From the desk of Morbid Misanthrope:
Because I’m very busy with work right now, I don’t have time to post much of anything new. Christmas is coming up, though, so I thought I would spread some holiday cheer with one of my favorite Christmas stories. I seem to recall my Grandmother reading me this story around the holidays as a child, when my mother got trashed swilling spiked eggnog and my meth-loving father started wailing on her with the cordless phone. Grandmother would read me this story and then hand me a sharpened Christmas tree branch, telling me to stab myself in the throat with it rather than burn to death in my locked room should the house catch on fire when dad’s meth lab exploded again. Or maybe I just made it up last Christmas shortly before getting rushed to the emergency room with a severe case of pancreatitis. Anyway, it’s a beautiful story, so please enjoy. Merry Christmas.
Tim M. Throrpe stomped down the street as a cold winter wind blew through the bustling city of Settingsville, California. Though much smaller than urban metropolises like San Francisco or Los Angeles, Settingsville was a busy center of commerce in its own right, even being home to the state’s second- largest slaughterhouse and used plastic tarp emporium. Tim had recently relocated to Settingsville from another distant state to take an important job at the city’s premiere law firm. Tim was a very important person to be sure, but this important and high-paying job left him with little time for a personal life. His family all lived far away, he had no friends, and he spent more time at the office than he did in his fancy apartment.
As Tim stormed down the tree-lined streets, briefcase grasped firmly in his clenched fist, he screamed angrily into his cell phone.
“What do you mean the car needs a new goddamned engine?” he barked into his phone, a fine mist of angry spittle spraying from his gaping maw. “When was the oil changed last? How the fuck should I know that? I’m an important lawyer! I don’t have time for oil! I don’t even have time for Christmas!”
Tim was right about Christmas. In the few moments of free time he’d had in the last few weeks, he realized Christmas was quickly approaching. Whenever he mentioned taking a day off for Christmas, his bosses were fond of laughing and saying, “Tim, there’s no time for Christmas—not when you’re an important lawyer!”
Tim always shrugged and nodded in agreement, though he often thought to himself, “That’s easy for you to say, you all celebrate Hanukah!” And even though Tim was always very dedicated to his career, he couldn’t help but wish he would be able to take some time, just a day, to celebrate Christmas—his favorite holiday growing up.
“Listen, Pedro! You better get my car working immediately or I’ll have la migra kicking down your door and hauling your ass back to El Salvador before you can say Feliz Navidad!” Tim bellowed. “I don’t care if your name is Tony and you’re from New Jersey, just get my car working by tomorrow morning or you’ll be sorry. I’m an important lawyer!”
Tim hung up his phone in a huff and shoved it into his coat pocket. With his car in the shop and a flap of murders related to rogue cab drivers stalking the streets and picking up unsuspecting victims, Tim had no choice but to take the bus to work.
“How humiliating,” Tim thought, “to take the bus like some kind of commoner. I’m an important lawyer, goddamnit! The bus is for pregnant waitresses and video store clerks!”
Tim stomped along, muttering to himself and lighting an expensive cigarette. After all, regular cigarettes were for bus boys and unemployed musicians. He was an important lawyer, and even his cigarettes should reflect his high status.
Tim came to the first bus stop he saw and sat down angrily on the empty, graffiti-covered bench. There he sat alone for several minutes, smoking his fancy cigarette and grumbling to himself, until an old man hobbled up to the bench and sat down beside him.
“Oh, fantastic,” Tim thought. “This old guy will probably have cat-food breath. God, I hate old people.”
Tim took a long drag from his cigarette, threw the butt down, and exhaled the smoke in a long, audible sigh. Glancing over quickly to make sure the old man hadn’t died suddenly, Tim noticed the old man was smiling at him.
“Say there, sonny,” the smiling old man said, “those are some mighty fancy cigarettes. You must be a very important person to be able to afford cigarettes like those. You know, I smoke a pipe myself. Not so much these days, though. You might as well be a filthy Nazi the way people treat you if you smoke these days. Plus, my wife hates the smell.”
“Yes, well, I’m an important lawyer, you see, so I can smoke whatever I want,” Tim said coldly, hoping to discourage the old man from further conversation. Much to Tim’s dismay, however, the old man just continued smiling and making small talk.
“An important lawyer, you say? Well, young man, that’s mighty impressive. Hey now, why is someone so important taking the bus?”
“Well, old man, not that it’s any of your business, but my car is in the shop right now, so I can’t drive …”
“I see,” the old man interrupted, “and because of those rogue-cabbie murders going on right now, you’re too cautious to take a cab. Am I right?” the old man asked.
“Yes, of course,” Tim replied grumpily. “Normally I would never have to utilize public transportation, but this strange convergence of extenuating circumstances has really left me with no other option.”
The old man chuckled, his cheeks rosy with merriment. Although Tim usually hated old people, for some reason this pleasant old man seemed strangely familiar to him. Just making inane small talk with the jolly old fellow seemed comforting somehow.
A few moments of silence passed before the old man spoke again.
“So … what does a big, important lawyer do with his time off for Christmas, I wonder.”
“Well, if big, important lawyers are really as big and important as they’d like to believe they are, they wouldn’t have any time off for Christmas,” Tim snorted.
“Gee, sonny,” the old man said with a hint of regret in his voice, “you mean to tell me you don’t get any time off for Christmas?”
“Bah! There’s no time for Christmas—not when you’re an important lawyer,” Tim said, crossing his arms and turning up his nose in inflated self importance.
“My, my!” the old man exclaimed. “Do you really believe that, or have you just resigned yourself to it because you have no choice?”
Tim was surprised by the old man’s response. It was true. Tim really did wish he had more time to enjoy Christmas. He remembered all the Christmases of his youth, spent with family and friends: big dinners, blinking lights, and warm fires lighting the room as the family gathered around the festively decorated Christmas tree on Christmas morning.
“I … I …” Tim stuttered. “Hmmmph! Even if I wanted time off for Christmas and wasn’t so busy, all my family lives very far away and I have no friends in this city. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but I used to love Christmas. But with my new job as an important lawyer and being so alone here, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas, anyway.”
“There’s nothing that I hate more than someone losing the Christmas spirit,” the old man said, shaking his head.
“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Tim said sadly. “I just remember how much I loved Christmas as a kid—the family gatherings, huge holiday dinners, snow, and Christmas decorations—and think I’ll never feel that way again. But, you know, we all have to grow up some time.”
The old man patted Tim on the shoulder.
“Now, Tim, just because people grow up and become hotshot lawyers doesn’t mean they can’t have the Christmas Spirit.”
Tim was surprised. He looked at the old man in disbelief.
“Hey, I never told you my name! How did you know my name was Tim?” he said in amazement.
“Everyone should be able to enjoy Christmas, you know,” the old man said, stroking his long, white beard. “I know it’s been many years since you really felt the Christmas Spirit, and I know you have to work alone on Christmas, but maybe, just maybe, it will feel a bit more like Christmas to you this year.”
Tim stared at the old man, who was now laughing boisterously with both of his hands patting his jiggling belly. The whole scene seemed strange to Tim, yet oddly familiar. As the old man continued laughing, Tim felt a cold sensation on his nose. That singular cold sensation on his nose was soon joined by other icy droplets on the surface of Tim’s skin. Tim couldn’t believe what was happening.
“Oh my god!” Tim gasped. “It’s … it’s snowing. It’s snowing in Settingsville, California. It never snows here. This is incredible!”
“Ho, ho, ho!” the old man laughed. “This must be a Christmas miracle. A white Christmas is a white Christmas, even from behind an office window at a big law firm, Timmy.”
“Who are you?” Tim asked the old man in shock as snow began to fall more and more heavily.
“Ho, ho, ho! That’s not important, Timmy,” the old man said, his cheeks rosy from the laughter. “Just have a merry Christmas!”
The old man got up and started to walk away, but Tim grabbed his arm to stop him.
“Wait just a minute!” Tim said. “I know who you are! You’re Santa Claus, and you came all the way from the North Pole to make it snow for me, didn’t you?”
The old man smiled knowingly.
“You know, Tim, I have to work this Christmas, too. I always work on Christmas and Christmas Eve. I really must be going, so you have a merry Christmas and enjoy the snow.”
The old man tried to walk away, but again Tim grabbed his arm and stopped him.
“Did I not just get done telling you how I don’t have a car right now?” Tim asked.
“Well, yes …”
“Am I not sitting here at the bus stop, wearing nothing but an expensive suit, waiting for the bus to take me to work?”
“You are indeed, Tim, but I really need to get going …”
“Now you listen here!” Tim snarled angrily. “Thanks to you, now I have to wait for the goddamned bus in the goddamned snow! My suit is going to get ruined, you shithead!” Tim screamed at a surprised Santa Claus.
“Now, now, Timmy, it’s almost Christmas. Don’t you want to feel that Christmas spirit again, like you did when you were a kid?” Santa said nervously.
“All I’m going to feel,” Tim growled, “is cold and wet, you moron! I’m wearing an Armani suit and Berluti loafers, not a fucking Eskimo coat and fucking shiny, yellow galoshes! And what the hell is going to happen to the city? It never snows here. This snow is going to cause all sorts of problems! How am I supposed to get to the office if the bus is up to its axles in magic snow? This kind of climatological confusion will make that windbag Al Gore shit a polar bear! What then, prick? Another Inconvenient Truth? Nobody wants to sit through that crap!”
“How dare you talk to Santa Claus that way!” Santa gasped. “Such filthy language, too! I knew you were a naughty boy this year, but I wanted to do something nice for you since you’re so alone and pathetic. I give you a Christmas miracle and you just swear at me! You ought to be ashamed!”
“Just how the hell is a snow storm in California supposed to be a Christmas miracle or an accurate physical representation of an intangible concept like Christmas spirit? That’s just fucking stupid!” Tim yelled, lighting another cigarette.
“You ungrateful bastard! I don’t have to listen to this crap! I’m leaving. I hope those faggy cigarettes give you colon cancer, you prick!” Santa said, walking away angrily.
“Yeah, don’t stop the snow or anything, either. This day obviously isn’t going to get any better!” Tim shouted at Santa Claus. “And if I ever catch you coming down my chimney, I’m going to put so many bullets in your ass you’ll be shitting toxic paint that makes children retarded!”
“You don’t have a chimney, stupid! You live in an apartment. And I wouldn’t visit your place on Christmas Eve if a naked Jessica Alba with sugar cookie nipples and a gumdrop G-Spot was sitting on your sofa. You asshole!” Santa yelled back at the furious lawyer.
“Go fuck yourself with a reindeer antler, you creepy, antiquated holiday mascot!” Tim screamed, jumping up and down in the quickly accumulating snow on the ground.
And as the angry shouts filled the air, snow continued to fall from the heavens. A few days later it was still snowing, and everyone inside on Christmas morning, opening gifts with loved ones by their environmentally friendly space heaters, had a magical Christmas indeed. Everyone, that is, except Tim, who stole a dashiki and a bongo drum and celebrated Kwanzaa.