When I was about 13, I went on a trip with my family to St. Louis. Since my brother wasn't going with us, my parents said I could invite my friend Charlie. So I did and he gladly accepted. Charlie's folks were not very well off and he didn't get to travel much. We were staying at a pretty nice hotel and Charlie and I had been swimming. On our way back from the pool, we noticed a little arcade. We went up to the room, got some dry clothes on, and bummed a few bucks from my parents. Away we went to the arcade.
We were the only ones in the arcade. Which was sort of nice, but we were also hoping to find some girls. No such luck. So we started playing. First some Centipede, then some air hockey, and finally a little pinball. While we were playing pinball, three big black guys entered the arcade. Charlie and I didn't really pay any attention to them. As they came closer, Charlie whispers, "Dude! Those are the Fat Boys!" I was like yeah right. I figured he was just trying to mess up turn at pinball. The three guys came over to the pinball machine right next to us and started to play. I realized that it was the Fat Boys. I said, "Holy shit! You're the Fat Boys!" Prince Markie Dee said, "Yeah that's right. How do a couple of young white boys know who we are?" Charlie said, "We have all your albums. You guys are the dopest." The three of them just busted up laughing. They signed our shirts and told us thanks for listening to their music. Out of the blue, Charlie says, "My man Roman here can beat box." I was like, "Charlie shut up! This is the original Human Beat Box. I'm not going to beat box for him." Then of course Darren says, "C'mon kid let's see what you got." I was mortified and my mouth was dry as a bone. I tried a few things, but was way too nervous. Then Darren (aka The Human Beat Box) starts whipping out some serious shit. Charlie and I were blown away. It was an unbelievable moment. After a few minutes, the Fat Boys said they had to get. They shook our hands and left. Charlie and I were star struck. Then I elbowed Charlie in the ribs and said, "You jerk! Why did you tell them I could beat box? That was embarrassing." Charlie said, "Hey, they put on a show for us didn't they?" I agreed and we went on playing pinball.
Charlie and I remained good friends throughout middle school and high school. We were together all the time. Then we went to different colleges and started to lose track of each other. Then out of the blue one day, Charlie calls me and says, "Hey stranger! Guess who?" I said, "Holy shit! How the hell are you Charlie?" He told he was good and that he was getting married. He wanted me to be his best man. I did and we became really close friends again. We even ended up living and working back in the same town again.
Charlie opened up a small business and became very successful. He and his wife longed for nothing and had everything. I was a struggling artist and had little or nothing of my own. Charlie was always there for me and helped me in any way he could. He would even invite me on a few vacations with him and his wife. Of course, they would invite along some single girl they knew too...in hopes of getting me married off. I was still grateful though. One time I asked Charlie why he did so much for me. He replied, "Roman, you and you're family did so much for me when we were growing up. I will never forget that." I just smiled and said, "It's so wonderful to have a friend like you Charlie." We laughed and reminiscence about the times we had.
This morning at about 3:30 AM I got a call from my mom. She was frantic. She said, "Charlie and his wife were in a terrible car accident. They are in critical condition at St. Vincent's Hospital." I said, "I'm on my way!" I threw on whatever I could find and rushed to the hospital. I saw Charlie's mom outside one of the rooms. I walked over and gave her a hug and asked, "How are they?" She looked at me and her eyes were full of tears. She said, "The doctor says they will both make it but Charlie has to have emergency surgery. His lungs are filling with fluid and they have to get them drained...he can't breathe very well. He is very weak." I felt some relief and asked if I could have a moment alone with him before the surgery. She said, "Of course Roman. I know how close you two are."
So I walk into Charlie's room and he lifts his head a little and smiles. I walk over to his bed side and tell him hello. Charlie said, "The doc thinks I'll pull through." I replied, "That's what I hear." Then I lean over and whisper to Charlie, "You remember when we met the Fat Boys?" He chuckled, coughed, and said, "Yeah that was a long time ago." I said, "Well here's what you get for embarrassing me you fucking jerk." I quickly put a surgical glove on my right hand and cover his mouth and nose. He struggled little. Poor Charlie was so weak. He died pretty quick. I knew as bruised as his face was they would never suspect I did anything to him. I threw the glove in the trash and burst out of the room. I said, "I NEED A NURSE!! SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH CHARLIE!!" His funeral is on Tuesday.