Charles Henry

Charles Henry

By James M. O'Meara, © 2008

Gas pump...

"My name is Charles. I am an alcoholic. Tonight, by god, I will drink."

He glared at his reflection in the cracked rear-view then punched the mirror, snapping it right off the windshield. A tap came on his window; one of the security guards pointed to the gate. The other stood in front of the car with his arms crossed, trying his best at one hundred forty pounds to look intimidating. Charles started the car, backed out of his spot, flipped them the bird and left the company lot. He eased out onto Main Street and began reviewing his meager finances as he drove into the heart of town.

He had $41.45 in his checking account. If he spent twenty-five bucks on gas, that left him enough for a case of rotgut beer. Well, that was fine. He wasn't buying for taste. He just wanted to get loaded. It was a year and three days since he'd last had a load on, and he was looking forward to this one.

The gas station was two miles down the road. The beer distributor was next door. A pair of swipes with his debit card and he could drive home and start pounding down the cold ones.

Stupid fight. Just plain stupid. Who fights over grape jelly?

He hadn't thrown a punch since junior high school, and he'd lost that fight, too. Gotten himself suspended in the process. Well, this fight got him fired. A fight that started because there was just one grape jelly left in the break room, and the guy behind him wanted it.

"It's mine…seniority," the jackass told him, and that set Charles off. He knocked jackass-mister-seniority right on his tail. But jackass-mister-seniority, Butch Walker, got right up and began pummeling Charles until a bunch of pressmen broke up the massacre.

They both got shit-canned: Charles because he was only six months on the job, Butch because he had one fight too many.

He pulled up to the light at Water Street. His mouth tasted like old pennies. His nose felt puffy, and he was sure it was bleeding down the back of his throat.

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