warning; adult language/references.
Davie and I spent a lot of time together but Charlie seemed distant from us.
Van’s birthday was coming up and I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to celebrate it without Charlie.
“I’m going to work. I’ll be back late tonight.” Charlie, said handing me flowers. I smiled.
I taught Davie how to talk that morning. He was chatting up a storm now. I was proud of my little boy.
Today was my hair appointment, so I called the baby sitter and headed out after putting Van down for a nap.
When I got home, Charlie still wasn’t there. But Davie made sure to fill me in all on Candy’s performance as the babysitter. He babbled forever about how she played dolls with him like I do. I smiled. She seemed like a good baby sitter after all.
“She’s my girlfriend!” Davie squealed.
I laughed, “oh really now?”
Davie changed the subject quickly, as he has no attention span (most two year olds don’t) and told me all about his new army men that Charlie had gotten for him.
“Mommy got you something too Davie.” I said, smiling.
“What is it Mommy?!” He asked excitedly.
“It’s the claaaaaaaaw!” I said in a dramatic tone. Davie squealed.
While playing with Davie, my mother called.
“You have another grandson. I’d love it if you’d come visit. Charlie isn’t here. So it’d just be me and you-”
“I’m not coming over there Ana. I’m busy. I’ll come and see the kids soon.”
She hung up on me. I was confused. She normally always wanted to come over. I tried not to think about it.
It’d been two days and I still hadn’t heard from Charlie.
While I was putting Van and Davie down for naps I got a call from an unknown number. I answered it, hoping it would be Charlie.
“Hello?” I said.
“This is the Sunset Valley Correctional Facility. Inmate, Ana, baby it’s me, I’m okay, accept the charges. would like to make a collect call, do you accept the charges?”
“Yes.” I said, numb from hearing Charlie’s voice over the phone.
“What are you doing in jail?” I asked, trying to be calm. Or, trying not to be sick. Or whatever was going on with my emotions.
“Please don’t worry. I’ll be out in…well…I’ll be out soon…”
“What’s going on?”
“Everything’s fine. I’m fixing everything. Everything will be different after this…I promise. I love you.”
The phone clicked before I could even respond. I felt helpless. What the hell was I supposed to do?
I slept alone that night. I guess Charlie would be missing Van’s birthday afterall.
The boys and I were adjusting to Charlie being gone, although I know they missed him just as much as I did. I refused to visit Charlie and my mother never answered my calls. It’d been a few weeks and I’d resorted to playing for tips in the front yard and selling off some of our furniture to get by.
We had a little bit of money and I’d found out I was pregnant. And now we needed two high chairs. I was getting desperate.
I wasn’t showing yet and I hadn’t told the boys. I was nervous about being on my own with two toddlers, one on the way, and no job. But it seemed to be working out and Charlie had been in jail for eight months at least.
I realized that I should probably re-do the nursery floors and walls, since I have all boys.
But before I did that, I decided to teach Van how to walk.
I think despite the circumstances, we were doing okay (slowly selling off the furniture…and making tips in the front yard from random neighbors sometimes) but we still missed Charlie. Even though I refused to tell the boys where he was. Every time they asked I distracted them or said, “he’ll be home soon.”
I was tired all of the time and barely getting any sleep.
And the baby was coming any day now.
8 months since his arrest
“Don’t ask how I got out, but I did. And I need to lay low, I need you to set me up somewhere Jay.”
“You’re not a charity, why should I help you when you didn’t get the job I wanted done?”
“Not with that shit again. I’m not doing that man, that’s too deep. I can’t cover something like that up-”
“That’s why it’s supposed to look like an accident-”
“I’m not doing it.” I said plainly. “I’ve got kids now…a wife, I can’t be screwed up in this any deeper than the things I’ve already done-”
I heard Jay sigh into the phone, “I’ll make it simple for you Chaz, you either kill Philip Grey or Big Tony puts a hit out on you.” The phone clicked, leaving me in the silence.
I decided to talk to my friend Tom and see if he could help me.
By the time I walked across town, it was nightfall.
“Tom you’ve gotta help me out, Jay says he’s gunna hurt Ana-”
“Yeah and he said he’d kill us if we helped you get out of town. Big Tony put up 500 grand for the man who catches your ass. They’d be pissed if they knew I was talking to you.”
“Tom what the hell man? Fuck Jay! And fuck Big Tony! I need to get out of here and I need you to come with me man. Get Tracy and let’s go. You can’t stay wrapped up in this mess…this…this isn’t worth this crap money-”
“Man… Chaz, that chick Ana has got you whipped. You can’t leave now. You could have Jay’s job in a year. Philip ain’t nothin’ but garbage no way. He’s been hiding in some hole. We need you to find him-”
“No. I said I’m done running smack. And I’m not killing anyone, even if it is Phil the fucking junkie. I can’t afford to be away from Ana and the boys in a god damn prison cell for eight months. Murder? I’d be gone for life. Damn it… when her mother came to see me she said she was pregnant again. I can’t miss the birth of that child, Tom. You’ve gotta come with me. Get out of this shit. Tracy and you deserve better than this-”
“You better leave. We’re done.” He said, backing away from me.
“What are you talking about we’re done? We’re not dating bro! You’re my friend-”
“If you don’t leave now, I’m going to kill you where you stand and go collect that money myself.” Tom said, looking me dead in the eye. The man I’d grown up with and had been my best friend since I was 9 years old was now threatening my life.
“You’re kidding me right?”
When he didn’t reply I turned after saying, “well fuck you then man. I thought you were better than Big Tony and Jay, but Tom…you’re just like ‘em.”
“You better get out of this city soon. I’m not the only one thinking of collecting that money.” Tom yelled after me.