from Charlie Rivers
by Leigh-Anne Tyson © 2010
Charlie stood on the porch and flicked his cigarette. It floated through the air, turning slowly. The way it fell looked like a scene from the movies, thought Charlie, when the cigarette would land in a pool of gasoline, and light it. Then the flame would shoot across the parking lot and everything would end in a big explosion. Charlie heard the sizzle as the cigarette sunk deeper into the puddle it landed in. Charlie lifted himself up off the porch railing and stepped off onto the gravel path. The stones crunched under his boots. It was still raining. He looked out across the lawn. His old Chevette sat in the driveway, sad and grey. Mr. Timkin’s mutt pressed his face against the chain link fence that separated their yards from each other. The dog never barked, only stared at Charlie whenever he came out to porch to sneak a cigarette. Black eyes following but never moving. Charlie ignored the dog and walked to his car.
The inside of the car smelled like feet. Charlie looked over his shoulder at the backseat. He had crammed everything he could into it. He didn’t own a suitcase. His clothes were stuffed in old pillowcases. Books and his collection of cassette tapes were stacked in old milk crates. Charlie saw where there was a rip in one of them and his work socks stuck out like puss from a zit. He didn’t bother to shove it back in. Charlie rolled down the window to let the fresh spring air in, in spite of the rain. He slammed the car door shut. The car engine revved and he reversed out of the driveway. Charlie didn’t look at the house in the rearview mirror as the car limped down the street. He didn’t need to see the empty windows, black in the rain. Charlie left them sleeping and unaware. He slowly turned the corner at the end of the street, and Charlie knew that damn dog was still staring at him.