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CHARMER UNVEILED




          Chuck was excited when he came home from school.
          “Wanda, someone broke into a locker today.  A pen knife, watch and money were taken,” he took a quick breath and continued, “It’s a really big deal at school.  The principal searched the lockers and talked to all the guys.” I hadn’t heard anything about the incident at school.  Chuck talked of nothing else at the supper table that evening.
          The following day I was standing in front of the mirror combing my hair in the girl’s bathroom.
          “Well, when are you due Gloria?”
          I turned towards the senior girl grooming her short, blond hair. “Due with what?” I asked.
          “Your brother Chuck has been spreading all over school that he thinks his sister is pregnant,” She answered slyly watching for my reaction.  She wasn’t disappointed: I was speechless!  I didn’t see Chuck between classes.  I was going to confront him after school but he wasn’t on the bus.  Then I remembered he was going home with a friend.
          I related to Mom what the senior girl had told me.  I waited for her to assure me that Chuck wouldn’t say anything like that about me, but instead I couldn’t believe my ears...
          “I wouldn’t be surprised if Chuck did say it,” Mom replied, “I’ve read some of his letters to Barb and he has been telling a lot of lies.”
             Barb’s letters to me had become far and few between and the ones I did receive were short and cold.  I had overlooked it but now the pieces began to fit together.
          “Chuck has done more than lie,” Mom continued. “I spent most of the afternoon at the school.  Remember the pen knife, watch and money Chuck told us were stolen from a locker?”
          I shook my head in the affirmative.
          “Well, I was putting some clean undershirts in his drawer this morning and I found those exact articles.  I returned them to the school.  The principal wants us to confront Chuck before he talks to him tomorrow.”
          For the second time that day I was speechless!
          I moved my food around the plate at the supper table.  I had no appetite and I dreaded what I knew was coming.  Everyone, but Chuck, was quieter than usual.  If he felt the tension he didn’t let on.  Even though I knew what he had done, I still felt loyal to Chuck.
          “Chuck,” Mom began when we had finished eating, “I found some things in your dresser drawer.”
          “What things?” he asked innocently.
          “A pen knife, watch and some money.”
          “That is my knife and watch.  I bought them.”
          “I took them to the school and they were identified as the pen knife and watch stolen from the locker,” Mom confronted.
          I searched Chuck’s face.  There was no way to discern what he was feeling.
          “I also know,” Mom continued, “that you have been writing lies about our family in your letters to Albuquerque.”
          Chucks facial expression never flinched, but there was a slight redness in his color.  I waited for him to deny the charges, but he remained silent.
          I fought back tears when Mom said, “Chuck, we took you into our home because we wanted to help you.  We wanted you to be part of our family.  Is this the way you treat family?”
          Chuck silently looked down at the table.
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