“Chuck”

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His name wasn’t “Chuck”. It wasn’t even his nickname, truth be told, but rather a disparaging sobriquet we’d hurl at him whenever he uncorked an errant throw. By Junior High School age he was a fairly good athlete, which made it all the more inexplicable when a toss made during a simple game of catch in the street somehow found its way through our dining room window. “Way to go, Chuck!”

There were quite a few of those instances where it didn’t look like he was paying any attention to where the ball might land. The rest of the time, however, he’d make a spectacular catch, followed by a pinpoint accurate throw. He’d be the star of the game, and everyone wanted him on their team.

When I was a sophomore in college, he and two high school friends crossed a busy highway not too far from our house to get to a 7-Eleven store. A car sped past, and the two friends quickly stepped back. Not Chuck. He was hit at full speed and dragged beneath the car for some distance until it stopped. He was killed instantly.

Hours later, his body was still in the road, cordoned off by police. His mother was brought to the scene to identify the body, but became hysterical as she got close and had to be taken away, shouting “Not possible! Not possible!”

The funeral was a somber affair, sparsely attended by neighbors who didn’t know what to say. The family moved away not too long after that. No one stayed in touch.

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