Charles P. Wiggins the Third Goes On to Save the World


***This is the third chapter of the saga of Charles P. Wiggins the Third.  If you’re new here, or just need a refresher, you can read Chapters One and Two here and here, respectively.***

Charles P. Wiggins the Third was faced with an awful decision.  As a writer, it had become necessary for him to choose between the fondest desire of his heart—writing happy, jolly tales—or selling out to The Man and his cohorts by writing tales of the most deplorable nature…epic tragedies.

To comprehend the breadth of this painful contradiction, it is necessary to understand that Charles P. Wiggins the Third was a writer of impeccable character.  He considered himself a real moral crusader, and always aimed to write what he thought, without apologies.  Whenever his words were set to be printed, he always took a moment to ask himself, in deep reflection, “Charles?  Can you foresee a time when you will regret that these words hit mainstream media?  Or in other words, if you publish this, are you sure you won’t ever be sorry?”  If the answer was no—as it usually was—he would tip his hat to the printer as a gentlemanly sign to carry on, good chap. {That’s what he would say—“Carry on, good chap.” Oh, didn’t you know? Charles P. Wiggins the Third always spoke with a British accent, even though he was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa.  He was inexplicable that way.}

The only time he ever answered “Yes” to this question, he failed to follow his inner insight and went ahead with the printing.  Needless to say, Charles P. Wiggins the Third lived to regret that decision, and swore he would never make that mistake again.

So you see, for a writer so convicted to his principles as Charles P. Wiggins the Third, he almost would rather starve than compromise his beliefs.  If he felt it necessary to write of cheer, it was not an easy task to force himself to do otherwise.

So he put off deciding, but it could not wait for long.  Charles P. Wiggins the Third had just finished memorising every classical piano solo ever written, and finally perfected the art of baking souffles, when a thought entered his mind.  So brilliant—so clever, so witty, so utterly and consummately perfect—was this idea, this solution to his problem, that Charles P. Wiggins the Third could not restrain himself from letting out a gleeful yelp and raising his fist in triumph:

Charles PChapter3.2Charles P. Wiggins had figured it out.

Charles PChapter3.3He recalled his grandaddy, Charles P. Wiggins the First, sitting down by the fireplace at Wiggins Manor, taking Charles the Third onto his arthritic knee and declaring, in a warbly voice so typical of old old men, “Now, sonny…you must always remember that the only thing to fear in this life…is fear itself.” That quote has since been attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt after the very worst of the Great Depression, but of course presidents have been using speech writers for years and years, and Charles P. Wiggins the Third comes from a long, long line of very brilliant writers.  So it was his grandaddy who said it first, and Charles P. Wiggins the Third dares you to say otherwise.  Naturally.

Here was his plan: He would give the people what they wanted; that is, he would give the people what they thought they wanted.  He would write a book, a happy book, to his own specifications, but the cover would be fashioned after the very saddest of sad books.  Charles, knowing that people generally judge the books they buy off of the covers they see, even went so far as to call his masterpiece The Very Sad Book, because sometimes you just really have to feed it to people, and Charles knew it.

Charles PChapter3.4And, of course…people went crazy about it.

But it was not so straightforward as that.  Nothing ever is with Charles.  Inside his book, The Very Sad Book, he wrote words that actually were… well… happy.  People didn’t realise it at first, so caught up were they in their thirst for tragedy, but as they continued to read the book, page by page and chapter by chapter, they found themselves feeling happy.  Lighthearted.  Better than they’d felt in ages.  Ten years younger, even.

Charles PChapter3.7

Thus, we learn that we CAN judge a book by it’s cover, but it’s better if we don’t.  Charles P. Wiggins the Third said that.

Charles PChapter3.5

When people realised they were reading uplifting words and actually enjoyed it, they began telling their friends.  They blogged about it, tweeted about it, Facebooked it, and everything.  Before long, viral marketing had catapulted The Very Sad Book to becoming a #1 Best Seller; to prove it, every copy in stores received a shiny new sticker on the cover.

Charles PChapter3.6

People were enamoured with Charles P. Wiggins the Third.  They lined up in front of bookstores to purchase his book on days he was scheduled for signings.  Some even slept overnight to maintain their position as first in line.  It was absurd, and utterly delicious.

Charles PChapter3.8The work of brilliance was the making-point of Charles’s career.  He hired an agent who booked speaking tours for the author.  He lectured at college campuses across the country, trying his darnedest to motivate others to do as well for themselves as he had.  He was in great demand both near and far, and there was even talk of a deal with Oprah.  (That last part was only speculation, and nothing ever came of it, but you know you’ve just about arrived when there’s talk of you appearing on Oprah.)

Charles PChapter3.9

…And so it happened that Charles P. Wiggins the Third went on to change the world.

Charles PChapter3.1

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
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