The Secret, Special Powers of the Curious Charlie Shanks

24 Oct

(Prologue: Charlie was the MVP player in his class, and I was supposed to write him a letter or poem or something. I chose something and wrote a story with Charlie as the main character. I thought it would be cool and different. It wasn’t. The story made him cry. Bad mom. )

Charlie Shanks was born Oct. 29, 2004 in Austin, Texas under a full moon, two days before Halloween. Maybe it was because the moon was full or maybe it was because the spirits were restless, but when Charlie Shanks was born something special was born with him.

At first, Charlie’s parents didn’t notice anything different about their son. They, of course, thought he was special because he was their first child. But they didn’t know how special he really was.

When Charlie was only 10 months old, he started speaking in almost complete sentences. He loved to talk. He went to bed talking, and he woke up in the morning talking. All that talking eventually led Charlie to questions.


Charlie had questions. A lot of questions. In fact, by the time he was six years old, most of his conversations started with, “Mom, I have a question.” To which his mother would reply, “Of course you do, Charlie. What’s your question?”

 “Why is the grass green? Who made wax? Why do I have five toes instead of four? What makes the engine of the car start? Who made the first baseball?” The questions were varied, and the questions were many. And the questions came day after day after day. So many questions. So many, that his mom thought she might go crazy.

Then, one day when his mother thought she couldn’t answer one more question, something curious happened. Every time Charlie asked a question, a Halloween costume would appear near him. Sometimes it was a superhero costume. Sometimes it was a scary monster costume. Sometimes it was a child costume, sometimes an adult costume, but with each question came a costume.

Soon Charlie’s house was filled almost top to bottom with strange and unique Halloween costumes. Costumes poured out of Charlie’s closet every time he opened it. Pirate costumes peeked out from under his bed. Ninjas costumes filled bathtub from front to back. Furry animal costumes lined the walls of the hallway. The costumes were everywhere.

Charlie’s mom was sure they couldn’t fit one more costume in the house. She begged Charlie to stop asking questions. She promised him toys. She promised him video games. She promised him anything if he could just go one day without asking a question.

“Why?” Charlie asked. And as quickly as he asked the question, a princess costume appeared on the couch.

“Because,” his mother said very firmly, “we can not fit another costume in our house. Not one more. We have costumes pouring out of every room in our house. Look in our cabinets. There is no room for dishes, just costumes. Look in the bathroom. The tub is so full that I don’t know how we will shower tonight. Look in your bedroom. Can you even find your bed anymore? This is crazy. Even the dog bed is now just a bunch of costumes. Please, please, please Charlie, don’t ask another question.”

But Charlie was a curious boy, and he just couldn’t help himself.

“Why don’t …,” he started.

But his mom cut him off and screeched, “NO! Don’t do it. DO NOT ASK ONE MORE QUESTION. NOT ONE MORE.”

Charlie fell silent for a few minutes. He watched as his mother pulled at her hair and stomped her feet. He sat as she stomped down the hall kicking costumes out of her way. He waited as she calmed down and searched for a pan to cook the family dinner.

And then, when everything seemed normal again, he finished his question, “Why don’t we give the costumes to boys and girls who can’t afford them?”

His mother stopped cooking and peered over at Charlie. He covered his ears with his hands and waited for more ranting and raving. But there was no sound from his mom. No yelling. No screeching. No stomping. Instead, a tear came to his mother’s eye. A wide smile spread across her face. She was proud. So proud that she didn’t even make a sound when one more costume popped onto the kitchen table.

The next day, Charlie and his mother rented a huge red truck and loaded all of the costumes into it. They drove all across town, stopping at every church and shelter they could find. Since it was October, the people were thrilled to receive the costumes. One pastor thanked Charlie and asked him where he got all of the costumes to donate. The corners of Charlie’s mouth curled up and he said, “I was born under a full moon.”

By 8 p.m. that night, the truck was empty, and Charlie’s house was normal again. As Charlie’s mom pulled into the driveway, Charlie glanced over at his mother. She was grinning from ear to ear. Confused, Charlie had to know, “Mom, why …”

And before he finished his question, another costume appeared on the seat next to him.

Epilogue (sent for Charlie’s class)

While this story may not be 100 percent true. (Okay, it’s only about 30 percent true.) It is very true that Charlie is very special and that Charlie loves to ask questions. And while it’s not always easy to answer the multitude of questions that Charlie throws at us daily, it is easy to love this wonderfully, talented, big-hearted curious boy. 


2 Responses to “The Secret, Special Powers of the Curious Charlie Shanks”

  1. John October 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    Every post reminds me how much I miss Austin and our crazy journalism teacher days friendship in the early ’90s.I also love watching Charlie grow up.

  2. Bobby H. October 25, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Amazing. I loved reading this piece. It should be a children’s book. It would become a classic overnight.

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