The Third Charlie
When I was 15, Charlie was 43. And every time Charlie got drunk he would tell the same, sad story of the day his sister bought him a new shirt for his birthday and then, when his father saw Charlie’s pack of cigarettes in that shirt’s pocket, furiously stripped the pocket off the shirt as he tore away the tobacco.
Charlie would always begin with the story of that shirt pocket, then ramble on for several minutes about his deep and abiding hatred of his father. Charlie never saw or spoke to him again.
Drunken, bitter, and enraged, Charlie would relive the story of that shirt and those cigarettes at least once a week.
It was a story he told himself.
It was a story he told to me.
It was a story he told to anyone who would listen.
It was a sad and stupid story
that shaped his life.