by Jerry Guarino
Ill take it,
said Frank. The man handed him $500 in crisp, one
hundred dollar bills. As he left the room, police
arrested the Wall Street brokers for bribery of
an SEC official. Is that it for now?
Frank asked the attorney.
Yes, Mr. Jones, we have everything on tape.
Well call you when the trial starts.
Frank nodded. Thank you counselor. Glad I
Frank was an actor that police used in sting
operations. But Frank had a secret. He was also a
con man, good enough to fool law enforcement.
Whether on the stage, conniving money out of a
tourist or working for the police, Frank was a
committed actor. He was always in character, a
regular OCD in costume. Talk about hiding in
Over on 42nd Street, Frank was playing Professor
Harold Hill, the famous charlatan in The Music
Man. Once a regular in the major theaters, he was
still good enough for the off-Broadway revivals. Oh
my dear little librarian. You pile up enough
tomorrows and youll find you are left with
nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I dont
know about you, but Id like to make today
worth remembering. Frank charmed his
audience just like when he was pulling a con.
When he wasnt in the theater or helping the
police, he would like to wander through the
bookstores in the city, signing fake autographs
for tourists or otherwise pretending he was
someone else. A woman in her sixties bumped into
Frank as she was leaving the Barnes and Noble.
Frank apologized. So sorry, Miss. Are you
The woman stepped away and excused herself.
Oh, it was my fault sonny. I wasnt
looking. Say, arent you Frank Jones? Youre
in The Music Man.
Frank smiled, Yes Maam, thats
She took out a playbill. We saw you last
week. Could I get an autograph?
Frank pulled out a felt pen. Of course,
whats your name dear?
After some small talk, Frank went into the
bookstore and browsed. Then he saw her, the
strawberry blonde clerk with horn-rimmed glasses,
a crème colored cardigan sweater, navy blue
skirt, knee socks and clogs, putting books up on
a display. As an actor, Frank knew how to
approach women and his good looks belied his age,
easily 15 years older than the coed working part-time.
Frank took note of her nametag. Susan, can
you help me?
Susan put down the books she was holding. Of
course. Her smile fell on Frank like a
Hawaiian waterfall, complete with a rainbow.
Im looking for the drama section.
Susan turned to her left. Its down
here; let me show you. Susan walked ahead
of Frank in the narrow aisle. He could smell her
perfume, a citrus blend and closed his eyes for a
This is one of my favorite sections.
Sometimes an actor will come in and sign one of
the copies. Susan paused.
Are you in school? said Frank.
Susan nodded. Yes, Im finishing up at
Columbia. Frank realized this wasnt
one of those shop girls he could manipulate.
I didnt catch your name.
Frank extended his hand. Frank Jones.
Susan concluded. Well, it was nice to meet
you Frank Jones. Hope you find a book you like.
She turned to leave when Frank interrupted.
Arent you going to show me those
Susan pulled a couple books out. All right.
This is signed by Angela Lansbury, this one by
Meryl Streep and this one by Carol Channing.
Frank tried to see a book on The Music Man
while maintaining eye contact with Susan. Do
you have anything by Meredith Wilson?
Susan checked the books under W. Oh, yes.
Heres one, on The Music Man. Do
you like musicals?
Frank saw his opening. This one, yes. Im
playing in it at the 42nd Street Theater.
I thought you looked like an actor,
she said modestly. Do you have a playbill
you can sign?
Frank looked into Susans eyes, smiled and
offered. Ill give you one and a
ticket to the show. What time do you get off work?
Susan was pleased but held him back a bit, as she
brushed her hair back. I dont know,
what about tomorrow?
Frank glided easily into his next line. My
dear Susan. You pile up enough tomorrows and youll
find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty
yesterdays. I dont know about you, but Id
like to make today worth remembering.
In the elegant Italian restaurant, Frank wined
and dined Susan. Susan, I havent felt
this way in a long time. It feels like the first
time I was on Broadway.
Susan blushed. Really Frank, you must have
had too much wine.
Frank touched her hand. Im not acting
Susan. Youre very special. She
squeezed his hand back. Check please
said Frank to the waiter.
Frank gave the waiter a fake credit card and a
generous tip. Susan pretended not to notice but
she saw the name, Frank Johnson, before he put
the card back in his wallet. Frank took Susans
hand and they walked out. A horse and carriage
was waiting, with a bouquet of flowers on the
seat. These are for you. He helped
her into the seat and put a blanket over her lap.
Susan nestled her head on his shoulder and held
his hand under the blanket. After a ride though
the park, the carriage pulled up to Franks
apartment on Central Park West.
Seeing the bakery next door, Susan whispered in
Franks ear. Can we pick up some
Frank was confident now. Whatever you like
Susan picked out two rich chocolate pastries with
berries and whipped cream. Mmm. These are
perfect! They walked arm in arm upstairs to
his apartment and paused at the door. Frank
pulled Susans face toward him and kissed
her slowly. Susan leaned up against him and
Now inside, Susan saw the view from his living
room window. Oh, you have a view of the
Frank took her coat and pointed to the couch.
Would you like coffee with dessert?
Susan relaxed on the couch, took off her shoes
and felt the texture of the cushions. Yes,
After a leisurely give and take with coffee and
pastry, Susan took Franks hand and led him
to the bedroom. Frank liked the assertion of this
young woman and followed obediently. Dessert
isnt over yet, she said looking back
with a wink.
Susan took off her earrings and necklace, placing
them on the dresser. Frank took out his wallet
and put it in the dresser drawer. Excuse me
for a minute Frank as she went into the
bathroom. When she came out, Frank saw the full
beauty of Susans 59 athletic
frame, silhouetted against the nightlight from
the bathroom. I used your toothbrush, ok?
Frank would have agreed to anything at that point,
but he merely smiled and touched her as he
entered the bathroom. Just give me a minute,
Susan quickly looked into the top dresser drawer
and saw a credit card and passport with Frank
Johnsons name. She also saw a gold bracelet
with his name engraved on the inside. Taking out
her phone, she snapped photos, then slipped into
the bed, her dress draped across the bedpost.
After an intoxicating night of lovemaking, Susan
made breakfast and they ate on the balcony.
Central Park is so beautiful at sunrise
Frank stroked her arm. All the more with
Susan ran her fingers through her hair. So
this isnt some one night stand that you
actors are famous for?
Frank seemed surprised. Not a chance,
sweetheart. Ive been looking for a woman
like you for a long time.
Susan, though much younger, seemed similarly
smitten with him. Then I expect youll
make good on that ticket for tonight. Frank
made another offer. Ill leave a
ticket for you at the box office. The performance
runs from 7:30 to 9:30. Then we can have a late
Susan finished her coffee and left to take a
shower. Its a date. I have to get
ready for work.
Frank and Susan continued their romance
throughout the week and met for brunch that
Sunday. While Frank was paying the check, Susan
excused herself. Ill be right back
lover and she kissed him on the neck.
The waiter brought back the credit card, watched
Frank sign it and gave it to the FBI agents who
took him into custody. Well, Mr. Jones. We
finally discovered your little secret.
Frank walked out with his head down, like he had
been hit by a Hawaiian waterfall, a big one,
without the rainbow. Susan came back to see him
in handcuffs. Sorry my dear he told
her as they took him away. He never realized he
had been set up.
Nice work Susan. See you at the trial?
Susan put crisp hundred dollar bills in her
pocket. Of course. Have to get to my next