Crazy Charlsie Part 18

Drowsing as Bessie fried chicken and caught Dr. Charles up on farm news, Charley was jarred from sleep as Freddy stumbled up the back steps with a heavily-laden cardboard box in bringing supplies. Though he danced nimbly trying to regain his balance, he lost control.   As it banged to the kitchen floor, the ominous sound of breaking glass competed with the clattering of the screen door.  Bessie jumped and dropped a piece of chicken into the sizzling skillet, the back-splash raising a blister on her arm.

“Lord have mercy, Boy!  Now, you done made me burn myself with this hot grease!  Lawdy! Lawdy!  Sometimes I b’lieve the Devil owed me a debt and paid me off in wild boys!”  She turned to Freddy furiously, holding a towel to her burned arm.  Ain’t I done told about banging that confounded door?”

“Aw, Mama!  I am so sorry!  You know I didn’t go to.  I just lost my step and was tryin’ to save your jars.  Lemme git you some butter for that burn and I’ll clean them jars up!”  He was stricken as only a boy who’s hurt his mother could be.  “You know I wouldn’a never done that a’purpose.”  He was near to wailing as he dug in the icebox for the butter.”

“Here, let me help.  Charley, can you watch the chicken while I take care of Bessie?  Freddy, can you see to the groceries?”  Freddy was long gone when he looked around.  “Sit down here at the table, Bessie, while I get some ice water.  You don’t want to use butter on that burn.  That holds in the heat and makes it burn worse.”  Charles immersed a clean dish towel in ice water and wrapped it loosely around the burned arm.  “Doesn’t that feel better?  Let’s cool it a little, then see how bad it is.”  He carefully unwrapped the arm, revealing a reddened area with a quarter-sized water-filled blister.  “Well, that’s going to hurt some, but it sure could have been worse.  Let’s just keep it clean and cool till you’re ready to go to bed.  We’ll wrap it up then and you can keep it up on a pillow.  I’ll give you something to help with the pain so you can sleep.”

“I sure dread for you to open that blister.  I know it’s gonna hurt.”  Bessie moaned.

“I’m not gonna open it.  That blister will keep infection out.”  The doctor explained.  By now, things had settled down enough for him to check on Charley and the frying chicken.  “Charley, go ahead and clean those groceries up.”  He was careful not to mention the missing Freddy as he turned the chicken and Charley swept up broken glass.

“It’s not so bad.”  Charley remarked.  “Only two jars broke.  At least nobody got cut.”

“That’s a blessing.”  Charles told them.  “One of the saddest things I ever saw was a little boy that fell running home from his grandma’s with a jar of honey.  The broken jar went straight in his heart and he was dead before I got there.  It just about killed his grandma.”

The sad story reminded Bessie of Freddy falling up her kitchen steps with her box of jars.  “Aw, Lawd have mercy!  Where’s Freddy?  He might’a run off all cut up and be a’layin’ somewhere a’bleedin’ right now.  Lawd have mercy!  Is my pore boy cut up an’ me just a’hollerin’ at him?”

“No, Bessie.  I didn’t see any blood.  He probably just ran off to get Robert.  You just sit here and let me and Charley finish cooking.  Robert and the boys will be here any minute.  Here’s you a glass of tea.  Now, don’t that feel fine, watching somebody else cook?”  Charles asked.

“It shore does, but I don’t reckon I better get used to it.  Nobody but me has cooked in this kitchen since Miss Geneva died.  Bless her heart.”

 

Southern Fried Chicken

Chicken pieces of your choice

1 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder(I use about 1 tsp on each)

oil (canola, corn, peanut vegetable)

Combine all dry ingredients in l gallon zip lock freezer bag.  Add washed and dried chicken and shake.  I usually shake about six or eight pieces at a time.  Drop in hot oil 350 degrees.  (if you have the nerve to try it, drop safety match in hot oil.  will ignite at exactly 350 degrees.  My husband always swears I’m going to burn the house down, but I never have, and he loves my fried chicken.) Fry  6 to 7 minutes on each side till golden brown.  Test with meat thermometer.  Internal temp should be 165-170 degrees.  Drain on rack.

 

Crazy Charlsie Part 16

Charles and Charley rode along in companionable silence till they were out of town.  Charley was obviously deep in thought but finally spoke.  “Dad, I need a new name.  How do I do that?”

“I’ve been thinking about that, already.  I talked to your Uncle Louis about it.  He thinks the easiest way would be to request a correction on your original birth certificate for your sex and name as though the original was wrong.  He is a well-known lawyer with friends in the courthouse and won’t be questioned like the average citizen when he files the request.  Think about what name you’d like and I’ll get back to Lou. We should be able to get this taken care of before you go off to college in the fall.”   Charles was glad Charley had brought this up, now.  It had been on his own mind for weeks.

”How about Charles Louis so I can go by Charley?”

”That ought to work.  I’ll let Louis know.”

Charley hummed distractedly as he often did when thinking.  “Son, what’s on your mind?”  Charley was a bit startled at being addressed as “Son” for the first time.  “I’ve been wondering what kind of life I’ll ever have.  I can’t be a normal man.  I never wanted to be a girl, but I’ll never be a real man.  I can’t get married or go in the military.  I probably can’t even get in college.  Everybody is going to know I am a freak.  What the point?  I can’t have any kind of normal life.”

“Charley, I don’t have any answers, but I believe you’ll make a place for yourself.  You’re not obligated to tell anyone your business.  Folks don’t generally go around asking personal questions.  I recommend you get familiar with the changes in yourself before worrying about getting too involved with the community.   There’s no reason they would connect you with the little girl who used to visit the farm, even if they remembered a couple of little girls used to spend time there with their grandma.  She and Cousin Frances both pretty much kept to themselves, never even going to church.  I truly believe one day you will find someone who will care you, just for yourself.  That’s soon enough to worry about explaining.   You aren’t the only person who’s had to deal with such a thing.  I have a patient in a similar situation.  You’d be shocked if I told you who it was.  She was married with children.  She moved here a few years after you were born.  I delivered her babies or I’d never have known.”

“I’ll bet it’s Jody Fischer, ain’t it?”  He mentioned a very masculine-looking woman who drove the school bus in from the country.  “She looks and acts just like a man.” he snorted.

“No, it’s not.  I don’t know anything about Jody.  I suspect she’s a homosexual, but that’s none of my business.”  Charles answered.

“You mean it’s not the same thing?”  Charley was surprised.

“Not at all.  A homosexual is interested in persons of the same sex.  A heterosexual is interested in persons of the opposite sex.  It’s as simple as that.”  Charles knew he was the only person Charley could ask, so he was anxious not to confuse him.  “You have mixed genitalia.  At birth,  you looked more like a girl.  As you grew up, you looked and acted more  like a boy the older you got.  You know as much of the story as I do from the time of your surgery.  I never expected that to happen.”

Charley pounded his breasts  “I hate these!  I wish I could just cut them off!  He wept with despair.

Charles tried to console him.  “I know it’s hard, but some things we can’t change.  You’re are already flatter since you got so thin while you were sick.  I’m hoping, you’ll develop more like your brothers since you don’t have female hormones anymore.  You’ll get more muscular working on the farm with Robert and the boys.  That ought to help.”

Charley didn’t speak for a while.  “Could you pull over?  I need practice driving.”  He composed himself before getting in the driver’s seat.

As he settled, Charles changed the subject to spare him.  “You’re not going to have anything that drives like car this on the farm.  Cousin Frances’s old Model A and the tractor are going to work you over.  I know Robert is going to be careful about trusting you with the farm truck till he knows what you can do.”

“No problem.  I like that old Model A.”

Charley’s mood brightened. “Hey, Dad!  Did you hear the one about the traveling salesman and the farmer’s daughter?”

“Okay, I’m glad you’re feeling better, but I’m not quite ready to swap Traveling Salesman and Farmer’s Daughter Jokes with you.  You got to give me a little time, too.”

“You big sissy!” Charley laughed.  “I’m not the only one with something to get used to!”

Charley’s Tale Part 2

 

Charles was waiting by the bedside when the baby squirmed and cried out to be nursed.  Ellen woke smiling as Cora helped them get settled down to business.  “Have you ever seen a sweeter little girl?” Ellen asked her husband as she stroked the infant’s cheek.  “She is all peaches and cream.  I know all baby’s eyes start out blue, but I believe this one’s eyes will be the color of mine, don’t you, Charles?  I had just about given up on a little girl.”  Cora busied herself spreading up and fluffing the cradle.

“She is a beauty.  Cora, can you leave us alone?  I need to talk to my wife,” Charles told Cora.

“Why shore, Dr. Charles.  I need to see to them boys, anyhow.  No tellin’ what them fellers is up to.  I’ll be downstairs when you needs me.”  Cora scurried out with a laundry basket, clearly happy to be dismissed.

“Ellen, now don’t get upset, but there was a little problem with the baby I had to take care of, but she will be fine.”  Charles tenderly took the baby from Ellen.  “She had a little growth on her privates, and I went ahead and snipped it off.  She’s still so little, she won’t ever have to know.” Charles reassured Ellen.

“Oh dear God!  What is wrong?  Will it ruin her?  Is she normal?  Let me see!”  Ellen was crying by now, frantic to see the problem.

“There’s really not much to see,” Charles told her as he unwrapped the baby and took her diaper off, revealing a tiny bit of bloodied tissue. “This little bit here was bigger than it usually is and I just snipped it off.  Except for this, she looks totally normal.  She will never even need to know.  We don’t want her to feel different. It’s important to keep this ointment on till she heals so infection doesn’t set up.  Babies heal so fast she’ll be fine in no time.  It could be we will need to let a specialist see her later, but we aren’t going to worry about that now.  It’s best if we don’t let word of this out.  Children don’t need to be whispered about.  This is just between you, me, and Cora, of course. Now, I need to get to work and you need to rest.  I’ll let Cora know to listen for the baby and what she needs to do.  The baby should sleep for a while.”  With that, he diapered and wrapped the baby, handing her back to Ellen.  Cora, listening outside the door, heard every word.

Ellen waited till she heard Charles leave, then hastily unwrapped the baby.  Like many girls raised in Victorian times, she’d never even examined her own privates in detail, and having only boys, had no great idea of what to expect.  On inspection, she did see a tiny vagina between the prominent labia, and the small, bloody incision.  She allowed herself to be satisfied with this cursory inspection, though still very troubled.  She called out for Cora to change the baby.  Cora, an experienced mother and care-giver of many children, immediately noted the unexpected in her new charge, though of course said nothing of her observation to Miss Ellen, her employer.

Though Cora was discreet in her inspection, Ellen knew she took longer than expected to diaper the infant.  Ellen pretended sleep so she could avoid Cora’s eyes.  As soon as she heard Cora’s steps on the stairs, Ellen collapsed weeping.  With the little he’d said, and the volumes he hadn’t, Ellen knew something was terribly wrong with the perfect little girl.