The Adventures of Chartan: Talking without Filters

            (Last Sunday: Chartan dismisses the questioning of the famed therapist, Dr. Kodor, but when he returns to his apartment, Gina, seated at the kitchen table, appears distraught.)

            “I have three things to tell you, so you better sit,” said Gina.

            Chartan pulled out a chair without taking his eyes off his wife.

            “I take it we’re in dramatic mode,” he said.

            “Please sit.”

            He plopped down on the chair. “Hit me.”

            “Okay, try this. I’m an ex-felon, Julie’s not my aunt and I’m pregnant.”

            Chartan watched his clenched fist slide across the table top.

            “Let’s start with pregnant.”

            “Yes, you’re the father.”

            “Is that okay with you?”

            “That you’re the father, that I’m pregnant?”

            “This is too tense for the occasion,” said Chartan as he stood up. “What you were in the past doesn’t mean anything if you want me to be the father.”

            “I’m too tense,” replied Gina. “I shouldn’t have held out about a mistake I made a long time ago. I thought you’d walk out. And when I missed two periods, I knew I’d waited too long.”

            “Was it a violent felony?”

            Gina laughed, but stopped when she realized her husband of less than a year had a pained look. She stood up.

            “Not violent. A misguided Ponzi scheme. Want to know more?”

            “Are you off parole?”

            “”Finished.”

            “Do you love me?”

    Gina took three quick steps and finished by throwing her arms around Chartan. They kissed like they’d never stop.

                                            (Continued next Sunday)

No Carmel Beach for Awhile As Tsunamis Roll In

The waves weren’t high but they were fast, loud and covered the beach with water for a few hours.
Lots of sea foam from heavily churned ocean water.

Carmel Beach was underwater for a few hours but the expected tsunamis didn’t breach the retaining walls, thankfully.

The Adventures of Chartan: Confronting Dr. Kodor

(Last week: After two months Gina and Chartan have settled into married life as have Brazil and Julie.)

Chartan spotted Minerva in his side view mirror approaching the rear of the limo, her gait slow, her head bowed.  He took a last gulp of his 72-bean coffee, blinked and carefully placed the cup in its holder before flinging open the driver’s door.

            He crossed over to the passenger rear side of the black Bentley and grabbed the door handle. His hand, warmed by the coffee mug, turned cold under the grip of cold steel. Why am I thinking about this?  Ah, I’m slightly upset that my peace in the front seat has been interrupted. She’s early. The sessions usually last an hour—it’s only been 30 minutes.

            “Chartan, I’m not ready to leave.”

            He promptly closed the limo door.

            “I want you follow  me.”

            She spoke as if he were under her command and, in a sense she was—she paid for her power over him. Without questioning her, he followed a few steps behind. He knew the way to Dr. Kodor’s office–Minerva had paid for his sessions with the renowned therapist after Chartan been wounded by a bullet fired by the car window bandit. Chartan shivered slightly. He had forgotten what they had discussed six months ago, but he remembered the wood paneling in the office and the wall of documents showing that Kodor was an honored scholar. I’m married now, months removed from those strange times with Elisa.  Gina had been my turn in the road, that bright light ahead that gives me a purpose in life.

            As Chartan entered the office, he worried that his world was more fragile than he was willing to admit, that it could come undone easily from Dr. Kodor’s first words.The bespectacled gray-haired man stood up from behind the giant desk, exposing his short stature.

            “My dear, Chartan, I had hoped to hear from you again.”

            Why did I stop seeing him? What did I say in this room? I don’t remember anything?

            Dr. Kodor motioned to Minerva with the flip of his hand. She smiled and left.

            “Chartan, please sit.” The former guru turned limo driver nodded and took the oversized leather chair he had occupied six months ago. Kodor sat in the other oversized leather chair. The two were now a few feet away, each pushed back against a thick cushion.

            “There won’t be any fees attached to our talk,” said Kodor. “I simply want to explore why you stopped coming here.”

            “I don’t recall a specific reason. I simply fell in line with a series of events that involved two women and a combat vet. Now I’m married and driving a limo for a living. And that’s my life in 30-seconds.”

            Kodor coughed. “It sounds like you don’t care, that, perhaps, you’ve given up. ”

            Kodor’s words were a punch to the stomach. Chartan straightened himself in the chair, exhaled and tried to regain the will power that had abandoned him.

            His first words were spoken slowly. “I’ve fallen in love.”….”Her name is Gina and I want to be with her now. It’s true that I don’t care about things I once thought important, but I haven’t given up.”

            His statement cleared the fog that had followed him from the limo. He didn’t like Kodor and his brand of psychotherapy. Chartan stood up.

            “Dr. Kodor, I have a limo to drive.”  He turned and left, imaging that the world famous therapist’s jaw had dropped, but he didn’t care to confirm the effect of his sudden departure.

            He returned to the limo, not surprised that Minerva was on the phone in the back seat.

            “That was quick,” she said, lowering the phone to her lap.

            “There wasn’t much to say. Home?”

            “Please.”

            The two didn’t speak again until the limo stopped in front of her mansion. He opened the door for her.

            “My dear, Chartan, I apologize for sleeping on the way home. She handed him a wad of rolled up bills which he stuffed into his pocket as he walked by her side to the front door.

            Twenty minutes later he opened his apartment door. Gina was seated at the kitchen table.

            “We have to talk,” she said.

            His heart pounded. Her voice sounded as if she were in pain.

            (To be continued next Sunday)

Remnants

A thousand bare branches on one tree.
Man with bags sleeping on a bench.
Long shadows everywhere.
Man with a very long lead on an energetic dog.
Lone ornament hanging from a redwood tree. If you enlarge this shot, you might see me and Ivan the dog.

Yesterday I took random shots of life on a sunny day during this never-ending pandemic. I call the collection… remnants.

The Adventures of Chartan: Two Months Later

(Last Sunday: Julie and Brazil tie the knot an hour after first meeting at Chartan and Gina’s wedding celebration).

Chartan, eyes closed with arms extended over his head, took a deep breath to fill his lungs with crisp, fall air. He was standing under a coastal oak by the edge of the river that meandered behind his apartment building. He dropped his arms slowly as he exhaled. It was a glorious moment for him—for the first time in two days, he was alone. Gina was at work. Skyler and Julie were off on a road trip to the mountains. He was scheduled to drive Minerva to San Francisco tomorrow morning. For now, he was…free. No more weddings. No more…what is it that I am free of? Gina? Isn’t it wrong to have even a fleeting thought about the…demands of a commitment to someone else? Skyler’s details have come to roost. How is marriage any different than taking responsibility to drive a person safely 200 miles for a fee needed to pay my, no, our bills? Is it that I don’t want to do any of this: to drive…to love?

            He clenched his fists. His face contorted and turned red as he screamed silently in desperation to will away the thoughts that had invaded his moment of peace.

            When Gina returned to the apartment, she stopped in the doorway, struck by the large vase of flowers that took up half of their kitchen table. She picked up the slip of paper at the table’s edge: Gina, I love you more than ever—CC.  Tears came to her eyes. A few minutes ago with her hand on the outside door knob, she hoped Chartan wouldn’t be inside—she needed time to think.

            “They’re beautiful,” she said to her husband of two months as he entered the room.  They kissed for a time before going to the bedroom.

                                                ***

            Julie and Brazil were the only customers seated at a run down, dimly lit bar somewhere in New Mexico about an hour before sunset. 

            Julie nudged her cocktail glass . “Maybe we should go home.”

            “The last two weeks have been the best in my life,” replied her husband.

            “They’ve been great for me too.”

            Brazil squeezed her hand.  He thought about how well they fit together in bed, how they laughed at the same things like the rooster screeching at daybreak outside of their motel room, or the overdone hamburger that slid off of Julie’s bun at an all-night diner. He liked not knowing much about her—there were no expectations. But they were running out of money—a good reason to go home. He needed to resume his detective work, if, indeed, there was any in Sacramento.

            “Yeah, I guess we should get back,” he said.

            “I wonder how Gina and Chartan are doing? asked Julie.

            “I forgot about them. I bet they’re fine.”

            Julie pulled her hand away from Brazil. “I’m not convinced of that.”

            “Why?”

            “Gina doesn’t stay put. She runs rather than face up to her problems.”

            “What problems?”

            Julie grabbed Brazil’s wrist and brought to her mouth and kissed it. “Honey, I’ve said more than I should. Let’s go home and make sure they’re okay.”

            “What should I know about Gina?”

            “For starters, I’m not her aunt.  But let’s go.”

            “Okay, but know this Julie, “I’m a bulldog detective.  Secrets don’t exist for me.”

            They left for the front door, but stopped in the parking lot to admire the final day’s light that painted the surrounding mountains with a red glow.

            “Quite a contrast to where we just were,” said Brazil.

            “Beautiful. Like us. And I don’t mean to be melodramatic about Gina. We did time together for running a Ponzi. You know about Ponzi’s?

            “I’m a detective, remember. And I don’t do secrets, remember.”

            Julie threw her arms around Brazil and kissed him hard. The driver in a passing semi-tractor trailer blasted his air horn, but it didn’t break up the lovers.

                                                            ***

(To be continued next Sunday)

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