Alice rarely did anything for herself. Obviously she bathed, brushed her hair and her teeth, she took care of herself, but she rarely did anything fun or exciting for herself. She didn’t seize opportunities to enrich her life, but she was the first to give other the opportunity for them to enrich their own lives.
Need a therapist? Alice was there to listen. Want something you couldn’t buy for yourself? Alice’s purse was already opened. Want to go see a show, convention, musical artist, or movie but had no one to go with? Alice was already on her way. Helping others and showing the kindness was important to Alice and made her feel good, but it didn’t fill her own needs for personal growth and happiness.
It was truly the most wonderful time of the year for Alice, she loved the music, the cheer, the food, and most of all the snow. Her favorite thing was to drive neighborhoods listening to cheery music, smoking her 100’s, and looking at the snow covered ground and decorated houses. That was one thing she always made sure to do for and with herself during the Winter. Then one foggy day, Alice met a man. She had been getting ready for a holiday drive around when she found $8 crumpled up in her car. She decided to take that money and up her ante for treating herself. She was in line and the nearest coffee shop ready to order something large, warm, overpriced, and delicious when she walked directly into the man ahead of her. They laughed, she apologized, they chatted, and before she knew it it was 9:30 at night. Alice still hadn’t gone on her holiday drive, but she had enjoyed herself. Max was kind, charming, and bought her a hot coco with extra toppings to make up for taking up so much of her holiday cheer time. Included in the extra toppings was his phone number. Alice blushed and grinned simultaneously. Maybe holiday movies were real, after all? She thought as she chuckled and disregarded this thought to herself.
Alice left the coffee shop excited. She was enthused about meeting someone who loved the holidays and dogs as much as she did. They had even joked about him coming along with her to check out the neighborhood cheer next time. Alice was still beaming when she got in her car and decided to wander through some back roads instead of heading home. Her friend Christine called interrupting a Christmas carol, but Alice was in a such a cheerful mood of her own, she didn’t mind.
“Hey, come to Blue Ox tonight,” Christine whined into the phone.
“When,” Alice said already regretting answering the phone.
“Now. Just for a few drinks. Please, it’ll be fun,” Christine started yammering into the phone. “Besides, that guy I’ve been seeing is here. Please!”
Alice thought about the man she met earlier that evening. Maybe it would be fun for just a drink or two. It seemed to also mean a lot to Christine.
“Okay,” Alice said looking around, “I’ll be there in 10 or 15 minutes.”
True to her word Alice parked her car down the block 14 minutes later. Getting out of her car she thought about Max once more. Maybe tonight would be fun after all. Alice tightened her scarf and buttoned her open coat. Crossing the street she dug her cigarettes out of her purse and was lighting one up when she saw Christine coming down the front stairs of the Blue Ox. Great friends smoke alike, Alice thought. She watched as Christine glanced over her shoulder as she passed the door to the guy behind her. At first Alice was excited when she saw Max, and then she wanted to snap her cigarette in half. Alice watched in frozen horror, precariously balanced on the curb as Christine grabbed the hand of Max, the man behind her, and leaned in to nudge him with her hip. Alice swallowed and put on the nicest smile she could muster.
“Great to meet you,” “you too,” “cold out, eh” “worst time of year,” “best time of year,” small talk and chatter. They finished their cigarettes and headed inside the bar. Tonight would be awful there were no maybes in the Alice’s mind about that. After one quickly consumed drink perhaps a whole 40 minutes later Alice was back in her car and heading toward the next neighborhood over. She was fuming. Cigarette after cigarette She rarely wanted anything. Now, something she wanted her friend already had, naturally Alice would back off. But for the first time in her life Alice was angry about it. She was angry that Max had been playing her and her friend. She was angry that she wasn’t going to just pursue something she wanted because why would she? Even if she explained the situation to Christine, there was no way that Christine would stop talking to the guy she had already been talking to for a few weeks now. And that was how it was supposed to work. But why, why did it always have to be her, Alice thought as she whipped around the corner.
Alice looked at the Santas, the blue lights, the white lights, the red lights, and all the blow up decorations as she was whizzing down the street. Suddenly Alice felt a great resentment toward Santa and his elven friends. What had that cute old man ever done for her? Nothing. Just like everyone else. Before she could think about what she was doing or the impact it would have Alice swerved her car toward the right taking out a large, blown up Santa. “Ho, ho, ho mother fucker,” Alice said as she laughed. Up ahead on her left was a large inflatable snow globe with a penguin couple looking happy inside. Alice rolled her window down further and lobbed the coffee Max bought her through the window laughing as it exploded across the front of the plastic. Alice laughed maniacally. She would spread her own magical cheer this year – fuck you, Santa – clip. Piss off reindeer wheels – smash.
Alice felt her tires lose traction with the road. Her car fishtailed, coming to a halt in the middle of an intersection. She glanced around nervously. She was okay. Her car was okay. There seemed to be no one in the intersection or anywhere near to her. Everything seemed genuinely okay until Alice glanced in her rear view mirror. Looking behind at her path of destruction Alice felt awful. She had hit Santa. She had ruined holiday cheer. She was the anti-Christ, the devil incarnate, she was a bad person. Alice realized she was still in the middle of the intersection. Composing herself, she looked ahead and began to pull her car forward. There in front of her was the largest inflatable Santa she had ever seen. Alice was mesmerized. At his feet was the crumbled body of a man. Had she hit someone, Alice thought. She pulled her car out of the intersection and parked on the right hand side of the road. Getting out of her car Alice grabbed her cell phone, just in case. Walking over she looked down the block where she had been. Her destruction was gone – everything was in place as though she had never been there. Alice saw the large Santa, this time he was on the corner of the street, a man still laying there. Maybe that one drink she had had been spiked, Alice contemplated as she continued over toward the large Santa.
Alice took a deep breath as she looked down at the body. Blood trailed out of the man’s chest. A large gash was holding a knife plunged deeply into his body. The man was Max. Alice grabbed her phone and called 911, “there’s a man. He’s been stabbed. He’s on the corner of,” as Alice looked up to grab the street name she made eye contact with the large Santa. She felt as though she were looking into real eyes when suddenly, one of them blinked. Santa had winked at her, “Ma’am? Hello?”
Alice shook her head and regained her composure, or at least as much of it as she could. She told the operator the street names and said she would wait until police arrived. She said nothing of her temper tantrum or knowing Max – though she would explain the later part when they arrived on scene. Alice looked back up at the large Santa as the operator asked her to stay on the line. She paused for a moment and reflected on the past few minutes. “Thank you,” she whispered as she ran over to the large Santa’s leg and hugged it. Moments later Alice heard the sirens. She pulled away from the Santa and he was gone. A smile flashed across her face, and disappeared as the heard the police pulling up. A sleazy man was dead – Thank you, Santa and Merry Christmas to all, Alice thought to herself.