Christmas joy is a matter of perspective. For some, it’s the happiest time of the year. For others, not so much.
Twenty-nine-year-old Mick, the son of crack addicts, isn’t exactly a dyed-in-the-wool Scrooge. Mick’s been on his own from childhood. As a teen, he lived in a shelter, where for a short time he had a boyfriend. After the boyfriend left, Mick moved to the Orpheum Theater. While squatting there and taking care of the grand old building, Mick watched others celebrate the holidays from a distance, never able to share in their merriment. Only his
Technicolor dreams liven his dull, mechanical life until one day the world around him begins to change. Mick is surprised when a man named Jim buys the vintage Orpheum and plans to restore it. Something about Jim makes Mick think they’ve met before. In fact, Jim rekindles Mick’s longing for a better life and a little holiday magic for himself.
This was a sweet holiday short. I liked Mick and his boss together. It was obvious at first who he was. But the reveal was still sweet and nice to read. I liked getting to see Mick transforming from someone that dislikes the season to someone that loves it. That slow melting of his opinion is wonderful. There was just enough story here you could get a sense of Mick and get invested in his happy ending. Mick and his guy are wonderful together and you can tell they’re going to make a go of a relationship. I do have faith they’ll go the distance based on how they met. I would adore a sequel. Maybe next holiday we can see them a few years from now with the theater a huge success and they share holiday joy with everyone? I’d read the heck out of it if no matter what it was about.
In early November, a new banner across the Orpheum Theater went up saying: Welcome to Christmas, the happiest time of the year. Coming soon.
Far as I could tell, Christmas was when children danced around like clowns on crack. Besotted parents cavorted around them like ninnies in the stupid race. And the rest of us stood back waiting for the inevitable explosion.
Despite how it started, Christmas had been morphed by the rich into a season of greed. It had nothing to do with whether a kid was good or bad, but how much money his folks had. Take the kids I knew down at the shelter. Shit, they could be as good as little angels, and the best they’d ever get was someone’s cast-off pity, which wasn’t going to do them a damned bit of good when the holiday parade of who-got-what started at school.
All Christmas did, as far as I was concerned, was make poor kids feel worse and rich kids feel more powerful and more ready to rub everyone else’s nose in their misfortune. And we all knew, where you started was pretty much where you ended up in life. The Christmas miracle was a lie that should have been shot in the head and buried eons ago.
Fortunately, here in the bowels of the old Orpheum Theater, the only Christmas merry-makers left were ghosts of vaudevillians, chorus girls, corrupt managers, and the live help. Those of us who weren’t going from office party to cocktail land were left here to sweep the floors, squeegee jizz off bathroom walls, pry gum from under seats, and oust anything that moves after the doors were closed and locked.
I’ve been called cynical, a Scrooge, a vulture perched and ready to rip the eyes out of the season. It wasn’t true. I was as big a sap as the next guy.
I was still working here at the Orpheum, wasn’t I?
Even after the new guy, a hotshot investor type, bought the building and threatened to give the Orpheum the Wonderful Life makeover, I was still here. The stately Orpheum might be closed to the public for renovation, but as the longest paid employee, I was one of the lucky bastards kept on during the project.
Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska where she promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube. She now lives in Sacramento.
Now retired, Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.
Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.
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