Monday, December 24, 2018

A story for Randi on Christmas Eve

This is a Christmas story I wrote for Randi. It harkens back to when she and I were going out and every year I tried to write her a story for Christmas. Some were short stories and some were essentially novels, they usually had something to do with Christmas and sometimes they didn’t. They were not high art just written just to amuse the love of my life. For better or worse some of the best writing I ever did was contained in those stories. I still refer to bits I came up with and the characters that fill them in the fragments I now occasionally scribble in half used notebooks.

You really don’t need to know any of that but it might help to know that the main character, a young woman named Fen (aka Fenchurch) is the heroine of the tales. She is a grand adventurer through time and space more often than not at the whim of time and space itself. I mention this because it puts a stray comment into context. Also in context is the fact I tend to have a repeated motif of angels getting drunk at a bar. If you remember the one other story of mine that appeared here at Unseen involved angels getting drunk at a poetry reading.

The last bit of context and the only thing you really need to know about the story is that the Mark Knopfler song referenced is called The Ragpicker’s Dream. The song can be found here and you should probably give it a listen so you get an sense of the dance at the end.

That is it. And this the story- a small trifle written to amuse a friend and nothing more.

Fenchurch was holed up in a dark corner of the bar nursing a too big double. She hadn’t been expecting to find the bar open on Christmas Eve but there it was so she wandered in, and saw why Danny had chosen to skip midnight mass- a band of angels were ponied up to the bar. As everyone knows Angeles tip big and on this holiest of nights you can’t get much closer to God than his heavenly host, so he stayed open and hummed along to the tunes.

It was a quiet night for the most part. The sound system had Christmas classics playing, mostly Bing and Perry and those sort of things. All low key. It was the sort of night where even Brenda Lee was going to be too rockin'. There were a couple of rowdy college kids at a table to the right of the bar but a withering look from one of the glowing beings had put the literal fear of god into them.

Fen liked it quiet. It had been a crazy holiday season for reasons that eluded her, mostly having to do with other people’s crazy need to create the feeling of false nostalgia you get from holiday songs. Long ago Fen stopped worrying about recreating something that never was. She supposed that she had seen enough in her trips around the universe that she could accept the wonders before her without question-after all she was sitting in a bar in Iowa with a bunch of angels which, if you thought about it, was somehow magical.

Fen took to doodling on he napkin, more abstracts than anything concrete. She found herself humming along to some odd ball Mitch Miller tune as she drew.

Then she looked up. There were raised voices at the bar. A heated argument was getting loud. Fen was a tad confused since while she had seen more than her share of drunk angels she had never seen one raise their voice. The fact that two were speaking very loudly was really strange- she wondered what could have caused it….

And then she caught it, they were arguing the merits of various Christmas Carols. They were trying to, very loudly, as loudly as angel can get, which is loud, convince each other what the best Christmas song was.

Fen was amused.

And then she got up and walked to the bar, and then behind it. Danny didn’t pay her any mind as she unhooked the sound system and plugged in her phone. Danny was too engrossed in the argument happening mere inches from him.  Fen then hit play and the familiar picking of Mark Knopfler filled the room.

“When Jack Frost Came for Christmas
With a brass monkey date...” Knopfler sang and the room went silent.

Fen walked around the bar and took the hand of one of the angels and began to dance with them,  swaying in the waltz time. The others watched for a moment before they paired up and joined them. At the table to right, where the college kids whispered,  the gentlemen bowed to the ladies and then escorted them to the dance floor.

Danny just sat on his stool and smiled. As the song wound down he hit repeat and the dancing continued as he poured shots of the good stuff for everyone. He motioned to the dancers about the drinks but they kept dancing so he hit repeat again and let them dance some more.

As the song finally ended  the dancers broke off and took their drinks- all except Fen and her partner who did one more turn of the dance floor before bowing to the crowd, who applauded.

Danny refilled the glasses “ This may not be the milk of human kindness…”

“But it’ll do.” said a an angel.

“Yes it’ll do. And merry to Christmas to all”

“And to all a good night” everyone said before they downed their drinks and cheered.

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