Confession: I am a sucker for guys like Chas. Their gift of gab, their charm, the lighthearted way they sail through life...there is something strangely comforting about their superficiality and glibness. Their flippancy is compelling for someone like me who, admittedly, is far more on the intense, tightly-wound, side of the scale.
Chas King is actually (albeit loosely) based on a man I used to know: a wealthy, womanizing mogul who purportedly did scandalous things...yet was nonetheless a 'Teflon Don' - nothing he did (or was accused of doing) stuck in any damaging sort of way.
Chas King is complicated because he's not complicated. A well-heeled attorney who ascertains clients by employing his charm, Chas is not just a player, he also loves to play.
Still, Chas has had a stroke because, no matter what, the body - every body - keeps score, and Chas has faced one of the most horrific traumas imaginable: his first son, his beloved buddy Patrick, blew his own head off in a grove of trees just off the main trail leading to the King's fabled Summit Centre mountain retreat.
Patrick's death revisits Chas in ways that erase any of his self-absorbed silliness...and leave us with a man deeply broken - and surprisingly insightful. After Elizabeth auditions at The Ammolite, Chas surprises her by not wanting to talk about her potential marquee gig there, but instead about how she's been treating Andrew:
“Elizabeth,” he paused on the threshold. “May I ask you a very personal question?”
Why do you play funeral requiems at upscale auditions? “Certainly.” Her performance smile wobbled.
His wink-and-dimple did not. “Are you and Andrew fighting?”
“Last night when you got in my car you left him standing there like a lost puppy.” Chas grinned. “And I didn’t want to intrude, but…” He shrugged, palms up, and face alight with merry curiosity.
She stared. He laughed. “It’s okay to say ‘None of your business, Chas’.”
She was speechless. Drew had been downtown watching her?
“I just have a soft spot for your Andrew.”
‘Her’ Andrew, again. For two people who’d never spent a moment together in public, every local still seemed to know that once upon a time a fat, homely girl had loved the sullen town loner.
“Andrew will always hold a special place in my heart,” Chas went on, and what he said next trapped her, one foot out of The Ammolite, one still in. “Andrew found Patrick, you know.”
Prior to coming home she sure hadn’t, but now it was the song on everyone’s lips. The local Adagio. “I’m sorry,” she said, and suddenly felt cruel for dismissing Chas as a mimbo. He had buried a child, to suicide, and there was no doubt that this had also led to the stroke which left him limping. Maybe it was why he neglected Kyle too; beyond any shallow vapidity, perhaps there was grieving so deep that he just couldn’t bring himself to love another child the way he’d loved the one he’d lost. After all, thirteen years might only feel like thirteen minutes when it was your baby lying there, shattered.
“Andrew’s facing an uphill criminal battle.” Chas pulled her back to the present. “I need to track him down while he’s here. Offer support.”
As in legal representation? Her heart leapt with hope that she hated. Why did she care? “I’m sure he’d appreciate that.”
King nodded, then his persona dropped back into place and he winked, one lid slowly dipping over one lit up eye. “Life is short, lovely Elizabeth. Why not let Andrew take his hat out of his poor, groveling hands?”
She ignored the eye-sparkle. ‘Life is short’. Yes. So short that sometimes thirteen years turned into thirteen minutes.
Or fourteen years turned into fourteen minutes.
“Love is hard,” she whispered, a declaration that seemed to shock them both.
“I know,” King’s mask fell away and at once he was a man instead of the myth he’d created—the hedonistic airhead. It made her listen when he said, “Hold on if you love someone, Lovely. Do anything you need to never let them go.”
Her heart clenched for this man and his boy—poor, spoiled Patrick, broken beyond repair in the forest. Who the hell was she, or anyone, to have always judged him? Or Randi? Or anything they did or did not do for sweet Kyle?
Chas plucked a flower from a bouquet in the entrance. “For you,” he said. “Randi tells me carnations mean love and, speaking from experience, I know that sometimes men do like to get flowers.”
Elizabeth hid a wince. Dez always said that when carnations were delivered to a ward you knew someone was going to die. And regardless—flowers to Andrew?
“That poor boy,” Chas murmured, mask gone again. “He begged me that day—on his knees—to make the police look for fingerprints on the gun. The word suicide just seemed to impale him.” An inverted smile brushed his face. “Let him up off his knees, Elizabeth.”
Perhaps I was hasty when I said shallow Chas wasn't complicated. Tell me what you think. Meet Chas here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0994026412/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_awdo_t1_yFmUCbBR8TM81?fbclid=IwAR0LxGrnSxU9geXWmrbwK7WnbC3Ex8omUaZtGJrOuaptqWkuo3GEVPxgLjs