(Last week: Julie and Gina talk about Brazil’s decision to go overseas; Brazil’s return to combat haunts him; and Chartan decides to teach a life restoration class again.)
Chartan drew a deep breath and looked around the classroom crammed with 32 people who had paid to hear him talk for the last hour about random acts of bravery, namely his. He was pleased that no one had left yet and that everyone appeared to be making eye contact with him. He said calmly, “Thank you for coming. Are there any final questions?”
Chartan pointed at a young man in the front row who had raised his hand.
“Why do you drive a limo?”
“I need to put food on the table.”
“Is your job exciting?”
“It certainly is if I don’t earn enough.”
His audience laughed loudly. A few minutes later the room was empty save for Chartan eyeing the empty seats. He had managed to fill most of an hour with his accounts of disarming the car window bandit in San Francisco and wresting the gun from Elisa at the Sacramento coffee house. His acts of heroism, recounted by the local media, were instinctive, undertaken to stop injustices. He said it was quite possible if these two circumstances had not occurred that he would have remained a nice, boring person. Life is full of fate, the unexpected . Don’t be a bystander, he had stated clearly and loudly. He had closed with explaining how his friend had gone to Ukraine to fight the Russian invaders. “That is one person’s heroism that few of us are qualified to match. But he saw an injustice and wanted to do something about it.”
Chartan was overcome with guilt over embellishing on Brazil’s actions without knowing exactly why he went overseas. I shouldn’t have talked about Brazil.
“Mr. Chartan,” the voice behind him broke his self-absorbed thoughts. He turned to face a woman who at first might have been Elisa despite appearing younger and shorter than the woman who had both tempted and confused him in the past—this woman had a beauty that differed from Elisa, but like her, she was unsettling in a mysterious way.
“I am afraid of falling in love and to use your words, I’ve become a bystander in life. How do I step out of my cocoon without making mistakes?”
Chartan suddenly wished he were at the kitchen table with Gina.
(To be continued next Sunday.)