Why Did They Have To Be There

Wake up sometime around noon.
Splitting headache, nauseous, too much to drink last night.
Doesn't remember how he got home, or even where he was the night before.
After he gets up, he puts on his cleanest dirty clothes and goes into the kitchen
of his small one bedroom apartment.
When he gets to the kitchen he opens the refrigerator and pulls out a beer.
He thinks this should settle his stomach and help with his headache.
Hair of the dog.
He finishes his beer with a sweet roll and goes to check the mail.
He's hoping his disability check is there because he is almost broke.

His check is there along with a utility bill and some junk mail.
He goes back into his apartment to comb his hair and get ready to go to the bank.
He has that same thought that he has at least one hundred times a day.
Why did they have to be there?

He makes it to the bank and finds himself standing in line.
In the line next to him he notices a pretty young mother with two very pretty little girls.
He finds himself getting all choked up inside and finds it very hard to keep his composure.
But he endures the ordeal in order to cash his check
so he can get out of there and make his way home.

On his way home those memories once again flood into his mind.
Walking into that house after shooting at some snipers only to find
the bodies of a young mother and two little girls.
Why did they have to be there?

After he gets home the first thing he does is grabs another beer.
Then he turns on the television to see if anything is on.
After he finishes his beer he's searched through all the channels
and decides that watching television is a lost cause.
So he decides to go downtown and head for his favorite bar.

Before he can leave the apartment the phone rings.
He picks it up and says, "hello".
" Hi Charley, it's me John, calling from the V.A."
"I haven't heard from you in a while so I thought I'd call and see how you're doing."
Charley replies "I'm O.K. or at least as good as I'm ever going to be."
To which John replies, "still getting those bad dreams?"
Charley say's, "yeah, sometimes."
John say's, "You know Charley after that concussion you received
things aren't going to clear up overnight."
"I'd really like you to stop in sometime."
Charley replies, "Yeah, sure. I'll call tomorrow and make an appointment
but I'm on my way out the door right now so I gotta go."
To which John replies, "O.K. Charley, but if you don't call tomorrow
I'll be stopping in at your place sometime to see how you're doing."
Charley say's, "O.K. John. Bye," and hangs up.

He steps out the door and starts walking downtown.
On his way he notices a car drive by with what appeared to be
that young mother with her two little girls.
And once again it sparks that thought, why did they have to be there?

After he gets to the bar he sits down on a bar stool and orders a tap beer.
He notices some people playing pool so he puts some money on the table
hoping to get in on the next game.
It wasn't too long before the game was over and it was his turn to play the winner.
" What are we playing for?" he asks.
" Five dollars a game", came the reply.
He's a better that average pool player and before long he's made twenty dollars
before someone comes along and beats him.
By this time he's had several beers and a couple of shots of whisky and is feeling the effects.

He went and sat down back at the bar and ordered another beer and a shot.
He noticed that at the other end of the bar in a booth
was what appeared to be that young mother with her husband.
They seemed to be laughing and talking while having a drink.
He was quite envious of the man for being so lucky.

As the night wore on he drank some more beers and shots,
and he just couldn't stop watching that young couple.
He also noticed as the night went on that they had stopped
laughing and kissing one another and now appeared to be arguing.
After some more beers and shots he looked over at the couple to notice
that the argument seemed to be getting rather heated.
At one point he noticed her husband raise his hand and hit her with a clenched fist.
She fell to the floor.
And that's the last thing he remembered from that night.

He was awakened by someone shaking him.
As he slowly opened his eyes he heard a voice saying, "hey, there's someone here to see you."
He slowly opens his blood shot eyes to clear away the blur.
He notices that he's on a cot in a jail cell with three other guys.
He very slowly rises to his feet and stumbles to the cell door
where there's a guard waiting for him.
The guard say's "follow me. I'll take you to the visitation room."

After he arrives at the visitation room he sees John sitting at a table.
After he gets inside John say's, "What did you do Charley?"
To which Charley replies, "I have no idea what I've done or how I got here."
After Charley sits down John looks at him and say's,
"It's bad Charley, real bad. You're here because you put a man in the hospital.
Right now he's in intensive care and they're not sure whether he's going to make it or not."

Then John say's, "So tell me Charley, what's the very last thing you remember?"
Charley say's, "I remember watching this young couple arguing
and seeing her husband hit her and knock her down to the floor.
And that's the last thing I remember."
To which John replies, "That's probably the guy you put in the hospital.
I'm going to go down to that bar and see if I can find anyone that saw what happened."
Charley say's, "Thank's John, if you think that will do any good."
Then John say's "I'll help you as much as I can Charley.
You better hope that this guy pulls through or you could be looking at a lot of years behind bars."
To which Charley replies, "You're right John, I really screwed up this time.
But I'm afraid I'm only going to get what I've got coming to me."
And after he returns to his cell he has that same thought that he has at least one hundred times a day.
Why did they have to be there?

Michael R. Roth

Archived 11/05/2015