Saturday, March 25, 2017

Charles and Gary

They were among the most memorable.  Charles and Gary.  Gary I'd heard about.  His "thing" preceded him.  Charles I met first.  Waiting outside the office of the director,  thinking about the interview questions they's ask and what it would be like to work in the residential treatment facility, Charles approached me.  "I'm not like the others," he said in his deepening voice.  Quickly changing the subject to his black raincoat, his most prized possession, Charles was convincing.  Maybe he's right, I thought.  "I'll soon be leaving here," he said.  "You probably won't get the chance to know me, but I wanted you to know I'm not like the others."
Charles wasn't leaving.  He was, in fact, lucky to be there.  It was better than that other place he'd been forced to call home: a closet.

The story goes that his father was a visiting professor from Japan.  When his mother got pregnant, the father would have none of it...literally.  At a young age, Charles was kept in a closet and given a transistor radio for amusement (and a parent) and had managed to survive until the truth was out and he was removed from the home.  A mild mannered, if not disinterested kid, Charles had made the world of top 40 radio stations his new home.  Listening to that little radio day and night, He could quote the top ten singles by month and year.  It was not uncommon for someone to say "Charles, June 12, 1996 and for him to reply, "on June 12, 1967 Tommy James and the Shondells hit the top of the charts with "I Think We're Alone Now."
Charles used to lay his carefully folded raincoat on the end of his bed at night.  It was never far away. It didn't help that he lived in what has previously been referred to as the "crazy" house.  These were the more disturbed kids in that rather than just emotional disturbances, they had all manner of issues from being somewhere on the Autism spectrum to Tourettes Syndrome.

They were seldom violent like the other teen boys in the other houses.  Their emotional outbursts were rare, in favor of flat out passive aggressive behavior.  They knew how to use their limited resources to great advantage.  You can get plenty of revenge by defecating in someone's clean clothes drawer or creepily asking about their ethnicity ad nauseam.  (Brent used to sped hours asking Charles if he was Chinese or Japanese after lights out.  Every 15 minutes or so Charles would reply, "I already told you, I'm Japanese." And so it went.
If Charles had made the world of top 40 radio his alternate home, then Gary had done the same using the universe found in Superhero comic books.

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