By: Arnold Bustillo
This is the story of the imaginary friend I had when I was a child. To be fair, the friend was not totally imaginary, because part of him was real. He had a real face, with real features, and he really lived with me in the house I grew up in. What was imaginary about the friendship were the conversations I had with him. I called him Frasier. I got the name from that TV show, but the reason I called him Frasier was because it sounded a little like freezer, and that was where Frasier lived. Frasier in the freezer, cold as ice he always was.
In my mind, I can still see the look on his face, a constant look that never changed. The expression frozen on his face was always one of surprise, with eyebrows raised and mouth slightly ajar, as if he never expected me to drop in, but was always glad to see me when I did. An only child raised by a single father who worked two jobs, my visits to Frasier in the freezer were nothing more than a way to pass time. I’m in my late teens now, but I can remember growing up with Frasier in the freezer ever since I was old enough to access the freezer on my own. Ours was an older model, the kind with the refrigerator on the bottom and the freezer on top. I remember having to drag a chair across the kitchen so I could reach the fruit pops that we kept in the freezer door. As I got older, and grew taller and taller, I could see more and more into the depths of the freezer.
At first, I could only see the tippy top of what looked like a spiky hairline. I could see the top of the hairline from the first day I had to stand on the chair to get to my fruit pops. As I grew taller, I noticed that what looked like a hairline was attached to what looked like a forehead. By this time, I still wasn’t interested in anything but my fruit pops, and since the hairline was in view for as long as I was getting fruit pops on my own, I thought nothing of the forehead attached to the hairline.
By about nine or 10 years old, I didn’t need the chair to reach the fruit pops anymore, and when I opened the freezer door, I could see what appeared to be eyebrows connected to the base of the forehead. By then, about half my life was spent knowing that this thing was in the freezer, so I continued to think nothing of it.
I do remember asking my dad what the thing was. I told him it looked like a head – like we kept a head in the freezer.
“It is a head,” he told me, “where else would we keep it?”
“Why do we have a head in the freezer?” I asked him.
“A lot of people keep heads in freezers,” he said, “but it’s not polite to talk about it.”
“Why don’t we talk about it?” I asked him.
“The same reason we don’t talk about wiping our butts; because it’s just not polite.”
“Oh,” I said.
The explanation was good enough for me. If my dad said a lot of people keep heads in the freezer, and if my dad had no reason to lie to me, then it must have been normal, right?
By the time I was tall enough to see the eyes of Frasier in the freezer, that was when I began talking to him. Sometimes, if I was making a snack in the kitchen and I wanted somebody to talk to, which was pretty frequently, I would open the freezer and just say whatever was on my mind. Frasier wouldn’t respond, obviously, but I would talk to him nonetheless. I’d tell him jokes I heard on TV, I’d tell him about things I saw and did at school, and I’d even describe the emotions I was feeling as I struggled with puberty. I often wondered what kinds of heads my classmates kept in their freezers, but I knew it wasn’t polite to ask. I had already been labeled the weird kid at school, and I knew better than to start conversations about things like freezer heads and butt wiping, so I kept it to myself.
Dad didn’t come home from work yesterday afternoon. A sheriff’s deputy told me I was old enough to know what happened, and he said my dad had hurt some people. He said my dad got mad at some guys at work and hurt them all real bad, and then he hurt himself, and now he was gone. This made me cry, and the deputy put a hand on my shoulder to comfort me. He said something about standard procedure, and asked if some other deputies could take a look around the house. I told him they could.
I’m not sure what they were looking for – maybe other kids in the house, or maybe more guns – but one of them just happened to open our freezer. I could see the kitchen from the couch I was sitting on, and I saw out of the corner of my eye as a female deputy opened the freezer and nearly fell startled on her ass. I wasn’t sure what she saw that surprised her so much.
The deputy caught herself so she didn’t fall, but she looked over at me. In a half scream and half whisper, she said, “What the fuck is this?”
Other deputies went to see what she had found, and each one also gasped when they peeked into the freezer for themselves. I got up from the couch to see what the fuss was about, but saw nothing out of the ordinary.
The same deputy who told me that my dad had killed himself turned to me, very seriously, and he asked me, “Son, why is there a head in your freezer?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, a little surprised, “where do you keep yours?”