Verbosity21's Blog
Short Stories by Ralph Proenza– mostly Fiction, but some based on true events

*CHARLEY’S STORY


[This fiction story is a study in a negative subject matter using a plausible situation.]

My name is Jeremy Bradford.  I’m fourteen.  I know you think that’s kind of young to know about life, but I’ve heard them say I’m mature for my age.  I know a little about life.  I guess my parents getting a divorce made me grow up in a hurry.

Charley is only ten years old, but he’s pretty cool — as far as little brothers go.  The only thing is that Charley can’t talk.  Actually, he really can talk, but he just won’t.  He hasn’t for two years.  He’s been like a zombie since what happened to his best friend, but, let me tell you his story…

Charley and his best friend Clint did everything together.  They liked to build huts in the back yard, ride bikes, tell dumb jokes, and go fishing at ol’ Mr. Carter’s pond.  They even hated girls because all girls had cooties!  But their most excellent favorite thing to do was playing G.I. Joe.  Using their collection of little pint-size army men, they would make forts and tunnels in the dirt, and have really great battles.  Well, if you like that sort of thing.  Each battle was a marathon.  They could shoot at each others’ men for hours, consume trainloads of ammo and bombs, and rarely lose a man.  It seemed each side had an endless supply of mysterious invisible James-Bond-type  high  tech weapons.

I sometimes almost got jealeous of their great friendship.  You see, I didn’t have such a close friend like that.  I never told that to Charley.  He wouldn’t understand because he’s not as mature as I am.

It all came crashing down one night when Charley was spending the night at Clint’s house.  Clint’s parents had gone out and left a baby sitter to watch them.  Their usual sitter was this very fine foxy way-cool brunette who, I assured Charley did not have any cooties at all.  Early on I went over there to, uh, check on my little brother.  The sitter wasn’t their usual one.  No, this one was some flaky tenth-grader Clint’s parents got at the last minute, probably from Psychos-R-Us!  My brother was doing okay so I left.

The boys had planned a cool early morning fishing trip for the following day and were rushing to get to bed.  That way morning would come faster.  They had dug up plenty of fat juicy red wigglers to use as fresh bait — they had the dirty fingernails to prove it.  Clint quickly stashed his worms in a can first before running off to take his bath.  Charley was more meticulous and neatly put his newly captured worms safely away, making sure the dirt inside the container was moist and the lid had plenty of air holes.

Charley got out his special fishing clothes from his bag, including his good-luck fishing shirt, so he wouldn’t waste any time fumbling around in the morning.  His tackle box and rod were in the garage waiting for him.  He was all set to catch a whopper and could hardly wait for morning.

Then he heard a weird shriek from the bathroom.  It was the girl’s voice, thought Charley.  Clint doesn’t sound like that.  Unless he was clowning around acting like some cootie-infected girl from the fourth grade or something.  He was taking too much time with his bath.  It’ll take forever to get to bed and see morning.

Charley went down the hall to pound on the bathroom door and tell Clint to hurry up.  But the door was already open.  His legs froze in horror as he witnessed the sitter holding Clint’s limp body, blood running from his head from a fall against the edge of the tub.  Somehow, in a daze, Charley wobbled to the phone and called 911, told them what had happened, then violently threw up.  Between sobs, he was able to tell the police the whole story.  They found the sitter almost freaked out on the bathroom floor.

The next morning a different Charley woke up.  We understood why he was so quiet that morning, but that was a whole year ago.  Now he just sits there, not saying a word.  He’s seen lots of doctors, and they all say Charley’s voice is ok.  He needs therapy, but will talk again eventually.  I told Charley to hang in there.  I told him I plan to go to college and discover a medicine to bring his voice back.  I promised him that.  He just nodded his head.

I miss the old Charley, but he still is pretty cool, as far as little brothers go.

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