You could not escape. Being snared in the men’s room while doing your business made it impossible to run without embarrassing consequences to one’s trousers. He always trapped you when you were most vulnerable – while you were eating, standing in a cafeteria line, trying to work, it didn’t matter. Charlie was right there spinning unbelievable tales. There was no getaway. No escape. He would latch onto an unsuspecting victim and begin an outlandish tale of inventions which Edison would envy. I wish he had not been such a simple minded but nice person. Shooing him away would have been easier.
“You know I’ve invented a way to have free electricity for your house?”
“No, Charlie, haven’t heard that one.”
“Yep. Well, see you collect all the tin cans you can get your hands on. Get ‘em from your neighbors or the dump. Wherever. Then you hammer them flat. Flat as you can get. Next, nail them on top of your roof With the shiny side up. Then you connect them all with wires. All you have to do then is run a wire to a battery and the current will flow. The sun’ll heat ‘em up and all the energy will flow to the batteries. Instant free electric. You’ll save a fortune.”
“Charlie, that won’t work.”
“Will to. I already rigged it up to my house and we ain’t paid a electric bill in years.” Then he walked off.
I was going to ask how the current magically flowed from the tin cans into the batteries. I was going to ask if he had a patent. I was going to ask if he sold any units. But, he walked off. This invention shall therefore remain a deep mystery.
I have not made up Charlie. He was real flesh and constantly irritating blood. I have to admit I kinda liked him with all his spellbinding insanity and lies. New and unsuspecting people were particularly vulnerable prey because Charlie actually sounded like he knew what he was talking about. Much like certain politicians. Often, as he spewed out nonsense you would be taken in and somewhere deep down a small part of you wanted to believe him. Then suddenly your brain shuttered and you would be transported back to reality. There is no doubt at all he believed every word he said. Or seemed to.
My next encounter with Charlie was when he claimed to have developed a perpetual motion machine. It involved massive steel beams pivoting on an axis. They were weighted on both ends with old rusty Ford truck engines. He swore the Fords were the best. Once started the slender girders swayed back and forth and back and forth forever. Batteries collected the amassed charges. Never mind fierce winds, friction at the intersection Of the beams or slowing down due to gravity. Charlie swore it worked. And he had one on his farm.
There is a large national trucking company called Schneider Trucking. Charlie claimed to own it. One day I asked him how come his name was Charlie “Snyder” and the truck line was spelled ”Schneider” Trucking.
“That’s simple”, he offered. “They misspelled my name wrong on all the trucks and it would cost too much to fix it. So we just left it that way.” Dang it. I thought I had caught him.
One day while a group of us were sitting in the break room drinking coffee Charlie bounded in and suddenly told us he flew a helicopter in Vietnam and worked for the CIA.
“Charlie,” we said. “you didn’t work for the CIA.”
“Did too.” He didn’t miss a beat. “We flew drugs out of Laos and gave the warlord money. One day we dropped off a whole bunch of money to him. Must of been 10, 20 big old crates of $100 bills. But there wasn’t any drugs. He was going to cheat us.”
Humoring him, “ Well, Charlie, what’d y’all do with the money?”
“Couldn’t take it back, you know. So we blowed it up!”
“You blowed up millions of dollars, Charlie?”
“Yep. Blowed it up.” We fell out laughing.
Charlie was an entrepreneur. Somehow he managed to steal a truckload of appliances. He dug an enormous hole in his backyard and secretly hid the entire rig underground. For months he sold discount stoves and refrigerators, TVs, and the odd microwave from under the kids’ swing set. There was an entrance way through the outhouse. Unfortunately, his daughter accidentally ratted him out to her class at third grade “show and tell” and the teacher happened to be married to a cop. Poor Charlie. The judge did not buy his explanation about not knowing how the tractor trailer got there. One lie too many.
He should have gone into politics where the bigger the lie the better. Clearly, his talents were wasted. I read his obituary recently and looks like he is dead. Unless, of course, that’s a lie.