Sunday Storytime: Charlinder is a bad influence.

Since the Authoring Situation is about as resolved as it’s going to get, I am now sitting here screaming “FREEDOM!” to no one in particular. It’s a similar sensation to when I’ve just finished a writing project, and suddenly I have no idea what to do with all this spare time.

For the first Storytime after getting the Situation squared away, I will…show you another excerpt from Charlinder’s Walk! This is from Chapter 8, just after the point where Miriam chills the fuck out and goes so far as to admit that there’s still time for Char to change his mind. Ruth and Robert are a pair of siblings who don’t get along very well with Char. It’s not entirely their fault; as Roy later remarks, Char wasn’t exactly diplomatic in the face of conflict as a kid.

*****

That was not exactly the acceptance he’d been hoping to find, but for the time being it would suffice. As the months went on, he found that preparing for traveling the world was nothing like he expected, or rather, that preparing his neighbors for his traveling the world was nothing like he’d imagined. He had envisioned himself having to explain his reasoning to at least one person at least once a day, every day, for the next seven months. What actually happened was that no one tried to stop him. When he wasn’t either teaching or sleeping, he gardened, prepared food and wove cloth much more than he had ever done before, and no one raised any objection to him keeping more of the product for himself than usual. Even more unexpected was who showed their support for him. He had predicted a hostile reaction from the Faithful and warm encouragement from his friends. In fact his friends were unimpressed. After a few weeks of this, Charlinder was not surprised. They were just as nonchalant in their response to the Faithful’s proselytizing. They were no less friendly to him than before, in fact Phoebe and Meredith soon began making bags to hold his supplies, but they, much like Miriam, simply didn’t see what was so important about his trip. Sometimes, Charlinder wanted to corner them and demand to know if they had ever paid attention to any of their history lessons, and other times he figured he would wait and see how much their attitudes had changed when he returned.

The Faithful surprised him beyond his maddest fantasies. One day in late July, when Charlinder was grinding corn for Eleanor, she asked him about his trip.

“Like I told the kids, I’ll walk west through North America and Asia, then through part of Europe until I reach Italy,” he explained apprehensively.

“But why are you doing this?” she asked.

“Well,” Charlinder began. He paused to choose his words. What he really wanted to do was complete the conversation without engaging her in a confrontation. “There’s been some fighting recently about the Plague, and where it came from.”

“Yes, I’ve seen that,” she agreed.

“So I’m going to Italy, where the Plague started, to find out what made it happen, so no one will have to fight over it anymore.” He hoped that was a diplomatic enough answer.

A lovely smile opened up on her round, wrinkled face. “That sounds like a wonderful idea.”

“Really?”

“You just might find a message from God,” she said, still beaming.

“Yes,” Charlinder began slowly. “I might find exactly that.”

“I just hope I’m around to hear what it is when you get back.”

“I’m sure you will be.”

“You’re such a good boy. I don’t see what my grandchildren have against you.”

“Which grandchildren?”

“Oh, Ruth and Robert think you’re a bad influence or something.”

He was about to remind Eleanor of the time she had apparently blamed Roy for Charlinder’s refusal of her grandson’s generous offer. Then he remembered that she sometimes addressed her own children by her siblings’ names and regularly wandered into the smokehouse when she needed the kitchen, so he decided not to press the issue. “Not everyone needs to be my friends,” he said instead.

He soon found that Eleanor was not unique among the Faithful; most of them were just as encouraging of his travels and just as warmly hopeful that he would find a sign from God. He often wondered if he should explain that he was actually trying to prove them wrong, but the time was never right to have that conversation. He needed to concentrate on getting ready to walk around the world; it would mean needless complication to pick fights with people who weren’t feeling combative with him. Meanwhile, Ruth and Robert avoided talking to him, but since this posed no problem, he did not complain.

*****