THE BROKEN CONCERT
by Mark Massaro 

Felix digs through his cramped, dank storage unit, pushing aside shoeboxes of photographs and rolled up concert posters, trying to find his cooler and camping chairs. Florida humidity soaks the air, changing the simplest task into a sweaty quest.  His tax return had coincided with the ticket release for the final tour of the Matthew Davis Band and, after he got permission from his wife, he bought two tickets, knowing that he’d end up going with his oldest friend, Chuck.  Chuck recently moved closer to the concert venue in Tampa, and with Felix’s wife being three months pregnant, fate was nudging Felix and Chuck to see the band for, probably, the final time, together.
            “We need to throw some of this shit out,” Abigail says to Felix.
            “I know,” he replies, stepping over another box, grunting.  After turning thirty-six, events that generations before him had warned him about had actually began to come true: back pain, terrible hangovers, and getting up to pee repeatedly throughout the night.  It is burdensome, but Felix finds it reassuring.  He figured he’d be dead by twenty-seven, so he considers this grounding phase a humble comfort that reinforces that every choice he made was correct.
            Abigail caresses her small belly, watching Felix fumble around, finding his balance.
            “Is Chuck’s house nice?” she asks.
            “I don’t know.”
            “Haven’t you two talked about it?”
            “No,” Felix says, “He just said he bought a house and I said, “Cool”.”
            Abigail rolls her eyes, not being surprised about the men’s lack of detail with each other as Felix pulls out the two chairs he is searching for, saying, “Ah ha! I knew we kept them.”
            “Promise you will behave,” she asks, “You guys aren’t twenty-one anymore.”
            “I know. I know,” he replies, “I don’t want to party anyway, honey.”  Felix hands her the chairs and heaves the cooler on his back while he maneuvers his way out of their clustered unit.  Loading up his SUV, Felix dances a bit once the band comes out of the speakers.  Funk mixed with rock and jazz.  He grins towards his wife and she rolls her green eyes at him, yet again.  He continues gyrating with the steering wheel, knowing that he is very lucky to have a woman to be frustrated with him in the first place.
            The morning of the concert comes, and Felix unearths his vintage Matthews Davis t-shirt from their 1996 tour, which he and Chuck also attended together.  He goes down his laminated concert checklist: tickets, cooler, printed directions, Metamucil, boxers, more band t-shirts, Sensodyne toothpaste, etc. An excited grip overtakes his chest when he knows the checklist is complete.  He holds Abigail’s face in his hands, kissing her long and with purpose.  She runs her fingers through his curly brown hair with hints of salt and pepper on the sides, knowing that he grew it longer just for the concert.  To feel younger. He runs his hands down her back and holds onto her bum. They sway a bit, and he says, “Thank you for being so good to me,” and she says, “You deserve it.  Have fun.” He digs his face into her neck, shutting his eyes momentarily, attempting to bring the warm and safe feeling with him.
            Felix heads towards the 75 North exit, stopping quickly to fill up his gas tank and pack his cooler with beer.  He texts Chuck, “I’m getting the beer. You still drink Bud heavies?” 
            Chuck replies, “Yup. It’s all good. Thanks, bro. I got the green.” 
            Felix breaks the bags of ice on the sidewalk, pouring the contents over the bottles and cans of beer.  Anxiety creeps quickly into his chest though.  Felix hasn’t seen Chuck in years, not since his wedding to Abigail, and Felix didn’t know how to explain that he’s changed. Chuck’s truck fishtailed into the church parking lot and he fell out, cracking open a beer while a cigarette bobbed off of his lip. Felix has been getting up daily at 6:00am to teach Composition at the local University, and has settled in a routine that he was quite sure Chuck despised. Casual Friday’s have become a reward for wearing a suit during the week.  Abigail and Felix would take advantage of the two-for-one entrée and happy hour at the diner across from the CVS. They kept each Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon that arrived in their mailbox.  Felix was sure that Chuck didn’t do those things. The last time he visited, Chuck had studio apartment, with a stained mattress under a bare-bulb. A broken mirror leaned against the wall, covered in remanence of white powder.
            He hopes that students wouldn’t recognize him in civilian clothes, carefree and dancing at a concert. Chuck spends his days mixing cement, building foundations, additions, roofs, and drinking heavily.  Last he heard, Chuck did an expensive bathroom job that left him with piles of leftover marble tile, which he made coasters of and sold on eBay. But Felix decided that he shouldn’t judge Chuck.  After all, he hasn’t seen him in years, but a few texts set up this entire adventure and Felix thought that he owed their thirty years of friendship some faith and respect.
            The Skyway Bridge south of Tampa appears menacingly in the distance.  Felix turns down the music and grips the steering wheel.  Cruise ships are able to pass under the bridge because it is built so high.  Suicides happen here almost weekly.  Felix travelled over this bridge many times in his youth, usually after a house party or bar crawl, but he didn’t realize how high up it actually is until now.  He remains in the left lane, focusing on the road directly in front of him and ignoring anything happening behind.  Passing over the top curve, his tightened chest releases and he texts his wife, “Made it over Skyway. Love you. Almost to Chucks.”  She responds with, “Stop texting while driving. I love you.”  Felix writes, “Okay.”
            Felix follows the directions that he printed out earlier and he pulls up to a one-story house.  The mailbox is a giant dolphin with a metal spear through its side, no doubt from one of Chuck’s drunken nights.  The lawn is burnt under the Florida sun and the house is shaded within a canopy of palm trees.  Felix knocks on the screen door and receives no answer.  He pulls out a camping chair and a cold beer from the cooler and sits in front of the garage.  Looking around, he realizes that this house is his old friend’s everyday reality.  They are the only old friends from their high school that still talk with each other.  They have been best friends for many years, often getting drunk and meeting women at the beach, outrunning the cops, or getting in bar fights.  Thinking about all of it makes Felix feel tired now.  
            An old, black truck barrels down the road and takes the sharp turn into the driveway.  The Allman Brother’s blast from the inside cab and Chuck smiles his devilish grin at the sight of Felix.  “Everybody happy, brother!” Chuck says, hopping out of the truck.  A cigarette is tucked behind his right ear and his teeth are stained with years of tobacco abuse. His hairy stomach hangs over his shorts, which are covered in cigarette burns and white paint. His blonde hair is short, buzzed to the grain, and small patches decorate the back.  Chuck has been cutting his own hair since childhood.  Despite his overall weariness, his blue eyes still glow, something Felix has had to hear about since they were kids. Girls constantly acknowledged his eyes, some passing by at the mall, and a few times in traffic jams, while Felix stood idly by, assuming nothing about him was charismatic.
            “My brother,” Felix says.  They hug, pat, and smack each other wildly.  Both reverting to their teenage selves, complete with caveman-like grunts, hiding hedonistic intentions.
            “We’re getting laid tonight,” Chuck says.
            “Dude,” Felix replies, holding up his wedding ring.
            “Oh. Still doing that marriage thing?”
            “Come on,” he replies, shrugging his shoulders.
            They enter Chuck’s house.  Pizza boxes and beer cans litter the floor.  A mildew smell lingers, and patterns of smoke are visible in the streams of sunlight pouring in through the blinds.  An entire wall is one massive bookshelf, complete with hardcovers, soft covers, photographs, and framed excerpts of poetry. His coffee table, two kegs with a glass top, is littered with bags of weed, a digital scale, and ripped up scratch tickets. 
            “Yeah,” he says, nodding to the table, “I’m into some good shit now.  I met a cabbie a while back when I was leaving a bar.  I sell to him and dude comes over every night after his shift to buy more. It’s like a, uh, mobile capitalism.”
            “Man,” Felix says, “that is dangerous. Cabbie could rob you or murder you.”
            “Naw, he’s a good shit.  We need each other.” 
            “Alright. Well…your place is nice, dude.  Good for you.”
            “Thanks. I had a cat, but it’s gone. I brought it home and within the first second the thing walks out that window and took off,” he says, pointing to a tapestry covered window.
            Chuck takes Felix on a tour of the house. “The backyard,” he says, “is pure potential.” He describes the lake he’s going to build, the patio that will lead up the lake, and the fire pit he’s drawing up blueprints for.  “It’s my personal Playboy Mansion,” he says.  The good part about knowing a few carpenters is that they can do anything, and Felix knew it was a matter of finding the free time to do it.
            Felix pisses in his bathroom and notices the disturbing number of ashtrays displayed throughout.  Even the soap dish on the sink has four cigarette butts in it. He flushes the toilet, returning to the living room and notices Chuck chopping up lines of cocaine on the glass surface.
            “I’ve been holding onto this for a whole week, just for today,” he says.
            In that moment, Felix thinks about his wife, his unborn child, the youth leadership awards he’s won, and his pristine resume that took him a decade to construct.  He thinks about these things, and then sees the same friend that used to wait for him by the apple tree every morning to walk to elementary school with.  The same friend who took ownership of the bags of pot that was actually Felix’s all along, and who took responsibility because Felix just got accepted into an MFA program in the Keys.  Chuck and Felix have never discussed it because it happened and there was nothing to discuss.  They are brothers and are loyal, if anything, to each other.  Felix thought about all of this, and then bends down to snort a line.
            “Check this out,” Chuck says, “I built a can crusher.” He places a can in a vice-like machine and pulls a level, crushing the can which falls out into a large trash bag. All Felix can say is, “That’s great.”  Felix notices his heart beating faster and tries to pass it off.  He stands and paces the room, feeling the second hand smoke smothering him, and swings his arms around.
            “I haven’t done this in so long.”
            “Relax,” Chuck says, “Yeah, this good dude, Steve, showed me how to build on of these things. He, ah, died a few weeks ago. Fuckin’ heart attack, man. We worked together, for a few years now.”  Chuck swallows and looks around, shaking off serious thoughts. 
            “I’m sorry, man,” Felix says, witnessing the unease.
            “Yeah.  Worst part is his cigs and empties are still laying around the job site. We see that shit daily.” Chuck taps out another line and sniffs it up, rubbing a bit on his gums.
            “Want to take off?” Felix asks, patting Chuck’s shoulder, “Start tailgating?”
            “Hell yeah,” Chuck replies, “We gotta hit a bank-in-the-box on the way. I need cash. A stripper overcharged me last night.”
            “An ATM? Sure.”
            “Whatever.  We’re still rock stars, bro.”
            The Tampa Fairgrounds linger above the highway in the distance. The traffic is all heading straight into it.  Cars with the band’s bumper stickers and windows covered with colored writing litter the road.  Music vibrates out of each car as the line breaks off towards the stadium parking lot.  Workers in bright orange vests wave the traffic into parking spots with red wands.  Already, around the tailgate, are rows of tents and people grilling, playing cornhole, dancing in muddy drum circles, or standing in lines for the port-o-potties.  This area pulsates with life.  Everyone is connected by one purpose and that is to let music overwhelm their individual thoughts. It’s a surrender to the groove of the moment, for Felix, and the only time in which some people forget about the repetitiveness of their everyday existence. 
            They are directed to park under a tree, a coveted spot for most concert-goers as it provides shade. Chuck hops out first and immediately begins setting up the tent, table, and chairs. Once completed, the two boys collapse into their camping chairs, placing their feet up on the fold-out table, and clink their beers. “Cheers, brother,” Felix says. 
            “Salute.”
            Chuck chugs down that first beer and cracks open a second.  “You remember Pear? That Frenchie from high school?”  Felix nods in agreement.  “I’m working on that bitch’s kitchen, installing state of the art shit.  Sucks though ‘cause we were in all those advanced classes together, and now he’s paying me to do labor.  Fuckin’ sucks.”  Chuck picks at his fire ant bites on his feet, squeezing some till they pop.
            A homeless looking man wanders through the crowd.  A long, grey beard and faded clothes drip off of him.  He staggers over, counting cash in his hand and asks, “You boys got a ticket for sale?”
            “Yup,” Chuck says, pulling an envelope out of his cargo shorts.  “One hundred. Period.”
            “What’s the seat?”
            “Section one. Seat four.”
            “Fifty.  It’s for my daughter, man. I’m just trying to get her in.”
            “One hundred.”
            “Hold on,” he says, looking around the crowd, “’I’ll be back.”
            He leaves, waving his arms in the air.
            “Where’d you get that ticket?” Felix asks.
            “I party with some guys from a radio station. They gave me this ticket so I could make some cash.”  Felix bought Chuck’s ticket, so it’s a free show for him, but now he’s apparently even getting paid too.  He was always getting by with opportunities falling in his lap.
            Women pass by in bikinis.  Frat guys lift each other for keg stands right next to Felix and Chuck. A pair of young girls walk past and Chuck whistles toward them. Felix smacks the back of his head, but the girls begin walking over.  “Only you can get away with being creepy and harassing girls,” he says, to which Chuck shakes his head in agreement.
            “Can we have a beer?” the purple-haired one asks.
            “Sure thing,” Felix says, opening the cooler.
            “Thank you so much.  Our brother only bought us a six-pack and we already drank it.”
            “How old are you?” Felix asks.
            “I’m sixteen and she’s seventeen.”  The girls are wearing half-shirts of the band, and no bras.  Small bruises decorate their thighs. Chuck smirks and his eyes squint into a predatory manner that disturbs Felix.  Faces of his students’ flash through his mind.  It’s been so long since Felix has worried about being around underage drinkers that he forgot that it even happens.  Until now. He hasn’t felt this paranoid in years. He hasn’t had to.
            “Good God,” he says. “I teach kids around your age.”
            “Cool.  We’re partyin’ with a teacher,” the purple-haired one says, adding, “I’m Katie and this is Emily.”
            “I’m Chuck and this is Felix.”
            “What do you teach?” the blonde asks, while Chuck opens her beer with his flip-flop bottle opener.
            “Composition,” Felix says, realizing that he’s already forgotten the girl’s names.
            “That’s awesome,” purple-haired one says, “Writing is the only class I like going to.”
            “Yeah, I like it,” he says.
            She continues, “Do you guys think they’ll play “Happy Dog” tonight?” Felix rolls his eyes, fully aware that “Happy Dog” is the most overplayed and generic song that attracts all newbies to this band.
            “That’s my wife’s favorite song. I saw Santana play it once with them in, like, 1998, I think.”
            “You were there! That’s amazing.  That’s such a good version,” the blonde one says. The purple-haired one adds, “That’s the year I was born.”
            “Christ,” Felix says.  “Well I want to hear “Whitman White.” The drum solo is crazy good.”  The girls shrug, not knowing the song.
            Chuck leans back, finishing off another beer, and then says, “That songs about the legendary beef between Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, you know.” 
            “I didn’t even know that,” Felix says, questioning his entire education.
            “Are you a teacher too?”
            “No. I create homes. I build dreams.”  Felix was envious of Chuck’s perspective and daily moments of pride.  Chucks can turn around and see his accomplishments: a new porch, a new roof, a new den.  White walls would raise upward because of inspiration and strength.  Families would move in, smiling and safe. Felix realizes the lack of that in his life when he hears the word ‘creation’. 
            The blonde one holds her cold beer up to her forehead, rolling it back and forth, and fans herself.  She asks, “And you’re married?”  Chuck shakes his head at Felix for even bringing up him being taken.
            “Eight years,” he says, “and we’re also pregnant.”
            Chuck chugs the rest of his beer and reaches inside the cooler for another.  The girls hold hands over their hearts and tilt their heads to the sides. “Is that why she isn’t here?”
            “Yes.”
            “I forgot you’re having a baby,” he says, tapping the ash off of his cigarette, “Shit. Well, Becky, I’m on my Rumspringa, that’s Amish holiday where I get to live in the real world for a bit. This is my first time drinkin’.” Felix shakes his head back at Chuck, seeing right through his bullshit, and vaguely being disappointed that his intentions are so transparent.
            “I’m not Becky. I’m Katie. And you’re lying, and, wow, you have the craziest bluest eyes,” Purple-Hair says to Chuck, to which he says, “Thanks.” 
            Felix drinks his beer, rolling his eyes.
            The homeless man approaches the group, now with another homeless man in tow, and says, “We got the cash. Eighty dollars?”
            “No. One hundred.”
            “Ninety.”
            “One hundred,” Chuck replies, adding, “Is that the daughter you need the ticket for?”
            The two men laugh, patting their bellies, nodding in agreement. They’ll probably make an extra twenty dollars off of it by selling it in front of the venue.
            “Just to be clear,” Chuck says, “I’m selling you this beer for one hundred dollars. The ticket is free.”
            “Make it two beers for a hundo,” the second man says.”  With that, both men leave with two cold beers and a ticket to make extra cash on, for dinner or drugs. “Have a good luck,” Chuck yells to them, unaware of how slurry his speech is becoming.
            Crowds of concert-goers begin closing up their tents, locking their cars, and loading their pockets full of beers.  Glowing grey storm clouds being swirling overhead as it does most days around dusk in the Sunshine State. Pot smoke creeps amongst the herd like a protective layer.  Cops dance to music emanating from numerous cars. Felix waits in a port-o-potty line with the blonde one, looking back and seeing Chuck and the purple-haired girl getting into Felix’s car. 
            Felix allows the blonde to go in the first available port-o-potty, and when the one next to hers opens, he holds his breathe and darts inside the plastic humid room, peeing out all that is possible, and then quickly leaps out.  They return to the car, just as Chuck and his protégé, both sniffing their running noses wildly, emerge. Felix shakes his head at Chuck, who looks weaker and crazier.
            “Did you just give cocaine to that child?”
            “What? No,” he says, shaking off the accusation, “and it’s not like we weren’t when we were their age.” He rubs his nose again.  A kid with dreadlocks and a tie-dye shirt handing out jello shots walks by and offers some to the boys.  Chuck takes two for himself. A white and brown duck, with a red face, waddles down the line of parked cars.  Food is tossed in its direction from all angles. The tailgaters begin cheering for the duck. Chuck says, “That’s a smart damn duck.”
            They pack up the car and begin walking with the herd. Felix gives Chuck a baggie for his cell phone, driver’s license, and cash. “Always thinking,” Chuck says. Chuck does his best to remain with the girls, but Felix tells him, “Dude, stop. They’re underage and there’s no point. What are you going to do? Just spend the night being sexually frustrated. Fuck ‘em. Let’s go.”  Chuck accepts Felix’s assertion, knowing that he is morally correct but is also angry that he has such a judgmental stance about the situation.  They wave goodbye to the girls as other men begin swarming around, as the girls dance together with their arms over their heads, spinning their bodies.
            Chuck and Felix find their seats, third row from the stage, and Chuck boasts, “I’ve never been so close at any show.” Felix watches how happy Chuck seems, looking around with a wonder that only happens during childhood Christmas mornings or the moment of sitting back as a bonfire begins, surrounded by friends.  Felix is glad that he was able to set this event up for Chuck.  With this, he also feels guilty that he is slowly knowing that a shared history is the only commonality that exists between the both of them.  If Felix met Chuck today, he’d look down upon him, straightening his stride as he passed by him on the street. But Felix knew Chuck’s capabilities.  He was, after all, the high school valedictorian, and also got voted “Best Looking” by the graduating class. Everything was in front of him, and Chuck just focused on what the moment could do for him, and not tomorrow. 
            In a way, Felix always admired that about him.
            Many moments from a concert are transcendent, but one that always gives Felix goosebumps is when the stadium lights go down, and the small glow from the stage begins creeping slowly awake. It happens, and the boys scream. The audience screams. The band strolls onto stage, waving their arms and blowing kisses, as beach balls and bodies bounce around in the sea of people. Chuck yells “I’m a slave to the groove, baby!” Heat lightening in the distance reveals silhouettes of palm trees surrounding the venue. Being underneath the outdoor venues roof, a welcomed light mist drifts throughout.  The ticketholders in the lawn are soaked and begin cheering, dancing in the thick mud.
            The stage blasts awake, as Matthew Davis jumps in the air with his acoustic guitar, jamming the opening chords to “Whitman White.” For a while, Felix forgets about his bank account, his responsibilities, and his commitments.  He’s just a fan in a crowd, and that simplicity heals most troubles.  Chuck temporarily forgets about his student debts for a degree he never finished, his anger about his last girlfriend, and the lump that has been stressing him out for over a year.  Joints begin their treks amongst the crowd, sharing parts of something larger.
            Chuck goes to get more beers, Felix saying, “Yuengling, please” but he returns with two Budweiser.  Felix says, “What the fuck? I said Yuengling.”  Chuck’s face appears confused, the drugs and alcohol taking over, and answers, “Getting two Bud’s was easier,” while rubbing his nose and sucking in quickly. 
            “That doesn’t make any sense.”
           
            The music goes on, and Felix notices, in the corner of his eye, Chuck staggering around, his eyes struggling to remain open, and doing everything possible to remain standing. Felix takes a hold of him and places him in the assigned seat. His head bobs downward, his eyes shut, and he’s out.  Felix shakes it off, knowing that the band won’t be touring again, and focuses on the origin of the pulsing sound.
            After a few more songs, Felix can feel the concert reaching its high mark. The only remaining songs will come from the encore and he knows that it would be a good time to get to the car to beat the traffic.  He gazes towards the energetic stage, and whispers, “Thank you,” to the band. He smacks Chuck in the face, saying, “Come on, brother,” and picks him up, putting his arm around his torso, and carries him out of the crowd, out of the vendor area, and out of the venue entirely. The gusts of cold rain are welcomed, and Felix begins to sober up.  Cops in the parking lot stare as Felix drags Chuck’s body forward with conviction. 
            “Have a good night, officers,” Felix says.  Chuck’s attempts to appear sober make him look ten times drunker. “Stop,” Felix says. The opening chords to “Happy Dog,” begin echoing and Chuck giggles under his breathe. Their flip-flops fling mud onto their backsides with each step. They reach the car, Felix seatbelts him in, and they begin the drive back to Chuck’s house.
            Chuck’s head hangs down, remaining at the mercy of each turn and sudden stop.  His head leans to the left, forward, and back. Sunglasses fall off of his head, hitting the floor mats and disappear. The clock reads “10:44 p.m.”  Considering Chuck’s present condition, Felix suddenly decides to make the two-hour drive home, despite the spare bedroom already being prepared for him.
            They pull up to the house and Chuck wakes up with a surge of energy.  He runs across his lawn and stops at the front door, patting his pockets frantically. “Locked out,” he says.  Felix knows that he can’t leave him locked out of his own house, so he shrugs and asks, “So, what now?”  Chuck walks to his mailbox and pulls out the metal spear from the plastic dolphin, breaking it apart.  He turns, walking to his front door, and blasts the spear between the door and the frame.  He pulls it back, like a crowbar, and the door bursts open after a swift kick.  They enter, Chuck throwing the spear, while heading to his refrigerator for another beer.
            “I’m going to go,” Felix says, “I got a stack of papers to grade and I’m wide awake.”
            “No, dude. Stay. I made the room up and everything. I got more coo-coo.”
            “You’ve been sleeping for hours. Go to bed. We can do this again sometime soon.”
            “But I got the spare room set up for you?”
            “I know, but I’m totally sober now and I just want to get home. Go to bed, brother. No worries.”  Felix knows Chuck’s disappointed, but his actions have given Felix a need to return to his own safe life.  “It’s always good to see you.  Love you.”
            Chuck steps over the spear and wraps his arms around Felix. “Alright, bro. Love you too. Drive safe.”  Felix steps through the broken doorway, pretending that it’s just a scratch but knowing it will take a few hours to repair, leaving Chuck in his open home, free to all animals to enter.  He drives off, worried about his friend, feeling powerless.
            He focuses on the road in front of him, stopping once to fill up his gas and to pee again. He calls Abigail and informs her on all she needs to know, that he’s coming home because Chuck is passed out already and that he’s still wide awake. In her sleepy voice, which, now, Felix realizes is his truest home, she says, “Okay, baby. Drive safe, please.”  Felix continues on, without music or company.  Silence, a light rain, and the road before him place Felix in a temporary reprieve from the chaotic day.
            He pulls into his driveway, stretching after getting out of his muddy car.  He leaves the cooler and chairs in the back for tomorrow.  The neighborhood is quiet, except for the croaks of frogs.  Entering their quiet bedroom, Felix pulls his damp t-shirt off, drops his muddy shorts, and crawls into bed.  Abigail wraps her arms around him, and he buries his face in her neck.  Everything in the dark room stops within the solace of his wife’s arms.
            “Did you have fun?” she asks.
            “Yes. But I’m happy to be home,” he says, kissing her warm cheek.
            “You smell,” she whispers, then asks, “You behave?”
            “Yes,” he says, “Thank you for marrying me.”
            “You’re welcome.” She yawns and asks, “How much did you spend on shirts?”
            “None, not even a poster.” After a beat, he says, “I’m exhausted, and seeing Chuck…broke my heart.”
            “Why? How wasted was he?”
            “He’s my best friend. Don’t talk about him like that.”
            Felix lays awake, grappling with the notion that his hero has fallen.  He wants better for his best friend and he worries that actions define an individual. He hopes they don’t. He followed Chuck faithfully since elementary school, but now Felix has grown accustom to not fear cops or worry about dealers that he still owed money to. He left all of that behind and it just never dawned on him that Chuck was still back there.  Half of Felix’s closet is now button-down shirts and Dockers.  He didn’t know when it happened, but it did.  He finally nods off just as the sun begins to rise on the new day.
            Chuck wakes up, assesses the damage, and blows his sore nose in a McDonald’s napkin.
            Just then, a yellow cab pulls up to the house, slowly parking in front of the destroyed dolphin mailbox.  The loud engine shuts off and the music stops.

About the Author:

Mark Massaro received a master’s degree in English Literature from Florida Gulf Coast University with a focus on 20th Century American Literature. He is a Professor of English at FSW, teaching Composition and Literature, and he also continues to adjunct at FGCU, teaching Creative Writing. When not reading or writing, he can be found jamming at concerts, going on family walks, or in his black Chucks, at a bonfire with friends, in his home state of Massachusetts. His works have been published in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Pegasus Review, Jane Austen Magazine, The Mangrove Review, and others. His happiness is being with his wife, their son in his arms, and their golden retriever curled up nearby.           

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