The Neighborhood

Prologue

11:37pm. Tuesday. April 13th.
Charles Greenberg was torn from slumber by a heavy pounding on his front door.
He had spent the last three days in a drunken stupor, attempting to dull his senses and his racing mind into a blank slate of escapist nothingness. The blackouts were the highlight of his day, right now.
Prying his alcohol-sweat soaked body off the couch, Charles stumbled across the stained grey carpet of his living room calling out, “Hold on, goddammit! I’m comin’!”
Charles had no presence of mind to look at the time, nor wonder why someone was at his home in the first place. His parents were long dead- to him anyway- and his ex-wife left him well over five years ago. The fact the sky was pitch black stirred no thoughts of warning within his drunken, muddled mind.
Charles thought, Maybe it’s my sponsor, since I missed my meetings this week, as he ping-ponged down the narrow hallway to his front door. “I’m comin’, Sam. Jesus! Quit yer poundin’ on the door, already!” Charles shouted toward the door, as he could make out the silhouette of a man about Sam’s build standing in front of his home demanding entrance. Sam Whitfield was a good sponsor who helped Charles all the way to his Three-Year chip in AA the previous May, and Charles had been dodging his calls since he started drinking again.
But the drinking made reality go away.
The drinking would stop his mind from thinking about what happened the Thursday prior.
Goddammit, he came out of nowhere, Charles thought, a tear running down his cheek.
The pounding on the front door continued, even though Charles had just shouted he was on his way. “Sam! I said I’m comin’! Keep yer shirt on, man! Jesus!” he shouted while reaching for the doorknob.
Charles could still taste the bourbon on his tongue. Jim Beam was as smooth and enticing as a waxed ass cheek when initially imbibed, but he tasted like rusted asshole when he lingered in an unwashed mouth for a few hours. Charles had just placed his hand on the doorknob to swing the door open wide and bitch at Sam for pounding on his door like the cops, when the door smashed inward, knocking him to the floor.
Charles woke from his drunken stupor with a rush of adrenaline. His heart trying to pound its way through his sternum; a tooth knocked free from his skull with the impact from the door.
Charles was now lucid.
And Charles knew, this was no man at his door.
This was The Devil coming to collect his due.
The metallic flavor of iron covered Charles’ tongue, dripping down his lip and cheek as he stared into the face of The Devil before him, bloodied and scared as hell. The door splintered inward, meeting Charles skull-first with such great force he was flung to the hallway floor. He was sure from the immediate swelling on the left side of his face, his orbital was now a smashed pile of bone fragments.
Charles began sprawling backward. Trying to get his feet to run already, goddamit! He’s gonna kill me!
Charles managed to flip himself on his stomach, but as he attempted rising to his feet, a heavy THUD! smacked him in the middle of his spine. Dead-center. Goddamn accurate…
Charles screamed in pure agony. The shrieking of a lost soul trying to escape his guaranteed eternal torment.
He was sure his back was broken. The legs on which he was trying to run lay motionless at the commands being shouted toward them to Fucking move! We have to go! Run! PLEASE! PLEEEASE! We have to run!
Tears were streaming down his face. His goatee catching the salty, physical remnants of his penultimate thoughts. “I’m sorry!” Charles shouted. He had managed to army crawl to his living room, and staring up into the black mirror of his eighty-seven inch Samsung, began crying out again.
“I’m sorry! I swear it was an accident! I never meant to do that on purpose! He-” and with another quick, heavy THUD! clobbering into Charles’ skull, he lost all ability to speak.
Lightning shot from his eyes to his toes. Though he could no longer cry out, he felt every heavy swing of the hammer slamming down upon his body over and over and over again. Every nerve on high alert, as the devil-man continued smashing the rest of Charles’ spine and skull into thousands of pieces until his soul inhabited his body no more.
Charles’ final thought before making his way to The Hereafter, his heart heavy with sorrow and understanding, was:
I shoulda moved outta this neighborhood years ago.

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