Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Don't Forget Your Reindeer

"Reindeer?  Where am I going to get reindeer at this time of year?"


"Why are you shouting at me?  I'm not deaf, dear."

Maggie took a deep breath.  Having Colin's mother move in with them seemed the right thing to do.  The idea of her living alone in a home seemed dreadful.  Now she wondered if they hadn't been too hasty in their decision.  They had just gotten the last of their children out of the house; this was supposed to be their time.  Now it was like going back to the beginning.  Mother wasn't completely dependent on them, so in theory they could come and go as they pleased.  It just didn't always work out that way.

"Mom, do you need me to pick anything up for you while I'm gone?"

"I don't think so dear.  I'll just putter around in the garden until the weather breaks."

"Don't do too much.  I don't want to come home and find you've pulled out a stump like last time."
"Oh, I had Jamie and his friend Harry do that.  I needed room for my asters."

Maggie smiled.  Mom had a way to charm any man, no matter what age, to her desires.  She always wondered why mom hadn't remarried.  Mom had once said the true love of a good man could sustain you for your entire life, even after he was gone.  Maybe she didn't need to.

"OK then, I'm off.  Your slicker and wellies are in the mud room."

"I know where the reindeer are, dear."

Maggie laughed softly.  Reindeer indeed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Vince was fixing the lawn mower for the umpteenth time when he realized he had an audience.  Tina's sister's little boy was sitting on the top step of the stoop watching his every move.  The little kid followed Vince every where, mimicked all his mannerisms (much to Tina's displeasure).  It got annoying at times.  Tina told Vince he had to be patient with him because the kid had been having problems adjusting to his mom being away.  The kid was going to be around for at least a few years so Vince better get used to him.  Tina had been hinting very aggressively that it was time for Vince to propose and give the kid a taste of stability.  Vince wasn't sure he was ready for stability.  He wasn't sure he even liked kids.

"Tell me about the day I was born."

"I wasn't there.  Ask your mother."

"But you're my dad, why weren't you there?"

"I'm not your dad.  That's somebody else."


"Damn it kid, quit asking me so many damn questions!  I told you, ask your mother!"

"But she's not here.  She's away until next year.  You're all I got."

The little boy began to cry, unable to conceal his frustration and fear.

Vince threw his cigarette down and took a sip of beer.  It was warm and flat; he spit it out on the still smoldering bud.  He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then held it out towards the sobbing child.


The boy stayed in place, snot running down his lip.

"C'mere, damn it!"

Vince sat down next to the boy and pulled him closer.  He settled him onto his lap while he pulled a rag from his back pocket, wiping the kid's face.  He sighed and looked out towards the wreckage of the overgrown yard.  Damn this place looked like crap.  He looked at the whimpering child and shook his head.  What the hell was he going to say?

"Look, kid.  I'm sorry I'm all you got.  I don't have the answers you're looking for."

The kid tried to talk, but a sob wrenched out of his throat instead.

"I'm a little kid and grown ups are supposed to take care of little kids not go away and leave them without someone to take care of them."

Vince looked at his watch; where the hell was Tina?  He didn't know what to say to this kid.  Sorry your mom is a crack whore who allegedly robbed a gas station.  Sorry no body bothered to find out who your dad really is.  He looked once more at the now silent child.  He'd fallen asleep against Vince's oil stained flannel shirt.

The two of them were still sitting there an hour later when Tina finally came home from work, the lawn mower still gutted at the edge of the unkempt lawn.