Don’t Ask Charlie

My job isn’t as glamorous as it’s made out to be. You might say you don’t believe me, and then I might say ‘Just ask Charlie,’ but, the thing is, you should never do that. Whatever you do, don’t ask Charlie. Not that you could ever find yourself in the situation of asking Charlie, anyway. That would mean coming face to face with him. In order to do that, you’d have to come to my office. I never receive clients in my office. And Charlie never leaves my office. He has an impediment. And, in case you were about to ask, the same impediment keeps him from using the phone.

I’m stuck with him. Been stuck with him for a few months now, and it’s only because of my job.

Picture this: I get a phone call. Some posh lady’s voice at the other end says, ‘Terribly sorry, you were the only witch listed in the phone book.’ I’m kind of glad about that last detail, but don’t mention it. I roll my eyes, anyway, because, like I said before, it’s not what it’s made out to be. She can’t tell I’m doing it.

She’s moving over to the Bahamas. Weather got to her. She needs to get rid of something before she goes.

So, I drive over. It’s not as hard to find as I assume she’d like it to be.

She seems a bit embarrassed. Avoids looking into my eyes.

I walk with her along a narrow corridor with a high ceiling. The kind of house I’d have no business being in, if it was not for my job.

‘You see, our ancestors were Normans,’ she says. ‘The de la Haye family.’

I nod politely.

‘Sure,’ she continues, ‘it rings no bells now,but they were quite something in their day. Fought in the Crusades and all. Anyway, Charles de la Haye, he made a deal with the Devil. Immortality is what he asked for. He didn’t think of the implications. And so, when he challenged Friedrich von Agenauer to a one-on-one duel, he didn’t consider the possibility of Friedrich simply chopping his head off.’

‘Oh,’ I say.

‘The body kept going round and round and they had to bury it, eventually. It was quite unnerving. And the head, well – ‘

She turns a doorknob. I find myself staring inside a large library, bookshelves from floor to ceiling. There’s a desk in a corner, facing the window. And on that desk sits a disembodied head. Quite handsome, actually. His eyes settle on me and he breaks into a grimace of distaste.

‘What now?’ he spits out. ‘Who the hell is this?’

‘Well, it’s awfully nice meeting you, too,’ I blurt out.

‘Goodbye,great-great-great uncle,’ the lady says. ‘You’ll be going with her.’

‘You’re giving me away?’ he shouts. ‘As if I’m rubbish! Why you inconsiderate, filthy little whore! You’d be nothing without me!’

‘Oh, he’s like that,’ his grand-grand-grand niece tells me, apologetically.

‘I’d recommend you to keep quiet, Charlie,’ I say. ‘Nothing you can do about it, anyway.’

My reaction may seem off, but I’ve seen stranger things. No need to mention them now.

‘My name is Charles, peasant,’ he says. As if I don’t speak French. I roll my eyes. Can’t help it.

‘It’s Charlie now,’ I say. ‘Deal with it.’

I drive back to my office. My office is also my home, in case you haven’t figured it out.

‘Could you at least place me on the board?’ Charlie says. ‘You know, to see where we’re going?’

‘Sorry, Charlie,’ I reply, my eyes on the road. ‘If I do that, people will be staring and I really hate it when people stare.’

He makes his distaste for my office quite clear. I switch off the light and go to bed, leaving him to curse me out in the darkness.

I’m usually out on some job. A demon to be chased away. Usually a minor one. Some love spell. I don’t have the heart to tell them they never work. And I kind of like getting paid. I’m always really tired when I get back.

‘Evening, Charlie,’ I say.

I switch on the light. He’s always frowning.

‘You stupid bitch!’ he spits out. ‘I’ll make you pay for this! Keeping me on a bloody desk like some G-d-damned decoration! Just you wait! I’ll make you pay!’

I roll my eyes. ‘Yeah? And how are you going to do that, Charlie? You’re just a head.’

This shuts him up every time. His mouth drops open and his eyes bulge out.

‘No need to rub it in,’ he says, after a while.

I sit on my chair, prop my feet up on the desk, and grab the remote control. If my feet smell, he’s at least courteous enough not to mention it.

‘I’m sorry, Charlie,’ I say, ‘Come on, let’s see what’s on TV.’

We usually watch Criminal Minds or CSI.

So, yeah, don’t ask Charlie. Not that you could, anyway, for the reasons I’ve already explained. If you could ask Charlie, he’d only tell you the truth. That all he and I have is one another.


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