When you have a sliver of a story and some pieces are missing, what do you do? You create your own story. I never met Free Wheeling Frank. My mom did. Now I don’t know if he arrived on campus as some sort of nomad or with a girlfriend. However, I think it was speculated he was the boyfriend of some NEC student. I used that idea for my story and created the girl too. I built a whole backstory for these two, with how they met and how they came to England. I don’t know if my mom knew Frank’s name. So we don’t know what Frank’s real name was. This is why Frank remains a legend in our household to this day. My Dad and have talked about this character many times. It reminds us of mom and makes us chuckle at how she talked about this guy.
When my mother passed she took the secrets with her to the grave. I didn’t want to know what his name was. I didn’t care. He was a mystical legend to me. He mysteriously arrived on campus one day and then mysteriously left without much fan fare. I don’t even know if this guy was a Hell’s Angel. He could have been some motorcycle enthusiast who was a hippie. The whole story was incredibly wild as was that first year that NEC Arundel.
Without Free Wheeling Frank’s name, or complete story, I was given the freedom to play with the facts and create an interesting story. There has always been some confusion between the two books, Free Wheeling Frank and Zen, the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Two fictional accounts of two completely different stories about the same theme. Motorcycle riding. Every time I would mentioned Free Wheeling Frank, someone would add the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in the title. I wanted to say, no I don’t think that’s it. For so many years, I wasn’t sure whether the book Free Wheeling Frank actually existed. Once I did my research, and found the book at long last, I decided to use this confusion as part of the story. It almost fits. Here’s a guy looking for a book named Free Wheeling Frank, after he lost it and no one has heard of it, or they think it is another book entirely. I don’t know if my mother tried to obtain the book for Frank. However, it would have been within my mom’s obsessive compulsive nature, to do just that. My mother was like a pitfall with a bone. She would not let go when she had an idea in her head.
This episode shines my mom in a bright light. My mom is the star in this episode. I think I have brought out a lot of her enthusiasm. Every student that walked into that bookstore, would tell you that Pris Murray was one of the friendliest, kindest people they ever met. If you knew my mom, and came into her bookstore, I hope this is how you remember her.
There are elements of my mom’s mental illness. Part of it is shown here. In this episode we first hear about my mom’s nervous breakdown in a conversation between my Dad’s character and my sisters. We also have a sense of it through this episode. We see her highs when she figures something out and her lows when she is hit with a roadblock. get In this episode Eileen is obsessed with finding this book for this student. She will stop at nothing. I decided to start this episode with sort of an odd Ray Chandler dream sequence. My mother becomes the detective in these dream sequences. I play around with corny gags and music within the dream sequence. I even spoof the fact, that my Mom and Dad, looked like Betty Davis and Clark Gable. When my Dad tells my mother, because you have Betty Davis eyes, I couldn’t resist but play the intro to the song of the same name. I went with the gag and took it further where they had no idea where the music came from. I then did it again later, with the George Thorogood song, “I Drink Alone.” I had a blast writing these scenes, because I loved all those 1940’s PI movies. They are so easy to make fun of. I also loved the fact, that my mother comes off as a strong independent woman in these dream sequence scenes.
Without further adieu, I give you The Legend of Free Wheeling Frank. Enjoy.
As always if you have not read an episode or if you haven’t read any of my series I will put links here for those previous episodes for you to read.