This is a seventy six chapter novel that deals with interactions of society today.
Charlie rose from a deep sleep and was groggy; he was never the early riser he wished he had been. He was thirty three years old and had just split from his girlfriend of four years. This was not his choice and was severely depressed about this, having lived with her for the last several years. She had decided that he was not a serious candidate for a future, at least not one that she desired and set him out on his own. He was now living in a pay by the week motel and needed to find other accommodations.
Charlie was a professor of arts and was employed by the small college that was local he had no tenure and was hanging on by his nails. There had been so many cutbacks and layoffs. Charlie thought himself a thinker, the one that was always looking out in the future rather than seeking today’s truths. He was the kind that visited the wonderful bookshop/ specialty coffee shops that abound in the bay area. You know the kind, baroque music, special smells of the various blends of specialty coffees, flaky pastries to be devoured with the coffees. That odor of the ancient wooden floor and the sweet smell of the past, the visit with the between, the accident waiting and would become the future.
Charlie had no savings as his salary was not that of tenure and his weekly income meager. Saturday was coming and he would visit his favorite coffee shop, buy the paper and search out new living quarters.
Friday night found him at Old Mill Pizza where he ordered his dinner, a couple slices of Hawaiian and several draught beers. He was not used to being alone and was in kind of a shell shock having no idea what to do with himself but did know there was pain and emptiness, an emptiness he had never experienced before. A wandering ghost he had become. A vampire without the confidence! Not sleeping, barely eating and drinking too much.
He wandered from the pizza place to the opposite end of the mall where he found some relief at Bourbon Street. This was a glamorous nightspot that was usually filled with bountiful beauties all dressed to the nines and having practiced their dance all week, they were plumb pickings for the suave master to come a calling. Cocktail dresses, high heels, lips painted, eyes dark and desirous. That come hither look for those that would be capable of availing themselves with the correct requirements. Charlie was a poor candidate and drank himself to a quiet oblivion. It just seemed some relief to be around life, people. The music screamed and he drank.
Saturday morning came and found him so hung over it was pitiful. He managed to drag himself from his bed and stupor around eleven. He found his way to the shower and stayed there under that hot water for almost an hour. Relief was not coming quickly. He was now hung over and depressed! Out of the shower, he clumsily brewed a cup of coffee. Of course it did no good but made him feel a bit better in his mind! He managed to get dressed and follow his plan, his housing start. He would see this through.
Off to the coffee shop, buy the paper, order the pastry, drink that special brew, smell those smells, find that apartment or house. As he poured over the classified section he found an ad for a house and cheap. This attracted him, an entire house just to himself. The rent was so cheap and only twenty minutes out of his way. He picked up the phone and made the call. The owner of the building talked with him and he was told to go and see the next door neighbor for a key. He could then inspect and accept or not.
The place was a rat hole!! Infected with mold, vermin seemed present by the feces all about. Leaking roof, widows in need of repair. He tossed the balance of cheap rent and privacy against the condition of the place and decided he could live with it and fix it up quickly enough to satisfy himself. He returned the key and made his way to a phone to call the landlord and take the rental. His next stop was at his local hardware store to pick up mouse and rat traps, bleach for the mold and paint supplies.
He made his way back to his motel room and packed his meager belongings and checked out. He made a quick stop at the local box store to buy himself an air mattress and some blankets. Having lived with his girl he had no furniture. He then drove back to his new digs with an optimistic outlook.
Pulling into the driveway he saw the neighbor with the key, out in the yard playing with her two dogs. The dogs were having a great time in the fresh snow that was falling. They were running in circles chasing each other all the while taking an occasional nip at the woman’s heels. She would holler obscenities at them but all in great fun. They paid absolutely no attention. It was to glorious all this white stuff to sniff at, chew and scratch!
Charlie approached her and the dogs perked up. Ears pricked up, hair on the back of their neck raising. She shushed them. He introduced himself again and explained he had taken the rental. She said her name was Andy and welcomed him. She was short, maybe five two and had a southern drawl that he found comforting. She had a quiet manner about her, this putting him at ease. She went inside taking the dogs and retrieving the key for him. He thanked her and went to his new rental to begin working and trying to settle in.
As the day progressed, Charlie would set about baiting the rat and mouse traps. He pumped up his newly acquired bed and threw the blankets over it, a bottle of Jack close at hand. He cleaned some mold and had some Jack. He prepped a few walls and had some Jack. The evening was progressing as most had these past weeks. He managed to fall asleep around eleven.
It was two in the morning when she came calling, totally naked and banging on doors, screaming about how she was better and you would all regret it. She was so drugged up she never noticed just how cold it was or even that she was naked! Of course the cops were called and Charlie was a bit unnerved. He had made sure not to answer the door but managed a couple shots and went back to sleep. They took her home and put her to bed. All night long he was half awake to the sounds of sirens, bottles breaking, screaming and abusive demeaning language in angry tones. There were a couple more Jacks and wonderful sleep, at least for a few hours.
Sunday morning came and found him in his usual state of hung over. He brewed a cup of coffee and started about the business of his repairs. As he was working on a wall at the back of the house he gazed out the window. There was a trailer not far from the back of the house and apparently on the same property. There was a heavily tattooed woman standing at the door of the trailer. She had lots of piercings and was smoking something in a glass pipe. He moved away from the window before he was noticed. He was not having a great day with repairs. His mind kept slipping back to his ex and made him feel unsettled, antsy. He just couldn’t concentrate on anything he was doing. The thoughts of her were impairing his thinking. Every job he had started was less than half complete. He decided to take a walk.
Closing and locking the door behind him, down the few steps, he turned left. The house next door appeared to have more than one family living there. As he was passing by a shadow caught his attention.
He looked up to one of the second floor windows and saw a woman obviously distraught and yelling. The next thing he saw was the man coming down hard to the face of the woman with a slap he felt down on the street. And again! This disturbed his sensibilities. He could not grasp the idea of striking a woman, no matter the reason.
He shifted his gaze to the sidewalk and walked quickly past. The next house was worse than the previous and on it went. Junk cars in the yards, washing machines and various other appliances just disposed of in the front yards. Bags of garbage piled high and ripped open, now a feeding frenzy for good sized rats.
The next place just the same, in such disrepair. There were two good sized Pit Bulls chained to the porch snarling and straining at the chains holding them. Charlie had visions of them breaking free and making a meal of him. He quickly walked past. Everywhere he looked there were discarded needles and trash, broken beer and wine bottles. He had almost reached what was considered the center of the town. Up ahead he saw a sign; Bud’s. He stopped in front and bought a newspaper from the vending box, turned and entered the bar. He was glad to be away from that neighborhood for awhile.
The place was dark, even for a bar. He spied a seat in the corner with a bit of light and took his seat there. The man behind the bar was a big and burly man with a deep gravelly voice. What’ll ya have pal? Charlie asked for a draught. There was only one other customer and he was sitting at the opposite end of the bar. Charlie shifted his gaze to see what was about him.
There was a pool table, some dart boards, electronic games, a condom machine, juke box and a popcorn machine. There was a dance floor but for the life of him he could not visualize much dancing going on here. There were heavy wooden shutters on the windows and the only daylight filtering in came from the two small windows of the front door.
Somewhere between the headlines and the court report, which was lengthy, the door had opened and a young woman appeared a couple stools to Charlie’s right. She was fairly attractive, a brassy blonde, well built and her hair below her shoulders. She was certainly pretty enough for Charlie. The bartender approached and said, Pam? She responded; Bud, I’ll have a brandy and heat the glass, ok?
She turned on her stool and gazed at Charlie. And what brings you here on this wonderful day she asked? He set his paper aside. I just moved to the area and was out for a walk and ended up here. My name is Charlie. The bartender returned with her drink.
Bud, this is Charlie, Charlie, this is Bud and of course if you have been paying attention you know I am Pam. Charlie ordered another beer and a shot of Jack.