Time to Call Chuck
I got home an hour later (you try driving with Hulk Hands on — not easy) and immediately stashed the remaining chunk of money in the toilet tank. The enormity of what I’d done was sinking in; should I have gone back to see what I’d hit instead of just continuing to drive?
Also, the money I’d taken. It was a lot. I was beginning to have doubts. I saw firsthand what lawyers did to guys like me; they charged them incredible amounts of money. With nowhere else to turn, I decided to call my brother.
I knew Chuck was someone I could confide in about my newfound wealth, and also someone I could boss around a bit. In truth, Chuck was the real prodigy of the family, although my parents often had to be reminded of his existence in tax returns. An accomplished cellist by the age of 14, Chuck would go on to become chief surgeon at Our Lady of Realistic Expectations in Colorado Springs. He became the first person to perform heart surgery and a symphony simultaneously, and subsequently became the first person to remove a misplaced bassoon from a patient’s chest cavity.
Chuck made even more headlines for discovering the true function of the spleen (winking), and hit the New York Times Bestseller List at the age of 24 with his memoir, “Spilling My Guts.”
Yes, there were times when I was jealous of my wunderkind brother’s success. More than once I was forced to don the Hulk Hands and work these feelings out on confused Home Depot shoppers. But a little 30-watt bulb of pride would also flicker in my own chest cavity whenever I’d scroll upon another feature about him in the Washington Post or hear him trashing Lorne Michaels on the WTF Podcast.
Chuck was no doubt impacted the most by our haunted home childhood experience, despite it only making up about a paragraph in his memoir. It was a challenging ordeal for him to overcome, particularly since we fled the house before his room’s demon had a chance to turn his head the right way around. This made some things difficult for Chuck, like dancing. But as usual, Chuck found ways to adapt. The special mirror glasses he developed for ladies and gentlemen with backward heads won the Edison Innovation Award, although sales were low.
So you can understand that it took a bit of humility on my part to call the award-winning surgeon, conductor, writer and inventor at his Rocky Mountain mansion and ask him if he thought a good place to hide stolen money was the back of our parents’ toilet.
“This blessing is going to turn things around for me,” I explained breathlessly over the phone. “I can finally buy all those illicit drugs I’m always going on about.”
“What about the bar exam?” came the reply. “What about becoming a lawyer and winning the old house back? Don’t you think you could be jeopardizing everything?”
“Hey, don’t start judging me,” I said, rather too harshly, as I fished the soggy bills out of the toilet and replaced the ceramic lid. “Remember, I’m still bigger than you.”
There was a long sigh on the other end. Neither of us realized it at the time, but it would be the last time we spoke cordially with one another.
As I stepped out of the condo and into the chilly fall afternoon, I was about to tell him about the typo I finally found in his memoir, when the sound of an explosion behind me spun me around and rang my head like a dinner bell. I looked up to see the condo blazing like a charcoal grill roasting a big, juicy shish kabob (was very hungry at the time). Up in the sky I caught a glimpse of my parents, propelled by the blast, soaring over head on route toward The Gateway Arch.
I looked back at the charred phone in my hand.
“Chuck, lemme call you back.”
The saga continues…