Crazy Charlsie Part 12

Geneva was tearful as she bade goodbye to Birdie.  Birdie had been with her forty years, since the day her own mother, Ella, had brought her to work with her at Geneva’s house.  Ella’s healthwas failing and she had wanted to see Birdie settled before she died.  Birdie cooked, cleaned, and helped Miss Geneva raise children, living in till she married and started her own family.  In turn, she’d brought her own daughter to help Geneva out with the girls during their mother’s illness.  Her Josie had married Bobby, one of Geneva’s farm workers and was raising her family on Genva’s farm, so he families were deeply interconnected.  Birdie grieved, knowing the life they shared was ending, even though she’d see Geneva had on visits to her daughter and grandchildren at the farm.  Birdie had three children and a husband at his me, so she was staying on to take care of whomever Charles found to lease Geneva’s house, though Geneva gave her a handsome check and references should she decide to move on.  The women had spent more time and shared more of life than most people ever do.  Birdie held her tears till Charles’s car drove out of sight, then wept her loss.

Geneva took her last look at her home and the town she’d known so long, and felt  a brief, but possibly the most important part of her life was starting.  She prayed God would give her the time and wisdom to guide Charley into his new life.   Ginny was one of life’s fortunate s who saw joy in every day.  Charles’s black Lincoln was piled high with the family’s belongings.  Robert and Bessie met them at the car to welcome them home.  Their grandchildren ran to get hugs and peppermints from Geneva.  While the men carried bags in, Bessie put fresh coffee and tea cakes out on the bright oil-cloth covered kitchen table.  “Miss Geneva, I got you a pitcher of hot water and some fresh towels in your room.  I aired all your house dresses if you want to slip one on, ” Bessie said.  “I got lemonade here for you young’uns.”

“Thank you, Bessie.  I believe I will freshen up.  Ginny, can you come brush my hair and powder my back?” Geneva asked.

In about ten minutes, the two were back. Geneva smelling of Cashmere Bouquet Talc.  “It’s so good to be back home.  Makes me wonder how I could ever stay away.”

“It’s so good to have you back, and me and Bessie are sure proud to be stay in’ in the house with you.  Them wild chillun’ was ’bout to wear us out.  That little ol’ house was Justin’ tighter and tighter.”  Robert said.  ” I love ’em, but they sho wears me out.”

“You ain’t gone off far enough to do no good.  You know they gonna follow you right over here, don’t you?” Bessie reminded him.

“It’s  good to be home.” Geneva said.



Crazy Charlsie Part 11

Grandmother Geneva’s heart was failing.  “How much longer do I have, Charles?  I’d like to go back to Cousin Jean’s farm to spend what time I have left.”

Charles’s heart was breaking dreading Geneva’s loss, but he didn’t insult her by covering the truth.  “Maybe three months to a year, but you’ll need someone with you.  You don’t need to be alone.”

“I’ve already talked to Robert and Bessie.  They’ve agreed to move in with me.  Their youngest  son and his wife and three babies live in the house with them and it’s bursting at the seams.  Robert and Bessie would like to turn the farm over to them and take it a little easier.   They’d love to stay on after I’m gone and keep the place up for Charley.  Of course, hat’s Charley’s decision.”  She still had a hard time saying him when referring to Charley.

“We’d  all miss you, but I know you love that place.  Robert and Bessie will take good care of you.  We’ll be out to see about you every few days.” Charles told her.  “They can do anything I’d do.”

“Then it’s settled.  I’d like to go out as soon as you can take me.  I’ll call Robert and Bessie to get ready,” she said.  “and Charles, I’d like Charley and Ginny to spend as much time as possible with me.  School let out yesterday.”

“I thought you might want that.  I’ll let Cora know the plan.  Would you like to go tomorrow?  I’ll get all your medications  refilled and instructions for Bessie,” said Charles.

“Another thing, Charles.  You’ve grieved long enough for Ellen.  You might think about marrying your lady friend.  You’ve been seeing her long enough.” Geneva smiled at him m.

“Miss Geneva, we are fine the way we are.  She doesn’t want to complicate her life any more than  I want to complicate mine, but I appreciate your blessing.  Ellen was all the wife I’ll ever need.  You and Cora have picked up and helped my family so much.  You’ll never know how much that means.”  Tears came to his eyes.

“Charles, you are the best son a mother could want, even though Ellen picked you for me.”

“You couldn’t have been better to me if you’d carried me,” answered Charles.  “We are fortunate to be family.”


Crazy Charlsie Part 10

It was  impossible  to stem the gossip that flew after Charley’s surgery.  The tittillating story excited the town’s small minds.  Charles’s prominent position in the community only made it more fascinating……….this misfortune on top of a crazy wife?  “Maybe that was what drove her crazy.” “Weird stuff like that runs in families.  “Dr. Evans acted interested in me for a while after his wife died.  I am so glad now I didn’t get involved with him.”  “My daughter always said Charley didn’t look at her right!”

A few good friends reached out to Charles.  Their sympathy was almost worse.  No friends came to see Charley.  Charles was glad Charley had requested no company, so Charley didn’t know no one called or asked to visit.  Geneva, Cora, and Charles took turns staying with till Charley went home from the hospital and worked hard to start thinking and referring to Charley as a boy, a difficult change to make.

Charley was thoughtful, but denied depression.  He lounged around with in Charles’s baggy pajamas for a week or so before approaching Charles.  “Dad, I need new clothes.  I’ll never wear my old stuff again.  Can we go to Dallas and get me some things? I don’t want to be stared at here at in a men’s store here in town.”

“We can go Wednesday afternoon if I can get someone to cover my hospital load.  I’ll get the office nurse to cancel my patients Thursday so we can stay overnight..  You can help yourself to the things your brothers left here in the meantime.  I could use a few things, too.  It should be fun shopping together.” Charles actually looked forward to the trip with the new Charley.

Marzell dropped by after school, bringing Charley’s books and assignments.  Cora was so glad to see her.  She showed her in without asking Charley.  “I didn’t want to see anybody.  I’m not the person you thought I was.  Didn’t you hear about me?”

“I heard. That’s why I came to see you.  I didn’t call because I didn’t want to give you the chance to say no.  You are still my friend.  Nothing changes that.  Your were the first person who was nice when I moved here.  I loved you like a sister then.  Nothing has changed for me.” Marzell said.

“Everything has changed,” Charley said. “I am a boy now.  I always thought I was but now I know it’s true.  Boys and girls can’t be best friends.  You can’t spend the night anymore. I always wanted to touch you in the wrong way.  Now, I know why.  I have a man’s feelings.  You need to leave me alone.  I am a mess!  I don’t know what’s going to happen to me.”

“I don’t know what’s good no to happen to you either, but I will still be your friend.  You are the aren’t the only person who has a hard time.  If I couldn’t come over here, I’d have to put up with Old Melvin learing at me twenty-four hours a day.  I’ll be by tomorrow to pick up your work and bring assignments.”  She left without saying goodbye.

“You don’t need to bring my assignments.  I am not going back to school . Everybody at school knows I am a freak.”” Charley said.

“They already thought that.  Big deal!  You only have two more weeks of eleventh grade.  I’ll take your work in.  You can worry about going back next fall.  See you tomorrow.”




Crazy Charlsie Part 9

“I knew it!  I knew it!  I always knew I wasn’t a girl!”  Charley felt like a prisoner freed from jail. Now at least I don’t have to pretend. Can you fix me?”

” We have to go in and explore your belly to free up that testicle and check the other side, but can’t change what’s on the the outside.”  Just want to make sure you understand before surgery.  If the testicle is healthy, do you want to save it?  The hormones are beneficial to men, and you’ll need it if you want to father a child.  Who knows what’s down the road for you.”  Dr. Farmer asked.

“Yes, I need it.  I want to be a man.”

“Do you need a little time to think about this?” asked Charles.  “It’s a big decision.”

“Dad, it’s not a decision.  I’ve had sixteen years to live with this. I have always known I’m a boy in a girl’s body.   Think of how had it would be for you to have to be a woman.   Now I don’t have to pretend.  It’s over.”  Charley looked relieved.

Charles felt awful for his part in Charley’s troubles, knowing his decision had and would cntinue to effect his child forever.  “Well Dr. Farmer, I guess Charley is ready to go to surgery.  I’ll be here when you get back, Charley.”

“Dad, you’ve always been here for me.”

“Okay, Charley, while I am in there, I’ll look for the other testicle.  We don’t want to have to put you to go through this again,”  Dr. Farmer’s positive attitude encouraged them both.

The two hours of Charley’s surgery were the longest of Charles’s life as he mourned the troubles he and nature were putting Charley through.  He prayed for guidance to be able to support Charley down this difficult road.  He’d never known anyone who went from female to male and knew it would be rough.

Charley was back in two hours, groggy but fine.  Dr. Farmer gave her a few minutes to rouse before visiting.  “Good news, folks.  Charley has two healthy testicles.  There’s also an undersized uterus, which I didn’t disturb.  I wasn’t able to examine the ovaries without making a much larger incision, so I left that alone.  If you ever have gynecological issues, we can take care of those as the need arises.

“So I can expect to become more male?” Charley asked.

“I’d expect so.  You already have a lean, muscular body type, much like your father.  I do see signs of a sparse beard sprouting.  The testicles are now resting in what was your labia.  Your vagina appears normal.  Your urinary tract in normal position for a female, so that here’s no change there.  Intervention would be a painful and the outcome uncertain, and I don’t have the expertise to do that.  I recommend you continue as you are.  To sum it up, you are a healthy male with a few female parts thrown into in.  It is possible you could father children, given what I see.”  This is a lot to think about, so feel free to ask questions as you think  of them. ”  Dr. Farmer shook hands with them both before leaving.

Charles turned to Charley, “That was a good feeling,” Charley mused.  “MY first time to shake hands, man to man.”









Crazy Charlsie Part 8

Charley had complained of vague abdominal pain for about three days before she awoke to excruciating right-sided belly  pain on her sixteenth birthday.  She refused to allow Charles examine her, so he asked a surgical colleague to see her.  Dr. Farmer did a quick exam of her belly and felt Charles’s diagnosis was spot on.  Charley was scheduled  for immediate surgery.  Charles was concerned, but not unduly alarmed as he waited..  Charles expected to see her back in recovery in about an hour.  The surgeon looked grave when he sought Charles right after takng her into surgery.

“Is she okay?  Had the appendix ruptured?”  he asked.

“She’s fine but it’s not her appendix.   I haven’t started surgery yet,  but there’s something we need to talk about.  Let’s go to a private area.”  They moved into Charley’s assigned room.  Sit down, Charles.  It wasn’t appendicitis.    I saw  no reason to do a pelvic exam prior to surgery, but when Charley was moved to the table, some  abnormalities were noted.    Charley has ambiguous genitalia, some male, some female.  She has a fully developed vagina with a very large clitoris or a small penis.  When erect, it might be three and a half inches. Her right labia has a partially descended testicle which is likely incarcerated. I have manually rotated it and returned the blood flow for the present, but it is likely the cords will twist again.  That is the cause of her pain and must be explored.  There is no obvious testicle on the left, but there could be one that hasn’t descended.  We need to let her wake up and  inform her before going ahead with surgery in this life-altering situation.”

“Dear God, that’s why she was so secretive.  She doesn’t know, but at birth, she had what I thought was an abnormally large clitoris and I removed it, thinking that would take care of the problem.  She looked like a perfect female in every other way.  What have I done to my child?”  Charles cried out his grief.

Dr. Farmer tried to comfort him.  “I might have done the same thing.  How could you know it would turn out this way?  That fact is, Charley needs to know the situation.  The penile tissue that’s left is healthy, just shorter.  She may choose to live as a man.  She should be awake in a few minutes  and we can talk to her.”

“Oh my God.  This willl be the hardest talk I’ve ever had.”


Crazy Charlsie Part 7

Charles was worried about Charley.  Her fifteenth summer, she topped six feet.  Though,  muscular, just like him and his sons, she was full-busted like her mother.  As he sat across her from dinner one evening, he noticed a fine blonde mushtache beginning to show.  Her voice was also deepening to tenor.  Not the only one to notice, the kids at school had started calling her girly-man.

Of course Charley was confused, having no frame of reference for the changes.  Fortunately, she enjoyed a warm friendship with Marzell who often stayed over at the Evan’s house, though she never invited Charley to visit her home.  Marzell clearly enjoyed time with the whole family.  “I can’t stand my stepfather. He just looks at me weird.  Mama married hm six months after Daddy died.  He gives me the creeps.  I try to leave Mama alone with her new family as much as I can.  II hang around, I have to help with Little Melvin, anyway.  Isn’t that a stupid name?  Melvin doesn’t fit a baby, does it?  I can’t wait till I graduate so I can move back to Dallas with Grandma where all my friends and cousins are.  I don’ know why Mama had to marry Old Melvin.  We were doing fine at Grandma’s.”

Marzell was a petite, very feminine girl, a marked contrast to Charley.  She was pursued by Roger, a grease monkey who worked at her stepfather’s filling station.  Though she flirted with him a bit, she refused to go out with him.  His sullen eyes followed her around whenever she had to go to the station.  Very fried chicken that Sunday,  Charley teased her about her sweetheart.  “You ought to marry Roger.  Y’all could raise a tree full of little grease monkeys.”

“I wouldn’t have him on a birthday cake!  You take him, ”  she snapped back.  “I ain’t ever gonna marry!”

“Ha!  You say that now!”  Charley laughed.

“I mean it!  I ain’t ever gonna marry.”

Hearing this exchange over dinner that day, Charles felt a little more  unsettled and hoped it was no more than teasing.


Crazy Charlsie Part 6

Marzell was back in ten minutes.  “I don’t guess I can go.  Mom said we didn’t move the fishing poles and tackle box.

“That’s okay,” Charley reassured her.  “We’ve got plenty.  Sometimes we all go.  If Ginny catches us, she’ll have to tag along, so we’ll take an extra for her.  You can dig a few worms while I fetch the gear.  Don’t run off squealing.”

“I’ll be fine.  I eat worms for breakfast!”  Marzell quipped.

Charley ran in just long enough to get some pants on  and yell to Cora.  “Cora,  I’m going fishing.  Tell Ginny to come on down if she wants to.”

“Okay, but don’t be late for supper.  Here’s a couple of apples to hold you over.”

“Better make it three, Cora.  A friend is with me.” Charley told her.  Cora smiled to herself, glad to know Charley had a companion.  It had been a long time.  Ginny burst in the back door, banging her books on the kitchen table.  “Ginny, I ‘m going fishing.  Come on down to the creek if you want to.”

“Okay!” Ginny answered as she grabbed a couple of cookies.

The girls dropped their lines off a five foot embankment into to sandy-bottomed creek.  Small sunfish were tempted by the worms dangling before them, but were too small to get the bait n their mouths.  Occasionally, a nice white perch took interest and was added to the stringer.  Eventually, seven white perch and a catfish hung in the cool water.  “I’d better get home for supper,” Marzell announced, starting to get things together.

“Can you stay for supper?” Charley asked.  “Cora always cooks my fish for me.”

“I’ll have to ask Mother.” Marzell replied.

As soon as they got back to Charley’s, Charley told Cora they had fish to cook.  “I thought you might.” Cora laughed.  I’m just about to put some chicken on to fry.  Bring me them  fish as soon as they cleaned and I’ll fry them up for you.  Marzell, call your mama and ask if it’s okay for you to stay to supper.”

Cora set an extra place for Marzell and set a sizzling platter of fried chicken and fish In front of Charles and the girls.  “Dr. Charles, you can thank the girls for this nice mess of fish.  Charley, you know catfish is my favorite, so I am taking that one home for my supper.  Next time, you’d better catch two if you want one.  You girls don’t forget to clear away and I’ll do the dishes in the morning.”

Charles was delighted Charley had a guest, but was careful not to make much of it.  “I thank you girls for the fish.  I could each fish every night.  Maybe you’d better go every day.”

“I’d a heap rather fish very day than go to school,” Charley answered.

“Me, too!” said Marzell.  “School can be a pain.”



Crazy Charlsie Part 5

Things eased up a bit for Charley over the next couple of years, once she looked around and noticed she wasn’t the only kid excluded from the popular group.  After math one day, she saw Marzell Anderson  hurry out of class just ahead of her.  The poor girl was unaware the back of her skirt was blood-spotted, a nightmare Charley had always dreaded.  Charley closed the gap between them, and whispered as she  tapped her shoulder.  “Stay in front of me and go to the gym dressing room..  Your skirt is spotted.”  Marzell got a pad from the gym teacher who checked her out, changed into her gym clothes, and went home, her dignity intact

Charley dreaded lunch.  She always avoided the line making, her way to a table far from the giggling groups of cute girls and athletes with the lunch Cora made her.  Her nose was buried in a book, when she was surprised to hear Marzell’s low voice.  “I brought you something.  You saved my life yesterday.”  Marzell sat, opened her lunch bag, and pushed a waxed paper wrapped fried pie across to Charley.  “I never have anybody to sit with.  Is it okay if I sit with you?”

“Sure,” Charley answered, looking at the lunch Marzell pulled from her bag.  “I’ll take half the pie.  You eat the rest.”  With that, she pulled her Swiss Army knife from her skirt pocket and sliced it.

“Wow!  You carry a pocket knife.  I never saw a girl carry a pocket knife.  That’s a pretty good idea.  I might try it.”  Marzell was obviously impressed.  “I’ve never seen a knife like that.  Can I see it?”  She examined every feature as Charley explained their function.

“My dad gave it me last Christmas.  I use it all the time, fixing my bike, cutting fishing line, stuff like that.  I don’t know how I got by without it.  Best present I ever got, except for my bike, of course.” Charley was surprised to have anyone interested in what she had to say.

“You fish?  Where?  I used to fish all the time before We moved, but haven’t found a place  here.  Can I go with you sometime?”   Charley had never met another girl who fished.

“I’m going after school today.  You can tag along if you want, but I’m not baiting your hook or taking your fish off for you.”  Charley replied, expecting the girl to lose interest.

“And I’m not doing  yours, either.  I told you I used to fish all the time.”  They both got a chuckle out of that.

“I have to run home and let Mama know I’m going.” Marzell told her.  ” I only live a block away.  Do you want to walk with me?”

Charley hadn’t expected this.  “Sure, it’s on my way.  Meet you out front after school.”

“We have last class together.  I’ll just scratch up with you there.  Don’t you ever look up?” Marzell asked.

“Not really,” answered Charley.  ” I like to keep to myself.”






Crazy Charlsie, Part 4

That day was misery for Charley, sure everyone knew her humiliating secret. Not for the first time, she wished she had a close friend to talk to, but had learned to guard herself carefully to avoid giving ammunition to treacherous classmates.  Now that she had reason to be interested, she realized she’d heard girls giggling about “that time” and asking friends to “”check the back of my skirt.”  She saw Margie Smith slip quickly  into to gym teacher’s office and hurry to the bathroom and realized the reason.  She slogged miserably through the next couple of days, terrified she’d give her secret away.

During study hall that day, she projected how many days would be ruined before she was forty and decided she just wouldn’t tolerate the indignity.  She waited to Cora went home for the evening, emptied all the ice trays in the bathtub and lay in the tub as long as she could bear it.  before washing her hair in the frosty water.  Hard cramps and a splitting headache rewarded her efforts.  She asked her father for some aspirin for the headache, avoiding mention of the cramps.  Cora had apprised him of her situation, so he was prepared.

“Sure, Charley.  Can I get you a hot water bottle.? If you having cramps, that might help.  I only wish your mother could be here for you, now,” he told her.  It was so hard raising girls without a mother.  At least Cora was there for them.

Charley whirled and went to her room, mortified her father knew her humiliating secret.  “‘I don’t need a hot water bottle!”  Wild horses wouldn’t have dragged an admission of cramps out of her.  She whirled and left the room in a huff.  She pulled on her warmest flannel pajamas and went straight to bed with no sanitary pad, assuming she’d put a stop to her menstrual flow, thanks to Cora’s warnings.  She slept deeply and peacefully once she finally warmed up, but was appalled to awaken to blood-stained pajamas and sheets.  Charley felt betrayed by her own body and Cora.  She’d taken her warnings as a promise.  Ginny darted in her room, saw the causality and reacted with horror.  “Ginny, get out!  Now!”

“Daddy!  Cora!  Come quick!  Charley’s bleeding!”  She called out.

Charles started to rise from his paper and breakfast.  “Don’t!  I’ll go.”  Cora said.  “You’ll shame her.”  She trudged up the stairs.  “Ginny, you go on down.  I’ll help Charley.  She probably scratched the scab off a sore on her leg.  Scat!”  Ginny didn’t look convinced, but went to breakfast.

“Oh, baby, your pad musta slipped out of place.  Go get cleaned up and I’ll take care of all this.  Just run a little warm water in the face bowl and clean up with a washcloth.  You can’t take a bath now!  It’ll make you stop!”  Cora said “make you stop!” Like it was the threat of all threats.

“No, it won’t!  I was trying to get it stoped an’ took an ice bath last night!  It didn’t stop nothing!  You was lying to me!” Charley’s mouth quivered with betrayal and hurt.  Cora, her hero and protector had let her down.

Cora was stern.  “Now, I know you hurtin’ an’ you hate all this growin’ up, but I been raisin’ you your whole life.  I ain’t never lied to you in yore life an’ I never will, but I ain’t puttin’ up with none of yore back talk.  They’s some things in life you gonna haf to put up with, like it or not.  Do you think I been livin’ this long an’ had everthing my way? I had to put up with the curse, an’ I had to put up with a man that drank and beat me till somebody cut up him in a knife fight.  I ain’t saying I missed him none, but it did leave me to raise three chillun by myself.  We ’bout starved till I got started doin” for y’all.  Now, is you gonna git movin’ or do I haf to git yo daddy?”

“I’ll get ready.  I didn’t mean to be sassy.” Charley backed down.

“I know you ain’t meant no harm.  Just stick an extra pad in yore pocket an’ come down to breakfast.  Ginny an’ yore daddy are worried ’bout you.” Cora told her.

“Be down in a minute.”  Charley gave Cora a question city hug.  “I know you ain’t never lied to me.