I remember my first "lone" trip to Red Level, Alabama. It was the Summer of 2000. I was headed to Mobile to meet up with my now ex-wife, mom, and still brand new baby girl, Taylor. Dad asked if I could pick Chuck up, on the way. This was before navigation on cell phones and such. So, I set out for Red Level. Driving in the days of MapQuest, I followed those directions like funk on a turd! If you've ever driven to Red Level, Alabama, as a person of color, you'd understand the feeling in my gut and my refusal to stray from the course in any way. Rebel flags on just about every house, except for Uncle Chuck's. His flag was big and American! LOL! I picked him up and on the road, we got caught up. Chuck talked a hell of a lot, but I loved his stories.
My next trip to Red Level was the Summer of 2010. I think I was still in process of moving here to Roswell. I was either picking up or dropping off, on behalf of my father. This is when the attached pictures were taken. We talked for two to three hours, sitting at his kitchen table with his pistol lying peacefully between us. He always kept it close. Chuck loved having company.
My last time seeing Uncle Chuck was that same year, in August. I had to return to Mobile for a video/photo shoot on Dauphin Island. Dad was gonna meet up with us at the house in Eight Mile and take Chuck back to Louisiana with him for a bit. Once again, I passed through Red Level, picking up Uncle Chuck, and talked all the way to Eight Mile. The shoot ended up being all day long, and if I remember correctly, Dad had come and gone by the time I made it back to the house. So, he and Chuck were Louisiana bound.
These are all great times by which Chuck will be remembered. What he will be remember by most, for me, is his collection of short stories, told in the voice of his 12 to 13 year old self. "Country Boys Don't Lie" is the title of his compilation. I read some as a kid, again as a teenager, and again as an adult. I find myself entertained and amused every single time.
Uncle Chuck, I took for granted that you'd be there the next time I was able to breeze through. Yet, I am grateful for every random and sporadic email we'd shoot one another, off and on over the past four years or so. "Don't forget about me!", you'd often command. I haven't, Uncle Chuck, and I never will!! As long as I have THESE pictures, THESE moments, THESE writings, THESE memories of you, I hold THIS Truth to be self-evident! COUNTRY BOYS DON'T DIE!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU DUDE!!