........I wonder sometimes where out thoughts used to wander before life happened. What kind of creatures would we be if say just one thing was missing from our lives? One memory? It's amazing how a single person can ultimately define your entire existence. Some of these people we know, some we may not. Let me tell you about an old friend of mine as I ask myself how this story might have changed me, and how I as a result might change you.
........Cole was a young lad of 14 years who was, like most boys on the cusp of manhood, intrepid, but unconcerned with definition of character, simply living his days as they came. Mornings were usually spent playing hookey from school, enjoying the simplicity of the current circumstances, and searching for things to make his heart race. A popular hobby among him and his pack was riding behind train cars until the break dust covered them from head to toe, like a mass of laughing shadows, all eyes and smiles.
........On one particular day, it was in the middle of August and the heat wave had reached a peak. Cole patted down his shorts and his t-shirt that was barely holding together, caked with a paste of sweat and rubber. A middle aged woman standing outside the train station noticed he was struggling with the dust around his eyes and offered him a handkerchief with half a bottle of water. Although the age difference was clear to both of them, they quickly took a liking to each other, for his youthful tenacity and ignorance, for her beautiful smile and sorrowful gaze. On that day, the thrill seeking teenager found something that made him nervous, and Charlotte, the woman dealing tricks outside the 42nd street station, found a bit of human warmth to lift the sadness out of her eyes. Was it love? Perhaps to the two of them it was, but time blurs the corners of every word and feeling.
........Days, months, years came and went with little distinction between them, but it didn't matter to the pair, nothing else really mattered besides their long talks, long nights exploring each other and the afternoons between. The routine was simple: school, fuck, talk, home, eat, ignore sounds of failing marriage, fuck, rinse, repeat. The fights always shook the neighborhood. Kids, parents and pets pulled back into waking life by the painfully honest insults of an insensitive wife, and the crack of a broken heart, the heart of the humblest of men, a man only for a lack of a better word. However, there was one soul who slept soundly, one soul without fear or regret, one smile among the tears and broken families.
........Charlotte urged Cole to return to school so as to not become a negative influence to his life. She wondered to herself if it was possible for a man to love a harlot without being hurt or broken. As his guiding light rather than his lover, she did her best to teach him everything she knew, however specialized her knowledge was, as she recalled a painful memory or orgasm with every lesson she shared. She hoped to spare Cole the first and possibly share many more of the latter. Charlotte had ultimately succeeded in making him into a superb lover, but she was unable to teach him the lessons she learned through anguish, that armor he would wear on his own.
“women, they're liars, they're cheats, you gotta be careful. They're gonna try to play you and all you can do is be a man and play'em back, do what theys doin to you but better. I know I'm a trick we're straight up with each other, but you ain't gonna see a whole lotta that in one lifetime. All I gots to say is protect yourself boy, you can never know what a woman is thinking except when you make her cum to high fuckin' heaven.”
Cole learned how to keep a woman happy, sure, but not to keep a woman, or life, from tearing him down.
........Cole got himself a badge after he left high school. He figured as a member of the force, he might be more capable of protecting Charlotte. He had spent so many afternoons hiding under a bed or the closet, watching strangers make an object of the reason he bothers waking up. It was intended as an educational exercise, but instead Cole simply closed his eyes and left for a different place, where he'd be building his imaginary house, hugging his imaginary kids, kissing his imaginary wife out in plain sight. He set himself straight for her, and started working towards the day he would have enough money to settle her debts so that she could leave that life behind and start one with him.
........6 winters and 5 summers went by since they had first met, and although their routine had changed slightly over the years, the changes were superficial. Every kiss was still a treasure, even as time had robbed Charlotte of some of her beauty, Cole was blind to her imperfections, and Charlotte felt just as strongly for the man he became, as for the tenacious boy she had met 6 years before. Cole still had the same dreams as before, and although years of disappointment had made Charlotte a skeptic, it was still a dream the two of them shared. I wonder if Charlotte knew what was coming, would she have dreamt with Cole? Perhaps that's all they were to each other, just a dream, for I can think of nothing else on this dust ball more transient and ethereal than love.
........It was Cole's 20th Autumn and like usual, he was simply waiting to punch out from work and head back to Charlotte's to complete his day, when he got a call about a domestic incident at her apartment building. His uniform was quickly drenched out of fear, a feeling so unfamiliar to him at the time. There was barely a blink or a breath until he reached her building, already surrounded by red and white flashes, and yellow tape. Had his colleagues known who he spent his evenings with, they would have stopped him.
........He stepped out of his patrol car. His hands trembled. His heart was pounding hard and fast. Each beat, loud. Each beat silenced all the sirens and the voices. Each, deafening beat pumping blood to his buckling legs. He ran.
........Under the tape; through the front door; shattered glass; down the hall to the elevator; broken, of course; up the stairs; red prints on the fifth; blood on the floor; her door; broken lock; through the living room; television still on; bedroom; doors open; she's there... but she's not. Tears streamed down his face, he didn't scream, he didn't blink, he didn't breath. Her smile was gone. Her sorrowful gaze was nowhere to be seen. Her hand still clutching a broken crystal duck he had given her two summers before. Clothes torn. Their memories together now nothing but a 4 foot red stain across the wall. What were her last words? The feeling of their last kiss, he struggled to burn it into his memory. He couldn't touch her. He knew it was her but it wasn't her anymore, just another body in her clothes, with her skin. She was just... a barbie doll in the hands of a sadistic child. "Who did this? Who could have taken her away from him? “The prints in the stairwell, her black book, they'll find him, no, I'll find the bastard, I'll fucking find him”. But no, he was wrong, the man vanished like a ghost and the memory had lain a curse upon his mind, never again would he find peace. Cole's friend on the force found him on the floor, catatonic. They carried him out as his mind started over from the beginning. He's wiping the black dust out of his eyes as a beautiful woman hands him a handkerchief and some water. A brief smile, a glimmer of white amidst the darkness.
........He's still with us now, although I see the sadness in his eyes, I'd imagine Charlotte's was about the same. After 15 years grappling with his depression and another 25 years with two failed marriages, he's still with us, and still remembers every moment. Can we decide who we are? Have we at least the slightest control over our fate? Or, is it simply a push through a course someone else had already set you on? Cole and Charlotte had a future together, and now it is no more. The house is gone, the kids are gone, she is gone. Did they ever have it? Could they have ever gotten there? I don't think Charlotte really believed it, but to even dream the dream was closer to getting there than she ever thought possible.
Created: Mar 30, 2010Document Media