Charkie, originally called Cookie (クッキ Kukki) and formerly known as Charlie (チャーリー Chārī) is a large grizzly bear. A former circus bear who once worked with the likes of Felix Walken and Doubs Hewley, he becomes Carzelio Runorata's housepet in December 1931 after intervening in the chaos by the riverbank involving Serges' Lemures and Jacuzzi's Gang.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Charkie is an enormous gray-brown grizzly bear. He is a little over three meters tall.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Despite Charkie's intimidating size and strength, he has a sweet and friendly disposition and has no desire to hurt humans, whom he refers to as "little ones." However, his size and strength result in him more than once causing harm to those he is only trying to play with or bat away. He only became gentle after Felix 'tamed' him in the circus.
Charkie's time in the circus has fostered within him a love for the sounds of cheers and jubilation. It has also reinforced his hatred of the sounds of gunshots, which he first acquired when armed hunters pursued him in the forests.
Charkie does not understand human language, but can recognize certain words such as circus ("ser-kus"). He has a simplistic thought process and simple desires, which usually amount to finding food and protecting those whom he considers to be his friends.
Chronology[edit | edit source]
1920: Circus Era - As "Cookie"[edit | edit source]
Originally a nameless wild grizzly bear, his unusually large size catches the attention of humans who eventually captured him and prepared to put him down. A circus troupe acquires him before he is killed and puts him to work as one of their caged animals, only for his ferocity to increase daily to the point where he tries to attack his trainers.
In 1920, a young newcomer to the circus called Claire Stanfield announces that he will calm the bear and enters the bear's cage. Seconds after Claire dubs the bear "Cookie," Cookie bites Claire's arm without knowing that Claire had secretly doused his arm in hot sauce prior. The heat causes Cookie to release Claire's arm and roll around on the ground in pain. From then on, Cookie obediently carries out his training and comes to think of Claire as a friend. Claire's friendship is one of three things that Cookie takes away from the 1920 incident, the other two being: that people cheering thrills him to his core; and that humans are poisonous to him.
Cookie spends the next several years performing with the circus and relishing in the cheers of the crowd, until the circus is forced to disband thanks to the actions of a large hostile gang. Masterless, he ends up wandering the northern forests of New York. During this time, he "grows a size or two" and increases in weight.
1931: Runorata Era - "Cookie" to "Charlie"[edit | edit source]
In December 1931, Cookie is holed up with a pile of food in Bungalow #7 when he hears the voices of children outside and leaves the bungalow to investigate. Spotting two human shadows, he hides in the nearby underbrush to watch the two Lemures casting the shadows before rearing back on his hind legs in order to leap upon the two men. Regardless of his lack of intent to harm, he ends up knocking the two men unconscious. Shocked at seeing them unmoving, Cookie is reminded of an incident in his past in which he had knocked out a young Circus member in a similar fashion, for which his trainers had severely scolded him.
Assuming that he will be shouted at for having rendered the two men immobile, Cookie reflexively turns and heads back into the forest before remembering that none of the circus performers are nearby. He returns the way he came and bumps into a bespectacled woman called Lana at the exact moment a gunshot rings out somewhere in the near distance. Cookie, who loathes the sound of gunshots thanks to his past, runs over to the path behind the bungalows as fast as he can.
Once Cookie reaches the front path he finds no humans around despite their smell, and a large truck and small truck parked together. The bigger truck reminds him of the circus' truck that once transported him, and he climbs into its luggage compartment and closes his eyes. Some of the children upon their return toss some blankets over him, assuming that he is a pile of blankets, and he falls asleep thanks to the blankets' warmth. He is briefly stirred into a doze when his truck and the smaller trunk are driven to the riverbank and parked there, and is about to fall asleep once more when a boy called Carzelio "Cazze" Runorata discovers him.
Cazze exclaims in delight at the sight of him and ruffles Cookie's cheeks, and Cookie, relieved by Cazze's positive tone and strongly reminded of Claire, nuzzles Cazze's own cheek. Cazze grabs one of the blankets and runs off, leaving Cookie slightly sad and lonesome. A gunshot goes off several seconds later, and Cookie looks out of the truck to see several Lemures holding guns ("the things that [make] the 'bad sound'") and apparently somehow responsible for stopping Cazze's happy cries. Cookie assumes that the guns are to blame for everything, and charges forward to strike the gun out of the nearest Lemur's hand. The strike knocks both gun and man away, rendering one man down for the count.
At that moment, the twins Gabriel and Juliano arrive on the scene: Gabriel knocks out one of the Lemures while Juliano bursts onto the scene riding a motorcycle out of the forest. Cookie bats down a second man and returns to all fours in order to stare at the delinquent children by the river while the twins entreat with Serges, the man holding Cazze hostage. The two Lemures he had knocked unconscious before return to the scene with guns, but Lana sets off a smoke flare and fills the area with white smoke.
Reminded of how smoke was his signal to charge into the ring with Claire on his back in the circus, Cookie happily leaps into the smoke and once again knocks down the two Lemures from earlier. Meanwhile, the twins use the smoke to their advantage and beat the remaining Lemures into unconsciousness. They throw the incapacitated men into a heap in front of Lana and Pamela.
As the smoke dissipates, Cookie lumbers toward Cazze and the twins. Since Cookie does not understand humans for the most part, he has no idea that Cazze is asking the twins if he can 'keep' Cookie. Cookie and the others all end up looking Serges' way as cargo crates start to drop from the train passing over the bridge overhead, and seconds after Chané Laforet falls into the water a crate crashes into Serges before he can shoot the children.
Between Gabriel and Juliano, Cookie looks back up at the train and recognizes Claire, clinging to the side of one of the cars. He roars out to Claire in nostalgic greeting, and Claire waves back at him.
1932-1935 - From "Charlie" to "Charkie"[edit | edit source]
Cazze names Cookie "Charlie," and per his wishes Charlie is taken in as his pet and cared for on Runorata property for the next three years. When the Runoratas' party at Ra's Lance in February 1935 looms on the horizon, Claire - now called Felix Walken - visits Cazze at the Runorata villa and during their conversation looks over to a large tent on the property and asks if Cazze is bringing "Cookie" to the party. Cazze, referring to Cookie as "Charlie," replies that they intend to have Charlie standing on a ball in a tent next to the Ra's Lance hotel, and Felix corrects him on "Cookie's name." The two have a back-and-forth over Charlie's name before mutually bursting into laughter, and two alternate names are suggested: "Charlie Cookie" and "Charkie."
Smiling at each other, the two call out to Charkie with their preferred names for him that it is time for dinner, and he looks up from his truck tire with a happy growl. Some days later finds the circus tent constructed outside the Ra's Lance building just as Cazze had envisioned, with Charkie scheduled to arrive that night. However, Charkie's transit via truck that night is interrupted when his driver is surprised by a smokescreen from one of Rail's bombs and, in a panic, manages to flip the truck over. The truck's canopy tears open in the confusion, and Charkie leaves the wreck and lumbers down the city road in search of his friends (namely Felix, Cazze, and Gabriel and Juliano).
His fright of the unfamiliar skyscraper landscape spurs him onward, occasionally accidentally frightening children who spot him and causing them to scream (which again prompts him to move away). Eventually, around sunrise, Charkie comes across Fred's Clinic and spies Fred, who is "wrapped in gray" like him, exiting the building. Charkie makes to chase him, but is distracted by the smell of dried meat from the hospital's interior. As he looks towards the building, he sees Who fiddling with the broken door and cursing the absent Ladd Russo and Graham Specter for having broken it. Charkie approaches and pushes the door open, causing Who to pass out, and he clambers over Who in order to enter the building. He rifles through a box of jerky before curling up in a corner and falling asleep. By that morning, the second day of the party, multiple citizens have reported spotting a large shape swimming in the East River and running down roads among other rumors.
Around 10 AM, Firo Prochainezo escorts clinic employees Isaac & Miria to the building, where they find the front door ajar. The three enter the clinic and find Who still passed out on the floor. As Firo checks on Who, Isaac and Miria notice Charkie and, mistaking him for a pile of blankets, lean against him. Within the next several seconds, Charkie shakes them off and stands on his hind legs, head scraping against the ten-foot ceiling. Isaac and Miria holler in shock and promptly drop to the ground and play dead, encouraging Firo to do the same.
Isaac asks Miria how they can possibly play more dead, and the idea hits upon them to act as vampires. They stand and draw blankets about them as makeshift capes. Firo snaps at them to stop agitating the bear while he shoves Who's body into the next room, before taking out a knife and shouting at Charkie to attract its attention. His ploy fails, and Charkie scoops Isaac and Miria onto his back. Isaac and Miria are inordinately pleased at this turn of events. Firo, meanwhile, calls Victor Talbot and asks him to help track down Charkie's owner.
Over the next several minutes, Isaac and Miria climb off of Charkie and cover him with blankets before leaning against him. They and Charkie fall asleep. Fred returns and Who, ashen-faced, wakes up. Victor is beyond baffled when he, Bill Sullivan, and other investigators arrive on the scene and finds Charkie sleeping in the clinic, and spends the next few minutes in heated conversation with Firo. The conversation takes a surprising turn when Bill remarks that he recognizes the bear as the one currently under the care of Carzelio Runorata.
Soon after Firo leaves for work, Ladd shoulders his way past the guards outside the clinic and into the building and is promptly growled at by Charkie. Victor and Ladd proceed to antagonize each other until Charkie stands up on his hind legs at a piercing artificial sound going off somewhere in the distance. He lumbers out of the clinic and is met by armed guards, but a recently arrived Gabriel and Juliano use their throwing knives to disarm the men. Nearby, Graham exclaims in excitement to Shaft over the appearance of a bear, shortly before Victor bursts out of the clinic and shouts at the guards to stop the bear before it hurts something.
Isaac and Miria protectively stand in front of Charkie and protest, and then scramble onto Charkie's back right as he starts moving, first as a walk and then breaking into a run down the road. Gabriel and Juliano get on their motorcycles and take off in pursuit. Ladd and Graham enter Shaft's car, with Shaft driving, and also take off in pursuit. Victor manages to grab on to the automobile's bumper in time, and manages to cling to it despite being dragged along the road.
The strange entourage's chase through the city takes about ten minutes, during which time they pass Luck Gandor and his entourage of Maria Barcelito, Alkins, Raz Smith, and Mark Wilmans, until Charkie finally comes to a stop in Central Park. Upon seeing him, Salomé Carpenter turns off the speaker he'd been using to emit the sound that had attracted Charkie to him. The scene quickly devolving into fighting between multiple factions, which Charkie interprets as a "ser-kus." He wonders where Doubs and his old "ser-kus" friends are, and where "Claire and Cazze" from yesterday are. Thinking that they might come if he calls at a loud volume, he lets out a roar so tremendous that all of the fighters momentarily stop fighting.
Charkie's gaze finally settles on a newcomer who is not one of his friends, Chané Laforet. Ladd and Chané immediately start fighting, during which time Christopher Shaldred and Ricardo Russo show up in the park. Isaac and MIria, still sitting on Charkie's back, are troubled by watching their friends fight and decide to interpret it as Ladd and Chané practicing for some sort of Romeo vs. Juliet circus show. Ladd and Chané are forcibly separated when a newly arrived Alkins throws them both past each other, and the scene devolves into fighting once more.
A huge ear-splitting sound once again freezes the battleground, and Charkie stands up on his hind legs once more (once again toppling Isaac and Miria to the ground) at the old, familiar smell of Felix. Felix fiddles with Salomé's speaker to adjust it to a more reasonable volume and speaks through it to Chané, assuring her that he will love her no matter what. He then turns his attention toward addressing the crowd, and Charkie, who cannot understand him, charges forth and bends over so that Felix can climb atop him. Perched on Charkie's back, Felix invites everyone with a grudge against him to come fight him at Ra's Lance the next night, where he will be stationed as a bodyguard outside Melvi Dormentaire's and Firo Prochainezo's showdown room.
Ladd rushes forward, intending to attack, but one paw swipe from Charkie sends Ladd flying backward. He assumes that Felix is Charkie's owner and prepares to 'discipline' him, but Gabriel and Juliano aim their guns at his head and warn him that anyone who intends to inflict harm upon the bear's owner is an enemy of the Runoratas. Victor, his clothes tattered, fires off his gun and identifies himself as a BOI agent. Charkie crouches at hearing the warning note in Felix's voice, and waits as battle lines are drawn.
As everyone disperses, a signal from Felix has Charkie throw Chané onto his back. He then starts running before the mobilized police forces can catch him, and Gabriel and Juliano mount their motorcycles and take chase.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- In the July 2016 afterword for 1935-D: Luckstreet Boys, Ryohgo Narita says that he initially planned for "Cookie" to go wild every night and hunt mobsters, but that he changed his mind after hearing contemporary reports of bear attacks.
- Charkie has better hearing than the average bear.
- Charkie's former circus colleague Doubs Hewley is a vampire and supporting character from the light novel series Vamp!, another series set in the Naritaverse.