Sunday, September 03, 2006


Charlie turned the corner to see a detective standing at the end of the block. It was only a silhouette, but no one other than a cop dressed like that. Charlie could make out the trench coat, the smoke rising from the cigarette past the fedora. This was obviously more serious than he had originally thought.

“Do you think they found her yet? Better get there quick Charlie.”


Charlie really did not want to go home anymore. If he had killed Michelle it was better for him this way with no memory. He could still sleep at night sort of at least without being haunted by the vision of his dead love. He could very easily just go back to Dana’s apartment and wait. He could not have killed her because the door was locked and he did not have his key.

He would just wait for Dana to get home from where ever she was and together they would leave this city and start over. They could go somewhere no one had heard about the “Fireman lover” or his tragic mistake. They could go somewhere no one knew Michelle or Charlie or Dana and they could just vanish.

“Running away again Charlie?”

Fuck yes he was going to run away again. He had gotten very good at it and it has served him well so far. He leaves a long string of people who hate him behind, but he never has to see their faces or hear their words. He knows he will just forget about them over time.

“I won’t let you forget Charlie. You must go home. You must see your work. You must confirm.”

“I don’t want to know. I don’t want to see.” He was begging with the voices this time. He fell to his knees and pleaded with his thoughts to just let him forget this one time. He had to move on. He made mistakes. He has paid for most of them. He never intended for any of it to happen. Please, just let him start over.

“Get up Charlie. Stop begging. There is no other way for you right now.”

The voice he heard was familiar and distant. It was the first voice of his first thought of the night. It was the thought that forced him to remember Michelle. It was the thought that demanded an answer to “What were you thinking? Why did you leave her?” Only right now this voice was not in his head. Right now, this voice was behind him and had a presence about it.

“Get up Charlie” it said again, “and go home.”

Charlie felt himself introduced to pure fear and did not like the company. He could write these voices off as his insanity as long as they were trapped in his head. This was a new level he had not prepared himself for.

Kevin had ducked into an alley by the diner for a smoke, but not a cigarette. Kevin “KB” Jones had not given up all of his habits. He never took to drinking, but felt that same need for a chemical rest after work as every other person. He never thought of himself as a criminal; he was just on the wrong side of the law. He hated having to hide, but so be it. It was what it was.

He had just finished his break when he could have sworn he saw Charlie turn around and run away from him. By the time he had fully processed the thought and made it to the corner however there was no one to be seen, except that waitress from the diner, Alice. He really needed something to tell Michelle already, so he figured it was time to just ask when Dana was working. And he would do it right after a few more hits.

Dana had finished her cigarette and returned to the diner with still no sign of Charlie. She had four hours left on her shift, and then she would kill him at her place if he was there. If he was not, she would find the son of a bitch and kill him slower. He had four hours left to avoid this fate.

The bell on the door rang and she turned expecting it to be Charlie. It was some freak who looked like he stepped out of a Bogart movie instead. The dumb bastard was even smoking an unfiltered cigarette. She was a smoker as well, but unfiltered was just beyond stupid. The guy was also wearing a fedora. Who the hell wears fedoras anymore? If he talks out of the side of his mouth or calls her “sweetheart” she was going to smack him with the coffee pot.

“Excuse me” he said. He sounded remarkably normal considering the sideshow appearance. “I am looking for an old friend of mine. She works here I think. Her name is ‘Dana’. I have not seen her in years; I was in town and figured I would say hi. Can you tell me if she is coming in today by any chance?”

He gave his “KB” smile that never failed him before. He just oozed charm. Normally it would have gotten “Alice” to tell him anything except she was Dana and never had seen this guy before in her life. This was a con. He was a reporter. They were after Charlie again for some reason.

“Fuck off” she practically yelled at Kevin. This was not what he was expecting. “I’m Dana and I don’t know you! What the fuck do you want? Who are you?”

Kevin was officially scared now. His fear level rose considerably when he noticed the cook coming out from behind the counter. Kevin did not notice before, but that short cook was a really built guy. Kevin was in trouble.

“Woah woah woah” he squealed giving his full attention to the cook. “I am Charlie’s friend from college! His wife is worried about him and sent me looking for him. He had told be about Dana and there were charges for this diner so I came here to find her! That is all!”

“Charlie IS married?” Dana uttered dazed. She assumed, probably knew, but this still took her by surprise. “Charlie is married.”


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