Christmas Eve and the sky was threatening to snow.
Lester admitted to himself that he should be heading home as
he turned his beat up Honda civic into the parking lot of the
local watering hole. Lester, a blue collar worker with
Chenstar Inc., often frequented this particular bar on his
way home from work and 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 not too happy
with his life, and Christmas Eve historically made him
particularly cantankerous. He had always felt that something
was missing in his life and this time of year typically
brought these feelings closer to the surface. He generally
blamed this empty feelings on his childhood in the orphanage.
Othertimes he blamed the feeling on his poverty. Tonight,
looking into his sixth beer, he began to speculate that rich
people did not have this problem, especially not at
Christmas. Lester spent the evening lamenting all the things
he had never owned and all the people he had never met. He
was not happy when the barkeep said last call.
Trudging through the snow on the way to his car, an idea
struck Lester. He was just going to go see how all those
rich people spent Christmas Eve. The roads weren’t very good
and he wasn’t very sober at the time, but he managed to get
to Eastside where the really huge houses were. The blatant
display of multi-colored lights on all the houses, struck him
almost physically. The longer he drove the angrier he got.
Toward midnight, Lester came upon one house that stood
out from all the rest. Every straight edge of the house was
aglow with lines of tiny white lights. He drove past the
house, but for some reason those lights stuck in Lester’s
mind and without really thinking he turned back and pulled to
the side of the road and stopped the car across the house he
had seen. He sat in the car the longest time, just looking
at the house and thinking very heavy thoughts. He wondered
how these people were spending Christmas Eve.
Inside the house Stephen Wallace, of Wallace and Sons,
was also spending Christmas Eve alone. Stephen had long
since come to the conclusion that most people only tolerated
him because he was richer than God. He had spent his life
building his company, hoping to fill a gap he felt inside.
He had never had much luck at relating to people, as his ex
would attest, and he attributed this deficiency to his
childhood in an orphanage. His therapist had told him that
he was trying to compensate for his feeling of loneliness
with the security of money. Stephen had noted, with a
certain smugness, that the therapist had no trouble accepting
Stephen had decided to spend the evening with a cup of
Earl Grey tea, in front of the fire, curled up with a good
Louis Lamour book. Having lit the fire, and donned his
favorite smoking jacket, Stephen picked up his tea service
and headed for the living room.
Still sitting in his car, his judgment more than just a
bit clouded, Lester decided to go up and look in that window
and see what these folks were up to. Without thinking about
what he was doing, he headed across the snow choked street
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 split instant each man
was convinced that they are seeing their own reflections in
the window. Stephen and Lester are twins that had been
separated at birth. This is a common practice, at the time
of their adoption, since it is easier to adopt out single
children than it is to find homes for twins.
Lester standing in the snow looked up through the window
and saw his own face in a fine robe with a tea service in his
hands and a book under his arm. Stephen saw himself in
grubby clothes standing knee deep in snow, out in the
For an electrified instant they do not know if they are
seeing some sort of twisted reflection of themselves or
When it occurred to them that they were facing strangers
Stephen ran back the alcove where the phone was and Lester
ran across the lawn and hid behind a hemlock. Both were
peeking around the edges, not quite sure what to do. Stephen
knew that he should call the police and Lester knew that he
should run, but curiosity had them both.
Both men were curious, both were afraid and neither knew
just what to do.
Stephen tried to think of a way to talk to this man
without risk. Lester wanted to see if the man in the house
Suddenly a delivery truck careened around the corner and
swerved on the icy road to miss Lester’s car. In slow motion
the huge vehicle jumped the sidewalk and crashed against the
short brick wall that separated Stephen’s yard from the
street. With a terrible screeching of metal against stone,
the truck came to rest against Stephen’s mailbox post.
Their fear forgotten, both Stephen and Lester ran to the
wrecked truck to see if they could help the driver. Lester
reached the truck first and climbed up into the cab. He
pulled the man, slumped over the wheel, into an upright
position and tried to talk to him. There was a rivulet of
blood trickling out of the truck driver’s mouth. Lester
shouted for Stephen to go to the house and call for an
ambulance and paramedics. In the darkness, both men worked
as a team and the paramedics told them later that their
combined effort was the only thing that had saved the truck
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.
“Can we go inside and put my fire to good use?” Stephen
“I believe I would like that,” Lester answered.