Beyond the Western
Chester Franks, Nobody Special?
Scott A. Gese

Image source: Kristina Tamasauskaite/Unsplash

Chester Franks was believed to be nobody special. That’s because his neighbors didn’t really know him.

Beyond the Western

The old man lived in a modest tract home nestled in the midst of a very large middle class neighborhood.

He didn’t entertain and he rarely socialized. He was reclusive, minded his own business and kept to himself. His neighbors didn’t know much about him and he liked it that way.

They did talk about him among themselves. Curiosity being as it is, they tried to figure him out.

Their curiosity had evolved into some sort of odd fixation as they pried around the edges of his life. The opening that would expose some details eluded them.

The only fact they knew about the man was his name, Chester Franks. That came about when one of the neighbors accidentally got his electric bill delivered to their box. The neighbor took it over to him. Chester thanked him but that was the extent of the conversation.

Chester always took care of his property. He hired a maintenance company to keep the yard clean and the lawn mowed. His groceries were delivered. He didn’t own a car but every now and again he took a cab somewhere. Usually with a pet carrier. It was assumed he had a cat. Although no one had ever seen it.

If someone saw Chester outside, they would offer a friendly hello and he would respond in kind, but there was never any small talk beyond the greeting.

His name was Chester Franks. That was known. A couple of the more nosy neighbors did some online research of the name. They came up with several Chester Franks, but no way of knowing which one, if any, was correct.

One was rich and secretive, but he was followed closely by reporters of rag magazines. His life wasn’t as secretive as he would have liked. The neighbors figured this was not their man.

One was a noted author who hadn’t been heard from in over a year and one had little in the way of footnotes. He was ordinary, nobody special.

It was generally assumed that their Chester Franks was the one they considered to be ordinary and nobody special.

One day in late Summer, there was a commotion in Chester’s yard. It was on one of those rare occasions when he happened to be outside puttering around the yard.

Richard, the neighbor across the street noticed a couple of teenage boys picking on him. As Richard hurried over to intervene one of the kids punched Chester in the face. They both took off running before Richard could get to them.

Chester fell to the ground. His nose was bleeding. Richard helped him up and assisted him into his house. It was the first time anyone in the neighborhood had seen the inside.

The house was sparsely furnished but very well kept. A large bookcase in the living room was filled with hundreds of books. An old Underwood №5 typewriter sat on an ornately carved wood desk. An open notebook sat next to it.

Richard helped Chester to get his nose to stop bleeding.

Chester thanked him for his help and then did something out of the ordinary. He offered him a cup of coffee.

Richard accepted the offer and after some small talk, he spent the next hour listening to Chester as he revealed the most fantastic story of his life. A story no one in the neighborhood would have ever guessed.

It turns out he was not the man they thought of as ordinary and nobody special.

He was in fact the well known and very prolific author who had not been heard from for a time.

Chester told Richard that he had never married. His first and only love of his life was the №5 Underwood typewriter that sat on his desk. He had used it to write all of his books. When computers came on the scene he shunned them.

Chester was old school. The click of the Underwood’s keys was music to his ears. The sound helped put him in a zone when he wrote. He had no intention of giving that up.

He talked about how he first started writing. How in the beginning of his career he enjoyed the fame and notoriety his writing brought him. He spent lots of money on frivolous objects that brought him little joy.

The fame, the fortune, the deals and the deadlines slowly overwhelmed him. He wanted to hide from it all, but he couldn’t stop writing.

There were too many thoughts in his head that beckoned to be released and he had to oblige them. He tried to escape by taking on a pen name.

It worked for awhile. When those books became popular his work was recognized and he was once again forced to change his name.

He had written over one hundred books. Eighty-five were best sellers and twenty had been made into movies of which eight had become blockbusters.

Chester Franks was a millionaire many times over.

He had always made it clear to those who knew him, his writing wasn’t about the money. It never was. It was always about love. The love of writing, of bringing stories and characters to life, of living in a dream world if only for a time. It was a love that ran deep within his heart and soul. It’s what he lived for.

Although you would never know it by looking at the man, Chester was 72. He was just finishing up another book after taking a much needed break.

Chester Franks was both rich and famous, but all he really wanted was to be nobody special. Just a simple man who loved his gift of writing and his privacy.

Richard and Chester became good friends. When the neighbors asked, Richard would always tell them Chester was ordinary and nobody special. His secret was never revealed.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.