previous chapter is at https://secret-lifeof.com/2019/02/03/twenty-three-a-dream-of-brokenness/
Charlie looks at me quickly, then puts his head down. “Mister. Mister Mack. I know.” Charlie. I’m happy to see you. I take his hand in both of mine. Do you remember Julie, my wife? You always called her Auntie. She asked me to come and see you. I think she cares about you a lot, Charlie. (The Clan, sitting on their behinds, make wry smiles. There’s a snort of derisive laughter). “I like Auntie. I like Auntie. Where’s Auntie?” She couldn’t come today, Charlie, but she sent this little box for you. He opens it to find, wrapped in wax paper, hard toffee, broken into shards. He loved that when he was little, so much so that he had pulled out one of his fillings during a lengthy chew. Now, he makes a crinkly smile and there’s a flicker of joy within his eyes. First thing he does is pass me a chunk. I can see a few pairs of eyes following his motions, and I think I know who will get the toffee when I leave. I pass the piece back to him, eyeing his protectors. You know what? Julie says you must keep every piece for your own self. She says there are fifty two pieces here, one for each Sunday morning for a whole year. Okay? (She said no such thing). The nicotine man gets up and opens the Johnny Walker.
“Hey, Chollie, what about a trade? One shot of the good stuff, and everybody gets a piece of yer candy?” For fuck’s sake, are you trying to make him sick? “Hah! Show the nice man what you did last time you drank some Johnny W. C’mon Chollie!”
Charlie’s jaw quivers. His eyes show anger, but also a resolve to take the challenge. He motions to me to put away the blanket and the shaving stuff, then puts his ham fists on the arms of his wheelchair. With a great effort, he pushes himself up, quickly grabs the bannister, and brings himself to a standing position. He’s shaking, and his one knee wobbles. I fear for his safety, and stand up to help support him, when Margaret Atwood says “No! Leave him! It’s his pride. Right, Charlie? Come on, show the man what ya can do. Come to Mama!” He turns, nervously lets go of the bannister, and makes to walk towards her. His jaw works, and now his head shakes as if from palsy. He puts his two hands out in front of him and pushes one foot forward, then brings it back uncertainly. The knee wobbles again, and I move towards him. She again yells “No, don’t!”, but before I can grab him, Charlie falls backwards. He hits the top of the stairs at about waist level, and tumbles all the way down. Fourteen steps. I scream you bitch, and there’s silence as I run down to him.
Mister shiny pants and his hillbilly neighbor stumble down to help me, one still carrying a bottle of beer. Charlie has a dislocated shoulder and large lump on his head, but he’s conscious. He holds one hand in an odd position and I see that his wrist is broken. He doesn’t cry out. Nothing at all. Just has a beseeching look, and his nose is dripping onto the floor.
The rest of them file down the stairs. I say call the goddamn ambulance. They all look scared. Shiny pants sets down his beer and disappears into the streets. The others go back up to the landing and I hear a hushed conversation.
Charlie passes out. DID YOU PHONE? I scream.
to be continued……….