by Brian Selman

The date was May 28,1998. Charlie Russell was driving his brand new Corvette down the freeway at a fast speed. He was not really paying attention to the traffic, as he should. He was thinking about how good his life had turned out. He had hitchhiked all the way to New York City and had tried to play the stock market right out of high school. He had gotten lucky on a few big risks he had taken, and had earned about $5,000. A nearby man had noticed a potential marketing flare in Charlie and had offered him a job in their marketing business if he would go through and get his bachelor 's degree in marketing. The business would even pay for tuition if he promised to work for them for at least five years. He had gone through and been in the top percentile in his graduation class. It had been smooth sailing for him from then on out. The work was easy and the pay was tremendous. He had been able to afford all sorts of things he had never dreamed of living in the suburban part right outside of Los Angeles. He had always dreamed of getting out of that town, and he had finally gotten the chance. He spread his wings and flew. Now that he was coming back there, all the memories started flooding back to him like a dam that had just broken. He remembered all the times he driven down these streets with his best friend Jack. In fact, the only reason he was back in his old neighborhood was for Jack. Today was their 25th high school reunion. When they were both teenagers, they had often talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. They had talked about fantasies of being in the NFL, or a cop, and even once an acrobat in a circus. Most of the big time plans though, had always been Charlie's. Whenever anyone asked Jack what he planned to do with his future, he would always reply

,"I'm not sure, and I'm not in a rush to find out." Now Charlie finally got a chance to see what his old friend had finally done with his life. He could see Jack i n a police officer's uniform, or a doctor giving an appendectomy. His friend had been full of potential. As he thought about these things, his speed gradually got faster. He just could not contain his anxiousness. When he got back in his old neighborhood though, his speed slowly declined. He checked the street signs. Yes, this was Vermont Street, and the school was only three blocks down. As he looked around him though, an expression of shock slowly filled his face. The urban had consumed the suburban home he had known. There were apartments everywhere, and people filing about. There were so many more walls, and all of them covered with graffiti. This was not where he had been raised. The city had transformed it. It looked like somewhere he could get his hubcaps stolen. It did not seem the best part of the city. It seemed like a poor district. He had always been creeped out by poor people. They were so dirty and always asking for charity. Just the thought of them made him shiver. As he drove to the location of where is school used to be he looked at the old neighborhood. He could not believe what the city had done to it. As he parked his car a block from the school, he made sure to lock the door of his car. He was fearful for it, and hoped to find it here when he came back. It did not matter though, all he cared about right now was finding out about Jack. With that in mind, he started slowly walking down the block. About halfway down, a homeless man covered with newspapers asked Charlie for some spare change. Charlie replied,

"What am I the official bank for poor people? Take a bath. You kind of people should be ashamed of yourselves! Go and get a job you worthless bum! Leave me alone. You poor people disgust me" The poor man looked at Charlie with a look of amazement and shock. Charlie kept walking. That hobo was the perfect representation of what his town had turned into. He was disgusted with the result. These were his thoughts when he arrived to the school. He walked in. In it were some tables and chairs. They had a few balloons and some cheap refreshments. There were a few of his old classmates walking about. He realized who a few of them were. There was the cheerleader that had turned him down for p rom. He was glad to see that she now had an ugly old face to match her attitude. There was the star quarterback. He was happy to see him alone and balding. As he looked though, he did not see Jack. Charlie took a seat and reminded himself that Jack had promised to be there. As he waited, he looked around the room he thought to himself," Man, how this place has changed." It had corroded down like neighborhood had. As he looked around, he saw that bum he had told off enter the room. Charlie thought that he was probably looking to score some free food. Charlie had half a mind to tell him to leave. Charlie got up and walked over to the homeless man. He tapped him on the shoulder. The homeless man turned around, looked straight into Charlie's eyes and with a cheerful, almost amused voice said,

"Hey Charlie, I told you I would be here."

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