Here is Part 2 of the story. Hope you enjoy it and Happy Holidays to all!
Tired, I was tired. The last rays of sunshine slipped trough the living room window. The folds of the old chair cushioned every sore muscle. Five days of non stop work, on the tree, on the house, around the property. Atlas kept me company through out, begging to play, to eat and to spend every waking moment with me. I tiptoed around him at he slept at the foot of the rocking chair. A part of me wanted to crash back into it but I had to bathe and change before Patty and the girls arrived.
Hot water ran down my back. “God, this feels good!” A knock at the door snapped me from my revelry. “Coming!” I ran from the shower to the main bedroom with nothing but a stray towel to shelter my dignity. A few minutes later I emerged, disheveled but clothed.
“DAAAADYY!” screamed Kaylee at the top of her little lungs. She rushed into my arms. “Ireland was great, we went shopping and sightseeing and eating and ate lots of candy and visited with Gran, and….”and on and on she went. Patty managed to sneak in a kiss. The littlest munchkin, Marsha clung to her mother’s leg.
I set Kaylee down. “Your room is ready, go up, pick up your clothes and hit the bath young lady.” She nodded and bolted stairs. “And how is my little angel doing?”
“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!” At 3 years of age, Marsha could talk, but nothing showed her displeasure at the unfairness of the universe like a good long throaty cry.
I scooped her up. “Still upset about the move, eh?” Patty shrugged. I kissed her belly, which served as a momentary off button. “Look honey, you remember Atlas?” I pointed at the collie splayed on the floor.
“Will work on your Ls, but yeah, Atlas,” I set her down. She wondered over, sat beside him, stroke his soft coat and rested her head on his side. He did not budge as she joined him in the dreamland of babes and puppies .
“That’s not very hygienic, now is it?” said someone from the front door.
“I suppose not Mrs. Finley, but is is awful cute,” I said.
“Miss Finley, I got no ‘usband to claim a name from,” said Patty’s mother.
I helped her with the multiple layers of coats. “Aye, merry Christmas to you too.”
“The whiskey is on the top cupboard, right by the cherry, but that one is for the turkey,” I said. She gave me the evil eye. Didn’t stop her from going straight to the kitchen. As the evening went on more guest arrived. Mr. McKinley, the president of the bank I would be working for, showed up with his wife and three kids. Mr. and Mrs. McGregor, our neighbors from across the valley came with all the pudding she could stuff into the boot of her little Nissan. By 10:00 the house was full and festive. Kids ran around at our heels while the adults talked about the year that was.
Roger Johannes an old school buddy of mine pull me aside. “Hey Tom, you got any plans for New Years?”
“Not really. I mean we just moved in and well with the kids….”
“Oh, well I mean with Kathy gone, I got the flat to myself, I mean I kept it in the divorce and-”
Ms. Finley interrupted us with whiskey baited breath. “I’ll take care of the girls. It’s the least I can do. I mean you did this all by yourself, Tom. Tom, you’re a good man. I don’t say it often enough, but I reckon Patty could have done worse.”
Roger’s face screwed up in a vain attempt to repress a laugh. “Thank you Ms. Finley. I try,” I said.
She slapped me. “You’re a good boy, Tom. Now where are my granddaughters?”
“Does she…” said Roger, “I mean….”
“No, her husband, Patty’s father, left them on Christmas Eve. Well, that’s not right, the way I heard it they were in the rocks for awhile and then on Christmas Eve as he was closing his jewelry shop he got shot by some robbers.”
A loud series of knocks boomed across the house. “I’m coming!” A wall of deep blue appeared on the other side of the door. “Stephen?” My little brother gave me a rib breaking bear hug.
“How are ya! Merry Christmas. This is Shelley, my girlfriend,” he said.
A tiny blond girl stepped around him. “Nice to meet you.”
“Come on in.” The moment she was out of earshot I jabbed Stephen on the ribs. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? I thought you were still in Afghanistan!”
“Oh no, I got back a month ago. MoD shuffling around units a bit so I should be in the UK for awhile,” he said.
“You could have called me you know,” I said.
“And when was the last time you call me?”
I raised my hands. “Fine.”
“The place looks great. Kinda regret selling it to you now that I got a chance to see it.”
“You’re seeing six months of labor and money.”
The magic hour approached. We all made our way to the back garden. More people arrived, led by the village major. “What are all these people doing here Mr. Mathews?” I asked him.
“Well Mr. Jackson, we didn’t want to miss this for the world,” he replied.
I hoisted Marsha on my right arm. She rubbed her eyes with tiny fists. “Look honey, look at the tree.” Then I flipped the switch. It lit up the night soft mix of reds, green and golds.
“WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!” said Marsha at the sight.
Kaylee sang to the heavens:
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
We all joined in. The heavens answered with snow. Patty leaned close. “I went to the doctor in Dublin.”
“AGAIN!” All heads turned toward me. She gave me her patented ‘don’t be stupid look’.
“I hope it’s a boy this time,” she said.
“Our boy? Nice.”
“Merry Christmas Tom,” she said.
“Merry Christmas Patty.”
Merry Xmas to all and to all a Good Night.