by J. Scott Ellis
I never told you before, but you had an uncle.
My big brother Charley was exciting, the hero of my world. He could throw a perfect spiral and knock the rubber core out of a baseball. He had the kind of laugh that infected everyone around him, and we all did our best to draw it out.
He was good to me, taking me wherever he and his friends went.
This place used to be an electric plant. The gate was padlocked, but there was just enough slack in the chain that we could squeeze through.
A sign hung from that shed: High Voltage. Keep Out. When Charley wasn't looking, Derek Williams dared me to go inside. By the time Charley saw what I was doing, I had already opened the door. The air was crackling. I felt an overpowering thrum in my chest. Just as I was losing my nerve, Charley jerked me back by my tee-shirt collar, lost his footing and tumbled through.
I tried to grab for him, and that's the last thing I remember. They say I was thrown back fifteen feet. I woke up at the hospital deaf and color blind. Despite the shock, to this day the doctors do not understand why. But they didn't know Charley.
Without Charley, there is no laughter.
Without Charley, there is no color.
Without Charley, the world is a cold, swirling morass of silent grey.