suggested and broke it to her with finality, "The very fact that you are not plain and faceless and forgettable foreshadows your doom in crime. I know you want to be my fiancée but my life is constantly in flux and settling down isn't foreseeable. Now we've never feuded and I don't want a falling out, but I must be farseeing and send you back to your father in Fon Du Lac."

RE-EVALUATING FREDDIE

The foregoing tale revealed a favorable facet -a strong moral fiber- I had been fearful he'd lost along the way. When she revealed how freehanded he had been over the years donating to fundraisers for charitable foundations, I realized he
was quite the philanthropist and now saw the falsity of the label that he was a freeloader and lower than a flatworm. "Whether it was for the Jimmy Fund or cystic fibrosis or foster homes, he wanted to make a freewill gesture and give
others a fighting chance," she proudly declared. She added that every February fourteenth she had a floral arrangement and a thoughtful Valentine's gift to look forward to and not fivepenny stuff either. She pointed up to the chandelier she got for a lighting fixture to hang in her foyer, a coat from the furrier to replace her frumpy, frowzy flannel one, and new French doors with perfect feng shui.

FRANKIE HARKENS BACK

I now recalled back in Falmouth there was this effeminate kid Fernando whom the other kids fleeringly called a flaming fruity faggy fey fairy. Freddie insisted we fraternize with him thus providing endless fodder for ridicule from our fair-weather friends with whom we forfeited our good standing....but to this day Fernando, now a famous fashionista, sends me freebies every year from his new fall collection of formalwear. Also, at school when the upperclassmen would stuff the poor freshmen in funky-smelling footlockers, Freddie would be the one to fish the froshes out earning their undying fraternization for his gift of freedom.

BACK TO FREDDIE'S TROPICAL ADVENTURE

At this fishing village near Fiji, the forefathers of the friendly natives had foretold in their folklore, on their fresco paintings, and on their ornamental friezes of a foreigner, fearless as a firedragon, who would one day grace their fatherland and by virtue of his forceful personality would rise to the fore and help them avert famine and vanquish their foes. Freddie facilitated his acclimation by familiarizing himself with the language enough to become fluent (without needing flashcards!) and embracing their venerated folkways instead of flouting them gaining their fealty and admiration. He became like a feudal lord ruling his fiefdom with firmness yet with fairness achieving a fusion of old and new ideas and issuing fiats in florid language. Most important were the ones re foodstuffs ordering them to cultivate more edible fungi and figs, catch more finfish besides just bony filefish, and maintain a stronger fowl population in case they fell upon lean times.

Meanwhile some renegade fedayee in a fez named Fahim who fantasized about establishing himself as some type of fascist fuhrer had found his way to the region. Envious of the bountiful flora and fauna blessing Freddie's peaceful island, this firebrand fomented enough friction among different outside factions to realize the formation of an enemy federation. His fanciful scheme involved putting up a façade of friendliness employing fulsome flattery while putting out feelers about creating a fruitful trade partnership.

FREDDIE GETS ON A WAR FOOTING

Freddie was not fooled by this fawning faker and expected a full-scale invasion with hostile forces swarming in with fervor like a formicary of ants. With this sense of foreboding he had a fortress built around the village, assembled his frontlines and their flanks, and had foxholes dug just in case. He then taught them to fight and defend themselves whether using firearms or engaging in a simple fistfight. He stressed they not flitter about but stand firm yet have instant fluidity of motion like a feline. He even instructed them in fencing so they would be handy with a foil like Errol Flynn. He furnished them with weapons for the inevitable firefight which they learned to fire and fieldstrip quickly.

When his keen ear heard the faint sounds of enemy footfall over a furlong away out in the foreland, he positioned his men to fend them off well before they could gain a foothold. When they attacked with their firebombs and flamethrowers, Freddie, a fountainhead of knowledge always fermenting clever ideas like Ben Franklin, had anticipated it by having enough firebreaks made to contain the fires. Eventually, Fahim's men were surrounded and couldn't move frontwards or backwards so were annihilated, a fitting end.

NATURE'S FUROR

Shortly afterwards though, a fault line fissured on the island sending foreshocks followed by an earthquake in which every freestanding structure toppled. Then came the floodwaters of the resulting tsunami which completely inundated the sinking paradise in a flash. In an almost Felliniesque twist, Freddie happened to be in Formosa at the time in his role as the fiscally responsible fiduciary of the island. He was finalizing the transfer of a large surplus of funds to the Fortis Bank branch there but (and this had been the furthest thing from his mind) with no survivors or country left skipped the formality and just put it all in his fannypack and disappeared for a while.

WHERE'S FREDDIE?

There was a rumor he'd been found by a ferryman on an ice floe near the fjords of Norway not just frostbitten but nearly freezing to death. Another sighting had him as a frontiersman toting a flintlock gun as reported by some farmworkers up near Fairbanks Alaska. Still another report said that he was in Frankfurt, Germany under the pseudonym Frau Fritz working as a fireman and married to a Fraulein who ran a florist shop near the firehouse. Yet another story said that some faint footmarks suggested he was the shadowy figure lurking in the fens at Flanders. And then there were the claims that he was a foreman at... A) a quarry in Fairfield CT. mining feldspar, fieldstone, and other non-ferrous metals, and... B) a foundry in Fitchburg MA. with a firebrick furnace making aluminum fittings.

Meanwhile Felix would search the highways, byways, and flyways of these far-flung locales. When the flurry of sightings proved to be mere folderol, he rued that he was just a comic foil in a cruel farce with Freddie frolicking about like a mischievous faun.

FREDDIE RESURFACES

I was admiring the fall foliage around Boston and then went to the scenic Castle Island area to admire the statue of Admiral Farragut who cried, "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!" (Boy, Freddie and he would have gotten along famously!) and then chilled out over by old Fort Independence on a park bench reading the funny papers and watching the boats float by. Around forenoon according to my fobwatch someone in a felt fedora sat next to me and in a voice with a distant familiarity queried, "What's the forecast friend?" I replied, "Mostly foggy with temps in the forties," but then caught a fleeting glance of him and thought it must be a figment of my imagination. So I turned to look and practically flatlined...It was Fast Freddie in the flesh!

He quipped, "Frankie boy, if you don't faint and manage to stop fibrillating perhaps we can chew the fat." He continued, "I know your life's gone all flooey because of me, but I didn't forget you and want to grant a big favor out of fellowship to you. It will be a feather in your cap and you'll be feted all over as some dashing figure from an Ian Fleming novel with flashbulbs popping everywhere you go. Now tell that featherheaded Felix that he should be arrested or at least fined for the fraud of impersonating an FBI agent. I mean he must be looking through a distorted fisheye lens to fatuously suppose he could come anywhere close to sinking his fangs into me like you did."

"Now I hate to be funereal, but I must speak plainly and not figuratively and tell you my health is so frail that my physician, after picking up something on his fiberscope, has given me a very finite time to live, just a few weeks. My fumatory habit I thought so fashionable has caught up with me though I smoked the filtered cigarettes with menthol flavoring." He pulled out a flask and took a sip of firewater and offered it to me..."Hey, keep it for forensics too since it has my fingerprints and DNA for proof we met. Now I know the founding fathers of the FBI, even when they laid down the framework of the agency, didn't want you agents freelancing and making deals so run this up the flagpole and see if they'll play footsie with me."

"Now I'm a freeborn man and must die a freeman so I will not allow Felix to lead me in fetters to Folsom Prison. As for my fortune which you have estimated at 10 million, well it's actually fourfold if you're talking cash, fivefold if you're including secretly held property in which I do have freehold status. I'm willing to fork over 45 of it to you Freddie to make amends as long as you Feds let me funnel 5 million cash (just frosting off the cake) to Fifi in Fon Du Lac. Also my body must be sent to the funeral parlor of her choice so she can faithfully lay me down six feet under and put my footstone next to her plot."

"It looks like I'm more than a fad with only fifteen minutes of fame and my name will live on. I went to a flea market the other day and saw Fast Freddie action figurines, flowerpots, nail files, and everything else including Fast Freddie faceplates for your flip phone and even Fast Freddie flipbooks where my career unfolds as you flick the pages. I don't see a farthing from this flood of merchandise but it's nice to have such fandom. Heck, they've got internet forums and fanzines galore all with huge followerships spinning folktales about Fast Freddie 24/7!"

CONCLUSION

We parted friends and Felix and co. took over from there and agreed to the Faustian bargain before Freddie passed on. Not only that, Francis Ford Coppola, a filmmaker with one of the most impressive filmographies around, made a flick ?The Life & Times of Fast Freddie Fournier? starring Colin Farrell as Freddie, Colin Firth as Frankie Fletcher, the lovely Framke Jannsen as Florence 'Fifi' Fonseca, and Peter Fonda as Felix Feliciano. It was not just a finalist but won first prize at the Cannes Film Festival and filmgoers worldwide flocked to it.

The End

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