Frankie Valli's life was finally coming together. Granted, Lorraine left him, but things were good. He had found a new girl, Angela, and she was wonderful, sweet, beautiful, and smart. Also, he and his daughter, Francine, were closer than they had ever been,
It was Friday, his favorite day of the week. Why? Because Friday, Francine always called him, and when they finished, he would call Angela. Between the two of them, he could talk half the night.
The phone rang.
He walked over to the phone, and pushed off a couple pages of music Bob had left on it. Smiling, excited to talk to his daughter, he picked up the phone, "Francine."
The smile quickly faded as he realized it wasn't Francine on the other end. It was a doctor. "This is Dr. Anderson of New Jersey Medical."
"Is this a relation of Francine Valli?"
"Yes. This is her father." Frankie's heart began to beat harder and faster.
"I'm sorry to tell you that your daughter died of a heroin overdose."
His heart stopped. The doctor's voice was so cold and matter-of-fact. It was hard to comprehend how he could be so emotionless while talking about someone's child. "What?"
"She was brought in only five minutes ago and dies almost immediately. We're going to need you to come down to identify the body."
"I'll be there." He hung up the phone. "Oh my God." As tears filled his eyes, he ran out of the apartment. It was raining, and he was wearing a thin t-shirt, but he didn't think to take his jacket.
A minute or so later, Bob Gaudio, walked into the apartment he shared with Frankie while they were on tour. He called to Frankie but realized he wasn't there.
The doorbell rang. "Use your key." Bob called, sure it was Frankie. It rang again, and Bob got up to answer it. He was surprised to see Angela at the door. She was planning on surprising Frankie.
"I don't spend that much time here." She laughed, as she walked in.
"Sorry. I thought you would be Frankie."
"He's not here?"
He wasn't there. He had run into the garage and jumped into his car. The Cadillac swerved several times, once scraping a lamppost, but he didn't stop. He wanted to be with his daughter as soon as possible. Though he knew it couldn't happen, he couldn't help but hope that he would see his daughter, and that the phone call was a mistake.
"Where is he?" Angela asked.
"I don't know. I was in the other guys' room, and when I came back, he was gone."
"No note or anything?" She was getting worried.
"No." He saw that Frankie had forgotten his jacket, and he laughed a little.
"He forgot his jacket."
Bob found this funny, but Angela took it very differently. One flaw she did have was a slight tendency to panic. "Oh my God. Something must have happened. It's freezing and raining outside. He wouldn't just leave without a jacket. What if he's hurt?" She started to panic.
"I was only gone for a few minutes, and he was fine when I left."
"But still. I'm going to try to find him. I'll call." She grabbed his jacket and ran out.
Frankie walked down the hospital hallway to the morgue. Once he reached it, he didn't go in. He just stood outside, staring at the door.
A doctor came out. "Sir, do you need anything?"
"I'm here to identify a body.
"Oh please then, come this way." The doctor led him in, and asked whom he needed to identify.
Angela called Bob from a different hospital. "I checked the clubs he likes, and no one has seen him at all. I just checked at a hospital, and he's not here. I'm going to check the other hospital in town."
"Okay, call me if you need any help."
She jumped into a cab once she hung up the payphone.
It was so simple. He had just said, "Yes. That's my daughter." He was allowed to be alone with her for a couple of minutes. During that time half of him wanted to run away, deny that his daughter was dead in front of him. The other half wanted to collapse by her, feel her long, wavy brown hair. He compromised by standing stock-still and sobbing uncontrollably. Now he was waiting for them to gather her things: her clothes, her shoes, and her needles. "Those damn needles." He thought, still crying. Talking to his pastor didn't help either. He had told him not to blame himself, but he couldn't tell him whom he should blame.
Angela went to the receptionist's desk. "Is there a Francis Castelluccio Valli here?"
After checking a log, she said, "No."
As Angela walked away, the receptionist stopped her, "Oh, but we have a Francine Valli."
"Oh?" Angel turned.
"Yes. Oh no. She is in the morgue. Her father just identified he body."
"Which way is the morgue?" Angela was worried, realizing what had happened. She ran down the hall to which the receptionist had pointed.
The doctor's gave Frankie hi daughter's things, and let him take one more look. As the doctor started telling him tom leave, he froze. He couldn't leave his daughter, his beautiful little girl. One of the doctors tried to make him move, but he punched him, screaming, "No. I can't leave her. Let go…" He fought three men as they tried to lead him away.
Angel heard cries from down the hall, and she ran even faster. She knew how hurt he had to be. He loved his daughter and talked about her all the time.
Men had succeeded in pushing Frankie out of the morgue, as Angela reached them. He was fighting against three very bruised men. She grabbed his shoulders, turning him around, and yelled, "Listen to me. Listen! You have got to stop. Francine would not want to have seen you like this. Now, calm down!"
He stared at her. Finally seeing a familiar face, other than the doctor's he didn't know, and feeling suddenly weak and exhausted, he collapsed into her sobbing.
She pulled him to a bench on the side of the hallway. Between sobs, he forced out, "My daughter…Francine…Oh God…Why?" and various other incoherent sentences. She stroked his back, whispering consolations, as he rested his head on her shoulder and cried.
The pastor walked by and asked if he could do anything. She handed him money and asked him to pay the cab driver.
Frankie moved, holding his head in his hands. "God, why did you take her? Why didn't you just kill me?"
"Don't say that, love." She put her arms around his shoulders and pulled him closer to her.
"I was almost done. How much longer could I keep singing? I couldn't look forward to more. She had her whole life ahead of her. She would have been amazing. God why?"
Taking his face in her hands, she made him look into her eyes. "You still have more life to live. Francine shouldn't have died, but you couldn't change that"
"I should have been there for her, protected her." He leaned back to her shoulder. "I didn't need to sing. I could have been there more than two fucking nights a year. Mary and I would have stayed together. I'm such a damn screw-up."
"No. If you were back home, what would you have been? A hairdresser making almost nothing. You and Mary would still fight, and you would till probably have gotten divorced. It would have hardly been better."
"But Francine." He continued crying. Almost twenty minutes later, his head fell into her lap. He was asleep,
She ran her fingers lightly down his hair and face. She began to cry for him. He looked so tired and weak; he could have been ten years older than he was. It was almost 1:00 a.m. She remembered she had to call Bob.
"Excuse me?" She asked a passing nurse.
"Is there a phone I could use?"
"There is a pay phone down the hall to the left."
"Anything closer? I don't want to leave him alone for too long."
Angela slowly slid from under Frankie, placing her coat under his head. She then covered him with his own jacket. Kissing him lightly on the forehead, she said, "I'll be back soon." And she walked sown the hall.
She picked up the receiver and dialed. It rang three times before Bob picked up. "I found him."
"Oh good. Is he okay?" Bob was worried about his friend.
"Well, I guess. Francine died."
"He's taking it pretty hard."
"I'm sure. Do you need any help?"
"Come meet me at New Jersey Medical. I don't know where his car is, and I think we should get him home."
"Sure. I'll be there in fifteen minutes."
They said goodbye and hung up.
Meanwhile, Frankie woke up. It took a few moments before reality fell in on him again. He remembered why he had come. Then he remembered that Angela had been there. "Angela. Angie?" He began to call. "Angela." Panic swept over him. He suddenly was afraid that he lost her too. He started screaming, "Angela." A nurse tried to calm him down, but he threw her off and began to run down the hall.
Angela had heard the yells and got to him as quickly as possible. "Frankie. Frankie, it's all right, baby. I'm here." His knees buckled, but she held him up. "Bob will be here soon, and he'll drive us home."
Frankie nodded. Once Bob arrived, they all got into the car. No one said a word. They couldn't think of anything to say.
At the hotel, Bob asked, "Are you staying tonight?"
"I think I'd better. I was planning it anyway, but I don't think I'll be carrying out my original plans."
Bob smiled and nodded, "Goodnight."
She returned the wish and went into Frankie's bedroom. He sat on the bed, staring into space. She could still see tears in his eyes. Sitting down, she wiped a couple of them away with her thumb.
He took her hand. "You pay your taxes. You put your trust in a system. You think your kids are safe. What are you supposed to do, put 'em on a leash, chain 'em to the bed? They grow up. They go out, and some motherfucker with a needle is waiting, and its over. How do you compete with that?" He buried his face in his hands and continued to cry.
"You can't, baby. You can't." She ran her hand up and down his back, trying to comfort him.
Once he stopped crying, they went to sleep. He spent the night clinging to her like a lost child. She worried about him all night.
A week later, Frankie watched his little girl's casket being lowered into the ground. Bob, Nick, Tommy, Angela, and Mary were there, along with other friends and relatives.
Frankie sat in a white folding chair. He, Mary, and Angela were the last ones there. Then Mary walked up and said goodbye. She was crying too. Frankie knew she didn't want him to see that, so he didn't say anything. Angela stood next to Frankie with her arm around his shoulders, once Mary left.
"You've bee great this last week. Thank you."
She shook her head. "No not…"
"No really. You have." He cut her off. "Could I be alone for a minute? I want to say goodbye."
"Of course." She kissed him on the forehead before walking off.
He sat down by the grave marker and began to quietly sing. "You're home again, I'm glad you kept the key. Been waiting here, it seems a million years to me. But hush now, I know you're all cried out. It's all right. Inside, I've had no doubt about your love for me. I can see behind the tears. I'm certain of the way we feel, and given time the hurt will heal."
He saw Francine, her long hair and beautiful eyes. He felt her hand on his. Through tears, he continued to sing. "You're home again, so won't you close the door. Stay here with me, and we'll forget what's gone before. Just hold me tight. Our love is gonna make it right. Put shadows way beyond recall. The ghost has almost gone. Fallen angel, I'll forgive you anything. You can't help the things you do, now something's gotten hold of you. Fallen angel, got a demon in your soul. And later when the fever's gone, I'll be here where you belong."
Francine faded from his view. Angela was walking up to him. He stood up and went to her. Taking her hand, they went to the car and went home.