Home is a place where I hang my hat, throw dirty dishes in the sink, and sleep off a pink of whiskey, maybe more, until it’s time to get up and drag myself to work in the morning. Not exactly what I knew to be true as a child. My mother always kept her house neat, clean, and organized. Next door to my parents house lived my best friend and his parents. They were clean freaks and some of that rubbed off on Tim. Where I was a slob Tim was the next coming of Mr Clean. But here I am some ten years later living more like Vlad the contaminated that Charlie the reasonably clean young man. After I moved out on my own Mom would sometimes stop by and do a little cleaning, but over the years she decided that I should learn to clean for myself. Perhaps she is right. At one time a year and a half ago I did keep my apartment is some reasonable order with a minimum of dust and grime. I might actually take one day a week and take out the trash, vacuum the floors, dust a little bit, and wash the collection of dishes that happened to find their way to the sink. My sometimes girlfriends were longer afraid to set foot in my apartment.
One day a petite brunette with a pretty smile and cute little nose came into my life. That was a year ago third Tuesday of next month. I guess I was finally getting my self together, kind of getting serious about life as some of my married friends say. Even my mother was starting to have some hope for me. Cheryl appeared one day, she had moved in with one of the local girls down the street. She and Julie showed up at John’s party a little late and made the customary entrance so as to grab a lot of attention. Course you know how that goes. Gossip starts flying and the backbiting begins among the girls and the guys make fools of themselves trying to impress the new girls. Yeah, just a lot of to do and such. Me, I just hung back and drank another beer. And with Julie there John didn’t dare make a move towards Cheryl. John and Julie are suppose to get married but no date has been set. I think Julie brought her new friend just to test John and I think he knew it. John’s no dummy when it comes to women, I mean he had three older sisters to set him straight and boy, did they.
So I’m just talking with John about work, you know, guy stuff. See we both work as brick layers and this high rise apartment building is just going up and we got to bid on the jobs through the union hall. We want the job cause it’s local, no cross town bus, no subway out to the industrial area, just something close and convenient. So I’m say,”What you think we should bid? I mean this ain’t the best pay but being close to home should mean we keep a little more money in our pockets, you know.”
And John is saying, “I think may a quarter an hour less should cinch the deal, you know, maybe fifty cents tops. they ain’t paying hazard pay cause it’s only ten floors. I hear they’re even having a hard time getting enough iron workers for the steel. so I figure we got a good shot of getting the positions. We’re both corner men and got seniority, so that counts a lot in our favor.”
I was just about to answer John but this cute little face tells me, “I’ve heard a lot about you Charlie. Julie tells me you’re a good dancer.”
Well, I don’t like to brag but i can cut a pretty good rug when I want. so I says, “Yeah, I do all right on the dance floor, Never made a fool of my self yet.” Right away I can tell she’s impressed with the way I handle myself, you know. So I says to Julie, “Hey Julie, how about putting on some dance music and I show this girl I can dance?” Julie just grinned at Cheryl and she puts Little Eva on the turn table. I look at Cheryl and say, “Come on and do the locomotion with me.” Cheryl started laughing cause no one ever said that before to her. So we danced the locomotion and then a few others songs and she saw that there was no brag to my dancing, all straight from the hip. Sort of a pun, you know?
Cheryl and I were a pretty hot item for a couple of months. I mean we hit it off well and I was cleaning my apartment better, you know, just for her. And then after close to six months we eloped down to Maryland. No blood test and no waiting time. We spent the weekend in Baltimore. So we get home and I got to go to work in the morning and she’s got to move her stuff into my place. The next evening I come home and dinners on the table and the apartment is a lot cleaner than I ever kept it. Here I’m thinking this married life ain’t going to be bad, ought to be pretty nice. Cheryl cleans the table and does the dishes and then she says, “Honey, we ought to go out for a while. Julie tells me she and john often go to Luck’s down the street for a couple of beers. Besides, I didn’t have any money for beer today. You don’t mind, do you honey?”
Well how could I mind my pretty little wife looking out for me. So I say, “Hey, I got a few extra bucks in my pocket, why not?” What started as once a week quickly became two and three times a week and finally Cheryl was making Luck’s her second home. I’d say, “Hey baby, time to get on home, I got to go to work in the morning.” And she’d say,”Go on ahead, I’m right behind you.” Only she wasn’t. That just the thing, she wasn’t I noticed that my apartment wasn’t as clean as it had been after we first got married. And then I noticed she was never home, she was always gone. I never knew where she was. A few times I tried asking at Luck’s but they hadn’t seen her for weeks. Well, a man can only take so much, you know. So I started drinking a couple of beers when I came home. And a few turned into a six pack and that become a twelve pack, and you know the rest.
Just by luck I saw her as I was getting some lunch on a job I was doing. The union was patience with me, they knew what I was going through and found enough small jobs to see me through these tough times. So I run up to her and ask, “Where you been? When are you coming home?” Cheryl tried to get away but I held on to her. I was beside my self and I blurted out as she looked away from me, “Baby, if you ever change you mind about leaving me behind. Please Baby, bring it on home to me. I miss your loving, Baby, I truly do. Please, Baby, bring your sweet love home to me.” But she broke free and started to run. I called out, “I forgive you Baby, I forgive you.” But I don’t think she heard. I don’t think shell ever bring her sweet love home to me again.”
Some nights I just take my church key and punch a couple of holes in the can and turn on Sam Cooke. You know, I’ve been going to sleep hearing Sam sing, “Bring it on home to me. Yeah, Yeah.”