Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
All Rights Reserved
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Mario V. Farina
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The date was March 8, 2016. Frank Desmond was having a nightmare. There was a right hand pointing to him, the forefinger and thumb fully visible, fingernails, jagged, long, and pointed. Simultaneously, a hollow, echoing, disembodied voice was speaking in a low, ominous-sounding tone, “Frank Desmond, when the date on the calendar tells you it is Friday, the thirteenth of the month, it will also signal a looming of doom for you!”
He awoke shaking with fear, ice-cold blood flowing through his veins. It was two in the morning. “No, no,” he was muttering. His heart was pounding so hard, he could feel its powerful movements in his neck. He lay on the bed waiting for calm to return. Surely, this had been the grandmother of all nightmares, he mused. “Who was it that had interrupted his sleep so violently? What could it mean?” There were no answers forthcoming.
Frank, 54, stocky, with graying hair, was owner of Horizons Unlimited, a company he had formed thirty years before. The company was prospering with one-hundred thirty employees. The company manufactured collectible, granite, bookends, a product where there was not a great deal of competition. Business was good. He was very wealthy. His wife Grace had died many years before and he had never remarried.
Frank knew very little about Friday the thirteenth. Vaguely, he understood dates of this nature were to be feared. He had never before possessed any trepidation toward them. Why had some entity dealt his brain so strongly a blow that he should now fear them? To whom had that ugly hand with the serrated fingernails belong? No matter! He had suffered a nightmare. Everyone has this experience from time to time. All that was required, he decided, was to lie still, calm down, and go back to sleep.
But, sleep did not come. After an hour of tossing, he muttered, “Evil One, why are you tormenting me?” He had not expected an answer. The shadows in Frank’s bedroom deepened. He stared into the darkness attempting to discern something, anything. Suddenly, it did not matter what he saw so long as it was other than utter blackness. The absolute nothingness made him feel as if he, himself, had dissolved and joined the void. Fear crawled into his psyche emanating from his chest and invading his neck, next his throat, then his brain. “Get away from me, get away,” he screamed, then fainted.
He dreamed. There was a black-shrouded figure. Where his face would have been, was nothingness, a black pit. “Who are you? he cried out!”
“I am Shedim, a demon, the Devil incarnate.”
“Why do you torment me?”
“This is what I do; for this was I created. I am your fears. The reason for my being is to frighten and doom. You will glance at the date. It will be one minute after midnight. You will recoil in terror when you see the date is Friday, the thirteenth. You will die! Fear me, Frank, fear!”
He knew he was dreaming and willed himself to awaken. He did so with a start, a word drumming in his brain, calendar, calendar. To save himself, he needed to avoid seeing Friday 13 on a calendar. He could do something about it! He was the founder and president of his company. There were prerogatives in his company that no employee could oppose. He determined to create a calendar that had no Friday 13s on it. For business purposes, it would be the only calendar his company would allow employees to use.
Uncharacteristically, he threw himself out of bed and rushed to his computer. He saw that the next Friday 13 would occur on May 13. There was no other in 2016. He determined to submit a calendar to the employees that would contain no Friday 13 in 2016. There wasn’t much time, but he dedicated himself to create a new calendar for the current year. This year, Friday, May 13 was to become Friday 31, 2016 and Tuesday, May 31 was to become May 13, 2016. The rest of the year was to remain unchanged. He rushed to his office and began working to implement his idea.
On the following day, he submitted a calendar he had designed to International Calendar Company in Memphis. He requested rush delivery since it was desperately needed well before the current May 13.
Two hundred calendars for the year 2016 were delivered to the company on May 2. Frank asked a trusted employee to examine every page of the product to make sure there was no Friday 13 on any page, especially May. The calendar company had placed a magnificent picture of the company’s main building on the front cover. The remaining pages were devoted to artistic renditions of the signs of the Zodiac.
In his ornate office, He had one of the calendars placed on the wall where the old one had been located. With some trepidation, he turned to the May page. To his delight, where Friday, May 13 should have been, there was May 31. Where Tuesday, May 31 should have been was May 13.
Frank ordered workmen to visit every place in his company where a calendar would be located, remove the old one and replace it with the new. He also instructed the workers to post a document on all the billboards in the company. This is how it read:
You may have noticed that the new calendar posted in all offices has a specific difference that you may, at first, believe is an error. The fact is that the undersigned, owner of the company has designed it to be used for the rest of the year. In May, the date May 13 and May 31 have exchanged places. For all business purposed, the company will use this calendar for the rest of the year. This is the only calendar that may be displayed anywhere in this company. Any employee not observing this requirements will be subject to immediate discharge. This order has no effect in your personal life. For answers to any questions you may have, contact your supervisor.
Frank had taken the trouble to personally sign his name at the bottom of the notice.
In a separate letter to all employees, he ordered that all desk calendars be destroyed and not replaced. He had a meeting with supervisors whereby he instructed them to respond they did not know if employees asked why the owner had provided a special calendar for use in the company.
It had been Frank Desmond’s expectation that business in the company would move forward as usual, and, indeed, it did. There were casual questions, asked be some, about the reason for the calendar’s modification. These were deflected. There was a newspaper article on the subject, and speculations about it on talk shows, but the company continued to sell bookends in the same way as they had always done. When the company’s calendar for 2016 showed Friday, May 31, there were no unusual occurrences in the offices. The next day was Saturday, May 14 and, for most of the employees, it was a day off. Tuesday, May 13 on the calendar was followed by Wednesday, June 1. Employees accepted this eerie switch in stride.
Frank had scheduled a day off for the day before May 31, 2016. On that day, he locked himself into his bedroom and spent the day in self-imposed solitary confinement. He lived the rest of the year in a relatively normal manner though he avoided entering rooms where he knew there were calendars displayed.
The year 2017 presented its own problems. He learned that there were two dates in the year that occurred on Friday the thirteenth. They were January 13, and October 13. He had calendars made that exchanged the two dates with the 31st of the corresponding months. He encountered problems with 2018. There were two Friday 13ths in that year. One of the was in April. April had only thirty days. He exchanged Friday, April 13 that year with
In 2018, there were two Fridays 13s. They were in April and July. April had 30 days. He exchanged the positions of the Friday, April 13 with Monday, April 30.
By replacing the company calendar with a creation of his own that exchanged Friday 13s with another date, Frank was able to avoid viewing Friday 13 on any calendar since he had had his ominous dream. He would dream the dream from time to time, but it never frightened him as much as it had the first time.
In his attempts to encounter that horrible date, Frank learned a great deal about the occurrences of Friday 13. He discovered that every year has, at least, one Friday 13; some years have two, and some have three. It does not matter whether a year is a standard year with 365 days or leap years with 366. He had committed much of what he had learned to memory.
On day in 2014, Frank was having a discussion about leap years with Amos Bradley, a college student. While both readily agreed that 2024 was a leap year and had two Friday 13s, Fred stated they were September 13 and December 13. Amos differed suggesting the dates were April 13 and July 13. The debate quickly became animated and turned into an argument where both men made unkind and unwise statements.
In his fury, Amos reached into his jacket and pulled out a pocket calendar for the current year. He opened it to show September. “See!” he yelled pointing the dates. “There’s no Friday the . . . “ He stopped in mid-sentence. There was a short pause. “Oh, I’m wrong! I apologize!” It was too late for Frank to turn away. He had seen that September 13 was a Friday. He felt a sharp pain in his chest and fell to the floor.
Frank regained consciousness at the hospital. “Mr. Desmond,” the doctor was saying. “You fainted but you’re fine. We’ll be keeping you here for observation for a few hours but we won’t admit you. You were probably a little dehydrated.”
“My heart!” Frank objected.
“There’s nothing wrong with your heart!” Dr. Lyons sternly stated. “We’ll be discharging you in an hour or so. He hospital needs the room for sick people!”
“Friday the 13th! I’ll die. I dreamed . . .”
“That’s a stupid superstition!” exclaimed the doctor. “I don’t have time for drivel. You won’t die today! Bye!” He turned and exited the room.
Frank didn’t die in 2024. He designed no more calendars after 2024 had ended. He realized what a fool he had been for being frightened by a bogeyman he had fabricated himself. When this author last checked, he stated he was planning on living to see age one-hundred.
Frank Desmond owned a company that was doing well. The future seemed bright. Then he had the dream. It was horrifying and about Friday the Thirteenth. He was told that when he saw the date Friday the Thirteenth, he would die. What precautions could he try to ensure that this sight would never meet his eyes? Some may think his solution was extreme, but was it? This story discusses his method.