Charlie adapts to his new city
Bleeding Into Nevada
Charlie woke up to his first day in his new city. He had left the dreariness of the east coast for the warmth of Sparks, Nevada in search of a new life in a warmer climate. The view was certainly different here. Instead of waking up to upstate New York farmland, he now opened his blinds to see the mountains of the west in the distance, and ordinary city of Sparks in the foreground, marked by strip malls, interstates, and the electrical substation in his back yard.
He stood nude by the window with a cup of black coffee in his hand, looking out at his new city and his new life. As he did this, he contemplated how much of his life had really changed. In the rural area outside of Syracuse, he was a moderately successful, yet sad middle-aged pharmacist, twice divorced, once hospitalized, barely psychiatrically stable on a cocktail of psychoactive drugs. Here in the great basin, he was the same sad person. He had hoped a moved would invigorate him, but he was still wallowing in the same issues.
“This is just my first day,” he told himself reassuringly, “once I get settled in I will feel better. He knew this was almost certainly true, but still doubted it. Ever the pessimist, Charlie lit up a Black & Mild cigar in complete abandonment of his building’s anti-smoking policy. With caffeine and nicotine pulsing through his veins, he dressed himself and walked out into the streets, which were surprisingly cold for the desert.
First, he walked to the nearest park and saw couples holding hands. While he liked that this was a town where people could find love, this only reminded him of his own romantic failures. He also saw people walking their dogs, which reminded him of the cat he once had to give up due to being unable to care for her while suicidally depressed.
He walked farther down the street and came across the pharmacy he would begin work at tomorrow. He was very happy to be at a bigger pharmacy rather than just handing out the same prescriptions for Augmentin and Plavix that he always had back in New York. Still, he took stock of the building and realized it to be the same brick and mortar structure that existed in every other city. The name was not even original, Patient’s Pharmacy it was called. At least it wasn’t a large chain like the Rite Aid he had worked at before, but the name was boring nonetheless.
Considering that he might be living the same exact life, just in a new location, Charlie next walked downtown where he saw what was truly unique to this location- casinos. He was a smart gambler, having spent some time in the past at the nearby Seneca casino in New York playing blackjack and usually managing to at least break even. But Nevada casinos were another story. For one thing, they were everywhere- even inside supermarkets and gas stations. For another, most of them probably made more in one day than Seneca casinos made in a year.
He walked in unassumingly, like every other patron. No Weapons, ordered the sign on the door. He sat down at a black jack table and began making modest bets- less than $5 at a time. He lost some and won some, breaking about even as he had back in New York. This just confirmed what he had feared, that moving had not actually changed his life. All of his problems had simply bled into Nevada with him.
After getting about $20 in the black, Charlie got up and continued walking around the city. He walked aimlessly until it was nearly noon, at which point he entered the local burger joint- at least this was one he was certain he had never been to. The hamburger was delicious, elevating his mood simply by filling his body with nutrients he was sorely lacking after driving across the country on nothing more than Red Bull for days. For a moment, he felt better. “At least I have found a good place to eat out here,” he thought to himself. This momentary sense of calm was quickly usurped by the realization that this was still more of the same for him.
He had, so far, found one good place to eat in Sparks. He new several back in Syracuse. And this amazing new restaurant he had found served hamburgers- good hamburgers- but still hamburgers that could be found in any town large enough to have at least one restaurant. So this was still more of the same for him. He went back to his apartment after lunch, took one shot of whisky, and fell asleep, seeing no reason to be awake today.
Charlie had several dreams while asleep, most of them innocuous. He dreamed of being a child and skinny dipping in the local waterfall. He dreamed of the pet rat he’d briefly had as a teenager talking to him about Mozart, and similarly random juxtapositions of imagery. But the dream that stuck with him as he woke up was of his father. His angry, emotionally abusive father, who never laid a hand on Charlie but knew what to say that would destroy his soul. He heard the man’s voice again telling him he was too stupid to survive the adult world, he heard his mother try to intervene only to get yelled at even worse. Then he even heard his mother make excuses for his father’s behavior.
Just when he finally grew the courage to scream back, Charlie woke up in a sweat. It was now dark outside. He could see trees blowing around in the light of the street lamps, the famous Washoe Zephyr blowing through the region that Mark Twain had once written about. He watched some kids pedal down the street on their bicycles, life seeming to be easier to them than it was to Charlie.
But what caught his eye was the gravel lot between his apartment building and the residential houses behind it. In the lot, there was a young girl, maybe 7 or 8, just standing there, not moving. The whole thing seemed surreal. It almost felt like he was still dreaming. Why was she standing there after dark with not parents? Why wasn’t she moving? It made no sense.
Sensing that something needed to be done, Charlie ran down three flights of stairs to the ground floor and went outside. In such a rush, he absentmindedly grabbed only his car keys, not the keys necessary to get back into the building. He ran over to the girl as fast as he could, then suddenly stopped. Her eyes showed a blank stare off into the distance, fixed, unmoving, unreactive.
“Are you okay?” he asked, nearly out of breath from running.
The girl just stood there. He examined her more closely and realized she was actually younger than he originally thought- probably about 5 or 6. She was Native American, wore a teal t-shirt with Dora the Explorer on it and navy blue shorts. Her dress would have been appropriate for earlier in the day when the temperature approached ninety degrees Fahrenheit, but was surely making her cold in the darkness. Nevada had a large swing in temperature from day to night.
Charlie crouched down to look her in the eye. “What’s your name?” he inquired, still trying to get some kind of a response out of her. This time she locked eyes with him and spoke, “My name is Florence,” she said, her expression still blank and her voice monotonous.
“Hi, Florence,” he said in the most friendly voice he could muster, “I’m Charlie. What are you doing out here, Florence?” She looked down, away from him, seemingly embarrassed to give an answer.
“Hey, Florence,” he persisted, “it’s dangerous out here at night. You should go back inside.”
She looked him in the eye again, “If I go inside, my dad will hit me.” She still had a blank expression, even having just made this startling confession.
Charlie’s heart sank, he suddenly had no idea how to proceed with this situation. Should he call the police? Should he try to help her? He spat out the only thing he could think of, “Why would he do that, Florence?”
She looked down, “I peed my pants,” she let out in a meek voice.
Charlie looked down at her shorts and saw a dark stain against the already dark shade of blue. He had immense sympathy for this girl. He knew that incontinence in children was often caused by the emotional burden of enduring abuse. Still, he saw no way he could help her and the frustration with his own life bubbled to the surface. In that moment, he found no reason to stay in touch with the world outside him at all.
“That’s disgusting,” he told her, “you’re a disgusting little bitch.” She kept looking down, obviously familiar with this kind of abuse. “You know what I do with disgusting little bitches like you?” he scream-asked, raising his voice. The question was stupid, of course, because he had never had any contact with a child like this before.
For some reason, Charlie found himself with an erection. It wasn’t from Florence, or the fact that she was covered in urine, but for the thought of what he knew he was about to do- he was about to break out of his miserable slump of monotony once and for all.
He pulled his erection out of his pants and held it close to Florence’s face. “Suck on it, you disgusting little bitch!” he commanded. She looked up, unsure of what to do, then he helped her decide by shoving it into her mouth.
She gagged and tried to pull away, he forced her to stay where she was. “Suck it, cunt!” he was now screaming loud enough for anyone walking by to hear him. But he was disappointed, realizing that this child with no sexual experience knew nothing of how to properly perform oral sex and he was not getting any satisfaction out of the experience.
Charlie jerked his cock out of her mouth, then punched her across the face. “You’re worthless to me, Florence!” She laid on the ground, holding her face where she was hit. “In fact,” Charlie reasoned, “you’re worthless to everyone.” With this realization, he got down on his knees and put his hands on her neck.
She wriggled and writhed as his grip got tighter and tighter. She could not scream. Charlie’s eyes were now as blank as her’s had been. He stared emotionless right at her face as he ended her life. She turned blue, then eventually stopped moving. He kept up the pressure for several minutes after just to make sure she was really dead, then released his grip. The blue in her face quickly gave way to ghost white.
Charlie got up, looked at what he had done, then looked at his own hands. He realized that he had become a monster. He was someone that no one in society would ever have any sympathy for. He realized he was now as horrible as his father had always thought he was. With this realization, there was only one thing he truly believed was right for him to do. He took his car keys out of his pocket and set out to complete his life.
He got in his car and drove on Interstate 580 south towards Carson City, Nevada’s capital. There were few other cars on the highway this time of night and the Washoe Zephyr blew his car from one lane into the next several times. He stopped midway between Sparks and Carson City, on a bridge that wrapped around Mt. Rose.
His car was idling in the middle of an interstate, other cars were whipping past. He looked over the bridge and saw nothing but blackness with the foot of the mountain down below. Charlie closed his eyes, thought one last time of Florence’s dead body, placed on foot up on the guide rail and propelled himself over the edge.
Charlie was found dead by a search party the following morning. Florence’s body, despite being killed in the middle of town, was never found. To this day, there is no evidence that she ever actually existed.