Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maelstrom Excerpt: Christmas (conclusion)

We conclude Ricky's Christmas with more than just a bit of holiday cheer.

“Your friends sure are a lively bunch,” his mother said, scanning his face in concern. “Why were you so mean to them? They obviously think highly of you.”

“The bass player kissed my wife,” Mike said darkly.

“Holiday spirit,” Ricky informed him. Then to his mother he said, “I wasn’t trying to be mean. It’s just that I told them not to go caroling. I don’t want them making any mistakes and getting bad publicity.”

“It seems like good publicity to me,” Joanne said, still glassy-eyed over her encounter with Bo. “We should go see their show.”

“Not on your life,” Mike said. He poured himself a drink. Then in an uncharacteristically generous move, he poured one for Ricky. “Cheers?”

Ricky touched his glass to Mike’s and tried to smile, but there was something in his brother's coolly appraising look that he didn’t like. Something had aroused his suspicion and it wasn’t just Bo giving Joanne a holiday kiss.

While the family settled in front of the TV to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, Ricky sipped his scotch and pondered. Where had the band gone next? Were they keeping out of trouble or were they about to ruin everything he had helped them build since summer? And why did Mike keep looking at him that way? Seeking a distraction, he opened his Christmas stocking. Most of what was inside was typical holiday fare—chocolate and peppermint candies, a snowman magnet for the refrigerator, a packet of almonds, and a silver Christmas coin like the ones Nevin had given the children. It was the envelope, though, that Ricky found most curious. He opened it to find a card with a reindeer and Santa on it, and the words, “Holiday Wishes.” He opened the card and what he found inside left him staring in shock.

Mike was watching him carefully. “What’s the matter, Ricky?”

Deep breaths. It had to be a joke, except the band didn’t kid around when it came to matters like this. More deep breaths.

“Love letter from your cute guitar player?”

“No,” Ricky said. “Just an ordinary Christmas card. And my holiday bonus check.”

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and very best wishes to you and yours, whatever you're celebrating this year!

1 comment:

Thomma Lyn said...

*grin*! All's well that ends well -- sounds like a happy holiday for Ricky and the band!

Merry Christmas, my friend -- and I can't wait to sink my teeth into Maelstrom!