Brief Overview: “Freddie”
In a world steeped in hate and acts of revenge, “Freddie” offers readers a timely story of reconciliation. The multicultural novel involves a mystery, a romance, and a spiritual struggle. Alone, wracked by grief, and angry at God when, Gene, her young black husband dies, white Freddie feels the need to find her father and establish a relationship. She knows nothing about her background except that her single mother brought her to San Francisco from Florida as a toddler. She eventually finds her grandfather and is devastated when she discovers he is her father as well and vows never to forgive him for his incestuous act. After struggling with hate, Verleen, an African American friend and mentor, encourages her by saying, “You been walkin’ around here with your heart draped for a funeral. You locked yourself in prison with your pout and barred your view. And you ain’t goin’ to be free till you forgive. Hatin’ is like internal bleedin’. It drains the life blood of its power.” Her good sense and advice help Freddie become reconciled to her situation and eventually she is able to forgive her fathers – God and man.
“Freddie,” is the story of a young woman who seeks to unravel the mystery of her paternal roots. Her search is paralleled on another level as she tries to come to terms with God.
Joyce Sweeney, author of Players (Marshall Cavendish), writes, “Cherise Wyneken has told a powerful tale of self-discovery and redemption. Freddie’s journey to a new life in Florida after the death of her husband, is really a journey in search of herself. Wyneken bravely asks and faces the questions of whether life is fair and what lies beyond this existence. Without dogma, the novel is filled with a spiritual power that comes from the ordinary events of life...and how we deal with them.
Freddie climbed the stairs and entered her apartment – never stopping until she
reached the window facing 14th Street. The yellow neon cross, on the church
below, was shining and spoke loudly of the scene that she just left.
The funeral was an "event" all right, she thought. Just like our wedding.
Black people sure know how to stick together. But here I am ... all alone.
So all alone. Now I’ve got to find out who my father is. Why wouldn’t Mama tell
me? The preacher said the Father in heaven will be with me.
She felt the heat of anger flush her face and flung herself across the bed. "I
hate you, father ... whoever you are. I hate you God. You both deserted me.”
At last her sobs subsided. She turned over and lay in the dark, thinking back at
how her mood got started.
* * * *
"Freddie," Gene, her husband had called in a weak voice. "The sun. Where's
the sun? I want to see the sun."
Freddie got up from the chair beside his bed and went to the window. She
drew the dingy drapes, revealing a row of plum trees, towering as high as the
window of this second story hospital room. The trees gave a feeling of freedom
to the cell-like atmosphere.
"How's that?" she asked.
She went back to his bedside. He was gone. His eyes were closed. Lips
formed a slight smile. He seemed satisfied.
"Gene. Gene! Are you asleep?"
She knew he couldn't answer. Stared in disbelief. Felt her insides tighten –
her mind buzz – as though it couldn't focus.
"Gene. Come back. I didn't get to say good-bye."
"It happened," she said to the nurse, entering the room. "Just like that. One
minute he was calling for the sun ... then gone."
Freddie had known it was inevitable – yet it had happened so simply she felt
cheated – like grabbing for a firefly and finding nothing in her palm.
The nurse reached for Gene's hand and pressed her finger to his wrist for a sign
of pulse. She took a stethoscope from her pocket, pulled down the top of his
gown, placed the end piece on his chest, listened for a beat. Drew the white sheet
across his black face. She gathered Freddie in her arms. "I'm sorry. I'll leave you
here with him and go fetch the doctor."
Freddie pulled back the sheet and stared at Gene's face. She felt cold and
cumbersome like her name. How does one convey warmth and feeling with the
name, Alfreda? How does one talk to someone who is dead? She was tuned to
life and friendliness and fun – like her Freddie nickname. Now she must be
Alfreda. Strong and capable. Dull to her pain.
She stared long and hard at Gene's face. At last her hand reached out to touch
it. She bent to kiss his mouth. A service of lips, ritualized alone. No smells and
bells or modulated music to accompany her grief. Her hand went to her lips – as
though to hide what she had done. "Oh, Gene. You're gone."
She turned to the sound of footsteps. Dr. Geoffries entered and performed his
rite of examination – confirming the nurse's diagnosis. He extended his hand to
"I'm very sorry. It was expected, of course. Yet we always hope." He
paused for a decent flicker, cleared his throat and asked, "Have you made any
Freddie blinked back her reverie and answered in dead tones, "Hull and Sons
"Fine. Fine. Stay here as long as you like. I'll have Betty get the papers ready
for your signature. Just stop by the station when you leave."
He shook her hand again and hurried out – as if he was the one who could not
abide this scene. His white lab coat failed to cloak his bearing.
"All alone, Luv?" the nurse asked, coming in a while later.
"I'm OK. But I guess I better go home and make some calls."
She gave a last look back at Gene's form as she headed toward the exit. The
door was closed. It didn't matter. She would float right through.
The high heels of her leather boots clacked down the hollow hall. The sound
bounced off the musty walls of a forgotten well deep inside her brain. A picture
flashed across her mental screen. A wooden coffin. An open grave. The metal
handle clacked against the side as the box was lowered.
Where did that come from? I haven't buried him yet.
"Mrs. Jones?" The recorder looked up from her paper work. "I'm so sorry
about your husband. Such a young man! I hate to bother you at a time like this,
but if you'll just sign your name right here, we'll fill this out and send you a copy
Freddie looked at the paper without seeing.
"Right here. Your full name, please."
Late afternoon sun filtered through the clouds from a window high behind the
desk. Slanted rays surrounded the white clad clerk like the halo of a heavenly
Freddie shook her head. Did I die, too? She took the offered pen and wrote,
Alfreda Macintosh Jones – turned and drifted out.
Whatever made me do that? My name isn't Macintosh.