(Last Sunday: Gina tells Chartan she is pregnant, an ex-felon, and Julie isn’t her aunt.)
“Gina’s three months pregnant.”
Brazil thrust out his hand. “Congratulations.”
Chartan shook it a few times and replied, “Let’s get some coffee.”
The two men walked side by side, matching strides on a path that paralleled the road leading to a handful of small business about a mile from the apartment where Chartan and Gina lived. Nestled among the storefronts was The Java Place which featured “The Chartan,” a strong cup of coffee made with 72 beans.
Chartan, looking straight ahead with each step, quickly lost himself in thought. Is it odd that Brazil and I can be friends and understand each other with so little effort? I sometimes wish we were back on that mountain top, talking so freely, easily about ourselves. And I could once again come down from that mountain to meet Gina. But the journey continues. A child is coming. My life is good.
Brazil was practiced at surveying his surroundings. But at this moment he was trying to turn off his combat skills, to ignore the background sounds of the city. I don’t have to say anything to have Chartan as a friend. He has no reason to lie to me. Why must people hide themselves? But I’ve been doing that most of my life. Whom am I to criticize? Damn it, there’s a bus coming up behind us and ahead there’s a car pulling out of a side street.
“You’re breathing heavily,” said Chartan.
Brazil coughed. “Yeah, I’m have an anxiety attack. Do they serve beer at the Java Place?”
“I’m three months pregnant.”
Julie shifted on the sofa so that she was almost touching Gina.
“Wow. We’re you both trying?”
“No, the subject didn’t come up, or I didn’t want it to come up. Screw it. One night I just let go. And it was great not to worry afterwards. This is a good thing that’s happening.”
“Chartan knows, right?”
“Sure. He’s excited.”
Chartan and Brazil talked some more over coffee, each rejecting inner temptations to discuss their state of mind in greater detail. They were seated at a table in the far corner, comfortably removed from the other patrons of The Java Place.
“This the best French roast in Northern California,’’ said Chartan.
Brazil laughed. “No surprise that ‘The Chartan’ is your favorite coffee drink.
“Perhaps, this brew will be my legacy.” He thought about launching into the meaning of life, but stopped short. What’s holding me back? It’s as if I don’t want to risk testing my relationship with Brazil. Or, is my fear that I am growing unsure of what I’ve become?
“You’re drifting again, my friend,” said Brazil. When Chartan didn’t acknowledge him, he snickered and moved his attention to a poster on the wall behind the struggling guru. Calling all veterans, you are needed again. Brazil pushed his chair back and fumbled his way to the poster. There were 10 strips at the bottom of the poster, each with a phone number. Brazil tore one of the strips and stuffed it in his shirt pocket. He was positioned behind Chartan who didn’t appear to have noticed that he’d left the table. He put his hand on Chartan’s bony shoulder.
“Pardon me,” said Chartan, “I’m thinking about Gina.”
“Don’t think too much—it’s a sure way to ruin the fireworks.” Brazil returned to his seat.
“I’m going to be a father—that’s enough fireworks for now.”
(Continued next Sunday)