Bernie Schallehn


The Traveling Charbonneaus

At first glance, it appears as though we know exactly what Wendell Charbonneau wants.

Septic cleaner by day, country music troubadour by night, Wendell has spent the better part of his adult life dragging his ragtag family band into every beer-soaked dive and dump that would hire them. Its crystal clear hes in dogged pursuit of a neon rainbow with the pot of country music gold at the end. Its also evident hes not about to let anyone or anything stop him from winning his prize.

But his quest has been costly, exacting a number of pricey tolls. Hes banished a disloyal daughter, seen his simple-minded son duped into a cruel mens room prank, and, later, done jail time for retribution against the bar owner who shamed his boy. His long-suffering wife pleads with him to quit the band business, abandon his narcissistic folly, but hell have none of it, and presses on concocting scheme after scheme for success and stardom.

Wendell controls much, but not all, in his universe. Hes unable to control the rising country music star who was once his elder daughter. Hes unable to stop the inevitable dismantling of his family as his younger children begin to grow up and out. And hes unable to control the cancer that grows deep in his lungs, the cancer caused by years of sucking in second hand smoke that hung heavy in the nightclubs and bars.

Ive always wanted exposure, Wendell tells the doctor, upon hearing his diagnosis, but Id never figured on that kind.

A bleak prognosis forces him to take stock of the life hes had, rather than the life hed imagined. We learn his true motivation for musical stardom.

Wendell wanted to keep his family together. Simple as that.

Us, he tells his wife, I wanted us to be famous, touring together, so wed never be apart. Together forever.

Near the end, Wendell does come to honor his life, understanding that all the years hed spent waiting to be discovered, the truth was hed already been found

Selected Works

Fiction
The saga of a septic tank cleaner desperate to hit big in country music.
The life and times of a female traveling hypnotist in the late 1880s.
A nerdy accountant winds up in a bizarre, but oddly idyllic trailer park.
A dark, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama involving two brothers.
Self-help
Mind Matters assists the drummer in conquering mental and emotional obstacles inherent to the art.

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