The Adventures of Chartan: Crossing off the List

                (Last Sunday: In a letter from Brazil to Chartan, the retired combat vet admits he lacks the courage to leave the war in the Ukraine. Chartan writes back asking his friend to return home.)

            The day after Chartan mailed his letter to Brazil, a detective notified him that the missing teens were found penniless in Las Vegas.

            “Where are they now? asked Chartan.

            “With their respective parents.” The phone went dead before Chartan could come up with a response.

            “Who was that?” yelled Gina from the bedroom.

            “The police found the teens and I guess they’re back home,” replied Chartan from the bedroom doorway.

            “Cross that one off the list,” said Gina.

            “We just need Brazil to come home,” Chartan replied. He went to the edge of the bed and sat down by Gina’s bare legs—she wore loose pajama tops that barely covered her underwear.

            “I’m very pregnant today, so you’ll have to do everything.”

            Chartan’s smile was short-lived. His cell phone rang. Minerva wanted to meet to discuss his role at Sloan’s—he hadn’t told her that he was turning down her offer, although he envisioned himself boldly saying “no” to her several times while relaying his decision to Gina  in a matter-of-fact way.

            “That’s convenient,” said Gina. “You get to take two off the list today.”

            “I’ll do it in person this afternoon at Sloan’s.”

            “You’ll be back by 5 to take care of dinner?”


            Twenty minutes later Chartan slowly pulled the limo out of the apartment complex parking lot. He looked at the limo’s clock several times. He had two hours to overcome his fear of saying “no” to the wealthy widow.

            (Continued next Sunday)    

Poetry: The Shattered Old Man

The shattered old man has had it with wildfires, Covid and the Afghanistan follies.

When first light pierces his eyes, he cocks his gun and squeezes the tigger

From the cheap seats where he’s been watching a prima ballerina land en pointe.

There’s applause but he can’t tell if it’s in front or behind the explosion.  

He gropes for a cup of coffee, unsure if he’s made it.

Maybe he’ll drive the car today if he can find it,

Or, at least shout something out loud.

For he still has free will,

Or, did the Supreme Court Take that away?

The walls stop moving and  

The barrel is not much hotter than a pancake right off the griddle—

A good start to the morning.


The Adventures of Chartan: Letters

(Last Sunday: Chartan struggles with how to get his life in balance when he gets a letter from Brazil who is fighting in the Ukraine.)

            Chartan took the envelope carefully from Gina, as if it were fragile glass. He stared at the line of stamps along the top of the letter.

            “Aren’t you going to open it? asked Gina.

            Chartan sat down at the table and methodically unsealed the envelope. He read every word before looking at his wife.

            Chartan, I wish we were up on that mountain. Coming down from there was much easier than leaving here. It only took me a day to realize I am still a fighter and my instincts are as strong as ever. I’ve been here a month. The excitement has worn off. A few of my buddies have been killed. I want to come home but can’t find the courage to do it. Write back to the address on the envelope. Your friend, Skyler Brazil.

            He handed the letter to Gina who put it down a minute later. “He didn’t mention Julie,” she said.

            “Maybe he wrote her a letter,” said Chartan.

            “I’ll check with her. And the mountain top—isn’t that the day you came to the diner for breakfast?”

            “Yes, we got in touch with who were that day–then I met you.”

            “Sorry for it?”

            “Of course not.”

            “Are you going to write back?”

            “Yes, today. He’s been on my mind but he slips away so easily. I am making him a priority.”

            “What about me?”

            “Gina, you’re always my number one priority.”

            Later that afternoon Chartan wrote a letter to Brazil. The words came easily as if he were talking to his friend at a coffee house. He made one point: please come home now.

            He ran downtown to the post office with his letter and as he glided past the tree-lined streets, he replayed his life of the past year, from the devious Elisa, the road trip to the mountain top and the quick marriage to Gina to the mystery of the missing teens. Yes, Brazil would know how to find them.

            (To be continue next Sunday)

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