Hi folks. Those of you who really don't like long stories should probably pass on this one. Remember when we were younger and all of the comicbooks did those double or triple sized Christmas specials? Well that's what this is. My long corny and sometimes whimsical Christmas special. There are times when it will be very serious and other times when it will be very uhm...Christmassy. Once again it is very long so be warned. And from The incredible Mikothebaby who edited this story while juggling her move and all of her Christmas shopping, but also from Kat and me, Merry Christmas to all of you.
* * * * * *
Christmas has always been special to me. It's the one time of year where we can all just come together and celebrate something that's bigger than all of us. It's a time for getting together with old friends and new ones to lift a glass or just feel good about being alive. Families come together and exchange gifts and charities and the less fortunate make a large part of their yearly donations in one fell swoop.
People who would never ordinarily bother to look at that homeless man with the, "Will work for food," sign near the freeway off ramp actually roll down their windows and give him a few dollars instead of the finger.
This year, Christmas was especially great for me because of the weather. Normally here in Michigan, we start getting snow by the end of October or the middle of November at the latest. But things have changed some and for the past couple of years; Nada. If this is global warming, I'll take it.
Of course, I did have that pesky Mayan calendar thing looming over my head but shit, if the world ended, we'd all have a bad day.
Anyway, the coolest thing about the temperature shift was that I was able to drive my Mustang well into December, when normally I'd have put her up by the beginning of October. Not that I had anything against my Jeep, but my Mustang is, was and always will be my baby.
My name is Alan Taylor and I'm an investment broker. My wife, Elizabeth, is an office manager for a marketing firm. We're both twenty seven and have been married for five years. We have our lives planned out and are well on track to our goals. We both make very good money and live in a nice luxury condo.
Our life plan started out when we were in college. The plan called for me to get a job with a bank or an investment firm and for her to get a job where she could utilize her clerical and administrative skills. We'd both work until we hit our early thirties and then hopefully we'd be secure enough that we could make it on one income. Then we'd start issuing perfect children until we thought we had enough of them. After the perfect children were in college, I'd retire and we'd travel the world and see all kinds of exciting places for a few years and then come home to aid in the rearing of our nearly God-like grandchildren.
That was the way my parents did it, or at least they thought they did. And if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me. Currently, my parents were living in their winter home in Florida. Yes, my parents, who'd always claimed that they loved Michigan because of its seasons, are among those most dreaded of creatures. My parents are snow birds.
My dad decided a few years ago that he'd seen enough Michigan winters. He was tired of ass deep snow and below zero temperatures. He no longer gave a flying fuck about the crunch of fresh snow or icicles glistening on the roof and trees. He and my mom decided to say goodbye to remote car starters and snow blowers, to say nothing of the possible heart attacks that stemmed from older people shoveling heavy, wet snow on a sometimes daily basis.
They bought a second home in inland Florida away from the hurricane belt that circled the coast but still warm enough that my dad could play golf in his shirt sleeves or a light jacket at the very worst.
We were all invited down every year for Christmas, but they never intended to spend another winter in the, "God forsaken," Midwest. My mom and dad spent roughly five months each year in sunny Florida and the rest of the year here in Michigan.
So Liz and I alternated our holidays. This year it was Christmas with Elizabeth's parents and family. Liz was decked out for the holidays in a tight red sweater that made even her moderate bust look good. She had on a matching tight red skirt that came just above her knees. Her stockings and belt were elf green and she had a Santa hat perched jauntily on top of her head. Her bright red lipstick set off her green eyes and she kept blowing me kisses all the way there.
Even among family, Liz attracted a lot of attention but she stayed firmly riveted to my side. I'd brought a few of our lesser Christmas gifts to open with her parents and siblings but most of our really nice gifts were still at home under our tree.
Besides the ones that we gave each other, we both had presents from our parents and families and a smattering of smaller and sometimes joke presents from friends and co-workers.
My biggie for Liz this year was going to knock her socks off. Her parents already knew about it. I had gotten Liz another wedding ring. The one I'd bought her when we first got married means a lot to her. But back then we were struggling college students and I'd wanted to buy her a ring without parental guidance or help. I'd done the best I could, but it wasn't the ring I thought she deserved.
So my intention this Christmas was to propose to her all over again in front of her parents and our families. We were going to renew our vows and take another honeymoon cruise. I'd bagged a few of the presents from non-family members that were under our tree and brought them with me. The last one I'd give her was the new ring and I'd kept that one in my pocket.
Right after the very early Christmas dinner, which was a tradition in Elizabeth's family, we started to open the presents. The kids got to open their presents first thing in the morning. We watched them rip through their presents and run around the house screaming at each new toy they unveiled. After Christmas dinner, with the kids tired out by all of the excitement and watching a movie, the adults opened their presents.
Elizabeth's mom got a seat on the couch right in front of the tree. I could tell she was excited, especially since she'd helped me pick out the ring. Elizabeth's dad had helped me to book the cruise and we made sure that all of our accommodations were first class. Their smiles were huge and everyone was buzzing with excitement.
Elizabeth's younger sister, Sarah, opened a couple of her presents first to start things out and then her brother took over opening his. To speed things along, Elizabeth's dad started opening presents for everyone. He'd pick a person and open one of their presents and read the cards telling them who the present was from.
I could tell he wanted to speed things up so he could get to Elizabeth. He'd go through a couple of her presents and then turn things over to me.
He finally went through everyone and got to Elizabeth. He started with one of the medium sized presents that she'd gotten. It was one of those, "not available in stores," items that were only sold on TV. The, "New Wave Oven," it was called. It was some kind of induction heating system that was used for quickly cooking food without needing to heat up your entire stove.
We all laughed because I think everyone there knew that Liz couldn't cook to save her ass. She was beautiful and brilliant, but domestic skills were simply not her strong point. Liz and I always said that she couldn't make a decent meal in the kitchen but she cooked in the bedroom.
After everyone had a laugh at the present, my father in law picked up another of Elizabeth's gifts. It was a very small box that had been delivered to the condo only yesterday. It had been delivered by Fed-Ex and I'd just thrown it under the tree. Several of Elizabeth's colleagues hadn't attended their Holiday party and had shipped her presents. Liz often said that they'd waited until the last minute and bought presents after seeing what everyone else gave.
I smiled expecting to see another ill-suited present but my smile turned to horror as my father in law opened the box and pulled out a lingerie set that had only a very tiny set of thong panties and a see through bra. Everyone looked at me and started oohing and aahing. That is until my father in law read the card.
"Can't wait to see you in this and out of it while we celebrate Christmas together," it was signed John. John was Elizabeth's boss. The asshole even had the gall to write. P.S. make sure you're alone when you open this one.
Elizabeth's dad's voice trailed off as he read the card. Her mother's mouth dropped open in surprise. Her sister wondered if it was some kind of joke. Her brother put his hands over the eyes of his kids. He looked at his sister with his mouth drawn and tight.
Liz started crying and everyone looked at me. After a pregnant pause, I stood up and excused myself. I told them that I needed to take a walk and that I'd be back in a few moments. I picked up my keys on the way out and got into my car and drove away.
I didn't know how long it would take them to realize that I wouldn't be back, but I was sure that they'd all understand.
I figured that I'd need about two hours to accomplish everything I needed to do in the short run. Knowing someone makes predicting their actions easy. I knew that Liz would be very embarrassed and not want to talk to anyone for a while. Her parents, while shocked, were still her parents. So it would take them the amount of time that Liz was too embarrassed to be around people, to decide that she needed their help to get through whatever she was going through.
At the same time, they'd be worried about me, so they'd want us to all sit down and talk about it. Two years ago at Thanksgiving, Liz and I watched as her brother's marriage melted down over the dinner table. Her brother didn't have a very good job and his wife had to stay at home to take care of their kids. They weren't making enough to save anything and they needed money to put down on a house. The money problems almost ruined their marriage.
The solution had been for Elizabeth's parents to co-sign for a mortgage for Don and his wife Sally. Once the initial purchase had been made, the monthly mortgage payments were actually cheaper than what they'd been paying in rent which took away a lot of their financial stress. Don had also changed jobs since then and was making a bit more money. I somehow doubted that Elizabeth's parents would be able to come up with a solution for this one.
Somehow, in all of the chaos and shock that had ensued after the present was opened, I'd grabbed the card and the panties. I was still clutching them in my fist as I drove away. I got on the freeway and headed west. As I'd gotten on the freeway, I'd intended to go home but realized that there was someplace I needed to go first.
Elizabeth's parents lived in Grosse Pointe, which was a very well to do suburb on the east side of Detroit's suburbs. Liz and I lived in Farmington Hills, which was on the west side. My goal was an adjacent suburb, West Bloomfield. I knew the area well since my parents lived there. But I wasn't going to my parents' home.
I left the freeway at North Western Highway and took that to fourteen mile road. I made the turn off into the first subdivision and pulled up to a house in the middle of the block. There were several cars in the long circular driveway. Some were pretty expensive cars and others looked like they'd barely survived the trip.
I walked up to the doorway and knocked. I'd been here two or three times over the past few years. An older, but still beautiful woman opened the door with a dazzling smile and a hearty, "Merry Christmas."
"Oh, Hi Alan, Merry Christmas," she smiled. She reached out and gave me a hug. "Let me guess you're here to ask John if there's any way they can cancel their trip until after the holidays, right?"
"Something like that Paula," I said.
"Well good luck," she said. "He claims that it's really important and I haven't been able to budge him on it. But they'll only be gone for two days and they'll be back before New Year's Eve."
Just as she got done speaking, the form of her husband loomed. He was bigger than me but at least thirty years older. He was balding and had a gut. He greeted me with a fake smile and I wondered at that moment why I hadn't always known that it was faked. For all of the years that I' known him, I really thought that John liked me. But now I could see that it was only my wife that he liked. And he liked her a bit too much for my taste.
"Alan," he said, making the smile a bit broader and even less genuine. He extended his hand for me to shake the way he always did and I think he noticed something in my eyes.
As he reached out to take my hand, I reached out too. Only my reach was with a closed fist and it was aimed at his face. My fist barreled into John's eye and sent him sprawling on the floor. He tried to get up and I punched him again. I hit him again and again until he stopped trying to get up and then I started kicking him.
The noise brought several of his guests and surprisingly, as one of the male guests, who must have been John's son, got ready to help him, Paula pulled her son back.
John kept moaning, "I'm sorry," over and over again as I pummeled him.
When I finally stopped and looked up there were about ten people just watching me, including three children and I realized then that my anger had been far greater than I'd thought.
I also then realized that I still had the panties clutched in my hand as I'd beaten John.
"Paula, I'm sorry to ruin your Christmas," I said. I had tears running down my face and could barely talk. She didn't look confused at all, although the people behind her were.
"He gave this to Liz for Christmas," I said. I reached into my jacket and found the card.
"Well, his taste in lingerie is improving," she deadpanned. "Don't blame Elizabeth," she said. "He can be pretty persuasive. She isn't the first woman to fall for his bullshit and she probably won't be the last. She will, however, be the last to fall for it while he's married to me. I'm done. Can I keep these? And may I have the card too? I'll use them as some kind of evidence in my divorce." I nodded and handed her the card.
"Wow," she said as she read it. "He should have written the part about making sure she was alone when she opened it on the outside of the box."
"Paula, I might need to borrow them," I said. "...Unless we use the same lawyer."
"How many times has she cheated on you?" she asked.
"This is the first time as far as I know," I said. "And I don't even know if they ever consummated their relationship, but it's enough for me. I'm done."
"You're smarter than I am," she said. "I'll give you a call and we can synchronize lawyers."
As I turned to go, I heard her talking to him. "After the last time, I made sure your suitcases were packed. I have several of your outfits and duplicates of your toiletries packed in the garage. Take a few moments to get yourself together. Stay here and I'll bring you a wet towel to wipe the blood off of your face. There's no need for you to bother coming back inside the house and ruining everyone's Christmas."
A few seconds after that, I was back in my car and heading home. I'd been expecting it since I'd left Elizabeth's parents' house. My phone rang. It wasn't Elizabeth's phone. I figured that she was too embarrassed to call or too afraid. I answered it.
"Alan, I thought you were going to take a walk," said my mother in law.
"Driving relaxes me," I said.
"Alan, Liz hasn't stopped crying since you left," she said. "She's just beside herself with worry. She went up to her old room and she hasn't come out since. She won't even open the door to let anyone in to talk to her."
"Yeah, I'm feeling pretty bad myself," I said. I was driving up the ramp to exit the freeway in my neighborhood. I hoped that she couldn't hear the changes in my engine sound over the phone. Because the speeds on the freeway were supposed to be seventy mph and I'd been doing about 90. But once I got back on the side streets, I cut it down to forty. As I pulled into the parking lot that surrounded our condo, I stopped but let the engine run. I also didn't get out of the car because I was sure that she'd be able to pick up on that.
"I sent her sister up to talk to her but to tell you the truth, Sarah isn't trying to understand Liz's feelings about this. I think that our best chance to fix this would be for you to come back and talk to her. We all want the same things for you two. And what she did was very bad, but we don't even know what she did yet."
"I know that she planned to go off and spend two days in a motel screwing her boss," I said. "And if things have gotten to the point where they're going on little vacations together then they've already probably had sex and we all know that. Have you even once heard her say that nothing happened? If they hadn't done anything yet she'd be busting her ass trying to convince me that she hadn't," I said.
"Alan, lots of couples have survived this and even worse than this," she said.
"Mom, I love you and I don't hold you responsible for Elizabeth's actions, but I just need to think for a while," I said. "I'll call you in a little bit. I promise."
"Alan, you're not driving to quickly, are you?" she asked. The tone of concern in her voice made me love her even more.
"No ma'am," I laughed. "I never drive any faster than I can see." Then I hung up and went into the condo. I started out with electronics. I moved my iPad, IPod and all of their accessories to the Mustang. I moved my laptop and packed up my desktop computer from our office. Then I moved my game system and games. I moved my blu ray player and all of my movies. I moved my toiletries and personal grooming stuff. Then I went to the covered parking area and moved my Jeep out of my slot. I pulled it over next to my Mustang. I loaded as many items of clothing as I could get into the cargo area and backseat of my Jeep. I didn't need all of those clothes but the more I took, the less chance I'd have to come back. If I could get another trip in I'd probably get all of my camping gear since I was supposed to be heading up to our cabin for a couple of days of ice fishing with my Uncle Jeff the day after tomorrow. In the worst possible scenario, I'd ask Uncle Jeff to come and get my gear.
Once I finished packing, I went two units over and knocked on the door. My neighbor Melissa answered it.
"Hi Liss," I said sadly. "I need a really big favor."
"Spill it cowboy," she said. "We just got done with dinner. Do you want to come in for a while?"
"I wanted to borrow your husband for maybe an hour," I said.
"If you can get him off of the fucking couch, he's all yours," she smiled. "Alan, you don't seem happy. You seem out of it. You're not going to do anything illegal are you? Robbie doesn't need to go to jail."
"Liss, I promise you it's not illegal," I said. She tilted her head to the side. "Look Liss, Liz and I are breaking up. I'm just packing my stuff and moving out. I need someone to drive one of my cars because I can't drive them both at the same time."
"Does Liz know that you're moving out?" she asked.
"She probably has a good idea of it," I said.
"Is this about Christmas?" she asked. "Are you guys arguing about presents?"
"Nope, this isn't about Christmas," I said. "But in a way, I guess the presents; one in particular had something to do with it."
"So this will probably blow over in a couple of days and you'll just have to move back," she said. "I don't know how you could be heartless enough to move out on the poor girl on Christmas day anyway. That's just not like you Alan."