by R. J. Richards

Copyright© 2013 by R. J. Richards

Romantic Story: This is a bittersweet story about a young man named Charlie. Charlie was born rich and had it made, but through no fault of his own, he lost everything. He found just how quickly life can change. But in the end, he found a love that would last forever.

Tags: Romantic  

Charlie was one man who really lived up to his name sake. He personified both "good luck Charlie and "hard luck Charlie" in his life. However, what he lived the most was the song Good Time Charlie's got the Blues. It wasn't always like that though. At first, it seemed like he had it made right from birth.

Charlie was born to a wealthy investor and a woman who not only had a successful modeling career, but was often sought after to perform in various commercials. Even though most of them were over seas, they paid well. Both parents adored him. He lived in a beautiful, spacious home, was sent to the best schools, where he was nearly always the most popular kid, and he got most everything he wanted.

That was the "good luck Charlie", and it lasted into his early twenties. Naturally, he easily got into an Ivy League school where he excelled. It was there that he met his first serious love. Cindy was a beauty, and she, too, came from a wealthy family. It was as if fate had molded them for each other, and everyone on both sides of their families expected an engagement announcement at any time. The young couple talked about it, but they wisely decided it would be better if they waited until after they graduated before committing taking such a big step.

It didn't stop them from enjoying each other's company though, and the two were nearly inseparable during their time in college. That was until the day when two federal agents met Charlie at his dorm. It seemed that his father was in serious trouble.

They used words like embezzlement, fraud and tax evasion. They told him that his home had been raided that afternoon, and that his father had been arrested. His mother, too, since she had been named an executive in one of the companies that only existed on paper.

It was obvious that Charlie was both bewildered and devastated by the news. An idiot could have seen that he didn't have a clue to what was going on with his father's dealings, but the two agents spent over an hour grilling him about his father's affairs anyway. They also searched his dorm room, confiscated his computer and left him badly shaken.

The only thing that came out of it was that Charlie knew he couldn't remain in school. "There's no way for me to pay for it," he explained.

Cindy couldn't understand. Oh she'd heard about Bernie Madoff and others like him, but she was so far removed from such things that she had a difficult time comprehending what Charlie was telling her.

"But can't you get some kind of scholarship or something?" she asked, worriedly.

"I never needed one before, and didn't apply. Maybe I can for the next semester."

Charlie tried to reassure her that he was certain he could work something out, but Cindy didn't look very convinced. He ended up spending the rest of the evening trying to reassure her that everything would be all right.

That was the first indication that things weren't what they should have been between Cindy and him. 'She should have been trying to reassure me, ' he thought.

Charlie's life began to rapidly fall apart after that. The university was anxious to be rid of him, along with the negative publicity that came with him. His friends quickly distanced themselves from him, and even Cindy seemed to keep him at arms length. It was clear that her father certainly didn't want his daughter to be seen with him.

"Charlie and his family are bad news," he'd told her. "I don't want you to even be seen with him! There's nothing you can do for him anyway. The only thing that could come out of your connection with him is to have our family name dragged through the mud along with his."

That of course ended Charlie's hope of ever marrying Cindy. It wasn't that she didn't love him. She just loved her comfortable life and the allowance that her father was providing for her more.

Over the course of the next month, his family home had been confiscated by the federal government; his mother was forced to move back in with her own mother, and Charlie found himself destitute.

"Charlie, I want to see you."

It was the last call he got before his phone was turned off. His father wanted to see him. He tried to explain that he'd just moved in with his grandmother and that he was trying to find a job, but his father insisted. A week later, Charlie found himself sitting across from his father with a glass panel between them.

"It's really good to see you; I'm glad you came," began his father. "I am so sorry I screwed everything up."

"Dad, what happened? When are you going to get out of here? You have lawyers working on it right?"

"Didn't your mother tell you anything?"

"She won't talk about it. Whenever I ask, she just starts to cry and says she can't talk about it. Grandma told me never to mention it again in her house, too."

"I'm not getting out of here, Charlie. I did everything I was accused of."

Charlie was stunned. "But why, why did you do it?"

"Because, Charlie, I wanted to give you and your mom the kind of life that we had. At first it was just a little here and there, and I knew that no one would ever know. It was easy, Charlie-- too easy. Then I started taking a little bit more from different places.

"I was smart about it, too, and I would have gotten away with it. But the money was good, and I liked spending it the way I did. Eventually, I took too much and got in too deep. By then, I couldn't stop myself even if I wanted to.

"The thing is, Charlie, I did it for you and your mother. I know it was wrong, but you have to understand, I didn't do it for me. Now, it's too late, and all I want from you is to be forgiven. I don't care about the others or what everybody thinks of me. I only want you and your mother to forgive me."

"Mom won't come here, and she won't talk about it."

"I know, but maybe in time you can talk to her. Make her understand Charlie. Make her understand that I did it for her and you. Maybe then, she'll forgive me."

Charlie was angry when he first came to the prison, but between actually seeing his father in the prison suit and the miserable, desperation on his pleading face, Charlie felt sorry for him. Hundreds of memories of his father flashed through his mind. Memories of when his father had taught him how to ride a bike, swim and fish were just a few, and in the end, Charlie forgave him."

"I have to go now," was all he said, before leaving. He couldn't tell his father that he just couldn't stand to see him like that anymore--a broken man--in prison.

Two days later he learned that his father hanged himself during the night, and he knew that his father was only waiting for Charlie to forgive him before taking his own life. His mother suffered from a nervous breakdown that she never recovered from. It was as if she just gave up on living. Two months later, his grandmother had a heart attack and passed away in the hospital.

There was no money. His grandmother had mortgaged her house to pay for his mother's legal expenses and what little money was left went to pay for the two funerals.

Charlie was alone. No money, no relatives, no friends, and no place to live.

The job market was tight. He was over educated for most places he applied for, and the jobs that he could have used his education to get weren't there. He even thought about resorting to stealing, but it was a brief thought.

"There's no way I'm going to do what my father did!" he told himself.

'Maybe I'll do better in California, ' he thought. 'There certainly isn't anything holding me here!' and with that thought, Charlie began making his way west.

Charlie made money doing odd things here and there, and he worked at a few of those one day job agencies. They're the places where one gets a day's pay for a day's work. He used the money for food, and sometimes he had enough to buy a bus ticket to the next city. Mostly, though, he just used his thumb. He also did a lot of walking. Hitching a ride was a lot more difficult than it was back in the sixties and seventies.

He spent a lot of nights at the shelters along the way, too, and in this manner he slowly made his way across the country.

Eventually, he came to a little place called Elsinore by the Fishlake National Forest in Utah, just off from route 70. Charlie was tired when he got there. Actually, he was more than just tired. He was tired of traveling, tired of his life and generally just tired of living.

Elsinore was a tiny place where everyone knows everyone. In all, less than a thousand people lived there, but the climate at the time was warm, and the area was beautiful.

'A good place to face whatever comes my way, ' he thought.

Charlie was a bit of an enigma to the people of Elsinore, but they were extraordinarily friendly towards him. Charlie went by another name so no one would connect him with his father. Naturally, just about everyone asked him questions about who he was and where he was from, but he managed to avoid answering most of them. Eventually they got used to seeing him around, and left him alone.

Everyone knew he needed a job since he asked just about everywhere for work. He had pretty good luck finding temporary jobs in the various establishments and surrounding farms. His home was nothing but a tent up on a deserted hill across the highway. It was a little away from the town, but that certainly didn't bother him. It was actually in the National Forest, and he liked it there since no one ever ventured up the hill. He was alone, away from prying eyes and questions, and he preferred it that way.

That was until one evening, when he thought he saw someone moving about among the rocks and trees near his tent. It wasn't quite dark yet, and though he didn't actually hear anyone, he knew someone was there and called out.

At first, there was no answer, but after calling out again, a strikingly beautiful woman came into the open area near the front of the tent. She had a sad, but elegant face, long black hair and was wearing a light colored dress that fit her very well. Because of the fading light, he couldn't quite tell what color her dress was, but he could see how well it showed of her womanly curves.

"Hello, I haven't seen you around before."

Charlie thought it was funny that she should say that, since he was about to say the same thing to her.

"I'm not from around here."

She laughed a light, cheerful laugh that Charlie thought could cure a rainy day. "That's obvious." She said it as lightly as she'd laughed.

That was only the beginning. She came to visit him several times over the next week, and Charlie found her so comfortable to be with that he ended up telling her everything about him. She felt for him. He could clearly see it in her face, but she didn't pity him, and he could see that as well as hear it in her voice.

When he asked about her, all she would say was that she couldn't get out much and that she'd longed for someone to talk to. Charlie guessed that it was a family thing with her, and he felt sorry that someone as pretty and as intelligent as she was wasn't allowed to get out.

"Is it a religious thing?" He'd heard how strange some of the different sects of Mormons could be.

She laughed, and replied, "Something like that. My gosh, it feels good to be able to laugh like this again!"

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