When John Franklin was born, his mother was in labor for over three days before he made his appearance on the world’s stage.
“You have a healthy boy, Mrs. Franklin,” the doctor said to the comatose mother.
When she finally woke up, she took one disgusted look at this deformed little creature who had caused her so much pain and refused to hold or feed him.
John’s father’s first observation to his wife after examining his son’s somewhat unnatural anatomy was a bit more descriptive.
"Molly, it looks like you gave birth to a melon with legs and arms. My Gawd, just look at that head!"
But, his amazement turned to concern when the doctor called him aside.
"I'm afraid, Mr. Franklin, your son has a condition of overabundance of fluid surrounding the brain, which accounts for the enlarged head. It's treatable, and he should be able to lead a healthy, normal life. We will need to keep him here for a few days to monitor his condition, but I'm sure everything will turn out okay."
Hence, from the moment of his arrival on the planet, John Franklin was affectionately known as ‘Melonhead'.
During the first four years of his life, Melonhead received regular treatment at the hospital, but it had little effect. The rest of his body grew and developed in a normal manner. Only his head remained out of proportion.
Everyone loved him, were good-natured, and laughed when they called him Melonhead, so John laughed along with them. Only his mother made as little contact as possible with her son.
However, everyone he met would remark,“What a strange-looking, happy little boy."
To his father, Melonhead was his pride and joy, and he spent all his free time with his son. Trapped in a loveless marriage, he was continually playing with him just to hear his giggle and see him so happy. He took Melonhead everywhere he went to show him off to his friends. He would book time off from his job to take his son for treatments at the hospital on the chance that the doctors could successfully cure his condition, but he wasn't worried. He loved his son just the way he was.
Melonhead loved his father and wanted to spend all his time with him. Unfortunately, this was not possible, and he was delegated to endure his early days with his mother, who never forgave him the pain he had caused her at birth. He was also resented by his older sister, Linda Marie because he took her place as the favorite in her father's eyes. Linda Marie would torment and physically hurt her little brother to the point that he would spend most of his days, when his father was at work,hiding out in his room. Molly would take no action to curb her daughter's abuse. She secretly relished seeing the little boy being paid back for what he had done to her body. So, Melonhead spent these formative years in a mixed environment of love and hate.
A few days before he turned four, his father decidedhe wanted to buy his son something special for his birthday. When he asked him what he would like, Melonhead got excited, remembering the fancy tricycle he had seen in the window of a store in the big city when they had gone to visit his Grandma. His father replied sadly that the trike was no longer there, but he would try to find another just like it. Nothing more was said until the big day. that morning his father announced he would be a little late for his son's party, but they should wait for him, as he had a surprise. All his little friends and neighbors were assembled at the Franklin house.
They waited that evening until dark. Melonhead sat by the window, looking through the raindrops for his father's return. After seven o'clock a car pulled into the driveway and two men got out and came to the door. His mother opened it to the policemen, who greeted her with the bad news that her husband had been in an accident. Molly rushed the two kids to the car and followed the police cruiser to the narrow bridge that crossed the river at the edge of town.
There were three other black and whites at the scene and a bunch of onlookers at the bridge railing, which had been broken through. Down below, beside the bank was a tow truck winching a vehicle from the swollen waters. The family arrived just as the top of their car appeared at the surface. It was quickly winched onto the bank with the dirty water spilling out of the windows
The father's lifeless body was still strapped into the driver's seat. A brand new shiny tricycle was in the back.
"You've killed Daddy!" Linda Marie screamed at her little brother. "If you hadn't asked for that stupid tricycle, Daddy would still be alive. It's all your fault."
"That's not true, is it?" Melonhead asked his mother.
Molly looked at him with tears in her eyes but didn't answer.
He couldn't understand or accept the reality that he would never see his father again. Every day he would wait by the window for his father to come home from work. He would stay until his mother dragged him to the dinner table, where he choked down his food then rushed off to his room. The happy little Melonhead was gone, only to be replaced by a sad, morose little boy who just wanted his Daddy.
After a few weeks had passed, his father began his visits. Melonhead would grow to expect these nocturnal appearances and could hardly wait to go to bed each evening. To him it was real. Molly wasn't worried; she did'nt care, but she was curious about the obvious change in her son's behavior. When he explained that Daddy came to see him and talk with him each night, she replied angrily, "This is not real; your father is dead. He is only in your dreams."
"No! He is real. It is not a dream. He comes to see me because he loves me. He doesn't come to see you or L:inda Marie because he doesn't care about you."
Two nights later, Molly came into his room and shook him awake.
"Where is your father now. You don't see him, do you? This is because you are now awake. You only see him in your dreams."
"No! You scared him away," the little boy sobbed.
"I've had enough of this," she replied. "It's time you grew up. Your father is dead and you will never see him again. I don't want to hear anything more about these stupid dreams."
Melonhead knew she was wrong, but he told himself he would never talk about it to anyone again It would be his secret with Daddy.
The days went on. Molly had to find a job when the insurance money ran out. When Linda Marie started school, Molly was forced to face the problem of what to do with her son during the day. She finally convinced her mother to come stay with Melonhead his was not a happy situation.Grandma had always considered her grandson a bit of a freak and made no attempt to hide her feelings. She spent her days in front of the TV and complained bitterly when she had to tear herself away to make lunch for the little boy.
"Why don't you like me, Grandma?" He would ask, but she would never reply.
Consequently, he spent most of the time in his room waiting for visits from Daddy. He would lay on his bed, waiting for his father to come. Soon he spent all his time in bed, getting up only when hunger forced him out. No one paid any attention, because after all, they didn't have to bother looking after him.
As the day of his next birthday approached, Melonhead grew more excited. He stashed food in his room and only got out of bed when the bathroom called. He knew Daddy was coming, and he didn't want to miss a minute.
The night before his birthday, he cheerfully announced to his mother and sister that Daddy was coming and had a special present for him. As usual, they totally ignored him. That evening he returned to bed joyfully anticipating Daddy's durprise.
When his Daddy arrived, he held Melonhead in his arms and said, "This time I will not leave you."
John Franklin died in his sleep on the eve of his sixth birthday.