Charlie stood in the middle of his parents’ trailer, scanned the disheveled clutter that looked as presentable as he currently did in his underwear and three-day beard growth. He didn’t have a computer — he was thankful to have electricity and city water, and wouldn’t know exactly what to do with a computer anyway — and thumbing Mike’s story onto his phone seemed tedious to him. His eye caught a pile of papers in a dark corner, artifacts from his school days, over a year past now, long overdue for a trip to the trash bin. Hanging off the far edge, about three-quarters of the way up the pile — a spiral notebook, green cover. Social studies, most pages would be empty. Charlie hurried over to the pile, as if an invisible rival next to him had also just seen the same notebook and was racing to lay claim to it.
The pile shuddered and collapsed onto itself when Charlie yanked the notebook free. He ripped out the pages containing class notes or obscene cartoons, crumpled and threw them onto the pile. Still dozens of blank pages.
A pen lying on the dirty carpet was quickly picked up, and the sofa sagged under Charlie’s weight as he sat hastily. For the next several minutes, he wrote down the story he had told so far to Maggie, stopping to relieve the cramp in his hand as he finished writing the lawyer’s advice, Don’t say you know anything about the murders. Charlie stood, walked into the bathroom, and as he relieved himself realized he was even more awake now than when he had risen out of bed, nearly an hour ago.
Determined to finish the story Mike had told him, Charlie returned to the sofa, took up the notebook and pen, and resumed writing.