Charlie stepped out from the tall curb turning his head sideways to look up the street, the sun warm on the back of his green jacket. The jacket and his World Champs Bulls sweatshirt were purchased at a thrift store, the scuffed black boots he would die in taken muddied from beside the welcome mat of a nearby porch.

The shop windows glinted in the sunlight and cars flashed bright as they passed. People began to emerge from the building behind him. Across the street he ripped the adhesive paper from his jacket and tossed it crumpled against the concrete under the window of a barbershop. He marched up the sidewalk with eyes straight ahead.

He slipped into a 7-Eleven and headed to the back with eyes unstraying from the refrigerators there. The attendant followed his steady march up and back. At the counter Charlie’s eyes met the attendant’s as his left hand mashed onto the smooth surface a dollar and coins from his pocket while his right gripped the glass. The attendant gave a nod as he turned, reaching into a pants pocket for a lithe brown bag. He slid the cold bottle inside and turned the bag to hide the black scrawl behind his thick hand.

Now Charles can’t you stay for dinner baby? We worry about you. If you ever need anything, baby. Anything. Let me write down my number again baby.

Outside in the doorway in the breeze of the store he paused squeezing the hard glass cool under the soft paper. Bright cars whizzed by in the street beyond the shade of the gas station. The bottlecap crunched softly as he plucked it off with a twist. The first pull was slow and long and his chest grew as if his lungs too were filling with the gold liquid. He surveyed the cars and customers walking to and from their cars in the parking lot. A dog sat panting under a window advertisement for a deal on a hot dog and a coke. Charlie pulled at his hat and took another slow sip before stepping into the midday sun.