Charlie wasn’t bashful about asking for something if he needed it, but that was part of his charm. He talked slowly as though he was measuring every word before he shared it with you. It would be a mistake to judge his intellect or skills as an investigator based on his appearance or demeanor at any given moment. He knew his stuff and he knew about everyone in the community that he loved and served. He was the same to everyone — black, white, male or female. I envied that about Charlie.
He hated drugs, but he didn’t hate people. As we got to know each other through the years, he would tell me about kids he hoped he could help. I knew some of those kids and wanted to help them too. I often wondered how a guy who looked as old as Charlie sometimes looked could really get to know a teenager who was headed down the wrong path. Charlie tried to save kids before it was too late. It didn’t take me long to realize that he always seemed to know when people weren’t doing right.
That was what reminded me about Mr. Aloe. I was sliding down a steep snow-covered sidewalk, and I was violating a safety rule. I didn’t think anyone had seen me do it, but Mr. Aloe had been watching out the window. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but I could have hurt myself. Mr. Aloe was a caring teacher, although all I could think about at the time was that I was being sent to the principal’s office for what I considered to be a very minor infraction.
Charlie had an incredible ability to blend into the scenery. A few years ago, my wife and I were at some event where there were a lot of people. It must have been something like the Hillsville Flea Market & Gun Show or maybe something else. At one point, I saw Charlie walking along in a crowd of people. I had one of those exciting recognition moments, started to call out his name, but remembered that he worked undercover and that if I identified him in a crowd, I might compromise his work. I looked him in the eye and nodded my head. He looked back at me and didn’t respond. I knew he was working.