Posted on: April 5th, 2009 The Time-Share

By Fred Warren

They time-shared me to Chuckie Lee Wilson after he died. If you take a life, you give your life. That’s the law now. No excuses, no shades of gray.

Chuckie Lee car-jacked me at a dark intersection downtown. When he broke through my window, I stepped on the gas and dragged him for three blocks. The prosecutors told me I was lucky the upload crew got to him in time, or I would have spent the rest of my life in a cage.

“He was going to kill me,” I said.

“Nobody knows what he planned to do,” they said. “Chuckie Lee Wilson is dead, and you killed him.”

“I didn’t mean to kill him. He had a gun, and I panicked. His sleeve caught on the door.”

“You could have stopped the car. Instead, you took his life. Now you’re going to give it back.”

So, Chuckie Lee gets half my life in exchange for the life I took from him. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are mine. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are his. We trade off on Sundays. I wear a tracker locked onto my ankle.

Monday night, I ride the bus to Chuckie Lee’s apartment on the East Side. The state pays his rent and sends him an allowance so he doesn’t have to work. I clip on the wires from the upload box, lie on his bed, and press the button. It’s like getting hit in the head with a jagged rock. I go into the box, and Chuckie Lee goes into my brain. Inside the box, there’s nothing. I sleep, but I don’t dream.

Tuesday belongs to Chuckie Lee.

Wednesday morning, I wake up and deal with whatever Chuckie Lee did to my body the day before. I’m hung-over. My mouth tastes like road kill, and my clothes stink of cigarettes and weed. My face and hands are bruised and cut. I shower and take the bus to work. Anybody who talks to me stops when they notice the tracker.

I’m no good at my job anymore. I forget things. My company wants to fire me, but the court won’t let them. The judge says it would have an adverse impact on Chuckie Lee. After work, I order take-out and eat it at home in front of the TV. Then I go back to Chuckie Lee’s, and it starts all over again–Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and every other Sunday.

On my Sunday, there’s no upload that night, and I sleep in my own bed. I dream, but I don’t want to. I see Chuckie Lee’s face, pleading, twisted in agony. I hear him scream as the pavement tears him apart, over and over again.

I used to be married. Melanie was pretty, and we were happy together until I killed Chuckie Lee. When the time-share started, Melanie couldn’t handle it, knowing Chuckie Lee was inside my head. She was scared to be alone with me. Chuckie Lee came after her one Tuesday, and she fought him off with a kitchen knife. Friday morning, Melanie was gone. I think she went back to live with her folks. I don’t remember. I wear long sleeves to hide the scars.

I wonder sometimes what it’s like for Chuckie Lee. I left him a note once: “Please take better care of my body. You got a second chance. Do something good with your life.”  He didn’t reply. The hangovers just got worse. His friends sit on the apartment steps and laugh at me when I go inside to do the upload. “How’s it feel to be Chuckie Lee’s ride, Slick?  Serves you right.”

I passed another time-share on the street last week. His clothes were torn and dirty, and he staggered as he walked. He was a teenager, but his hands shook like an old man’s. When he saw the tracker, he stared at me like he was drowning, like I was the only person in the world who could understand, begging me to save him.

I turned away. Save him? I couldn’t save myself.

I want my life back, the part they stole from me and gave to Chuckie Lee, the part he beats up, and poisons, and wastes, one day at a time. I want to drive my car again and have dreams that aren’t nightmares. I want Melanie. I want to remember.

I’m tired of sharing.

Filed under: bad-ass, stories

--Brain Harvest