The Night I Drove Freeman Home
He could highlight a stressed point with the most deliberate pause.
By Tom Sheehan
I had heard Freeman Frank read his piece, “Anonymous,” and was liberated from my hopes of finding the special touch that I heard from him. Something about him said Maine: sharp, to the point, undressed prose that lived, like the directions you get from a side road walker Downeast. Freeman had come straight at me as if he were saying, Listen to me, son, this is the way it’s done.
We had been at Out Loud Open Mike’s meeting at Beebe Estates and went into slick wind’s patches of ice and snow. Travel, over such a short distance to my car, was treacherous to the man with an aluminum walker. I did not know what he was tolerating, measuring, or casting aside to be out on such a night to hear poets and writers read, to allow his own voice to brighten the walls, pause, brighten a few hearts, knock me on my butt.
I reveled in the drive to his home, wondering what I’d do if the car failed on such a night, listening to his speech the way it spun out with likely pauses, the way punctuation’s known. He could highlight a stressed point with the most deliberate pause, as if the 40-year old debating coach techniques of high school teaching were being employed. Freeman could make you sit up and wait for his next pronouncement; it was like a silent clarion call, that caesura of his, that singular pause, that finger pointed right at your eyes, saying, Heed me. Truth is here. When you go your way, make sure you bring some of me.
You’re damned right, Freeman.
I helped him from the car, his arms strong from the body lifting he was now used to. A man of short words, plain words, for sure. “Anonymous” kept coming back to me, bare boards in the wind, as clear as a Downeast lake in a winter wind, sheer as ice, how it later lit up the pages of the Wolf Moon Press Journal (Nov/Dec 2006).
I dared to ask him to write reviews or critiques of two of my books.
“I will,” he said, in short order. He did.
On the way home, after meeting his wife, Sally, after his setting himself down in his chair, Sally and him alone again with Time and Pain and utter Truth, I tried again to…