Charlie and the Golem Pt. 2

Image by Esther Chilcutt from Pixabay

Link to Pt. 1

Charlie spent the rest of the day trying to stay out of Brad and Garrett’s sight. Or, when he couldn’t avoid them, ensuring that an adult was nearby. He had one close call and that was while waiting to be picked up. The teacher overseeing the line had stepped inside with a kid who’d fallen, leaving Charlie dangling in the breeze. He saw Garrett making a beeline for him and thought it was very convenient that the kid had gotten hurt when he did. Just before his bully made it to him, Lewis pulled up and saved the day. Charlie breathed a sigh of relief, knowing he was safe for the next 18 hours. He couldn’t wait to get back to work on the golem.

Surprise, Surprise

That afternoon, Charlie followed his normal after-school routine to allay any suspicion about what he was up to. So, he grabbed a snack and went outside for a bit. The last thing he needed was eagle-eyed Marta poking around as he tried once more to awaken his golem. He wandered around the yard, surreptitiously making his way to the garden shed. With a last furtive look over his shoulder, he eased into the building. The floor was empty. The material for his golem was gone.

He freaked out for a minute wondering if Marta or Lewis found it and shoveled it all outside. How could he explain that? As he tried to figure out what to do if that was the case, he noticed a set of tracks on the floor that were much too big for anyone in the household. He heard a grunting noise from a darkened corner and a large reddish-brown figure stepped into the light. The golem. His incantations had worked after all.

The Golem Speaks

He stood there, stunned, thinking that it actually worked. For all his dedication and study, a part of him that still hadn’t thought it would happen, that his golem would never come to life. But here it was, standing in front of him. A thrill shot through him as he surveyed his handiwork. It grunted again, this time morphing into a groan, almost. Well, he thought, it makes noise. He wondered if it could also talk. Nothing in the texts he’d read said anything about what a golem could and couldn’t do. Okay, maybe they did but he’d been so focused on animating it, he hadn’t read anything else. Well, he thought, there was only one way to find out. “Can you speak?” he asked.

A low rumbly sound emanated from the creature, then, “Yes, I can speak.” Its voice was low and throaty but its diction was perfect. Charlie sighed in relief. A friend who couldn’t speak wouldn’t do him much good.

“Do you have a name?” he said.

“Only that which you give me,” the golem replied. “I am your creation.”

Charlie thought for a moment, then remembered something from the lore he’d read. “How about ‘Adam’?” he asked.

“As I said, I am your creation,” the golem said. “If Adam is what you prefer to name me, then Adam I am.”

Charlie could barely contain his giddiness. I have a friend, he thought, and his name is Adam.

Friends Make Everything Better

The days began to follow a similar pattern: Charlie would slog through the day, being ignored and/or bullied while at school, and then spend as much time as he could with Adam when he got home. Weekends were even better because he got to hang out with his new friend and didn’t have to deal with Brad and his cronies at all. It wasn’t long before he noticed that Adam’s conversational skills improved, too. When he asked how that was happening, the golem replied, “Practice makes perfect. At least, I think that’s the saying.”

“It is,” Charlie said, surprised. “But, how do you know it?”

“I am not sure,” it said, “You must have said it. You are the only person I talk to.”

“Probably,” Charlie said with a shrug.

After a moment, the golem said, “May I ask you for something?”

“Sure, anything.”

“There is not much to do here in the shed,” Adam said. “And, I am bored. Also, I need to move around more.” It paused for a moment as if gathering its courage. “May I. . . May I go outside for a few moments each day?”

“I don’t know, Adam,” Charlie said. “Having a large clay man wandering around outside might not be the best thing. If my parents or the servants see you, they’ll freak out.” He thought for a moment. “What if you went out at night? Like, late at night.”

“That would work,” the golem replied. “I can see as well in the dark as I can in the light.”

“Great!” Charlie said. “Just wait until all the lights go out in the house. It shouldn’t be long. No one stays up super late or anything.”

“As you wish,” Adam said.

A Late Night Scare

Almost a week to the day after Charlie had given Adam permission to go outside, he was awakened by a commotion. He wasn’t sure exactly what woke him, but he could hear his parents talking. Curious, he quietly made his way to the kitchen. As he got closer, he confirmed his earlier suspicion that they were arguing. Their “discussions” occurred often enough that Charlie didn’t need to hear what they were saying, he could tell by the tone. He stopped out of sight, hoping to get an idea of what they were fighting about this time. He heard his mother first.

“So, you’re not even going to check!?”

His father sighed. “Why Cassie? You’re not even sure what you saw. Or, even if you saw anything at all.”

“Don’t try to gaslight me, Richard! Something was moving out there. I saw it!” She paused a moment. “And, it looked like a man. A very large man.”

Charlie’s stomach dropped as he realized what his mom had seen.

“How could you have seen a man? We live in a goddamn gated community.”

His mother scoffed. “Some ‘gate community’ this is. The whole backside is open to a fucking forest.”

“You’re the one who wanted to be close to nature. And, I don’t know how to break this to you, but ‘nature’ can’t exactly scale a wall or cut through a fence. So, yeah, the backside’s open to nature.”

“Don’t try to change the subject, Richard. And, don’t you dare try and turn this back on me. We’re talking about you being too much of a coward to walk outside.”

“You want me to check outside? Fine, I’ll fucking check outside.” Charlie heard his dad move to the door. Frightened, he thought, Oh shit, he can’t go out there. He stepped around the corner.

“What’s going on?” he asked, rubbing his eyes like he’d just woke up. His parents both froze for a moment. His dad recovered first.

“Nothing big. Your mom thinks she saw some kind of wild animal wandering around the backyard. I’m about to go check.”

Oh shit, Charlie thought. What was going to do? If his dad found Adam, he’d lose the only friend he’d ever had. Panicking, he said, “Can I come with you?”

His dad hesitated and exchanged a look with his mom. “Um, yeah, sure.”

His mom, obviously upset at this turn of events, blurted, “You two be careful out there.”

His dad, over his shoulder, said, “Of course. But it’s probably nothing. Just a possum or something small.” Then, he handed Charlie a flashlight and said, “Come on, son. Let’s check this out.”

Gotta Move

The next morning, he slipped out to the shed before school. The golem stood in his customary spot in the corner. “Jesus, Adam,” Charlie snapped. “You got seen last night!”

“I am sorry,” the golem replied. “I did as you asked and waited for all the lights to go out before leaving. And I stayed in the woods. Should I have done something else?”

“No,” Charlie said, shaking his head. “But we’ve got to find you a better, more secret place. Like I said, Mom and Dad would freak if they ever saw you.” He considered his options. “We can’t do anything now, since I have to get to school.” He thought a bit more. “Tomorrow’s Saturday and that’ll give us all day to find a new spot. But you should probably stay inside tonight, just to be safe.”

The golem nodded. “As you wish.”

Adam’s New Home

Charlie had gotten up before anyone else the next morning. It wasn’t hard because his mom and dad had attended a club function the night before and they always slept extra late after one of those. And, when they were hungover, they didn’t care what he did. Okay, he wasn’t sure they ever cared what he did, but on mornings like this, they really didn’t care. He’d grabbed Adam and slipped into the woods behind their house. Now, they sat under a shelter made of tarps and sheet plastic the construction company that had built their house had left behind. It was set between several large trees and supported by branches and logs the golem had gathered. Charlie looked around. “I know it’s not much,” he said, “But, we’ll make it better.”

“It is fine,” Adam said. “It is mine and I do not have to worry about anyone seeing me anymore.”

“Exactly. Plus, being down by the creek like this is nice.”

“It is,” Adam replied. “I like this very much.”

Standing Up

Tuesday morning, on the way to school, Lewis said, “So, Charlie, what do you want to talk about?”

“I don’t know,” Charlie said. He thought for a minute, then said, “Lewis, did they have bullies when you were a kid?”

“Oh, yeah,” his driver said with a laugh. “Bullies aren’t a new thing. There have probably been bullies as long as there have been people.”

The boy hesitated a beat. “Di—did you ever get bullied?”

“Yeah, I did,” Lewis said. “Everybody’s been bullied, Charlie. Even bullies.”



Charlie hesitated again. “What did you do?” he asked.

“I stood up to them. Once you do that, they lose their power over you and they leave you alone.”

“But, what if they threaten to beat me—I mean you, up?”

“Well,” Lewis said, “That could happen. But, how bad will it be? You get a few lumps, a bruise or two, and then it’s over.” The man paused a minute. “You’re gonna deal with worse things in your life than a middle school fight.”

“You think so?” Charlie asked.

“It worked for me,” Lewis said. “Besides, it would likely be a bluff. Rich boys won’t fight. They don’t like getting their hands dirty.”

They pulled into the dropoff lane at school and stopped. Charlie grabbed his backpack and climbed out of the car. He looked back over his shoulder and said, “Thanks, Lewis. Thanks a lot.”

“Any time, Charlie. Have a good day and I’ll see you this afternoon.”