October 17, 2009
By Rachel Baron BRONZE, Westfield, New Jersey
Rachel Baron BRONZE, Westfield, New Jersey
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The yellow moon towered far above the trees by the time Charlie stumbled up to the steps of his apartment. He leaned against the railing, fingers fumbling around in his pockets for the keys. He fell against the door, and tried to shove the key into the lock, but it had shrunk to the size of a pinhole, and his fingers were numb and useless. “Aw f***,” Charlie mumbled, slamming his hand against the railing. The key went flying over the side. Charlie slid down onto the concrete landing. His shirt and skin were sticky with spilled beer, his nostrils and lungs clogged with the feverish stench of alcohol. His breath was hot and uncomfortable in his mouth. He moved his teeth around; trying to evade the stale feeling that stuck to his gums, ran along the edges of his tongue. Charlie turned on his knees and peered through the rods of the railing, his hands sticking to the black paint. “Where are you?” he cooed and fell over laughing. Charlie sat up, rubbing at his eyes.“ Aw hell, whatsit matter,” he smiled as he thought of the evening. He had met the most beautiful girl, such soft, sweet skin; he couldn’t keep his hands off her. She hadn’t minded, just sat a little straighter on the bar stool. Charlie tried to remember what he had said to her, “Anyone tell you you’ve got the sweetest skin?” Or maybe it was, about how good she smelled, really fresh and flowery. Charlie’s thoughts were distant; vibrating in the back of his head. “What was her name?” he tried to mumble, but it only came out half way, lodged in the back of his throat. “Aw hell, such a sweet girl,” he was speaking louder now; the words coming out in globs of sweat and spit. A rush of blood flooded Charlie’s head, he had forgotten to get her name, but then he remembered he had her number tucked safely inside his jacket pocket, sandwiched between his lighter and ID.

A group of four, maybe five guys walked in down the street, their arms wrapped around those waists girls have for just a few fleeting years. Before they start getting jobs and giving birth. He straightened and gave a salute to his brethren. They shrugged their shoulders and lowered their heads. Charlie frowned, clicking his teeth, and waiting for them to turn the corner. “To hell with ya,” he yelled cupping his hand around his ear and listening to the “ya” echo down the street. He smiled and let out another laugh, “To hell with allovya,” he yelled it to the sky. Charlie turned his head, peering at the darkened glass of the apartment buildings front door. He bared his teeth, revealing fleshy, pink gums, and then stopped and frowned. He pulled at his beard, brushing snaggled, gray hairs from his fingers. He reached to the back of his head, gingerly touching the oily smooth spot that had recently begun to spread. His hand darted into his pocket, digging into the corners for the slip of paper. Frantically, he crawled to the foot of the stairs. “Whersh the paper?” he sputtered. His tongue felt thick and heavy. He searched and crawled until he was directly beneath the streetlight. “Whadshe do with it?” he shouted at the ground. Charlie stopped, crouched on all fours beneath the beam of light. “Nothing,” he laughed, “not one god damn useless thing.” He stumbled to his feet, stood, so that the streetlight illuminated him, casting his shadow down the street. Charlie tilted his head up to the moon, “You ain’t nothing Charlie,” he whispered. He remained staring at the moon for a few moments then walked slowly back to his stoop. He walked a straighter line, each step placed with a somber determination. When he reached the landing, Charlie’s hands gave a final lunge into his jacket pockets, nothing. With a sigh, Charlie leaned against the railing to wait till morning.

The author's comments:
This piece was meant to be the final turning point of a man's ignorance about himself. He realizes he is not the suave, young guy he thought he was and this realization cuts through his drunken stupor, creating a somber tone at the end of the story

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