| Second Street
Saturday morning finally arrived and for once Charlie was up early, looking forward to his day. He made himself a cup of coffee and went about straightening up his blankets and put away his few dishes from the previous night. He busied himself at repairing the broken windowpanes, having picked up some glass at the hardware store on one of his trips home from school.
Starting at the back of the house he started removing the broken pane and glanced out the window towards the trailer. There were clothes strewn about in the snow, the door wide open and no sign of life. He quickly went about his repair not wishing to see life below. He had no desire to know what had happened. Two or three more replacements and that chore was done.
He did a bit of painting, a couple walls and stood back proudly looking at the new room. His house was becoming comfortable to him. He had music, food and the place was becoming habitable.
He decided to take a little break and take a walk. He tossed on his old Pea Coat, wrapped a scarf around his neck and bound down the stairs. He had taken a left previously and decided to go to the right; not having discovered what was at hand in this direction.
He was passing Andy’s house and saw her in the window. He gave her a wave. She raised her hand to a bit above the waist and gave him an acknowledgement. Certainly not very enthusiastic but just the same a hello. The front yard of her house was almost a field of mud. The snow long disappeared from the romping of the dogs. He thought to himself how much work it must be to keep her house clean when the dogs went back inside. Eight muddy paws and fur all wet and sure to be shaken upon the floor immediately upon return to the warmth of hearth.
There was a big man working on a truck in her driveway as he was passing. The man looked up and shouted out, Hey! How are ya? Charlie stopped mid stride, turned and faced the man. I’m good he said. I’m Charlie, I just moved next door. Yeah I heard, my wife gave you the key and told me about you. My name is Danny, good to meet ya. He extended his big meat hook to shake. Charlie took his hand and Danny vigorously pumped his hand in greeting.
Danny was a big guy, maybe six foot two and had quite a bit of extra weight on him. His hair was thinning a bit and graying fairly quickly. He had a scarce moustache, his skin appeared a little grey, Charlie thought to himself, probably from smoking and over indulging. He seemed friendly enough, especially in comparison to what Charlie had so far seen.
Hey, how about you come over for dinner sometime? Charlie replied, when? Danny said how about next Monday? Charlie said are you sure your wife won’t mind? Hell! Danny said she’ll do what I want her to.
No problem. Well as long as I won’t be a nuisance or inconvenience her? Don’t worry about it. She just sits around all day and sucks the life out of me. No problem. As long as you’re sure? Charlie replied, what time?
I get home from work around four. Danny said I get home after five. Just got a new job with Fedex.
Oh really? Congratulations! Do you like it? Yeah its ok, Danny said. Keeps the old lady cookin for me. This brought a belly laugh from Danny.
Ok then, good enough, see you then. Thanks.
Charlie turned and returned to his walk. This direction was not much different than the opposite. Seemingly just more distress, more downtrodden folks living in squalor. His walk was showing him broken lives, drug paraphernalia, bums living in cardboard boxes, trying to shelter themselves from the bitter weather. Many of them, refrigerator boxes just lay on the sidewalk. He did many a sidestep to avoid disturbing the inhabitants. Snow was beginning to fall very lightly and as he passed, Charlie met the gaze of one of these displaced, peering out from his cardboard palace.
The man stretched out his hand in a plea. Charlie responded and gave him a dollar. He proceeded and found closed store fronts, boarded up buildings and a general lack of attention or life in general. A drugstore, a closed dry cleaners, a gas station and pawn shop. There were many lined up waiting to try to receive a discounted fee for their valuables and intentionally being taken advantage of. Stolen items of all sorts to be pawned in the hope of getting by without much inspection. Bring an item and get enough cash for the days dope. A life of desperation on display and so dearly devoid of the face of life and respect long gone. No self esteem. Just a loss all around. What a shame. As he kept walking he came upon a park.
A few jungle gyms, some slides and a carousel for the very small. It was around ten thirty and there were maybe fifteen kids at play with mothers or guardians at watch. Charlie found a bench and sat. He watched the kids play both good and bad. There were some wonderful kids sharing toys and friendship. The laughter of these kids struck at his heart. Never a better sound to be heard. He also noticed bullying at work. Young boys at work and taking toys and backpacks from other young victims. Taking sandwiches and drinks all the while punching the victims in the face and shouting obscenities and threats.
He sat and watched and was incredibly beset with ill feelings! As he sat, he started to notice other men on benches. He was curious. Why would these men be sitting here? As he watched it became obvious to Charlie these men were absolute perverts. They were chicken hawks! Charlie watched as they did their best to ingratiate themselves with the children as well as the mothers. This was the most disgusting thing he could imagine! As he sat he watched an approach in progress. Apparently the mother was not paying attention? Charlie got up from his seat and approached this pervert. Hey man, how are you? What’s up?
This was enough to distance the pervert from the child. The pervert came from his seat and quickly departed, nary a word said. This entire scene made Charlie incredibly disquieted.
Once he confronted the perve, he decided to head back home. He was determined to make this weather not a challenge. He walked and the snow fell. His thinking was in a state of distress from his encounter at the park. His walk home was uneventful. He came home and made himself some lunch. Had a soda and did some more painting. It was coming up on two thirty and he had had enough of the repairs. His thoughts were running to Pam. He took a shower and changed his clothes .
Charlie was hopeful as he walked towards Bud’s.
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