Charles, the Backward Man

I have no name simply because I do not abide by the expectation that we as humans bind ourselves to. What if you feel like John one day, but prefer to be Xavier the next? We are limited to our boundaries; we fear the very thought of touching the line that separates us from what we are and what we can be.

Charles is a funny man. He is a good man with good intentions. However, Charles does not know the meaning of expending. He is a conservative man with liberal purposes. He doesn’t know it, but I do, and I am ready to seek him out today again.

“Hello Charles.” I say.

He mumbles something incoherent under his breath. I brush it off as his pathetic attempt at a greeting.

I tell him, “I think it’s time we rethink our options.”

He doesn’t speak; he only stares off in space as I step onto his porch. His hand is shaking. I put a hand on his shoulder and whisper in his ear something I should have said a long time ago. I watch as his pupils dilate. The briefcase in his hand falls to the floor and he runs back into his house, screaming obscenities.

I am still standing by his doorway. I pick up his briefcase, smile a little bit to myself, and leave.

Charles is choking himself. He wants to be free and he doesn’t even know it. And he will probably never know. He is killing himself with societal expectations, holding onto something that will never be his. He doesn’t know it though. I don’t think he ever will. He’s not one to learn. He picks on slow, and I wonder if it will even cross his mind when he lies on his deathbed, dreaming about the things he’s done, about the things he could have done, and the things he should have done. He is just that kind of man. He never thinks about anything until the last minute.

I worry for him, and yet, I don’t think he ever hears me when I speak to him.

When he chats with his colleagues about freedom, I speak for him. But they don’t hear me; and neither does he. Charles has mastered the art of tuning me out – but I know that somewhere deep in his mind, I am running – I am running at full speed, filling his brain with hopes and expectations; but they dissipate almost immediately when I leave. And he doesn’t even know it. He never will. Charles is a slow man. Charles is a slow man with good intentions.

“You are tying yourself up in ropes,” I tell him one day.

Yet, he continues to walk. Up the stairs, down the stairs. He is a walking man. He speaks to himself, trying to convince himself that he really isn’t crazy; but I think he’s the only one who hasn’t realized it yet. I suppose we are all a little out of our minds, but Charles is different. He is out of his mind, and he is in denial.

Charles’s mother and father died in a fire when he turned eight. That was when I first met him. He spoke to me, at the time; but now that he is older, he is learning to ignore me. Charles is ungrateful, but I learn to forgive him and allow him time to rethink and consider his options. But then again, Charles is a simple man. He is a simple man with good intentions.

So, in a way, I am everything that Charles is not. And I am free in every way that Charles can only dream to be.

“You are dying,” I chime.

He murmurs something under his breath.

Charles has grown significantly fatter over the years. I’m not sure whether it’s from the lack of sleep, or the sudden dependence on Burger King after a hard day at work – perhaps, it is genetically predisposed, but somehow I doubt that; either way, Charles has grown fat, closing in closely on obesity. And yet, I have remained faithfully the same.

I was everything Charles ever wanted. I was everything he ever wanted to be. He knew it. I knew it. We both knew it, but we never spoke about it. He tried to be like me, and he’d make false promises in order to be free; but he’d always falter. It was Charles. The man had good intentions, but he didn’t know how to expend them. It was always one step forward, two steps back with him. And over the years, I began to realize that Charles would walk that way forever.

“There is so much more to life than computers and coding,” I tell him.

He looks at me.

Charles is a backward man. He calls himself a conservative Republican, but in reality, he is a left-winged liberal. He has eyes but does nothing with them. He sees, but does not act; hears, but does not understand; speaks, but does not think. He is everything the world ever wants to see, and yet, he trying so hard to break free from it. Because Charles is a good man with good intentions.

Charles is breathing heavily.

“You hate me, don’t you?”

“Shut up.”

He storms up the stairs. I hear crashing, but I don’t take a second glance. Instead, I sit down on his couch and wait for him to come back down so I can begin to reprimand him again. It is what he made me for. I am his existence, his self-worth, his dreams, and his infinite hope of utopia. He does not see it yet, but I do.

But when Charles began to fade, so did I; and when Charles finally killed himself, so did I.

Allow me to introduce myself.

I am Charles. But that is not my name.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *