He stands in the driveway, face frowning: The white car (Grandpa's car that he no longer drives) is not in its customary place by my black one.
He says "NO" when I say "bike ride with Dad."
He puts on glasses and gloves and pulls at the Batman patches on his palms. "Other way" I say and turn them around. The white car returns; soon I am standing in the street to call out "all clear!" so Charlie can ride bikes with his dad, fast and flat.
He ignores the provisions of a too well-stocked refrigerator and ferrets out one thing: A container of watermelon, half-concealed in a bin.
He slips under Jim's arm to get the window seat on the train.
He walks ahead, alert, through the subway station and up to street level: Cars sit in Columbus Circle and marathoners walk by draped in metallic throws (like the Teletubbies' blankets, with sponsors' names in full display). Charlie's radar is up and takes him right to a whale of a sushi case, where he halts and his eyes scan the choices----eel? California roll? all vegetables? brown rice? tuna salmon shrimp?----and he picks up a pack and holds it to his nose.
He pulls so hard on Jim's arm that he is standing slantwise: A brown poodle is walking towards us and Charlie's dog fear is up. We keep walking south, Charlie's eyes skirting sidewalks and storefronts.
He shakes hands with Kamran Nazeer, boards a crowded subway car, and runs through Penn Station to catch a train back home.
"Eat fries! Guacamolay!" (Everyone on that train knows what Charlie wants.)
(I also get him a cup of salsa, a new food interest.)
Somehow he takes three showers: This is a boy who likes the water and what's a mother to argue again a child wanting to be clean as the proverbial whistle.
Jim offers Charlie a piggy back and Charlie says "yes." Charlie hops up on our bed and Jim offers his back----Charlie grabs the hem of Jim's shirt and calls out "S'irt off! Daddy s'irt off!" (Charlie had been asking him a few minutes earlier to do this, as Dad In Bed With Shirt Off is part of the morning routine that Charlie seems to have taking a liking to.) Charlie chases after Jim who responds with a surprise tickle; Charlie grabs the bottom of Jim's shirt and laughs, runs off. Jim is laughing, Charlie laughs, we all laugh.
Charlie has written no books, shot no 20 points as the clock ticked down in a basketball game; there have been times----months--moments---years---when Charlie seemed "severe and profound: (what could I say to explain the bruise he used to wear on his forehead, day after day after day). There has been turnaround, progression, piano, and a multi-dimensional neurodiverse and rainbow-rich life beyond dreams, human or android.
Thanks to a most interesting kid.