Silent night, solo night

(This post appeared on Christmas Eve of 2009, again in 2010, and it now, with a few updates, officially becomes a holiday tradition.  My child bride is in a small town 40 minutes southwest of here with her long deceased mother’s side of the family.  They stay up way too late for me.)

* * * *

Silent night, holy night (to many), solo night.

That’s what I am enjoying — a quiet, solitary night at home.

And where is my lovely wife?  With a pack of kin named Pérez.

Latinos tend to celebrate Christmas most of all on Christmas Eve, and the later the hour the better.  Around midnight sounds ideal for dining.

To me, it sounds like way past bedtime.

After much angst over the years, we’ve reached an accord.  She goes wherever they go, and I stay at home, enjoying the peace.

That’s what it’s all about anyway:  peace.

I’m happy with this arrangement.  She finds it a little unsettling, and feels guilty, but I send her packing with her homemade pecan pies and hummus …

… and her guilt fades, one imagines, in the general racket created when a Latino family collects under one roof.

And, of course, the following morning she feels stunned, and her eyes are red from scant sleep.  She swears never again, but the negatives fade, and the tradition plods on.  Till next year.

She will share the gossip.  Who got drunk.  Who got angry.  Who stormed out in a snit.  There’s never any shortage of that.

It’s best to stay home and hear about it second-hand.

* * * *

At age 67, I’m still waiting for the ideal Christmas. the kind portrayed on Hallmark cards.  Where happy people in heavy coats bearing gifts enter beautifully decked-out homes as snow falls gently on the lawn.

The tree is bright and beautiful.  The dog is always a cocker spaniel, black and white.

Where are these places?

Fact is, I got off to a bad start, Christmas-wise.  Dad was a drunk, and there is little in the way of holiday memory.  And as you begin, you usually remain.  I remember only one childhood Christmas, just one.

We were not at home.  Our family of four was at Granny’s farm in Georgia.  I was 6.  With sister, 9, I fell asleep in the bedroom next to the living room where stood the tall Christmas tree.   We had put out cookies and milk for Santa.

There really was a chimney.

I awoke the next morning to a pile of loot that Santa had left after downing the milk and cookies.  The gift that remains in memory these six decades was a vinyl record.  Gene Autry sang Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The beautiful sound of an ideal world to a child of 6.

I played the tune over and over that morning.  There was no snow.  But it was grand anyway.  That one Christmas.

Just that one.

One wonders how those cookies tasted with bourbon.

* * * *

Gene Autry sings Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Wetback cop

He swam over the border 35 years ago hunting what they all hunted: easy blondes and fast money.

But something weird happened.

A year later, while on his knees in The Lady of Our Suffering Bloody Jesus Christ Almighty God Church in the big city’s barrio, a statue winked at him and said:  Do right, jovencito.

And he did do right.  He entered night school and volunteered with Meals on Wheels. Years passed. He gained citizenship, and he earned a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice for Minorities.

He changed his name from Manny to Mark — Mark Montoya — but he never lost his love of tacos because you can take a Mexican out of Mexico, but you can’t take tacos out of a Mexican.

That was, as mentioned, about 35 years ago and now Montoya is a lieutenant at the Fourth Precinct. He’s seen lots of easy blondes and fast money, neither of which he ever touched because of what the winking statue told him.

Do right, jovencito.

But he isn’t so jovencito anymore.  He is 55 years old, and eligible for retirement with full medical coverage and an absurdly fat pension.  Gracias, public union!

He’s solved lots of crimes in his police career, but there is one open file in his drawer that obsesses him. The name on that file is Kristanabel Wasoo.

The serial killer.

* * * *

Kris at 15

Though he’s never seen her in person, he’s on a first-name basis: Kris, he calls her, and his desire to cuff her keeps him awake on dark, stormy nights.

There was a prison mugshot, of course, but he prefers this photo from Kristanabel’s parents’ album so many years ago. Montoya flips it over.

To mom and dad on my 15th birthday.  You’re the very best !!!!!  Love and kisses!!!!   XXXXXXX

Dated just three days before she shot them dead in their bed.

Kristanabel is hard to catch because she lives on her looks.  She uses men.  She uses them for money, to get jobs, usually in bars as a barmaid.  She uses men to get fake identification, so her name is ever changing.  And then she kills them.

She is a phantom, as hard to grasp and corral as cold fog on a winter-gray morning in the high Nevatumblas.

* * * *

Montoya  jams Kristanabel’s file back in his desk drawer, grabs the snub-nosed .38 Police Special and shoves it into his holster as he stands.

No, he mutters to himself.  Retirement can wait.  I have work to do.

This case holds just one clue, her sole weakness:  rare roast beef sandwiches and cold dark ale.

Our cop heads to a delicatessen near the Marbol Hotel.

* * * *

(One of a series titled  The Marbol Hotel.)

Lovely living

It’s been idyllic here for quite a few weeks.  Perhaps the spot where it’s most idyllic is out on the yard patio beneath the broad, brown umbrella, especially in the afternoons.

That’s the umbrella pole you see there on the right.  It cranks.

Last year we had a horrid time because winter made a spirited start in early November, quite atypical, and there were repeated overnight freezes through February.

In the middle of last month it froze overnight about three times, and I thought we were in for a repeat of last year.  But no.  Mother Nature sobered up, and we haven’t had a freeze since.

I often sit right here, facing this direction, with my feet up on a chair between noonish and lunch, which occurs at 2 p.m.  Usually I have a book.

Right now it’s biographer David McCullough’s huge and wonderful Truman, available on the Kindle.*  (Thousand-plus pages in paper version.)

Harry Truman

Sometimes my child bride is there with me, sometimes not.  Sometimes I just stare about and enjoy the world.

The nights here are chill, mornings too.  The afternoons are cool and breezy with blue skies and white, puffy clouds.

It is, in fact, an environment the Christians might find a satisfactory manifestation of that Heaven they await.

* * * *

* On finishing this beefy bio, I’m gonna read  Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure.  I have become quite fond of this superlative, straight-shooting president who never got a law degree, bless him, and I wish we had another just like him.  Democrats used to be sharper people.

Stone and sand

I‘m a rock man.  I feel grounded, as the New Agers say, when I’m near stone.

I have spent little time in rock territory during my life, which likely explains the disconnect I endured for decades.

As a very small boy, I lived in southwest Georgia.  Little stone there, just red clay.  As an adolescent, I lived in northeast Florida.  Scant stone there either, just sand on the beaches.

You ever notice that most romance ads mention a love of walking on beaches?  And loving to laugh?

Woman, 38, divorced, six children, no job.  Love to laugh and walk on the beach.  Come get me.

Other than her age and marital, work, and mama status, the ad says nothing.  Everybody loves to laugh and walk on beaches.  Everybody.  Okay, perhaps not some people in mental institutions.

I too love to laugh and walk on beaches, but I would never advertise it.  Not even worth mentioning because it’s a characteristic of the human race, like saying one has two feet and two hands.

Actually, some people are missing hands or feet, but everybody loves to walk on the beach and laugh, even some mental patients, with or without feet, which they may have cut off in the course of their emotional disintegration.

I lost much of my disconnect in the early years of this century.  It coincides with my moving south of the American border. I also see stone every day. I have a rock wall in my yard.  There are rock mountains in the distance.

Home at last.  Stone home.