Chapter One Hundred and Twenty: The Veil of Uncertainty
“Are you guys SURE you want me to do this? I still think you should give Charlie a chance.” Peter said that night as the two families sat around the dinner table.
“Honestly, this isn't about me.” Charlie said. “This is about doing what is right for the people of Pleasantville.”
“Exactly!” Belle stood by her best friend.
“Things in Pleasantville have gotten too far for me to make things about me.” Charlie said as his mother put a roast dinner in front of him.
“Is this about what I said to you that day in the tip?” Belle asked.
Charlie, who had been about to dig into his roast lamb, stopped.
“What happened at the tip?” Lara asked.
Charlie twirled his fork around.
“Charlie?” Betty pushed.
“I found out I'm a racist, okay?!” Charlie snapped.
The table was silent.
“What happened?” Betty questioned. Belle then told the whole tale as Charlie slumped in his seat.
“So you found out something you don't like about yourself, and you're using it as an excuse to shirk on your plans?” Thomas shoved mashed potato into his mouth.
“WHAT?!” Charlie and Belle cried.
“So you found out that you have racist parts. Instead of facing it and doing your best to combat the systems that are helping cultivate racism in Pleasantville, you're using it as an excuse to pass the buck to Peter.” Thomas swallowed and started on his beans.
“But there IS a chance that they won't want to vote for me!” Charlie pouted.
“MAKE THEM WANT TO VOTE FOR YOU!” Peter groaned. “Or is it too hard for you?”
“Don't you want to help Pleasantville?!” Charlie fought back.
“I'm a Counsellor now! Do you KNOW how much work both being a Counsellor AND the President of the Chamber of Commerce would be?” Peter snapped. “If I took on both, one would have to suffer, and we need all bases covered if we're going to make a difference.”
Charlie slowly turned to face Belle.
“Don't even think about it.” Lara said. “This is your beast.”
“And it's high time you stopped hiding behind your best friend.” Betty finished.
“Wow Charlie, you're getting RIPPED tonight!” Oscar commented innocently. The table couldn't help but laugh.
“And that is why I need YOU to put your name forward for a Chamber of Commerce and to elect me, the owner of Begly Metalworks, as the President. I might be young, but that just means I can listen, learn and grow more.” Charlie said to the owner of West Pleasantville Jewellers, who was a strong PCC supporter.
The old woman rocked back in her seat. “You have some fantastic points there young man, and I must admit, it heartens me to see young people taking a stand. Where do I sign up?”
“If you could fill out this form and send it to the Council building that would be great. You can also fill in your details online.” Charlie handed her the forms.
“Excellent, I'll get this done today. Stay for a cup of tea and some scones?” The woman asked, getting up and opening a cupboard.
“Sure, why not?” Charlie smiled.
It had been a long day canvassing for subscriptions, but already Charlie had forty signatures to add to the ten he already had. Stopping by one of the businesses and having a bit of afternoon tea with them was an added bonus.
“You know, if this goes through I might be able to start helping the PRO.” The owner said as she brought the tea and scones back.
“You want to join the PRO?!” Charlie looked surprised.
“Most of us would in a heartbeat.” The woman poured Charlie a cup of hot tea, and offered him milk and sugar. “But we know the score. Openly supporting the PRO would mean suicide for our livelihoods. The Mayor would destroy us all in retaliation.”
Charlie sipped his tea thoughtfully.
“This place needs a shake-up, but not at the expense of our lives.” The woman continued.
The rest of the tea was lovely, and Charlie was sure to thank her profusely. He then left, thinking about everything she had said about wanting to change Pleasantville but being too scared to do it.
He was still thinking about it heavily when Sammy nearly barrelled him over in the street as he walked home later on that same day.
“SAMMY! Geez mate, you gonna take someone out!” Charlie woke from his thoughts. “Wait, are you okay?”
“Judith's in the hospital, the baby is coming early!” Sammy cried. “I gotta get to the hospital! I gotta be there for Daniel!”
“Hold up, I'll come with you!” Charlie followed Sammy as he broke out into a run again.
TJ was pacing up and down. Sammy and Tammy were hunched over on the couch, trying to stay awake. Sunny was rocking Melody, trying to keep her daughter asleep.
“Belle just messaged. She's keeping Demon under control while Judith is out.” Charlie checked his phone. “Apparently he's not impressed that she's in hospital.”
“Of course he wouldn't. He's a jerk.” Tammy mumbled.
“Tell Belle we appreciate it.” TJ said.
“I will. She's devo she can't be here.” Charlie sighed. “But she's busy.”
“She's doing the world a favour. Like you and your Chamber of Commerce.” Sunny said.
“Isn't it going well?” Sammy asked.
“It's going better that I thought. I just wonder if I'm the right person to take care of it all.” Charlie looked down.
“If it's going well then clearly you ARE the right person for the job.” Sammy stretched. He looked over at Charlie, sizing him up. “You're worried about something though.”
“I just keep thinking about what happened at the tip that day and what I said.” Charlie sighed.
“That was WEEKS ago!” Sammy groaned. “And we worked it out!”
“Yeah, but if I'm a racist…” Charlie started.
“Oh shut up.” Tammy snapped.
Everyone turned to look at her.
“Self-flagellation is boring to watch. So what if you messed up. Belle nearly got all of us killed with her protest stunt a few years ago, and she's still working her butt off!” Tammy snapped at him. “If you're so upset about being a racist, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT instead of wallowing in self-pity.”
Charlie shut up and looked at the clock.
“Thank you.” Tammy looked at her phone. “You know, if you're scared of not being as smart as Belle is, you can just say so.”
“You ARE as smart as her though, so I don't see why you're acting like this. I mean, without you there's no Improbability Clause. Belle might be great at finding things out, but it's your brain that puts it together.” Sunny said.
“Just like with the Chamber of Commerce. Belle found all the little pieces of the problem and you're the one putting it all together not to just find the solution, but make it work.” Sammy added. “I wish 'Tuney or Dan would come out here already and tell us what's going on!”
Tammy checked her phone again. “And Belle needs to stop texting me.” She texted back furiously the same text as the past ten texts.
“STOP TEXTING ME!”