Charlie

Written by Jerry Stanecki

Bored, I’d decided to take a walk along the lake in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles.

I’d walk to an empty pipeline about a mile in from the entrance. Usually, I enjoyed the scenery, but today I found myself forcing pleasure out of the lots of rain, everything very green, usually brown, landscape.

I rounded the third or fourth corner muttering,  “Where’s the damn drain pipe?” It was not in sight, but I kept walking. (I don’t give up easily)

I rounded another curve in the walkway and low and behold there it was, the 30-foot empty drain pipe.

Holding my cane in my right hand, I straightened up and walked without the aid. Sitting down, the sun was now warmly shinning on my face, that’s when I noticed a man pushing a baby stroller coming toward me. He half turned and said, “That wall is new, isn’t it?”

It looked new, but I remembered it from the previous year.

“No, it’s been here.”

The man pushed the baby stroller over to where I was sitting.

“Hi, I’m Charlie.”

“I’m Jerry.”

That was the beginning of the end of my boredom. Sophie was the name of the big brown eyes girl, lying in the stroller, squeezing a plastic bottle of water. Apparently liking the sounds she was making.

“How old is Sophie?’

“She’s 10 months”

The sun was getting in her eyes and Charlie turned the stroller. Sophie seemed pleased.

“Where are you from? I asked

“Philadelphia.”

I thought to myself about the time I met Stuart Berman in Philadelphia, but didn’t say anything.

“I live here now and like it. Where are you from?”

“The fine city of Detroit.”

“Do you live here now?”

“No, I’m visiting my daughter. And staying in Toluca Lake where I

rent an apartment.”

“Is she in show business?”

“Yes.”

He didn’t ask what she did and I didn’t offer.

He told me about losing his business to a stealing partner.

“You need a lawn cutter, snow plowed, light fixed, you call one contractor who solves your problem. Great business and I lost it all.”

“Or, maybe you gained something,”

“Feel my chest.. .”

He stepped forward and grabbed my right hand, pulling it to the right side of his chest.

“That’s the pacemaker for my heart, to keep me alive.”

“See this.” I said, showing him the scar that ran all the way up my left leg, I was wearing shorts because it’s L.A. and 72 degrees in February.

“Heart By-Pass.  He said.

“Yup, five heart jobs. And, I have had eight strokes.”

“Jesus, you have put here to for a good reason.”

“I think you’re right.”

That’s when I decided to tell him the most important part happening in my life

“I have 30 years clean and sober.”

“I have 23 years.” Charlie snapped back.

With that said, we really started talking,

Charlie told me about meeting his wife, a nurse, at the hospital, falling in love and marrying her.

“She’s 100 per-cent Mexican and I’m English and Irish.

“And, your daughter, Sophia is beautiful.”

Her big brown eyes were focused on the water bottles drinking head. She wrestled the bottle around and put the head up to her lips like she was drinking. Charlie smiled and said, “She knows what to do with it.”

Charlie started talking about growing up in Philadelphia and how his father ignored him.

“I’d make a touchdown or hit a home run and he’d never say anything. He never. . . never came to any of  my games. I hated that and him.  Not one.”

He was a brilliant man, a supervisor at the naval shipyard,” Charlie told me.

“And, he drank a six-pack of beer every day before going to work.”

“Worked third or second shift, huh.

“NO,’ Charlie said loudly, “The first shift.”

“Five O’clock in the morning.  A six- pack?”

“Yes sir, everyday.”

Charlie told me that as a teen he started doing bad things and getting in trouble with the law and how he could have gone to prison. His father still ignored him, still drank a six-pack,

“Did you ever think your father hated his job?”

“What do you mean’

“He drank before work to anesthetize himself because he hated his job and all with it.

“I hadn’t thought about that.”

I could tell Charlie was now thinking about his father.

“Geese,” Charlie said, “we could have a meeting right here.”

“We just did.”

___
Copyright © 2017

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