Iowa Writes

ANGELA M. BALCITA
from “Moonface and Charlie”


I tell Charlie we should at least get ourselves some costumes. A fake mustache, a cane, a boa. Maybe some matching tuxedos. Something, I tell him.

“Don’t get crazy, Moonface,” he says. He looks at me and winks. His scruffy voice matches the stubble on his chin, and I’m in love with his eyes that sparkle like diamonds even when his eyebrows get in the way. 

I always tell him that I think the story could be better, that we could add fireworks, go to parties with roman candles in our pockets and light them up when the questions start flying. Or wear tap shoes and do a little kick-ball-change after every punch line.

“Are you kidding me? What we’ve got is gold, baby. Gold!” He grabs my face. He kisses me hard on my cheek. Charlie is the showman. He’s got the wit and the delivery. He can play to a crowd without the props or the fancy sets. If we really did have an act, I mean, one that we actually made money off of, he’d be the manager, the one calling the shots. And I’d let him. He has a way of telling a story and running with it.

I tell Charlie we should at least get ourselves some costumes. A fake mustache, a cane, a boa. Maybe some matching tuxedos. Something, I tell him.

“Don’t get crazy, Moonface,” he says. He looks at me and winks. His scruffy voice matches the stubble on his chin, and I’m in love with his eyes that sparkle like diamonds even when his eyebrows get in the way. 

I always tell him that I think the story could be better, that we could add fireworks, go to parties with roman candles in our pockets and light them up when the questions start flying. Or wear tap shoes and do a little kick-ball-change after every punch line.

“Are you kidding me? What we’ve got is gold, baby. Gold!” He grabs my face. He kisses me hard on my cheek. Charlie is the showman. He’s got the wit and the delivery. He can play to a crowd without the props or the fancy sets. If we really did have an act, I mean, one that we actually made money off of, he’d be the manager, the one calling the shots. And I’d let him. He has a way of telling a story and running with it. 

“So, show us the scar you got from the surgery, man,” someone from the audience will ask. Right now, the audience is usually our families and our friends. Sometimes strangers at parties.

Charlie lifts his shirt and says, “Surgery? What are you talking about? I got this baby from a shark bite when we were swimming off the deep seas of Palau. See the teeth marks?” He points to the little dots where the doctors had him in staples.

“Nawww!” the crowd calls. Some of them gasp in horror.

“Come on, Charlie, tell ’em the truth,” I interrupt. I furrow my brow, puff out my lips. Me? I’m all facial expressions. Charlie says I can change the mood of a room with just the look on my face. That and I follow cues really well. “We got shipwrecked on that island and we tried to kill each other for food. See, I’ve got one, too. He tried to get me first, but I went straight for that white meat, if you know what I mean. ”

Then, I lift up my shirt to show the crowd my scar, also on my left side. And then, we demonstrate what that stabbing might have looked like had we really done it. We take turns pretending to jab a knife into each other’s stomach, over and over again.

“Aaawww!” one of us yells. 

“Aaawww!” the other one yells.

It has our families and friends rolling on their sofa cushions for hours.

At first, we tried to tell everyone our story, all serious and sweet, how I have this disease, how he gave me his kidney, how I was in bad shape. The sacrifice, the pain, yadda, yadda, yadda. But even when we talk to our audience honestly about the transplant, we can’t help but crack the jokes because, as Charlie says, “How else are you supposed to look at life? Seriously?”

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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ANGELA M. BALCITA

Angela M. Balcita received her MFA from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. She lives in Baltimore. “Moonface and Charlie” first appeared in the Winter 2005/06 issue of The Iowa Review.

This page was first displayed
on December 24, 2006

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