Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Christmas Book

STOP! Read post below. Did you read it? Are you sure? Are you absolutely positive? Do you swear on waffles and all things ducky? Ok then.....

The Christmas Book
All James wanted was to get a book for his mom. In reality, this didn't seem like a difficult of a task. After all, it wouldn't have been hard to stop by the local bookstore on his way after school and purchase a book. The problem was it wasn't any book James wanted. The book James wanted was a Zippo book, the hottest selling book in the market. The Zippo books were a fantasy series that had it’s own cult following. New books had a three-month waiting list, and were always delayed by several weeks.

James’s mom loved the Zippo books. She would lay back on her hospital bed and read, licking her lips excitedly as she turned the pages. It was the first time James had seen the corner of her eyes smile in a long time. When he was younger, his mom never smiled with her mouth. She smiled with her eyes, with big long crinkles that were sunbursts on her face. Ever since she’d gotten sick, the sunbursts had faded away. Now, only her mouth smiled unless she was reading a Zippo book. She said the books took her to a happier place, to a place where she and James were dancing in fields and riding on dolphins.

The doctor had told James he wasn’t sure if his mother would make it another Christmas. James was determined to make this Christmas perfect for her, so she would remember it always. This is how he had wound up in an airport, clutching his ticket and his backpack. He was on his way to New York, to visit Blue Press, the publisher of the Zippo books. In his mind, he could see the stacks of autographed books shoveled into a closet. He was sure they would give him one. After all, how could they deny his sick mother?

After boarding the plane, James sat in his seat. He was seated next to a wild-haired woman wearing a fuzzy purple scarf and tall white boots. His mother had always said people that wore white after Labor Day were tacky. He didn’t think this lady was tacky. He thought she just looked like a big purple lollipop.

As the planes engines rumbled to a start, James felt a knot in his stomach. He never liked flying. He began to breathe in and out of his mouth very carefully. The woman next to him looked down at him.

“Nervous, are you?” she asked in a thick Southren accent.
“Yup,” James looked straight ahead at the lines on the seat upholstery. He was afraid if he looked away from the lines, he would barf. The strength of the lines seemed to calm his intestines.

“Don’t be nervous, darlin’,” she said. “There ain’t nothing to be afraid of.”

“Except dying,” James said, before he stopped himself. He closed his eyes and willed his stomach to calm down. “Excuse me, that was rude.”

“It’s fine,” the woman laughed. “Perfectly reasonable response. So, where are you headed?”

“New York,” James said. The plane had evened out in the air, and the fasten-seatbelts signs clicked off. He was beginning to feel better. “I have to buy a book.”

“You’re going all the way to New York to buy a book?” the woman said in surprise. “Whatever for? Why can’t you buy a book down here?”

“It’s a special book,” James said. “It’s for my mom.”

“Why, that’s just so sweet,” the woman cooed. She smelled of honey and vanilla. It made James hungry.

After a few minutes, James noticed the woman hadn’t talked about herself. “Where are you going?” he asked.

“New York,” the woman replied, shuddering. “Dreadful place. I only go there when I have to.”

“Why is it dreadful?” James asked curiously. “Everyone tells me it’s wonderful. They say there’s everything there you ever need.”

“Because there are sewer rats!” the woman bellowed loudly. The man in front of her shushed her disapprovingly. “You hush!” she snapped back.

“Sewer rats?” James was confused. “What do you mean? There’s sewer rats everywhere.”

“Not like these, baby boy,” she squealed in disgust. “These sewer rats are four feet wide with sharp fangs that drip green goo. They’re enourmous, disgusting creatures with matted fun and black squishy eyes. At night, they sneak into apartments and raid people’s refridgerators. They can turn milk sour and rot cheese just by walking past the fridge.”

James stared at her with wide eyes as her voice grew louder.

“Their nails are as sharp as razors and contain so much filth flies grow in them,” she continued, clearly enjoying herself. “They are so disgusting not even maggots and leeches want to be associated with them. They”-

“Excuse me,” the flight attendant interrupted. James started as she leaned over him. “Ma’am, you’re disturbing the other passengers. Would you mind lowering your voice?”

The woman stared at her. “Yes,” she said, clearly irritated.My story will lose all dramatic effect if I lower my voice. You’ve just ruined it now, haven’t you?”

The flight attendant quietly apologized and walked off. The woman huffed and folded her arms.

“How rude,” she muttered. Then she suddenly looked throughtful. “Do you believe my story?” she asked James thoughtfully.

“No,” he said honestly. “Though I was until she arrived.”

“Well, that’s something,” the strange woman said, slightly mollified.

“Why are you going to New York if you don’t like it?” James asked.

“I have a meeting,” she said. “At Blue Press.”

“Really?” James perked up. “That’s where I’m going. You must be a writer then! That’s why you told me the story about the rats!”

“Shhhhh!” the woman looked around furitviely, grabbing James’s arm. He looked down and saw her nails, short and painted blue and green, were digging into his skin.

“Ow,” he said, trying to detach her fingers.
“You can’t tell anyone I’m a writer!” she said, shoving her face into his. “They’ll be after me, they will! They’ll want me to sign books. The most horrible thing in the world is signing book after book. Do you know how tiresome it gets? How boring? I generally sign a name that’s not mine, like Madame Sasperilla or something. It makes things more interesting.”

“Writers don’t like to autograph books?” James asked as worry lines spread across his head.

“No!” the writer bellowed, ignoring the shushes. “It’s annoying and boring.”

“Do they keep them at the publishing houses?” James asked hopefully.
"Sometimes,” she said. “For promotional things. It’s hard to get one otherwise.”

James buried his face in his hands. The Zippo writer would never sign the book for his mom, and his mom would have a horrible Christmas. He felt his stomach tie up in knots again.
To be continued........................

3 comments:

Mama K said...

Very good ...... but I found a few typos. Let me know before you send it off. Can't wait to read part II. You know I love a good mystery!

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