Gemini Christmas

by: William C. Burns, Jr.

Christmas Eve and the sky was threatening to snow. Lester knew he

should head home but instead turned his beat up Honda civic into the

parking lot of the “Oh!-Aces!”. Lester always favored the setting of

this particular bar as often as possible. Several of the regulars

called ‘hello’ as he came through the door. So what if it was

Christmas Eve, he just didn’t feel like going home right away and there

was no one there anyway.

Three beers into the evening, Lester was none too happy with his

life. As long as memory served, he always felt something missing and

Christmas Eve had a history of making him particularly cantankerous.

Most of the time he blamed these empty feelings on his childhood in the

orphanage. Other-times he blamed them on his poverty. This particular

night he was blaming Christmas. Hadn’t the guy on the radio said this

time of the year made everyone depressed?

Looking into his sixth beer, he began to speculate that rich

people did not have this kind of problem, especially not at Christmas.

Lester spent the balance of the evening lamenting all the things never

owned and all the people never met. He was less than delighted when

the barkeep pronounced last call.

Trudging through the snow, on the way to his car, an idea struck

Lester. Why not just drive up and see how all those rich snobs spent

Christmas Eve?

The roads weren’t very good and he was none too sober at the time,

but he managed to get to Eastside, where the really enormous houses

were. The blatant display of multi-colored lights on all those fine

houses, struck him almost physically and the longer he drove, the

madder he got.

Toward midnight, Lester came upon one house that stood out from

the rest. Every straight edge of the house was aglow with lines of

tiny white lights. He drove past it, but for some reason those lights

stuck in Lester’s mind and without thinking, he turned back. Pulling

to the side of the street, he stopped the car across from the over

decorated house. He sat in silence the longest time, just staring and

thinking very heavy thoughts. On impulse, he decided move in a little

closer to those rich folks.

Inside the house in question, Stephen Wallace, of Wallace, Wallace

and Sons, was also spending Christmas Eve alone. Stephen had long

since concluded that most people tolerated him only because he was rich

enough to pay off the National Debt. He had busted his butt building

up the company inherited from his step father. He never had much luck

at relating to people, as his ex had often attested in court and

elsewhere. He oftentimes attributed this deficiency to a childhood in

the orphanage. The therapist diagnosed him as an over-achiever trying

to compensate for feelings of insecurity, loneliness and neglect by

building up vast stores of money. Stephen had noted, with a certain

smugness, the therapist had no trouble accepting payment for such

useless information.

Stephen decided to spend the evening with a pot of Earl Grey, in

front of the fire, curled up with a new Louis Lamour. Having lit the

fire, and donned his favorite smoking jacket (yes he had a smoking

jacket, paid top dollar for it), he picked up his tea tray and headed

for the living room.

Lester, his judgment more than just a bit clouded, opened the car

door. Without thinking about what he was doing, he headed across the

snow-choked street, up the short stair and across the lawn to the

house.

Inside the house, Stephen rounded the alcove wall and happened to

look out the window at the same instant Lester looked up into the

window, and for a electrified instant each was convinced they were

seeing their own reflections in the window.

You see, Stephen and Lester were twins, separated at birth. A

common practice at the time of their adoption. It was easier to adopt

out a single child than to find homes willing to take on twins.

Lester, standing in the snow, looked up through the window and saw

his own face in a fine robe with a tea pot on a tray and a book under

his arm. Stephen saw himself in grubby clothes, standing knee deep in

snow, out in the weather. Neither could tell if he was seeing some

sort of twisted reflection of himself or someone else.

When finally it occurred to them that they were facing strangers

Stephen ran back to the alcove to grab the phone. Lester ran across

the lawn, hiding behind a hemlock. Both peeked around the edges.

Stephen wanted to call the police and Lester knew he should run, but

both men were curious and afraid. Neither knew just what to do.

Lester wanted to see if the man in the house was real while

Stephen tried to think of a way to talk to this stranger without risk.

Suddenly, a truck turned the corner and started swerving on the

icy road as the driver fought to avoid Lester’s car. In slow motion

the bulky vehicle jumped the sidewalk and raked the short brick wall

separating Stephen’s yard from the street. With a terrible screeching

of metal against stone, the truck came to rest, crashing against

Stephen’s mailbox post.

Their situation all but forgotten, both Lester and Stephen dashed

to the wrecked truck to see if they could help. Lester reached the

truck first and climbed into the cab. He pulled the man, slumped over

the wheel, into an upright position and tried desperately to remember

some of his first aid training. A tiny rivulet of blood trickled out

of the truck driver’s mouth. Lester shouted for Stephen to call 911,

and bring a flashlight and some blankets. In the pre-dawn darkness,

both men labored in tandem to keep the man alive. The paramedics told

them later their combined effort was the only thing that saved the

truck driver’s life.

As the wrecker pulled the truck from the mail post in the breaking

light of dawn, both Lester and Stephen regarded each other and smiled.

“Care go inside and put my fire to good use?” Stephen asked.

“I believe I would like that,” Lester answered.

Published by

Chyfrin the Celtic poet

Artist, Poet, Electrical/Biomedical Engineer, Actor, Playwright, Set construction, Educator, Lover of womankind and single malt scotch

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