Wednesday, December 11, 2019

ROBLOG #811- A Severn Tale of the Christmas Season

Me: A Dear friend made a comment about the previous ROBBLOG. How dare I post "a re-run!"
Point taken ~smile~
So, here's a brand new Christmas-themed story. It's fresh out of my head.
However, a warning, another Holiday Story I wrote more than 25 years ago will be appearing in this blog soon. Edited for your pleasure. I can't say whether or not I've posted it before. In the meantime come with me, along the Severn Road.

They're a funny bunch out along Severn Road.

The Severn.
Hot as hell in summer with humidity and bugs.
It's like the bloody Amazon fer Christ's sake.

Then, comes winter.
Sleet and snow and cold.
It's relentless but the people of the Severn are a tough, hardy bunch and Christmas helps them through.

Jake Anderson parked in front of Able's General Store right next to the dozen or so cut Christmas Trees and an accompanying sign. The simple sign read: Xmas Trees $18. Jake stepped out of his Ford F150 into the frosty morning and trudged through the snow to Able's entrance, his ears were tingling and he'd only been out in the frosty, Friday air for a few seconds.

"Shit, damn, Mother Mary in a swamp. That's a cool yule today!"
He slams Able's door behind him rubbing his hands together to produce a bit of heat for his frozen fingers.  He had forgotten his gloves.
"Season's Greeting's Abner!"- he cried, "You got coffee on?"

"Always and forever. Where's your damn gloves? It must be minus thirty!"Abner poured a mug of java for Jake. "A bit early for you to be out and about?"

"Yah, well, I wanted to see if that package had arrived from the city with Helen and the kid's stuff in it. I ordered it all online this year." Jake seemed proud that he had sat in his cozy, well-padded office chair and ordered away to his heart's content.
"It was easy-peasy. Damn. Technology sure has come along way..."

"Yup." says Abner. "Look back at the fifties and sixties. We all hustled into Baldston and shopped in what- three dozen shops? I remember as a kid looking all over town for a hair brush and comb one Christmas. A gift for my Dad.

"Did you get one?"

"I did and my Dad really appreciated it. I'll never forget the look on his face Christmas morning. His kid had picked a gift other than a tie- or socks!" Good Gawd those were happy Christmases what with the cold and snow and lights and everyone in town out shopping." He paused. "I miss my Dad. All these years later and I miss him like Hell!"

"Never easy losing a parent. Part of us leaves as well..."

"Indeed." He paused for a minute. "Somebody change the subject, eh? It's Christmas for Gawd's sake!"

Jake thought of something.
"Yes, I remember those kid Christmases well. It was fun and my parents did the best they could with what seemingly little they had. Always tons of presents under the tree. How the hell they did that I'll never know!"

"A Christmas miracle, I guess."- says Abner as he topped up Jake's cup.
"How's the book coming?"- he asked. Jake was an author of books- mysteries mostly. Many made the best seller lists across the country, one year one title won the Canadian Gold Leaf Award for Literary Excellence. The plaque hung on his office wall just above the fireplace.

"Fine, fine. A few weeks and it'll go off to my publisher-finally!" Jake sounded relieved that the end was in sight for this newest of his books. It was getting harder to concentrate on writing as he got older but he was over the hump now and had just a few chapter re-writes ahead of him.

"Let me look for that package Jake. I think it came in yesterday afternoon." Abner, disappeared through the massive red, wooden door at the end of the counter.
As he did so there was the sound of a rusted muffler, a honk of a horn and a metallic thump into a snow bank at the front of Able's.

"What the hell is that?"- Jake yelled.

From somewhere behind the door Abner yelled- "Oh, the Lesbian has landed!"


"Most likely. Sounds like she needs a muffler on that jeep thing!" Abner's voice could barely be heard over several revs of the Jeep's gas pedal. Then there was total quiet.
Harriet Henderson was the local LGBT representative on the county council. She was a tough old bird but she had a heart of gold.

"When the hell is she going to trade that old clunker in?" Jake spoke loud enough for Abner to hear as he sorted through the delivery that came late in the afternoon the previous day. This Christmas season he had seen a definite upswing in local folks ordering gifts on their computers. His box room- as he called it, was full to overflowing. He even had smaller packages tucked under his front counter. Business was good. Abner got a good percentage paid to him with every box he received plus he got to say Happy Holidays to most of the Severn residents.

Then the front door of the General Store flew open and a swoosh of flakes flew in just ahead of Harriet. She Stamped the snow off her Birkenstocks as she entered and called out-
"Dag nabbit. Christ on a Cracker. She's a bloody cold one. As cold as a witch's titty. Abner! Coffee!"

"Coming Harry!"- he spoke as loud as he could from the depths of the hundred or so  Christmas boxes piled all around him.

"Well if it isn't the prolific local writer and media sensation- Mr. Jake Anderson. Howz it hanging Jakey?"-Harriet teased.

"Oh they're hanging. Frozen but hanging!"- Jake laughed. "Here let me pour you a coffee. Abner's up to his knees in boxes. We may never see him again!" Jake and Harriet laughed as they both pulled up wooden stools at sat the counter.

"This" said Harriet, "This is what I love about the Christmas season. This is the spirit. Freezing temps, Abner looking for stuff in that box warehouse of his  and hot coffee in the General Store. It's like our local when you think of it. She turned- "Abner, can I reach over and get a fritter and pour a coffee for you if you ever appear from behind that door again?"

"Sure thing!" A voice came from somewhere back of the red door, "Get a fritter for Jake too and throw them in the micro for about 30 seconds on high! I'll be right out. I think I found your box Jake!"

Harriet threw three apple fritters onto a old Christmas plate she took from the pile next to the baked goods. She looked at Jake- "He said 30?"

"I think so Harry. Give it a go."

Jake sipped his coffee as he heard Bing and David Bowie begin to sing Little Drummer Boy from the Alexa speaker situated on the shelf behind the counter.

"Oh I love this song!"- Harriet joined Bing and David.

"Pah Rum a Bum Bum".

"Rum a Bum Bum? Harriet.."- He laughed. "What is that? Your own personal version?"

"Screw you. It's Christmas."- she continued her voice getting louder and louder.

"Cripes! Who's stepped on the cat's tail again?"- Abner cried as he came through the big red door with not one but two boxes piled in his arms and held tightly to his chest. "Here ya go Jake. It was two of two according to the packing slip. Two boxes in your order."

"Wow, must of been the order I place on Wednesday! Now that's fast."

Harriet finished the Little Drummer Boy chorus- mercifully, just as the microwave "pinged".
"Nobody ever said old Dykes like me could carry a tune but I don't give a flying fig!"
She opened the oven's door and using the prongs she placed one of the fritters on each of two Christmas plates keeping a microwaved plate and fritter for herself.
"Cripes, these are hot. Watch when ya bite into them!"- she cautioned.

Abner set the boxes on the floor at the end of the counter and joined Harry and Jake at the counter.
For a minute they munched on the fritters and sipped at their hot coffee.

"So Christmas in a couple of weeks. Seems like I just took down the Hallowe'en stuff and now I have
hundreds of lights twinkling out front and that seven foot beauty of a balsam fir sitting there in the corner looking all jolly and bright!"

"It is a perfect tree, Ab. Did you take a photo?"- Jake reached for his mobile. "Here let me. This one needs to go on record." He slipped from the stool and took up a position in front of the tree. Taking three or four snaps he then re-joined Harry and Abner.

"I'll text them to you Ab. So, do you have a tree up yet Harry?"

"Nope. That's one of the things on my list today. Abner, I'll take one of those frozen beauties out front. The one with the blue tag on it. If I'm lucky it'll thaw out by the New Year!"

"Just leave it in your heated porch- it is heated- right?"
She nodded, mouth full of fritter.
"It'll be good to decorate in a few hours. Have a couple of Bailey's on ice and the time will pass nicely."

"I'll do that Ab. Got the nieces and nephews coming over this evening to have a go at decorating. I bought all these new LPD lights..."

Jake interrupted. "You mean LED."

"Do I?" Harriet laughed. "You know an old bird such as myself has a hard time keeping on top of things these days."

"You mean things like that muffler of yours". Jake smiled.

" Jesu Christo. If it ain't one thing it's another. I got Sam down at Village Motors ordering me a new one. Cripes it's been a few weeks and it is supposed to be in come Monday."

"Sleep in Heavenly Peace."-said Jake picking up his cup for another sip of good, strong, morning coffee.

Abner leaned across the counter- "Well, just how old is that four-wheeled monstrosity anyway Harry? It must date back to the Wise Men's time? He laughed.

" Well pretty near but it's got me to wherever I need to be for decades now. It's a part of me she is."

"She's a she?" Jakes asked.

"I believe so Jakey. Boy, she can get awfully cranky once a month!"
They all laughed.

"Harry, you're a hoot."- Jake bit into his fritter again. "Gawd, this is good. Mmmmm.
Mrs. Stephens does your bake goods, eh Abner?"

"She does and hey you remember those two Gay fellahs that use to live out on Hawkins Road?"

"Yes. They moved out west- right?" Jake added.

"Yup, they did. Well I send them a dozen or so of those fritters every month or so. Just sent off another batch the other day. They loved them fritters. Guess they can't find anything as good out there."

"Jerry and Kevin, eh?" Jake was not good at remembering names. Sometimes he even forgot characters names when he was writing and had to turn back pages to refresh his memory.

"Barry."- Added Harriet. "I keep in touch. Nice fellahs. Might go visit them come July."

"Good Gawd, you're not taking that old piece of metal out there I hope."- Abner pointed to the jeep through the frosted window.

"Nope, I'll fly." Harriet motioned to Abner to top up her coffee.

"Well," Jake slid from the stool, "I better get a move on. I promised myself I'd edit two chapters of my book today and I can find a million things I'd rather do instead. Look Harry, a Merry Christmas to you if I don't see you before."

"Merry Christmas Jake. Say hi to Helen and the Kiddies. I'll pop over for a Holiday tipple one of these days."

"You do that Harry. Looking forward to it. Thanks for finding the boxes Abner. Might be another one before the big day."

"I'll be here and keep my eyes open for it."

"See ya."
Jake whipped his scarf around his neck and disappeared through the Store's front door.
Harriet turned to  Abner-
"You got time for a few hands of Gin? Then I gotta go over to the butchers, my Turkey has arrived.

"Sure, why not. It's Christmas and it won't get devilishly busy in this place for another hour or so..."
As he said so, the door flew open and Buddy Turner came in.
"Well speak of the devil!"

Harriet smiled and grabbed a deck of cards from her pocket. "Look after Buddy there. I'll warm these suckers up in the meantime."

Johnny Mathis' It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year began to play on Alexa while Harriett turned towards the windows of Able's General Store where she watched more and more snowflakes fall.