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"You can find some great things in the world when you remember where they are."
--Charlie Christ

We only knew Charlie for a couple of years back in the early 1980s. We were all in high school, and so was Charlie, although he was rarely seen there. He was a wandering sort. I remember seeing him once in the courtyard at school, standing by himself and staring at a bird in a tree. He reached out his hand and the bird settled on his forearm. Charlie smiled and walked away from the courtyard and out towards the woods surrounding the school. He did not return to school for at least a week.

He was known as Charlie Christ because of his appearance and mode of dress. It made him incredibly similar to the most prevalent modern representations of Jesus Christ. He had long hair, a beard, bright blue eyes, loose flowing clothes and sandals. He could have walked into a church on a Sunday morning and declared, "I'm back." Some people might have believed it.

Charlie came from an unspecified location. No one we knew had any idea where he lived or who his relations might be. None of us had any classes with him and no one had any idea what year he might be in. The common theory was that he wasn't even enrolled in school and just came by to put in an occasional appearance.

Whereas he would rarely be at school, there was never a party that Charlie missed. He would stand alone until someone came to talk to him. When they did, he spoke in riddles and parables. People began to take their problems to Charlie and somehow he managed to make sense to them.

"These things come together much easier when you don't worry about them so much.
As long as you remember how to get home, you'll always be okay."

Charlie Christ always showed up with booze and grass. It was part of why he was at every party. Everyone knew he could be counted on to keep the supply chain alive. Charlie could have made a business of it, but many high school kids would stiff him when it came to settling the tab. Charlie always forgave them, and the same people would stiff him every time, well aware of Charlie's nature. He was never angry and never raised his voice. He was a man of peace. Whenever things got heated at high school parties, Charlie would step forward and settle things without anyone getting hurt. They would listen to him and go their separate ways. His gentle magic always wore a smile.

"Why bust his face because he looked at your girl?
Seems to me he is the one who missed the boat on that deal."

Charlie had a role and he played it well because it was who he was. If he had a weight on his shoulders, no one could see it. He walked slowly, always wearing a self-satisfied grin. The drugs may have played a big part in creating the character of the man, but at the same time he was somehow a man when the rest of us were still boys. To walk a mile in his shoes would only have covered a small part of the journey. Charlie Christ walked everywhere he went, unless a familiar face pulled up and offered him a ride.

"Are you sure you are going my way?
I'd hate to have you go out of the way on my account."

In general, Charlie loved and trusted people and embraced everyone he met, from the rich and popular kids who looked down on him to the penniless stoners who were hoping he could float them a joint. "You know, until I can get back at ya, man." According to the legends that accumulated in the years that followed, his trust was his undoing. They say he got into a car one night and never came back. Perhaps he went for a walk in the wilderness and found some of his own kind. More likely, he met up with some folks who didn't share his love and respect for people's right to live the way they choose.

Rest in peace, Charlie, wherever you may be tonight.

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