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Charley Boy

Cappy Jack ©2002

“What is it?” It was with a mean and nasty voice that he said it.

“I need your help.” She wasn’t expecting much. Just thought she’d ask. He had been asleep for two hours.

“Ok. What’s up?” Alert listening, body catching up, he wanted to know.

“It’s just that the children are too much for me right now.” Said with a plaintive notion, she wanted him to know this was real shit.

“What can I do?” This set the division of labor in contrast. The deal was he would bring in the money and she would raise the kids. ‘It wasn’t working for her’, he thought. “Really, I want to help.”

Sandra felt his true caring for her well being and felt at fault. He was keeping up his end of the bargain and she wasn’t.

“Could you just care for your son for a few hours. I’m at my limit.”

“With him? Why? What’s he done?” As far as Bill was concerned, his son hadn’t done anything. He didn’t know the boy, just what Sassy told him. He was mute, three and could finally walk. He had to be easier than the baby, Cindy was nine months and colicky. She’d even thrown up on him, in the morning before work, and he smelled her sweet puke all day. The boy wasn’t nearly as lively as his girls.  ‘We’ll try again. ‘ He thought he’d tell her. ‘Another son, if that’s what you want.’ He wasn’t through having kids. She was.

“It’s nothing really. I think you ought to get to know him.”

“You woke me up for this? Fine, I’ll get to know him tomorrow.”

“No, I mean it. He doesn’t sleep much and I caught him walking around the apartment. Won’t you talk to him?” Bill sat up now, took notice for the first time that his son was different. “Where is he?”

I was in the room with the TV. There were no lights but the moon shown full. The windows were dirty but I didn’t care. It was all so very new to me. I knew I wasn’t sleep walking. I was also quite sure that sleepwalking had taken me to this point. I wondered why.

“Hey, sport, how are you doing?”  Who is father talking to? I’m looking right at him. Why doesn’t he greet me like everyone else?  “So whatcha doing?”  I can pretend I don’t hear him. Yes, I can do what I want. He won’t stop me. He never has. The moonbeams were straight and not everywhere. Cyrill knew the difference in daylight. He liked the moonlight though and always walked in it when he got the chance. Some nights it was so hard to wait. Some nights the moon just popped up and so did I.

“Do you want me to read you a book?” No, father, I like the moonlight better than the bare bulb above me. Don’t turn it on. I’ll show you a toy I discovered. I walked away from him over to the dark corner. My eyes adjust quickly and I see it. It’s up a bit and I have to stretch up to reach it. Lucky I don’t have those shoes on. My bare feet feel fine. Another reason to shake off sleep.

“Watch now, don’t fall. What did you see?”  I had it now. It was heavy but I knew how to hold it. I walked good in my bare feet. Mother didn’t realize I refused to walk in the shoes. They hurt.

“Whatcha got there, son. Here let me see it.” I raised it up to show him.

“Where did you get my handgun?” He sounded scared. I felt bad. I didn’t want to make him unhappy. I backed away, my shoulders seemed to shrink.  He got up and walked out. I turned back to my friends the moonbeams. They walked with me across the floor. Sometimes I would watch them until I could catch them. They felt so good.

“Sandra. Look what Cyrill just handed to me.” He was shaking it now. But it was his whole body shaking that shook it. She shook, startled by his abrupt presence in the bedroom.

“What? You’ve got to be kidding me. Is it loaded?”  She squared to face him and moved in a glide.

“It was when I left it in the side table drawer.” It had the phone on it. It was on his side of the bed. He took the interruptions of the phone at night and saved them from burglars, she got up and fed the baby. Nightmares they shared. He got the better deal but it was his gun. ‘That little bugger must have come in here and taken it’, Bill couldn’t remember the last time he had checked on the gun. He wasn’t interested in it, had had enough in the war. Sandra wanted it but didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

“I’ll clear it.” The bullets banged the drawer bottom. “I’ll take it to work tomorrow. Why would he do such a thing?”

“He doesn’t know what it is. It’s a hunk of shiny metal to him.”

“Oh, I think he’s a lot smarter than that. He brought it out to me holding it correctly. He surrendered it to me like I was taught in gun safety.”

“How the hell did he know that? Did you show him?”

“No, never, I haven’t touched that gun in who knows how long.”

I looked at them. They were sad and looking down. I sure didn’t mean to do that to them. I rocked up and down on my toes. It sure feeled good. I looked at my parents and loved them. I thought Father would be glad that I held the toy just like the pictures. The book was easy to look at and the man in the pictures looked nice.

“What about the squirrel rifle?” That was Sandra’s, her father had given it to her.

“Nah, it’s bigger than him right now and besides there isn’t any ammo.”

“What, no 22’s in the house?” She tried to make a joke. She smiled at Bill. ‘Oh, well, we all make mistakes’, she said with the tilting of her head and the look in her eyes that he loved. He relaxed, put his hands on his hips and smiled back.

“Look whose joined us? Come on in squirrel.” I was confused. I heard him name something else a squirrel. I went to my Mother. I looked up at her.

“I love you Mother.” The moonbeam hit me in the eye when I turned my head up to look at her. I didn’t change my focus. I looked at her eyes. My vision changed, I didn’t see her anymore but I waited for her answer. It was very quiet and I could hear our hearts. We were all beating the same it seemed. No, wait, I hear a little difference.

“I love you, Cyrill, with all my heart.” Sandra bent over and blocked the moonlight with her nose. She looked at her son nose to nose.

“Did he just talk? Oh, my God, say something to me partner” Bill got down to his son’s level now for the first time. He put out his hand to shake.

“I answer to no one who doesn’t know my name.” He ought to know that. I hadn’t forgotten what Mother told my older sister. It was important she said. My sister talked to everyone. I listened.  ‘Don’t talk to anybody who doesn’t know your name.’  Father got up now and looked at me with a mean face. I stepped back, too.

“No, wait, wait, Bill, I think I get it. We haven’t been addressing him by his name. No one calls him Cyrill. “  I knew that. Why didn’t they?

“We have to change his name or call him Cyrill when we want to talk to him. Isn’t that right, Cyrill?”

“Yes, Mother. I’d like to tell you some things. I’d like to ask questions, too.”

“That does it, Bill. What do you think?”

“What would you like us to call you, Cyrill? Now’s the time to pick your name. Would you tell us?”  I’d thought of this for a long time when I seemed invisible. I like all the names of things. They all seem right to me. When I tried to see what was wrong with me, I became invisible, too. Invisible to myself because I had no name.

“Cheez…I’m going to bed now. Cyrill, pick out a name tomorrow. I’ll call you Cyrill until you tell me different, OK?”  Father lay back down and Mother came over to me.

“Cyrill, would you talk to me now?”  I felt tears come out of me and a sore feeling come up my body to my mouth. It was so nice to hear my name. I let her hold me and lift me up. We walked out into the dark hall and I closed my eyes. The moonbeams in my room were tired now. I looked at them through my Mother’s arms.

“Mother, I want to be Charles.” She shooshed me and blew in my face. I closed my eyes and wondered some more.  


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written using Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition