With his brown skin and long dreadlocks, Frankie realized he stood out among the white bar crowd. Yet, he didn’t give a damn. As he sat alone at the bar counter, the only thing Frankie cared about was enjoying his beer.
The jukebox played a country song. Frankie didn’t know the artist or the song. Plus he hated most country music.
Still, he continued drinking. That was tonight’s main focus, enjoying his beer.
On Frankie’s right, a white guy walked up and sat on the bar stool beside him. The guy’s short dark hair grayed at the temples.
He looked at Frankie and smiled.
“Hey, bro,” he said.
Frankie nodded his head. Because his mind focused on drinking alone, the guy sitting next to him annoyed Frankie. A peaceful night alone had flowed down the drain.
“Buy you a drink?” the guy asked.
Frankie hesitated. He didn’t want the drink. He just wanted to be alone. He didn’t want to appear rude, either.
“Sure,” Frankie said.
The man ordered the drinks.
After the drinks arrived, he held out his hand.
“Luke,” he said.
Frankie shook his hand and said, “Frankie.”
“I hope I’m not intruding, bro. You just look like a cool dude to talk to.”
“No problem, man. Thanks for the beer.”
“My pleasure. I’ve always been cool with the brothers. When I was in the joint, I hung out with some bad motherfuckers. Like this guy named Tony Tucker. Tony didn’t take shit from no one. One day some motherfucker was talking shit to Tony. Tony walks up to that motherfucker and knocks him right smack in the fucking mouth. ”
When Luke mentioned prison, Frankie nearly freaked out. He wondered what Luke served time in prison for. Hopefully, it wasn’t for anything violent.
“Yea, man,” Luke continued. “I’ve always been cool with the brothers.”
Then, Luke looked Frankie over.
“So, where are you from originally?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” Frankie asked.
“You wear dreadlocks but you don’t sound Jamaican. I thought I heard a New York accent or something.”
“Fuck New York. I’m from Jersey.”
“New Jersey, huh?”
“Yea, I moved here about five years ago.”
“That’s the thing about Florida. Everyone is from somewhere else. Not me. I’m a cracker. Born right here in Orlando.”
When he heard the word “cracker”, Frankie tried his damnedest holding laughter in.
“That’s cool,” he said.
“My dad was a cracker,” Luke continued. “My grandfather was a cracker. And my great grandfather was a cracker too. Including me, that’s four generations of crackers.”
Luke stared into Frankie’s eyes.
“What’s that look on your face?” Luke said. “I see that smile. Do you know what a ‘cracker’ is?”
Frankie felt pressure caving in. Should he really answer that question?
“Uh…,” he started.
Then, Luke said, “It means I was born in Florida.”
“Oh, okay. I thought it meant something else.”
Luke’s face formed a dirty look.
“It means that too,” he said. “I knew that’s what you were thinking. But back in the old days, ranchers would crack their whips across the backs of the cattle. The cracking of the whip is how the word ‘cracker’ was invented.”
“I didn’t know that,” Frankie said.
“Yes. So, when a white guy tells you he’s a cracker? That means he was born in Florida.”
Frankie couldn’t help it. Maybe, the beer was already influencing his actions. He hesitated asking the next question. But fuck it, he asked it anyway.
“What about Hispanic and black people born in Florida?” he said. “Are they crackers, too?”
A confused look formed on Luke’s face.
“Well,” Luke said. “I guess you might be right. If they were born in Florida, I guess that would make them a cracker too. “
Then, Luke leaned closer to Frankie, making Frankie nervous.
“But between me and you?” Luke said. “Fuck those fuckin’ spics.”
Steaming anger rose inside Frankie.
“What did you say?” he said.
“Come on, bro,” Luke said. “Fuck those people. Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans. I don’t like none of them.”
Frankie resisted the urge of decking Luke upside the head.
“Don’t tell me I offended you,” Luke said.
“What do you have against Hispanics, man?” Frankie said
“Those fucking illegals are taking our jobs. Come on, bro. You and I both know this.”
“Puerto Ricans are American citizens.”
“No, they aren’t. They’re fucking illegals.”
“No, they aren’t. They’re American citizens. Puerto Rico is a United States common wealth.”
“It needs to become uncommon. Have you seen Osceola County lately? Those fuckers have taken over. Until those spics moved in, Osceola used to be cracker territory.”
Frankie’s cellphone rang. He pulled out it out of his pants pocket and looked at it. As the phone continued ringing, he saw his girlfriend Janet’s phone number.
He answered the phone.
“Deja que te vuelva a llamar,” he said.
Luke’s eyes widened as his jaw dropped.
In Spanish, Frankie continued telling Janet he was talking to some racist asshole who didn’t like Hispanic people. Then, he said don’t worry about it. He’ll be fine.
Next, Frankie clicked the phone off.
Then, he looked at Luke and said, “My full name is Franklin Carlos Santiago. Like I said before, I was born in New Jersey. But both my parents are from Puerto Rico.”
Luke stood up and walked away.
Next, Frankie looked at his other beer, the one Luke bought him. He finished his first beer. Then, he picked up the other beer and took a sip. Yes, the idiot almost ruined his night.
At least, he got a free beer out it.
Comments and criticism welcomed.