The Adventures of Chartan: The Unexpected

            (Last week: Chartan faces temptation in his Sacramento apartment after a surprise visit from Elisa.)

            When Gina returned from her job, she found Chartan seated at the kitchen table with a blank stare on his face.

            “Are you okay?”

            He turned towards her but remained silent.

            “Chartan, what’s wrong?” She pressed her legs against the side of the table.

            “Elisa was here.”

            “Who’s Elisa?”

            “Elisa is a lot of things: on probation, a nurse and the devil.”

            “Have you been doping up?”

            He held his hand out. Gina sat down in the chair across from Chartan—she didn’t touch him.

            Chartan launched into an explanation of how he had met Elisa, but quit speaking when he could see Gina’s eyes grow sadder.

            “Did you have sex with her?” asked Gina.

            “We were intimate once, but not today.”

            “What about yesterday?” The sad eyes were fired up.

            “It happened once months ago.”

            “How many months?”

                                                ***

            Chartan sat up in bed, unsure of why he was suddenly wide awake. Gina was asleep in the fetal position, her head facing him. The room was lit with a dull white light, bright enough to reveal the darks strands of hair on her cheek. He smiled at the thought of a space ship landing in the apartment parking lot. Life is fuller when there are surprises, he said to himself. He carefully broke free of the sheet and blanket, got out of bed and slowly made his way to the window–no Martians around, only a full moon.

            A few hours ago during the heat of their intimacy, Gina had begged him to tell her she was the only woman in his life. He knew she was upset by the vision he’d created of Elisa, but he thought it was out of character for her to worry about another woman—she was much stronger than that. He did as she asked but took no pleasure from it. He looked at the cars parked below, preferring to dwell on their shapes rather than to continue replaying Gina’s words.

            “I want a child, our child. ”

            Chartan jumped slightly. Gina put a hand on his shoulder—she was behind him—he kept his eye on the moon. He knew she expected a response. It was one of the moments when he had to say the right thing. But he’d never thought of children other than that they might be the result of poor birth control—he assumed she was still on the pill–she had told him that months ago. 

            “Chartan, did you hear me?”

                The tip of Chartan’s nose found the cold glass. His breath fogged up the window—Gina’s fuzzy reflection slowly disappeared. 

            “Say something,” said Gina.

            “There are 17 cars in the parking lot. But that’s not what you want to hear.”

            “You’re insane. Completely nuts.”

            “Sometimes.”

            “Look at me!”

            Chartan turned. Gina’s face wrinkled up before giving way to sobs. Chartan’s wrapped his long arms around her back. She pressed the side of her face to his chest and this is how they stayed for a long time until the sound of an engine turning over broke the silence.

            “Someone going to work early,” said Chartan.

            “Or getting donuts.” Gina’s voice was muffled

            “Yeah, donuts,” replied Chartan.

            Gina pulled away—her voice was clear: “Benny’s is open and the coffee is good there too.”

            Maybe Gina realized she had pushed too hard while Chartan was thankful for a change of venue. Regardless, the couple rushed to Benny’s, acting like lovebirds at 6:00 a.m. 

            “You guys just get engaged?” grunted Benny from the kitchen porthole that overlooked the counter where Gina and Chartan sat, holding hands.

            “It’s the donuts,” said Chartan. Gina laughed out loud as did Benny.

            The one person who didn’t laugh was a long-haired, bearded man hunched over a mug of coffee, giving the appearance he had fallen asleep. He reached in to an overcoat pocket and pulled out a Glock 19 as if to admire it.

            “Too much noise,” he grunted. No one heard him, the first time.  

                                                                        ***

            “He didn’t say nothin’, the whole time, nothin’—he just moved like lightnin’.”

            The detective gently put a hand on Benny’s shoulder. “Benny, calm down– who didn’t say anything?”

            “The guy with the black hair—he was eatin’ donuts with his girl when this moron started yelling’ and shootin’ .”

            The detective walked over to Gina who was with a female officer and a medic,

            “Excuse me, Ma’m, I’m detective Lewis.  The man who stopped the shooter didn’t have any identification on him. Do you know him?”

            “Will he be alright?”

            “He’s in good hands—they’ll take care of him. But his name?”

            “Chartan Chartan.”

            “The teacher?”

            “That’s him.”

            “What’s your relationship with him?”

            Gina wiped some tears away. “He’s my husband.”

            Later that night Gina sat by the hospital bed staring at Chartan who appeared to be fixated on the ceiling. “What are you thinking?” she asked.

            “This is the third time.”

            “What’s the third time?”

            “I stopped the car window bandit—the bullet grazed me. I tackled Elisa’s husband when she was aiming to shoot him. Now I slug the donut guy carrying enough firepower to wipe out my class. I’m lucky”

            “No, you’re a hero and they say you can get out in a day or two.”

            “I’m not a hero—I didn’t think about what I was doing, I just did it.

            Gina leaned closer to Chartan. “I told the police you were my husband.”

            Chartan smiled. “We forgot to get married. We better do it before my luck runs out.”

                                    (Continued next Sunday)

12,000 Strong!

Local TV news reported last night that there are an estimated 12,000 monarch butterflies this year at the Pacific Grove Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. Last year there were none at this time. l assume monarchs that stop at my backyard are on their way to the sanctuary which is about 4 miles away by car and a little closer by butterfly.

Late Arrival…

Yesterday marks the first time I’ve seen a monarch in our backyard in November–and December begins today!

On November 30, yesterday, I happened to see a monarch float into our backyard. During the previous 10 years no monarchs had been sighted in the yard later than October 16. Yes, I keep track. Very unscientific, I know, but something is going on with the weather. There’s been a warm wind the past week–today is supposed to be the last day before temps drop a little. It’s summer here and the flowers are having a final show for the year. We really need rain. But for now a late arriving monarch will do.

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