He was a friend of mine, met in HS. We were on the quiz bowl team together, narrowly missing nationals. If we’d made it, we would have beat everyone.
He had a hard life growning up. His mother struggled to raise Charles and his half sister while dealing with a husband that left and another that she had to kill in self-defense (If I have the story right, after all those years, I never did get it exactly right.) They had to share a house with a good friend who was gay. Nothing wrong there, except Charles was approached by one of the guys friends. The “friend” got beat up later that week, a small object lesson in whom not to approach by his mothers friends.
He had the same problems in church. Granted, I’m the last person to defend the stupid Southern Baptist Church, but the one he attended until he was 15 and moved across town was about the most backwoods, ignorant redneck Social Club I’ve seen. I’d been there a few times as a scorekeeper for baskeball games. Dumb bunch.
He was brilliant. I’d put him up against any of ya’ll. He could argue rings around anyone. He aced the ACT/SAT. I know his ACT score was a 36. I don’t recall his SAT, but it was insane as well. He did all of his Calculus in his head, never writing down a single equasion, but always getting the answer right. Even the great debaters in GD would have been impressed.
He was the one who got me hooked on computers, really. He actually had one. His mom had saved for one, and we played on it. I got started on BBSing back in the 80’s thanks to him. We had a C64, with that awesome 300 baud modem. He eventually got a XT, then a 286. I took to computers and ran with it. He was Dr Watson on the boards. He was on a mud someplace, had been there 3 years and finally made it into someone important in that mud.
College is where he picked up the habit that we’re guessing killed him. He started smoking in college. He was addicted to it. Classic two pack a day at his worst. He never did make it back to college. He couldn’t raise the money. He simply missed his chance. We tried over the years, but money was always the problem.
He picked up debts from college, and got hit with a garnishment which neatly impeded his ability to get anywhere. Classic Catch 22. He ended up working at Sbarro’s, doing the best he could (which was always outstanding) and trying to keep afloat in a world where poverty is a lurking beast, always ready to slay the weak and drag them down. I did manage to make it. I got lucky and married a wonderful woman (Juliana, that’s you.) He never did get to date. Was always too introverted when it came to women. I got married, started a family, and ended up being the Stay at home Dad. Our lives wandered their ways.
He started coughing last night. My brother who did know him (and saw him last out of our family), said he was coughing more than usual. We don’t know what the autopsy will reveal at this point. But last night he started coughing, then stopped breathing all together. His mom, disabled, and his sister at home (for once) called 911, but nothing could be done.
I mention this here because he was the one who gave me one of Cecil’s books. I read this site for awhile before trying the messageboard. He wasn’t really interested in that, being addicted to his Mud.
Now our paths diverge forever. His to an early grave, led there by smoking (or whatever). He never did escape the beast that sits on our backs, the one outsiders never know in their hurry to misjudge us. He fought hard, but never did escape.
Leaves me wondering where I’m headed.