|12-24-2008, 12:22 PM||#1|
Blue Crack Supplier
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: completely out of touch
Local Time: 10:10 PM
A Larry Christmas__________________
Disclaimer: this story is completely fictional. Although inspired in some ways by real people, their likenesses here are borrowed and used in a manner which is in no way to be considered realistic. It’s a total rip-off of a classic, as well. Blatant, shameful and unrepentant. The author makes no profit and means no harm in anything within the story; it’s just a fun little fairy tale. Enjoy! And Merry Christmas.
“I said no, Bono and I’m not going to be changing my mind. I’m not going to New York for a fuckin’ publicity stunt on Christmas Eve!” Larry grumbled into his cell phone as he settled down in the last seat on the tube. It was crowded, cold, and late – making him grumpier than usual. He just wanted to be home, not out chasing some stupid gift which would most likely be opened and forgotten within moments, anyway.
The truth was, Larry realized with a sigh, he had no Christmas spirit what-so-ever anymore. What did Christmas really mean to kids who had everything they needed and who knew that they would eventually have everything they wanted, as well. He loved his kids, there was no one on earth who could doubt that – and he loved Bono and Edge’s kids as if they were his own nieces and nephews. Things were just so different from his own childhood. Christmas was everywhere, and it seemed like it was nothing more than a giant commercial orgy of high-tech toys that would be obsolete within a few weeks.
“It’s not a publicity stunt. We’re making a big donation to …” Bono was arguing on the other end of the line, but Larry wasn’t listening. There was always one charity or another with Bono; and he admired him for it, but Larry would rather be with his own family than posing for pictures with a big check any day. What was the point of donating to a charity if you got so much credit for it? It was just buying attention for yourself, really, and that was the last thing he wanted.
“Edge and Adam have both agreed to be there,” Bono pointed out.
“Edge and Adam know that it will help promote the new album, which is fine. They have a point, but the way I see it is we have just a little more than a month before it comes out and we lose all privacy for another whole year or two.” Larry replied, pinching the bridge of his nose and closing his silvery blue eyes. The man dressed as Santa Claus sitting on his right stunk of sweat and stale beer. The woman across the way was clinging to a crying infant and seemed near to tears herself, and her older child of about four was staring at Larry with a set of gray eyes that pierced him straight through the heart and soul. They wore shabby clothes that were a size too small and reminded Larry that Africa was not the only place in the world where children lived in poverty.
“You have no Christmas spirit,” Bono tried one last argument, though even he knew it was weak.
Larry pressed the ‘end’ button and shoved his cell in his pocket. He was too tired to argue anymore.
“Egyptian cotton. Nice. I prefer silk, myself, but I’d take these sheets in a pinch.”
Larry kept his face pressed in his pillow, his arms wrapped around it as if it were his one true love. He opened one eye and closed it again. He had to be dreaming. The silhouette was familiar but bizarre all at once. It made no sense – first of all, why would Adam be in his room in the middle of the night? Secondly, Adam had not looked this way in many, many years. The blonde curls sprung out from his head in an afro which had gone out of style long enough ago to have come back in to style and go out once more. The glasses were so big they covered half of his face, with dark, plastic rims that were a far cry from the thin wire ones which were commonplace these days, as well. The smell of cigarette smoke was what finally pulled him up out of his pillow to look his youthful friend directly in the face.
Adam smiled in a cocky, self-assured manner which time had softened into a quiet charm over the past few decades and offered Larry a smoke. He lit another for himself, and Larry breathed in the tobacco smoke greedily. He wasn’t supposed to smoke in the house these days, but under the circumstances, he figured Anne wouldn’t mind. Besides, he was dreaming - had to be dreaming.
“What are you doing here?” Larry finally asked, wiping the sleep from his eyes and letting out a long stream of smoke. “I mean, besides criticizing my taste in linens?”
Adam grinned and sat at the foot of the bed, cross-legged. He wore a pair of tight jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of a pig on it, but no shoes or socks. Larry had to admit, for a dream this one was full of little details. He could smell Adam’s cologne, the way the Christmas lights in the background reflected off his glasses, taste the cigarette smoke…
Wait, Christmas lights? In his bedroom? Larry turned to see a large tree, ablaze with enough twinkle-lights to light a small auditorium. That had not been there when he went to sleep. Surely it was another sign of a strange dream; although everything else in the room was precisely where and how it ought to be.
“I’m here to save your spirit,” Adam told him coyly, and Larry could not repress a snort. The thought of Adam – this young, wild Adam, at that – saving Larry’s spirit was laughable. “Come on then, we don’t have all night.”
“Come where?” Larry asked, frowning as Adam stood and extended a hand to him expectantly.
“To your past,” Adam informed him seriously. “Your Christmas past.”
Larry’s heart was pounding, his palms sweaty, and all the moisture had drained from his lips and mouth. The moment he’d risen from his bed, intending to tell Adam to piss off, he’d been transported to the tiny garden of his childhood home. A moment later, his mother had walked right past him into the house. His mother, whom he had lost so long ago. He felt the tears welling in his eyes when he caught her scent in his nose, but wiped them away and stood staring at the door which had closed behind her.
“Wake up, Larry,” he muttered to himself.
“You don’t want to leave so soon, they haven’t even opened gifts yet,” Adam argued. With those words Larry found himself standing in the crowded kitchen, witnessing a moment which had been so much more profound than he’d known when it happened. Sensing Larry’s feelings as he studied the seen, Adam spoke; “Most of the truly important moments in our lives were that way, important only in retrospect. If we knew how our lives were being changed in that moment, we would be too overwhelmed to take them for granted.”
Larry merely grunted in response and watched closely as a younger version of himself entered the room to discover a drum kit – his first drum kit. He stood close by when the young man gave his mum a hug – a quick, awkward hug, the kind a boy in the throes of adolescence is best at.
“Don’t let go,” he whispered to himself. “You eejit, don’t you let go.”
“He can’t hear you. Or, rather, you can’t hear you,” Adam informed him. “Neither cans her.”
“Take me back,” Larry demanded, angrily wiping the tears from his eyes. He turned and grabbed Adam by the collar, shaking him violently. “Take me back! There’s no point in this! Take me…”
“Back!” Larry sat up in bed, ringing the life out of his pillow and screaming. He wiped away the hot tears that stung his cheeks and tossed the pillow across the room.
“It’s not easy.”
“What?” Larry demanded, turning to find Edge leaning in the doorframe.
“Seeing the things we missed, the first time around. Adulthood is the result of a million regrets from one’s youth.”
“What are you doing here?” Larry asked warily, turning to see the Christmas tree still blazing with lights. Adam was nowhere to be seen, at least – and Edge looked exactly the same as he had last week when they’d last met to have lunch and talk about the album.
“I’m here to show you things you might regret missing in the future,” Edge told him, extending a hand to his friend. “Things going on right now –“
“In the Christmas present,” Larry concluded with a scowl.
“Where’s Larry?” Paul asked as the others arrived at the presentation of the hundreds of toys to the ‘Santa Cares’ organization which would distribute them to children in need.
“You mean uncle scrooge?” Bono replied, waving a hand dismissively. “You think he’d leave his cozy life for this? When all we needed was his signature?”
“He wants to be in Dublin, with his family for Christmas,” Edge defended him. Larry looked at the ghost-of-Christmas present Edge with a small grateful smile. “Not that I didn’t want to do that, but Christmas in New York is fine.”
“I had to plan ahead for this by two months to get through customs,” Adam grumbled, “and of course at the last minute my brother and parents decided to have a family gathering. I could have been sitting on a tropical beach, sunning myself instead of freezing my feet off in New York, but you don’t hear me complaining.”
“Yes I do,” Larry quipped with a frown.
“Look boys, Larry’s just a horse of a different color. Let’s not start off a new tour this way, alright?” Paul told them, always trying to keep the peace. Larry watched as the others presented the toys in front of the camera’s, all smiles and cheer. Bono spoke for an hour, of course. Larry paced through most of it.
““Bono can’t break wind without it making the fecking’ news, and I’m the bad guy because I don’t stand up and shout “Oi, look at me, I’m doing something nice!” Larry grumbled.
“What do you do that you could say that about?” Edge asked.
“What do you mean, what do I do? I give to charity. I take care of my family and …” Larry stopped to think about it for a moment. “I don’t need to defend myself to you. Can we go now?”
“Sure,” Edge replied, and suddenly they found themselves on the tube in Dublin again. Sitting across from the same young woman with her two small children he had seen earlier that evening. The Santa was still there, as well; passed out in a drunken stupor. The little boy wriggled away from his mother, who was wrestling with the baby girl, trying to keep her wrapped up and at least a little warm.
“Father Christmas?” the little boy whispered, tugging on the pant-leg of the drunken Santa.
“Hmm?” the man stirred and blinked stupidly at the little boy.
“Can you get my mum a job for Christmas please? She lost hers, you see and we spend all our time looking for money now, to try and make rent. I don’t mind that we can’t have a tree this year, and I don’t want any presents for myself, but the baby is always hungry and our flat is cold at night. If you could bring her some food and maybe a warm blanket for us all to sleep under…” the boy asked quietly, blinking up at the sad excuse for a Santa as he fell back into his slumber, mumbling ‘Happy Christmas’.
“Why are you showing me this?” Larry asked Edge, his heart aching for the boy and his family. “What can I do?” he asked, feeling like a heel as he watched the three of them get off the subway and followed them back to a tiny, cold, cheerless flat. “They can’t see me, I can’t give them anything.”
Edge simply looked at him, his sea green eyes seeming deeper and more soulful than usual.
“Take me home,” Larry asked, his voice a whisper.
Suddenly he was in his own lounge watching his children open gifts, watching himself study each gift with a frown.
“I thought we decided to make them save their money for that. How many more gifts did you get them?” He heard himself complain to Anne.
“We don’t want to spoil them,” Larry explained to Edge. Edge nodded slightly, as if he understood. Larry doubted that he did, however. He watched himself as he reacted to each gift more and more sourly, unable to share the joy of them with his children. What was wrong with him?
“I’ve asked myself that question many times,” he heard Bono say, as the room suddenly went pitch black. “About you, not me,” he clarified, a pure white face appearing from under a black hood. Two little red horns peeked out and twinkled in the Christmas lights – Larry was back in his bedroom. Edge was no longer there, but instead a theatrically dressed Bono-as-Macphisto loomed over him ominously, a long black cloak wrapping around them and taking them back down into darkness.
“C’mon Ez, it’s your turn to have them over for Christmas. I had them last year, and Ava the year before,” Larry heard himself saying. Or at least, it sounded a lot like himself. Looked like him, too; but younger.
“Aaron?” Larry asked, understanding dawning on him as he saw his son ten or fifteen years older. A young man already, now fully grown and in his own home. There were photos of him on the wall on the football field, playing against the teams he had taken him to watch like Manchester United. He’d achieved his goal of being a footballer, after all.
“Yeah, he prefers Elvis,” Bono-of-Christmas-future replied in his bad English Macphisto accent. Larry smiled despite himself.
“Still? I thought he’d outgrow that.”
“His wife likes it,” Bono informed him.
“Married?” Larry inquired with a raise of his eyebrows.
“Mmm. Three kids, as well. He’s a happy man, your boy.”
“Would you please knock off that stupid accent? And stop prancing and posing like a total arse already!” Larry demanded, fed up with his dream host. Bono frowned deeply at him and tried harder to seem fierce.
“I’m not acting, and this should be taken seriously!” He scolded, but Larry rolled his eyes.
“Seriously, I have a wonderful Christmas planned – Da will completely disapprove and ruin it for everyone,” Aaron-Elvis was saying into the telephone. Larry’s complexion paled as he realized his children were arguing over who had to spend the holiday with him.
“I’m not that bad,” he mumbled to himself. He flinched at the realization he sounded like a pouting child. It became clear after a few more minutes that this was a yearly argument amongst all of his children, and he wanted no more of it.
“Take me home,” he demanded, and for once Bono obeyed silently. Only home was not the home he knew in 2008 – it was his cold, empty home of the future. A tiny tree decorated the foyer, but there was no other sign of Christmas in the home at all. Anne was on the phone with Ava, who seemed to be of the opinion her father would rather just spend the holiday alone than watch the spectacle he complained was made of it. Anne’s arguments were weak. She seemed tired, lonely. Had he really isolated them from their children with his cynicism?
“I get it, alright? I’m a changed man. Take me back,” he told Bono dryly.
“We’ve just one more stop to make,” Bono replied, whisking Larry away to a prison cell where a young man of 18 celebrated his Christmas alone. A young man with silver-grey eyes that pierced Larry’s heart.
“This is the boy from the train?” He asked, his mouth and throat nearly too dry to speak. Bono nodded.
“His name is Will. He’s been stealing since he was five years old. No one ever bothered to offer him and his mother a hand up. He stopped believing in Santa when his mum froze to death in their own flat, right after Christmas, with no warm blankets appearing as he asked.”
“Fucking Christ, I get it, alright? I get it, you self-righteous little fuck. Now take me home!” He demanded once more, but Bono was gone, and so was the prison. He found himself on a dark, cold street corner alone. No, not alone, there was someone. A girl. She stood in the shadows, huddled against the cold, she was barely a teenager but her face was made up and as a car approached she opened her jacket to expose a revealing top dipping low to display her breasts. He watched her lean down to speak to someone in the car, and knew without a doubt that this was the baby sister. The baby whose crying had given him a headache on the train, the day before Christmas Eve fourteen or fifteen years earlier.
He tried to stop her from getting in the car, but she couldn’t hear him or see him. It was already too late.
“No, wait!” He called out, startling himself and the other passengers on the train as he jolted out of his slumber. The little boy scooted closer to his mother, his silver-grey eyes wide with surprise. The drunken Santa snorted in his sleep and shifted his weight.
Larry blinked his eyes and looked around, and he could not help laughing out loud. He thought he probably looked like an eejit or a raving lunatic but he didn’t care, he laughed until there were tears in his eyes. He could have kissed that stupid, drunken Santa – but he didn’t.
Instead he calmed his laughter and thanked God it was still December 23rd. He moved over beside the woman with the babies and asked if he could help, maybe hold the baby and try to calm her crying. The mother was so grateful that soon they were chatting like long-lost friends. Her name was Mary, and her husband had left her when she was pregnant with their second baby – Eve. Larry accompanied them home, although she was too ashamed to let him come inside and see the shabby place where they lived. He got her phone number and gave her Paul’s name and number, promising if anyone would be able to help her find a new job, it would be his friend.
She thanked him sincerely and wished him a happy Christmas – it was after midnight by the time he left her and the kids there, but Larry did not go home. He spent the night on the phone and running from place to place, disappointed and frustrated every time he found closed doors, forgetting all about the hour. After all, it was Christmas Eve, shouldn’t the shops stay open all night?
By the time he got home, he was so exhausted he went straight to bed and slept through until Christmas Morning. Anne and the kids were bewildered when Larry was the first one out of bed, rousing them all from their slumbers to open gifts – many of which Anne was sure had not been on the list she’d shopped from. He played with them with an enthusiasm she had not seen in years.
After their Christmas dinner, the kids were all napping, exhausted from the excitement of the day. Larry pulled Anne by the hand to the mistletoe and kissed her slowly, lingeringly, lighting a fire that he never wanted to go cold.
“Whatever has gotten into you?” she wondered, “not that I’m complaining.” Larry laughed and held her close.
“I don’t know. I guess the Christmas Spirit finally caught up to me,” he replied, kissing her once more. She moaned in disappointment when the phone rang. He smiled at her knowingly and winked, promising her he wasn’t done with her yet. He glanced at the caller ID and sighed, though his smile remained.
“It’s Paul, I should get this.”
Anne nodded in understanding and left him alone to take the call.
“It’s all taken care of,” Paul assured him. “There might not be room enough in that flat for all of the gifts you bought them, but they’ve been delivered and received. Mary wants to know who to thank for their generosity.”
“Tell her it was Father Christmas,” Larry replied, smiling at the thought of Mary, Eve and Will wrapped up in the blankets and clothes he had sent, their cupboards full and the Christmas tree with dozens of unwrapped gifts scattered around it. “And you can find her something, right? She’ll be working again, earning a living soon?”
“Sure, sure. It’s no problem. She’s a bright one, just had a spell of bad luck,” Paul replied.
“Thanks Paul. Happy Christmas,” Larry said, about to end the call, when Paul caught him.
“Wait, wait! Bono’s here, wants to speak to you, says you won’t answer if he phones you himself.”
“You haven’t told him any of this, have you?”
“No, no. Not a word, you made it clear enough you didn’t want anyone else to know.”
“Put him on, then,” Larry agreed.
“Merry Christmas, Uncle Scrooge!” Bono greeted him playfully.
Larry replied with a smile; “Bah, Humbug.”
|12-24-2008, 09:34 PM||#3|
Join Date: May 2007
Location: If I lived any more north I'd be in Quebec. But I'm not. I'm in New Brunswick.
Local Time: 10:10 PM
This was a perfect story to read on christmas eve.
Now if only I wasn't working......
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
|12-25-2008, 05:25 AM||#4|
Blue Crack Supplier
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Local Time: 02:10 PM
That was wonderful, thank you SG! Great to see you writing again.
|12-26-2008, 08:05 PM||#6|
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: hatching some plot, scheming some scheme
Local Time: 09:10 PM
You do this so well.
Even though it's a common theme at Christmas, well not the U2 part per say, but should we ever really get enough?
I don't think so. Well done, Love..
|12-27-2008, 07:26 PM||#7|
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: I'm ready to move now.
Local Time: 10:10 PM
You've written a really touching story; I needed something to remind me to look around once in a while.
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