>Yard Sale Playgrounds

>Charlie is 17.

He is in jail.

Jail is not fun.

Because of the circumstances, Charlie gets his own cell, which is quite far away from any other cell. He also has special free times, lunch times, and so on. He can’t be out with the other inmates. Bad stuff could happen.

“Hey, boy,” some of the inmates yell, “you the perdiest thing t’ever wander my halls.” As the guard quiets them down, Charlie fears that one of them might not be messing with his head… he fears one of them might mean it. But Jack assures him things in real life aren’t like they are on television.

Jack is Charlie’s brother. Jack is not in jail, but probably should be. After all, he’s stolen just as much merchandise from Higgin’s Grocery Store as Charlie has. Jack was just smart enough to eat it, sell it, or just get rid of it.

But what’s he gonna do…? He can’t rat out his own brother. They’re like family… ok, they are family, and the only family they’ve got. Parents ran away years ago, for no reason. Jack and Charlie were taken to an orphanage but were soon transfered to a foster home. They got just about everything a teenager could ask for: curfews, groundings, homework, allowance, and love. They had it all but it wasn’t enough, and they couldn’t tell why.

Maybe Doc Cera could enlighten Charlie as to the detour his life has taken, and why he chose the path he is on. Of course, shrinks are always out for one thing. It’s called a book deal. If she can turn Charlie’s life around then she can write a book about it and become “the leading psychiatrist in the field of adolescent behavior patterns.” Charlie was so proud he came up with that, and quick-like, too. Doc Cera wasn’t too thrilled he thought she was only there for herself, but then again, how was she going to gain Charlie’s trust if she appeared to only be worried about her precious book, right? But Charlie knew what was really going down.

The guard escorts Charlie through the facility as some of the inmates make whistle calls and derogatory comments. The guard can’t do much about it. The guard just pushes Charlie along faster. The guard is useless. The guard’s name is Bob. Bob is an idiot. He’s always trying to talk to Charlie about stuff, as if he cares. What a loser. He could take his stick and whack the cell bars or tell the inmates to “shut the hell up”, but he doesn’t do anything. He just walks, face forward, murmuring, “sticks and stones, Charlie, sticks and stones.” Whatever the heck that means.

“So, Charlie, what would you like to talk about today?” “Are you serious,” Charlie answers sarcastically, “you’re not gonna let me share my thoughts and feelings. We don’t get to explore the vast wonderment that is my entangling and tragic past?” Doctor Cera is not amused, but then again, Charlie wasn’t trying to amuse her. “Charlie, I am not here for any other reason than to help you,” she explains, again, “I want to talk about what you want so I can get to know you better.” She sounds as if she means it, but Charlie ain’t fooled.

“I wanna talk about my butt,” he says calmly, trying his hardest not to laugh.

Doctor Cera sighs and lowers her head. Charlie continues, “ya, my butt. You see, I was examining my butt the other day, and I think I need a new one. You wanna know why?” Doctor Cera pulls her hair behind her ear while Charlie keeps on talking, “I found a hole in it! There, put that in your book.” And Doctor Cera has had enough! She jumps to her feet and gives Charlie the deadliest look he has ever seen.

“I am NOT writing a book, you fat-headed moron! I am here to HELP YOU! What the hell is so hard to understand about that!” And she crosses the room towards the door. Charlie is half scared, half… embarrassed. Doctor Cera leans on the door handle, takes a big breath, and straightens herself up. She then turns back around to face the cautious Charlie. She sits down at her chair and apologizes.

“I am sorry, Charlie.”

Charlie doesn’t know what to say. Doctor Cera isn’t done yet anyway, so he has some time.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” she begins, pulling her hair out of her face, “I guess I just thought that you would expect help.”

Expect help?

“You’re 17 years old, a year shy of being a legal adult,” she continues, “yet they throw you in the big-boy-jail as if you’re already an adult. Yet, they give you special treatment because you are so young.”

Oh the contradictions… Doctor Cera herself doesn’t really know what she is getting at. Nevertheless, she tries her hardest to get it out.

“I told you the very first day that if there seems to be no one else who cares, you can always come to me.” The tears in her eyes are deceiving, yet Charlie wants to believe them. “I meant it.”

Charlie is still at a loss, so he just says the first thing he can think of.


She shakes her head, “see, what the hell does that mean- pickles?” Charlie begins to smile. Doctor Cera see his face and asks him, “well. What about pickles?” He has to think for a second, but soon realizes, “actually, I don’t like pickles. I like the word ‘pickles’ though.” Doctor Cera replies, “apology accepted,” and tosses her notebook on the desk.

“Whatever… what’s the notebook,” Charlie inquires? “It’s nothing.” Charlie corrects her, “Now, Doctor Cera, you have that notebook in here everyday,” she reaches for it and closes it, “you wouldn’t be wasting my time with nothing, would you?” “They’re just notes, don’t worry about it.” Charlie is persistant, “come on, just tell me.” “You never want to answer my questions any other day, but I yell at you once and now you care,” she questions? “Oh,” Charlie backs down, “nevermind. I probably don’t know the answer anyway.”

“Well, let’s see,” says Doctor Cera as she opens the book. Charlie buries his head under a pillow, growling at the can of worms he may have just opened. “Never mind!” “Nope, it’s too late now,” and Doctor Cera asks her question. “It’s just one and then we can be done: What is something you remember from your childhood… something that was happy, or good?” Charlie holds the pillow over his face as he asks a muffled question, “after this I can go?” “Sure”

Charlie removes the pillow and actually begins to think. He checks the could-be-devious doctor first, “You promise this is it?” Doctor Cera looks surprised and asks, “You don’t trust me?”

Charlie gets up and looks out the window. “I don’t wanna say.”

“If you’re worried that I’m going to think of you as some baby, just remember that you’re in prison for stealing from my uncles only means of income.” Ouch.

Charlie thinks, although he doesn’t have to think too hard, and eventually comes to the conclusion that he may as well tell a truth. “When me and my brother were real young…” he pauses, “my mom use to take us to her friend’s houses. We would play with toys while she talked and stuff.”

He begins to stare at the ground as if he has done something bad and was ashamed. “What’s wrong,” Doctor Cera asks. There’s nothing wrong, so Charlie tells her, “there’s nothing wrong.” He thinks about it again and continues.

“We use to have so much fun playin’ around. It’s so strange though.” Charlie sits back down as if to solve a mystery. “We were always playin’ in the yard, and I never remember any other kids.”

“Were they friends of your mom, or relatives,” Doctor Cera asks? Charlie responds, “you already got your question.” He pauses and tilts his head, “I think they were friends?” Doctor Cera tries to sound sincere, “that’s nice,” but then tries again, “I mean, that is a nice memory.” “Good catch, Doc.”

So Doctor Cera and Charlie wrap up their session and Charlie is escorted back to his cell. As he lays there he begins to realize all the nice things people have done for him all his life.

Doctor Cera really has been trying to help him, by giving him someone to talk with. Bob, the guard, might actually have been trying to be a role model for Charlie.

Jack always helped himself, which was reminiscent of his parents. Except for those days when his mom tried her hardest to give her kids everything they wanted. Charlie knows he lied to Doctor Cera, but he can’t have his brother knowing they have been poor, white trash almost their entire childhood. That’s why his mom would take them to yard sale after yard sale every Saturday morning. Not to get them stuff she could afford, but just to give them something to play with. It was the times she was told to leave the yard sales, by the police, that made her run away from her children. She knew even though they would be alone, soon the city would find them and they would be taken care of. At least, that’s what she prayed.

Well, the city got a hold of Charlie. Jack was next, and Charlie prayed it would be something as stupid as his crime that would get his sibling. Jack was more adventuresome than Charlie… which made him more of an idiot… which made him more enemies.

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