(I'm a little embarrassed, I checked the calender a while back and I thought the topic said "Merry Christmas" but it seems to have changed to "who do you write for". Oops. I dunno, Friends of the Inner Sanctum, this thing here is all I've got. Make the best of it. Sorry.)
I love to watch him dance. I love to see him happy. There he goes again.
That must be some kind of universal dance going back thousands of years, a dance that doesn’t have any steps or any name, just something you do without having to think. I've seen that dance in different forms in different countries and cultures, where you do this thing with your feet, and this other Zorba The Greek sort of thing with your hands waving in the air and snapping your fingers while you spin around. The goofy little paper hat, shaped like an ice cream cone keeps trying to slip off, and he's always reaching over to adjust it. He looks happy. I'm so glad to see him happy. That's all I need. Soon they'll be bringing out the roast venison - provided by me. I came across it recently while attending to other business. I'll bet he's never had roast deer meat before. They didn’t have deer in his country.
I glance at my watch. Soon. Very soon. I will go outside and visit my prisoner very soon, when its time.
An exploding star, a pulse of gravity through space-time bumping up against a gigantic ice ball in a cloud of ice balls as old as the universe, suspended like Christmas ornaments between stars. A nudge. A slow fall tugged by the faint wave of gravity's rainbow. A rubbery dip in space-time and it rolls downhill in a long, long cosmic fall.
The planets are gathered like wayward children around the young star, reincarnated from a star which exploded a billion years before. They have been around for awhile now, and the third one, the blue one has produced clear skies for the first time. The ice giant passes close, close enough to kill and shatter like a wayward highwayman. It swings indifferently past the sun, around and back into the depths. As it passes, it bullies a large iron stone, shouldering it out of its way. The stone begins its first of many endless whipping plunges towards the sun. The ice giant moves on.
He gave us presents, all of us. Sat down and talked to us, the best present. It caught me by surprise, so I didn’t have any questions or requests of him. The funny thing is, when you’re in the room with him you don’t think of anything like that. The old angers and the big questions seem to go away. You just like him. You just feel glad he's there. He's scary at first. His eyes can be scary. He has those fierce desert eyes, the eyes of the ascetic. He won’t tell you, but the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, the way he looks away sometimes when the music stops tell you. He knows the taste of doubt, rage, hope, despair. He is not God, no. But he's the next best thing - he's one of us. This is a fearsome man. This is a man who has wrestled with God, lost and won. He has wrestled with himself. It’s written in his face in the desolate runes of solitude. It must be hard for the TV evangelists when they meet him after death. They don't recognize him. They feel an impulse to test him. They think they can impress him. But those eyes, the eyes of the bluesman. Those eyes can shut you down with a glance.
The iron rock swings past the blue planet, where at that moment a fish is crawling onto sterile sand for the first time, posed on thick legs with fins, gills flexing painfully in the dry air. Unblinking it waits for the big fish that was chasing it to turn away toward the open sea, afraid of the air. Defeated. In the night sky over head the iron rock moves and moves. It will return every dozens of millions of years after the children of this fish have moved onto the dry land.
He likes Rolling Stones music, who would have guessed? And he likes Little Richard. The man has taste. I'll give that a ten Mr. Clark, it has a beat and you can dance to it. A beautiful girl dressed in white with close cropped hair has his hands and they're doing an awkward waltz or something. He acts like he doesn't know how. He steps on her toes and makes her laugh. He's letting her think she's teaching him. Now he brings her close and they slow dance together, one of his many brides, now at the birthday party of her bridegroom at last. Will they leave together? Will there be a wedding night also? I wish I could stay to see if he takes her home and then what, but it’s none of my damned business anyway. My prisoner is waiting. Maybe I will bring him a piece of cake and some ice cream. Maybe not.
As if sensing my thoughts, he looks up at me from over her swaying shoulder and his eyes speak. He knows very well from the past when someone is about to run out on a dinner party to do something nasty.
My eyes answer back - No. Hell no. Sorry, but not this time.
But I'll bring him some cake. I'll do that much.
In the corner my dad is sitting with a big burly man with a beard. The big man is good company anywhere, a good natured traveling companion. Dad is showing him how to cast with the beautiful split bamboo fly rod he brought for the birthday boy. The big man likes it and gives the tip a delicate flick. With his expressive hands he describes to dad how to net fish off a boat in the Galilee and Dad laughs at his fish stories, two old fishermen bullshitting each other. I can see these guys together pulling in the big ones out in a row boat at dawn on Eagle Lake in Minnesota. He'd love that, I'll bet. I don’t know if this big guy would be a good fly fisherman though, I don't know if he'd have the patience. But I can see them standing together in a mountain stream, the way dad used to when I was a little kid.
I glance at my watch. Time to go. Yes, I'll bring him some cake at least. I cut a piece and put it in a paper plate. I go over to wish the dancing man a happy birthday. He steps away a little from the woman and puts his hand on my shoulder. "Don’t be angry," he says. "Do you hear? It’s better to forgive. Let it go."
I touch his hand gratefully and I feel a wave of shame, because he's right of course, but he knows I won't. "I'll get there," I say. "Give me time." I look at his girl, The Bride of Christ, one of thousands. There have been so many over the ages. The man who died without a wife has more brides than Solomon.
"Damn you’re lucky, girl." I say to her as she smiles and looks down. "You’re so damn lucky to have this guy, you’re so damn lucky I want you to pick me some lottery numbers next time I see you."
The man gives me a little punch on the shoulder. "Come back later." he says. "I've got something for you."
The iron rock, fifty feet wide after having struck other rocks in its time is reaching its journey's end. Ahead of it, the blue planet is twirling to meet it like a lover. They dance. Everybody dances.
I cut a piece of cake and go out to meet my prisoner. I don't take any ice cream because it would be slush before I get there. It’s a good five miles where I’ve got him staked out. It must be pretty hot wearing that fur lined red overcoat in the desert sun.
When I get there, he twists his head to look up and that stupid little red hat with the stupid fur ball falls off into the dirt. Should have brought him a coke with some ice. I guess. I'll bet he doesn’t even drink that stuff anyway, just hustles it. Each arm, each leg is stretched tight and hand cuffed to stakes. The stakes are pounded into a huge bull’s eye target I painted in the sand before I brought him here. My little joke. I had this stuff all figured out ahead of time. I did the math. I'm a serious person. When I make a plan, believe, I make a plan.
"I'd have brought you a bigger plate with some real food maybe, but I don’t think you'll be around that long. Thought you'd want some cake."
"You sir - you are being very, very naughty!"
"Oh hell, no." I sit on the sand next to him. "Give me a couple minutes more. You don't even know what naughty looks like just yet."
"You Grinch! You fiend!" His wire granny glasses have slipped askew on his nose. I straighten them for him. "What have you done with my Rudolf?"
"Rudolf's doing fine. He's at a birthday party right now. He’ll be out any minute along with some nice red wine. Jesus likes red wine, he thinks white wine is for pansies. I don’t know. I'm a beer guy, myself. Everybody likes what they grow up with I guess. What do you think? Red wine? I think you’re supposed to have red wine with meat and white with chicken, isn’t that how it works?"
The old man's eyes water up. For about almost one second I feel sorry for him. Jesus is right. I know that. I just can’t.
"You can give me another speech about the real meaning of Christmas if it makes you feel better. You want to offer me an old fashioned bottle of Coca Cola or some other nostalgic horseshit rip off stuff you shill for every damn year at this time? Either way little buddy, your ass ain't talking your way out of this. Uh-unh."
"Let me up. What would you like for Christmas? Tell me."
"What've you got?" I fork off a piece of cake and shove it in his mouth. Now he's got icing on his beard. I forgot to bring a napkin. I forget little things like that. Consideration. Consideration. I lack consideration. Drives people crazy.
"Just tell me what you want."
"Oh let’s see. A cure for prostate cancer? I know somebody who needs that. World peace? Universal health care? An ugly sweater? Seventy two dark eyed virgins maybe? Some good lovin' and a six pack? What've you got that I want?"
"Would you like a BMW?"
"A beemer? A beemer
? You’re just pissing me off now."
"You’re being very, very naughty!"
"Oh now I'm so afraid I'll get a lump of coal in my stocking? Let me tell you gramps, the biggest fucking lump of coal in the whole world is headed for your ass right now. Look up."
He looks up. We both do. In the clear blue sky a bright spot, brighter than the sun has appeared. The air vibrates as the pressure wave begins to reach us. My ears pop and a rumble makes the pebbles dance. I point up at the spot of intense light which is getting brighter as it races towards us at cosmic speed. The air in the high atmosphere is beginning to plasmate.
"Merry Christmas old buddy. Now - watch the birdie."