When It All Started
It’s hard to say when it all started. Anyone could easily argue that my story starts when I was shot, the bouquet delivery, the start of the war, Mom and Laz’s wedding, or even as late as my move to space. But one could also argue that it all started the moment I was conceived.
So I guess I better start at the beginning.
My name is Charlly Grace King and I was born on September 17th in Denver, Colorado. My parents are Lou King and Jenny Gray. Lou comes from a well off family, but if there was anything he taught me in the pre-jail days was that all the money in the world can’t make you happy. My mom came from a middle class home, but after just one taste of party life with Lou, my mom distanced herself from her family until they became estranged.
Then I was born. My parents were barely adults when I was born and they had no interest in raising a child. Lou and Mom loved me even back then, but they sure didn’t care too much. Lou was drunk half the time and Mom was too busy with her life and fit me in when it was convenient for her. Since I had little to none paternal supervision, I got into all sorts of trouble. Thankfully, the worst kind of trouble a four year old can get into is eating as much candy she can stuff down her pants and underwear.
Then everything changed. Mom found out that she was pregnant with my little sister Becca and Lou was arrested for drunk driving.
It was an interesting time in my life. Lou wasn’t a great father in his pre-jail days, but he was always there for me even when he was drunk. He was the kind of you hated but also couldn’t dislike. Lou MADE you like him. I don’t know how he did it, but nobody who has ever met him–even the officer that arrested him and the judge that put him in jail–liked him.
Mom had Becca just days after Lou started to fulfill his year and a half jail sentence. Mom wasn’t really in her right mind after she had Becca because she packed everything we owned into a car and drove away from Denver like a mad woman.
We lived in San Jose, California for three months. Mom got a job as a bartender and started dating a regular customer. I don’t remember his name. I saw him like three times. I do know that I didn’t have a good feeling about him. I tried to tell my mom my feelings about this guy, but I was seven years old at the time. Mom didn’t even take my words with a grain of salt. But after he was arrested for attempted assault, Mom believed every word I said.
Mom thought that his arrest was grounds for moving again so we moved again. This time to Las Vegas, Nevada. We stayed there for almost nine months. Mom dated a heavy smoker, drinker, and gambler. He reminded me of Lou in a way so I kept my mouth shut about my feelings about him. When he finally won something at the casino, he broke up with Mom and started dating a supermodel.
That was basically the story of our life for the next few years. We would move, Mom would start dating a loser, the loser would either break up with her or Mom would brake up with him when she realized he was a loser, or the loser would go to jail. It didn’t matter how the break-up occurred. If Mom got her heart broken, we moved. No questions asked.
Then we moved to Chicago. I was ten. Becca was three. Mom was wiser. She saw what all the moving around was doing to us. She saw what it was doing to her. We were dirt poor. My mom got tired of all that paperwork she had to fill out when she enrolled me in school, so she started homeschooling. Bad. Idea. Mom’s idea of teaching was visiting historical sites and counting cars. My math was horrendous, my spelling was just horrible, and if you asked me what the heart does I would have said “it makes blood”.
My mom assures me she tried her best NOT to find a boyfriend. She turned down several dates. She was determined on staying in Chicago so Becca and I could have the stable life every child deserves.
But then she met Lou’s twin.
Jason Lindsey has no biological connection to Lou, but he’s a Lou clone if I’ve ever seen one. He had the same amber eyes and brown hair and the ability to make you like him even if you didn’t want to. He came from a wealthy family. He was even born in the month of February! He was also a drinker.
Mom fell into his arms quicker than he could finish a drink. Mom actually thought she could have a future with Jason. I think she even kept a stash of wedding magazines just in case Jason popped the question. I knew from the start that that was never going to happen. He was Lou’s twin, but they differed in one way. Lou tried to commit, which is hard to do when you’re not in your right mind half the time. Jason didn’t even try to commit himself to my mother.
Then on the night of June 27th, Jason surprised everybody.
First he asked my mom to marry him. He was drunk of course, but my mom didn’t care. She was already calling his mother to tell her the ‘good’ news. I knew that if I didn’t say something now, our lives would be forever ruined.
I took the wrong approach though. I talked to Jason about it. I told him he was making a mistake and that he was wrong.
There is one thing you never say to Lou or his twin. And that is that he is wrong.
Jason went berserk. He took the gun he kept in his dresser and aimed at it at me. I ran for my life. Jason took one shot and got be right at lumbar T12. I fell down instantly. From that moment on, I was a complete paraplegic.
My accident was all over the news. I received a bouquet of flowers from a church who heard about my story. The card simply said “Praying for you”. My mom clung to that card with all she had, and I have to admit that that card gave me great hope.
Jason was arrested and was put in jail for twenty years for attempted murder. Funny, I never really thought of it as an attempt on my life until the judge read, “We the jury find the defendant guilty of attempted murder.”
I was in rehab for six long months. Who knew learning how to do stuff you’ve known how to do your entire life could take so long?
On my release date, it was raining cats and dogs, but my mother was determined to go to the church and thank the people for the deed that felt like it had been done over a thousand years ago. My mother forced Bec and I to get out into the rain. She carried me, wheelchair and all, up the steps of the church and walked in without knocking or asking God for permission or whatever you’re supposed to do before you enter a church.
The church was small, a little bit more like a chapel. There was a bunch of old people and some little kids were sitting on the floor watching the choir sing with intense attention.
The song they were singing freaked me out a little. I heard the worlds “feeling pretty blue”, “I’d be mopping too if I was going to be digested’. They lost me at the last part. Digested? Did God digest the bad, undeserving people of the world? If He did I was about to become his dinner.
The song went on to say, “You ran from God this morning and you’re whale chow tonight!” That was the last straw. Whale chow? Did these people worship and trust their lives to a whale?! Everyone always said that Christians were weird, but I didn’t know they thought a whale created them and ran the universe.
Mom was pretty freaked out by the song. She turned to leave, but just as we turned our back the choir sang, “But! Hold on! Hang on! Not so fast you’re life ain’t over yet. See we’re hear to tell you all about a forgiveness that, You. Can. Get.”
“See God’s a God of mercy. God’s a God of love Right now He’s gonna lend a helping hand from up above!” was the next line.
All of a sudden the little kids started to dance like crazy as they sang the chorus. “Praise the Lord! He’s the God of second chances!”
What happened next happened all too fast.
A man ran into the church. He was wearing camouflage and was dripping wet. A young looking man was standing next to him. My mom and his eye’s met and soon the both of them were dancing with the little children.
The boy looked at the guy with confusion. I have to say that I was just as confused at this whole thing too. Second Chances? It was nice that God gave people second chances, but I was pretty sure I was on like my tenth chance or something.
When the song was finished, the pastor explained how this song was from a movie about talking veggies and how to movie was based on the prophet Jonah. Jonah didn’t want to go to the city of Nineveh because it was so wicked. Even though he was a prophet and should have known better, he ran away from God. Long story short, he was thrown into the ocean, swallowed by a whale who was NOT God, was in there for three days praying and preventing, after three days he was vomited up by the whale, then he did as he was told and saved a bunch of people’s lives. Now one would think that Jonah would be happy that thousands of lives were saved, but no. He didn’t even believe that the people had really repented and went to see what would happen to the city. God gave him a plant even though Jonah had basically just willfully and happily bought a ticket to see murder by plopping his bottom down under the shade. But in the morning, God had a worm ate the plant and had the sun scorch Jonah to faintness. Then Jonah asked God to take his life, and God gave him the best scolding ever.
“Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” God asked.
“Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die,” Jonah said.
”You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” God asked.
That verse really hit me. God cared about the people of Nineveh! God even cared about the cattle! Surely, the people of Nineveh had to have been on their millionth chance for Jonah to want to run away from his God given duty. If God pitied Nineveh surely he pitted me.
The pastor then went into another story about how God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to die for US! And all I had to do was believe and trust in Him. I didn’t have to do a bunch of stuff before He decided to love me. He knew before I was even born. He loves me the way I am, zits and all. On that very spot, I asked Jesus to come into my heart. My mother broke down weeping and accepted Christ. Bec not wanting to be left behind screamed that she believed everything the preacher man had said and wanted Christ. And then the strange man also accepted Christ. The boy with him just stood by the door waiting to leave.
We all pilled out of the church at the same time. The man walked us to our chair and just before taking off Mom asked the man a question.
“Do you really believe in second chances?” Mom asked.
“All I know is that I’ve gotten more second chances than a man deserves,” The man said in with a thick drawl, “and I just received another one in that church.”
The man turned to go but he stopped halfway through and turned back around.
“By the way my name is Larry Stewart, but everyone calls me Laz,” The man said. “And this young man is my son, Matt.”
“I’m Jennifer,” Mom said holding her hand out. “And the two girls are my daughters, Charlly and Becca.”
“I hope to see you again,” Laz said as he got into the truck.
They saw each other again on Sunday and Laz asked my mom out a week later.
I could tell that Laz was different than any of the other men my mom had ever dated. Laz didn’t leave a really bad taste in my mouth. He was honest, kind, and didn’t drink. He wasn’t a criminal waiting to be arrested. He is a man that loves God and loves my mother…and Becca…and me.
Two years after Mom and Laz’s meeting, they decided to get married. I admit. I wasn’t happy about the idea. I still was a little wary of Laz. What if he turned out to be like all the other men in my mother’s past? I knew in my heart that it wasn’t going to happen, but try telling that to my memories.
Mom and Laz got married in that chapel that changed the courses of our lives. Mom and Laz wanted Matt, Becca, and I to be incorporated in their wedding vows. We promised to be a family on that. We promised before God and men to be a family through the good times and the bad. I knew from the second those words left my mouth that being a family was NOT going to be an easy task.
First off there was a WAR going on! Second Laz was from space which was why NOBODY from his family came to the wedding. Laz promised to bring his new family up there when summer came along, but little did we know that we would do a whole lot more than just ‘visit’.
Laz got a call from his Aunt Lori. Mrs. Stewart demanded that her nephew come back home and was even giving him her old house. Mom and Laz decided that moving would be best for our family. Funny, they never actually asked the kids what they thought of this crazy idea.
We moved to space. Things started off pretty bad. We almost flew into another space shuttle, the house turned out to NOT be wheelchair assessable, and I had to move in with some people I didn’t even KNOW! Then I met Leo.
Leopold Logan the Second. Its still too early to decide if he’s good for me or if he’s a ‘keeper’, but so far he’s in the negative.
Why is Leo in the negative? Maybe because he started liking me while he was still DATING somebody!
So, they weren’t ‘official’, but Carolina, the girl he was dating, hates me now. She won’t even talk to me! If there was ever an ‘oh snap!’ moment in my life it was when she said she’d never speak to me. Too bad. Carolina seems like a nice girl if you minus the fact she’s a grudger holder to the end!
Oh and did I mention….LOU CAME BACK INTO MY LIFE! He just flew up one day and placed himself in my life. It turns out Mom and Laz have been helping Lou get his life back together. Oh and he brought a little brother with him.
Boy, am I glad Becca is a girl because if I had to live all those years in a cramped car with a baby brother. Ugh, I don’t think I would have survived!
And then my life got worse–and better! I was enrolled into public school!
“Hurry up, Charlly!”