Help Charlie (Chapter One)
The attendant at the parking lot gate was looking at Charlie with an expression showing her impatience. Charlie on the other hand was focusing on the gap in-between his seat and door, trying to find the loose change that he knows he has down there. His hand cramming into the tiny space, praying to find that last quarter. He looks at his phone quickly knowing already who is calling. It’s his brother Tim. Charlie already knowing that he should have been at the hospital earlier looks at the attendant and does what he does best, manipulates. “I know I am fifty cents short, but you have to understand my mom is just getting out of surgery and I am already late, have a heart.”
She raises here eyebrows and gives a little grunt sound, as she pushes the button to let him through. He looks down at his phone and sees that his brother is calling again; he ignores it but sends the text saying that he is in the parking lot. Cursing as he is going up level by level to find a spot, rushing, thinking how he needs to be there before his mother wakes up. He starts reminiscing about his childhood with his mother. Something he has been doing ever since the diagnosis.
His fondest memory was when he read a poem to her, that he found in a small book of poetry in their attic. A poem by Henry Longfellow. It was her favorite poet; she gave Charlie the middle name Henry after him. As he started reading she started reading along with him, but she wasn’t reading, she was reciting from memory. Charlie saw the tear rushing down her face, knowing this poem had a deeper meaning than just the words on the page. After they read the last line, Charlie felt as though he finally saw his mother for her true self for the first time.
“Shit!” Charlie yelled, missing a space in one of his zone outs. These memories always followed with a long chug of booze, which burned as it went down his throat. He kept his bottle in the drawstring backpack in the passenger seat. It helped him to escape reality and just relax, rationalizing his drinking to himself saying that it was just meant to help his anxiety.
Finally finding a parking spot, he raced to the elevator to find wherever his mother was in the grandiose hospital, calling his father not his brother, to help. His father telling which way to go, but Charlie was to inebriated at this time to listen to what his father was truly saying. Fifteen minutes past as he ran around this medical jungle. He finally found the wing he was looking for; always hating the smell of hospitals he started to feel a little nauseous. He saw his brother first, who didn’t even say anything to him just looked at him with disappointment. His father gave him the good old hug while whispering in his ear, “you need to get here when you are supposed to be here.” His godmother greeted him next; Charlie always adored her, she would tell him, as a child how second is the best. He would use this against Tim when they would get into arguments over which their parents loved more.
Charlie finally asked the question, “how is she?” to his family, but the truth was Charlie did not really care; he always felt that he was a bad person for the lack of sympathy he showed his mother during her battle with cancer. “You can go see her with me, she is awake, but only two of us can go at a time.” Charlie sat down in the empty chair in front of him, next to this older gentleman. Charlie always quick to judge started listing in his head everything wrong with him but than he noticed he was reading a book on cheese. Charlie started to wonder why would this man be reading a book on cheese. Was he holding a dinner party or maybe he was trying to trap a mouse that was of the eloquent vermin class and would only accept Dutch smoked Gouda. Charlie started to smile to himself, something he hadn’t done to often. “Charlie!” He arose shocked at the tone of his father’s voice. Apparently they were trying to get his attention for some time now. It was time for Charlie to see his mother.
We washed our hands, making sure that we killed the 99.9 percent bacteria that we had. Than we walked down the hallway, Charlie did not want to see his mother while he was intoxicated, but he didn’t know how else he would be able to build up the courage to come. They got to his mothers area, she was doped up on all the painkillers she could ask for. Charlie started to freak out.
“Are you okay?” she said as she grabbed his hand. Charlie didn’t know how to respond, what kind of question is that he thought, she just got out of surgery and she is wondering if I am okay. He responded with the same question, “are you okay?” His mother smiled a little bit and than asked another selfless question, “did you eat?” Charlie was getting a little confused with these questions, he started feeling a panic attack coming on, he saw all the tubes attached to his mother but he was able to speak, “yes I ate” he said. She smiled again and went back to her sleep.
Charlie’s father put his hand on his back as if signaling him that it was time to start walking back to the waiting room. Charlie wanting to escape but couldn’t. He started sweating, feeling as though everyone was looking at him, he got a tingling sensation starting in his feet running up his legs and into his head. He couldn’t breath; he took off trying to find a bathroom. Not being able to find one he vomited all over the floor. Trying to catch his breath his brother passed him.
“You need to get a grip, you are not the one with cancer, you have to be strong, she needs you right now man and you coming in reeking of booze, you are going to end up killing her.” Those last three words sent Charlie into a rage, he clenched his fist so hard that his knuckles cracked, but than he zoned out, thinking of how he is going to end up having to care for his mother during the days. He started thinking about not being able to handle it and failing, he started thinking how he is going to be the reason for his mother’s death. He started to run again. This time to his car. Knowing that he was leaving, to where he did not know. But he needed help.