Friday, July 10, 2009

Charlie Bean

And speaking of friendship, just heard from my old friend Chuck yesterday. Chuck and I go back to high school, Norview High School in Norfolk, VA. He dated one of my best friends. He was one of my best friends, too. We knew he had a temper, since one night after he and Denise fought he put a hole in the bedroom door where she was staying at my dad's house. Dad was none too happy about it. Chuck was one of those whose mouth and temper got the better of him when he was drinking.

Chuck also lived in Houston for part of the time I was there. We lived in the same apartment complex. I remember one night, after having a few (okay, several) drinks at the bar next door (I believe it was called Amore...), we started walking home in the rain. We ran into someone I knew, and we started chatting. Apparently Chuck stepped into some mud, but whatever the case, the whole time I was chatting with the neighbor, I could hear Chuck floundering around in the bushes, and I'm chatting as though nothing in the world is wrong. The neighbor moved on, and Chuck and I laughed our asses off all the way back to our apartments.

Anyhow, about 11 years ago Chuck got himself into trouble. This wasn't his first brush with the law, but it's the one that put him into jail for 20 years. Apparently his temper and drinking set him off once again, and he drew a knife on some guy at a party. Bad enough, but when the cops came, Chuck brandished the knife at one of them. You just don't do that. So, Chuck has been bouncing around between various Virginia correctional facilities, depending on how well he behaves. He's currently not too far away (near Farmville) and I may try to go and see him.

Meanwhile, Chuck's daughter has grown to be a young lady of 15. She hardly knows her dad, he hardly knows her; in fact, he hasn't seen her in a year. Chuck wrote that his mom is coming to visit, and will be bringing his daughter with her. I am so glad he gets to see them both.

Do I feel sorry for Chuck? Yes, I kind of do. He never got the help he needed, and he wasn't enlightened enough to know how to get it. He'll never get that help in the system. He will supposedly get out in nine more years. Wow. I can't imagine losing 20 years of my life, not seeing my daughter grow up, realizing my mother is old and has serious health problems, not seeing my siblings, or my friends. I know he 'brought this on himself', but I also know his problems were fixable, and I think it's a shame he will have served 20 years, when there are so many out on the street now who have done so much worse than Chuck did.

So, I heard from "my favorite convict" (as Chuck likes to call himself) yesterday, and I owe him a letter, possibly a visit. He's still my friend, Bean as I used to call him (short for Charlie Bean, not sure why...) See you soon, Chuck.

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