Suddenly another door was present, and it burst open with a gust. Charlie's breath froze in his throat when he saw who was standing in the doorway. His father's broad frame nearly took up the entire width of the door. He had a look of fire in his eyes, and he was looking directly at Charlie. His mother stood timidly behind him, the creases in her face punctuated by fresh tear tracks, her tiny body quivering in her husband's wake.
"What have you done?" his father nearly roared.
"Pop..." Charlie began to stutter, but he couldn't force any other sounds to come from his mouth.
How many years had Charlie been forced to cower in his own home, never knowing whether he would be hit with a violent stream of words, or the solid broad expanse of his father's bare hands. Charlie could hardly tell which he dreaded most. The physical scars eventually dissipated, but the emotional ones were now a part of who he was.
Charlie learned to cope by secluding himself in his room, pouring over books and magazines, imagining what his life would be away from this house. After high school graduation, Charlie was on the next bus out of town.
But why were his parents here? They should be back home in Connecticut, living their lives without him in it.
"What is going on here?" demanded the same man from Charlie's electrical engineering class. His hair was still messed up from his graduation cap and he had a dark, angry brow.
His father immediately puffed out his chest and pointed a stubby finger at Charlie. "This idiot boy of mine just blew us all to hell and back!" Charlie began whimpering and backing away from his father. "You always thought you were so special, because you're so much smarter than your old man! You think I didn't know how you stayed up late at night tinkering with your little gadgets, tearing apart the things I bought with my hard-earned money so that you could build your special little projects? You thought you were better than your old man, and you just had to get out there and show the world, didn't you?!"
Charlie's father spat on the ground and stalked over to the other side of the room.
"Oh, Charlie..." his mother was approaching now, her lip trembling, her hands reaching out toward him. Charlie's stomach writhed and he withdrew instantly.
How many times had she looked the other way when his father had beat his face to a bloody pulp, or left the room when the abusive yelling would escalate? Charlie despised her. She had abandoned him so many times. He could never forgive her.
"Why are you here, Mother?" he asked her, unable to hide his revulsion.
"We came to your graduation, of course. We were so proud of you...." and she trailed off, unable to finish.
Carol Jean timidly spoke from near where June sat, "So we are all here, we are all dead....and it is because of....you?" At the last she pointed to where Charlie was cowering in the corner.
The room started to buzz with the anger and confusion present during crisis situations. June attempted to calm the rumbling.
"Rest, everyone, you will get your answers. We must hear from Charlie now."
Hear Charlie's confession and read the conclusion of "Charlie's Hell" tomorrow!