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CHARLIE by Blake Middleton

i took some adderall the other day

and for some reason i decided it was time to replace my old washing machine with a new washing machine

my roommate got a lighter stuck in the part of the washer where all the lent and other bullshit builds up

so we were scared that the washing machine was gonna catch fire or explode

i had been putting off changing it out for weeks

i didn’t know how to change out a washing machine and hadn’t really felt like learning

i kinda hoped my roommate would do it eventually

but whatever, i was bored and on adderall, optimal conditions for doing a dumb chore you’ve been putting off forever

i hadn’t taken adderall in months

and there were reasons for this, of course

but it had been a few months, it was early, i wasn’t gonna mix them with alcohol or anything, haha, just wanted some help focusing

felt like i didn’t need a youtube tutorial, no no, none of that bullshit

just needed some fucking drugs, kids

i stared at the washing machine, trying to use my brain to think

i did some thinking and unscrewed the hose on the back of the washer a little bit

but some water shot out from around the sides

so the first step would be to turn off the water

and hey hey

goddamn

the adderall was working

it had increased my critical thinking/problem solving skills immensely

i tried to turn the faucet, but the handle was rusted and broken

i tried to use a wrench to turn the handle, but no, still wasn’t working

i thought, fuck it

removing the hose was gonna be the first step again

the adderall in my dumb-ass brain was telling me that would work, like totally, fuck yeah

the adderall was telling me that, despite the recent revelation that the handle was completely broken and fucked, i had the mental capacity and psychical strength required to unscrew the hose from the back of the old washer then, while water was spewing out from the hose, screw it into the new washer

actually no, without really thinking about what i was doing, i unscrewed the hose

and as soon as i unscrewed the hose i realized that unscrewing the hose while the water was still running was a stupid and bad thing to do

because water was shooting out everywhere

getting all my shit wet

the floor wet. the counters wet. my pants wet.

like imagine all my shit getting really fucking wet

imagine a hose spewing water full blast on a bunch of shit that shouldn’t get wet

it was bad

i tried to screw it back into the old washer

i thought, fuck it

just wanted to screw the hose back into the old washer, keep using that one until it caught fire or exploded and killed me or whatever

just wanted to read a book or lie in bed and stare at the ceiling or something

but no

wasn’t gonna work for me

mentally added ‘changing out a washing machine’ to a long list of shit that just wasn’t gonna work for me

no i didn’t do that

but in hindsight, yeah, add it to the list

it was too late to quit though

this wasn’t a time for literature or bad feelings in bed

this was a time for stopping a hose from flooding my house

really didn’t wanna have to call my slumlord and get yelled at

plus my roommates had been getting drunk a lot and spray-painting the walls

so i would get double yelled at

then my dumb-ass brain did some more thinking stuff

and oh man

i realized who i needed

i needed my boy charlie

charlie was my alcoholic neighbor

there was a good chance that he would be home because he doesn’t have a job

he spends most of his time drinking busch on his porch with his shithead buddies (also unemployed alcoholics)

he has a friend named ‘ice man’ that sells meth out of his ford bronco

‘ice man’ also does lawn service

‘ice man’ and charlie have a friend named ‘creepy chris’

‘creepy chris’ lives in charlie’s garage

he also smokes crack-cocaine and has sex with prostitutes in there too

charlie’s garage: a versatile space perfect for a variety of stimulating activities such as crack smoking and illicit sex

‘creepy chris’ helps ‘ice man’ sell meth and cut grass

sometimes creepy chris smokes too much crack and walks around the park across the street very late at night

creeping around

there goes chris again, smoking crack and creeping around in the night, there he goes

just some normal jacksonville florida bullshit my guy

but yeah, yes, charlie was my only hope

i put the hose inside the washing machine and it started filling with water

i jumped over the washing machine and sprinted out my front door, drenched in water, looking like a fucking dumb-ass

and yeah, yes

charlie was sitting alone on his porch drinking a busch

he was wearing cut-off jean shorts

and i could see his balls

dangling out, resting gently on the stoop

i got a little distracted for a minute by charlies big tan balls, you know?

shit was wet my guy

it was 11 am

charlie had been drinking, but he wasn’t drunk

which was great because charlie isn’t very helpful when he’s drunk

like one time i went over to charlie’s place to borrow a drill

i knocked on the door

and i could see charlie through the screen door

he was sitting on the couch, empty mcdonald’s wrappers on the ottoman in front of him

looking old and leathery as ever

but he wouldn’t move, he just sat there smiling, staring right at me

‘charie,’ i yelled. ‘what the fuck?’

then jane, charlie’s wife, nice old jane, came to the door, opened it

and before she could say anything to me, charlie yelled, ‘how many boyfriends you got, jane?’

so i was thinking, okay, charlie’s drunk and on pain pills again

suprise suprise

because charlie, in addition to being my drunk neighbor, is also my drunk maintenance man

and a few weeks ago he was doing some work on my roof, few too many beers deep, fell off and slipped a disk in his back

so for the past few weeks he’s been on the pain pills

calls them ‘happy pills’

usually in the context of ‘hey blake do you wanna buy some happy pills?’

so i asked jane if i could borrow a drill

jane said, ‘it’s blake. wants to know if he can borrow a drill. do you know where the drills at, charlie?’

‘bet you could find it if it was up your ass,’ he yelled

nice old jane said, ‘well, it’s not up my ass, mr. charlie’

and i said, ‘okay, i’ll come back later’

but it was early this time and he wasn’t drunk yet

i said, ‘charlie, i need you. i’ve got a fucking emergency’

i felt a little strange saying ‘i need you’ to a weird old man while staring at his balls

he stood up and his balls retracted

i said ‘follow me’ and ran to my house

he walked real slow behind me

well we got inside and Charlie assessed the situation

he stared at the washing machine overflowing onto my floor

he looked at me and shook his head and laughed like ‘haha what the fuck did you do, kid?’

then he took the hose and put it in a drain thingy behind the washer then walked outside and turned the water off by lifting up a concrete thingy in my front yard

seemed incredibly easy

made me feel like, what the fuck have i been doing on the world for 23 years. how do i not know how to do basic bullshit yet?

charlie said we were gonna need to go buy a new faucet because the current one was broken and fucked

i suggested that we go to the lowes down the street

*

we walked around lowes together

me and charlie

the two best friends

charlie would pick up a spout and mumble, ‘should have gone to the fucking home depot’

i had always thought that lowes and home depot were the exact same store but now i know that they are not

i was learning things

learning things to remember in the future

always preparing for some empty bullshit

shit breaks and you fix it

just more and more tiny breaks to fix until that last sweet unrepairable breaking

a breaking so broke you gotta bury it

wet wet wet

but yeah fuck lowes i guess

*

on the drive home from lowes we approached a liquor store

i had gotten pretty used to paying charlie in liquor

he had been mowing my lawn with ice man and chris every week in exchange for a 750 of canadian club whiskey

fucking champions these guys

so i figured i’d stop in the liquor stop and buy him a handle

so i did

and we got back to my place and charlie fixed my washer

no problem

just fixed her right up

he took a deep breath and looked at me

‘you want a mixed cocktail?’ he said

really felt like i owed him one

like if charlie wanted me to drink a cocktail with him, then i would do that, yeah

i said okay, and we walked over to charlie’s place

there was nascar shit everywhere

mostly dale earnhardt memorabilia

hell yeah

charlie walked to the kitchen and picked up two 32 ounce styrofoam cups

like those big motherfuckers you get at gas stations

he grabbed the handle of canadian club and a 2 liter of coke, handed them to me

‘mix yourself a drink’ he said, smiling like a big time motherfucker

so i poured a 2 oz shot into the cup

a normal amount

and he said ‘c’mon pour a little more’

so i poured another 2 ounces

okay, seemed fine, whatever

and again he said, ‘c’mon brother, pour a little more’

hmm not great, no no

but i poured another 2 ounces

mixed it with coke

we sat on the couch together, watching the local news

just two normal guys watching the local news alone on a couch, drinking giant-ass cocktails

a white lady was talking about a murder at a gas station in westside jacksonville

charlie yelled something at the TV

i thought, ‘okay all i have to do is finish this drink and then i can leave, cool’

so i started drinking faster

and by the time i finished the drink about five minutes later, i felt like watching the local news with charlie was a fun and normal thing to do

and i remembered that i took an adderall earlier

and that when i’m on adderall i feel like i can drink a lot more than i actually can

so i realized i drank too much too quick

surprise surprise

so i walked to the fridge and grabbed a beer

because i was already there

i was feeling good

i was feeling that invincible feeling again

felt like i was the fucking king of beer, god of the mini-fridge, the busch-light punisher

and as soon as i popped the top ice man and creepy chris pulled up in the bronco, honked the horn a few times

and it sounded like ‘daa-daa-da-da-da-da-daaaa-daaaa-da-da’

and i was drunk enough to think ‘fuck yeah, cool, all of this this is normal and good’

and the bronco had bull horns on the front and i’m not kidding, it had ‘ice man’ stenciled on the hood

creepy chris stepped out of the passenger side, looking like a praying mantis on crack

and he was holding a styrofoam box over his head with his mantis arms

he started chanting ‘chicken wings chicken wings chicken wings’

and charlie’s lazy ass didn’t hop up off the couch when i told him i had a fucking emergency but he sure did hop up for chicken wings

i followed him outside

‘shut the fuck up, chris’ charlie said. ‘what you got in there?’

‘chicken wings’

‘give em here’

he handed charlie the box

charlie opened the box and said ‘hey buddy’ to the chicken wings, smiling

‘hey charlie man,’ said chris. ‘i, uh, got them things for weed-eating a lawn’

‘who’s garage you live at, uh? do you live at charlie’s garage? is that your mattress in my garage, uh?’

‘Yeah, but–’

charlie slurped down a chicken wing

wet

he stood and chugged a beer, walked out back to the garage

we all followed charlie for some reason

and also, for some reason, there was a tire nailed above the garage

just kind of dangling there in the breeze like charlie’s balls

couldn’t seem to stop thinking about charlie’s balls

charlie grabbed two 30 pound dumbbells out of the garage

‘lifts some weights, chicken wing’ he said to chris

and instead of telling charlie to ‘fuck off’ he just lifted the weights

he counted his reps and charlie ate his chicken wings

and ice man smiled at me and pulled out a one hitter

and i took a hit of ice man’s weed

and thank god it was only weed

and yes my guy

i was drunk and stoned and on adderall

it was one of those day where you’d usually think ‘huh, didn’t think i’d be doing this today’

only right then i wasn’t thinking that

i wasn’t thinking anything

that’s what made it so good

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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