Someone recently told me that the 12 days of Christmas are actually supposed to begin on Christmas day. I don’t really care. Any day after Christmas and before December 1st doesn’t feel like Christmas, no matter how many holiday songs people play or how many holiday sales stores have. The following story is — just like the last ones — anti-consumerist, and is the first of a few stories which will explore the Three Kings, and the awesome nature of their journey (assuming they ever took one). I mean, you’ve got to have some serious spiritual balls to follow a bright star through the desert while carrying a brick of gold, and some very expensive gifts. Comments welcome!
Jeremiah sat at the security desk late at night, sipping slowly on his heavily caffeinated soda. He stared steadily out the glass doors just ten feet from his seat. With no light outside and the fluorescents inside, he could see nothing beyond the doors, just the black velvet curtain of the night. He stared at the opaque darkness and let his mind wander.
In his ten years working this job, no one had ever emerged from the darkness until morning, when the velvet curtain brightened slowly into a lovely navy blue. It was the middle of nowhere. Banks in the middle of nowhere didn’t have much trouble, so you can imagine his amazement when a man and woman rushed up to the door and pounded on it. The woman clutched a bulbous swollen belly. The man yelled,
“My wife is giving birth! Do you have a phone?”
Jeremiah quickly unlocked the door after fumbling with the keys. He rushed behind a desk and picked up the phone.
“Set down and I’ll ring—“
Jeremiah was interrupted by a gun pressing against his nose. The man looked at Jeremiah calmly and spoke softly, “Sit down and don’t move.”
It was then that Jeremiah noticed the man’s hair was a blond wig, and that the man’s nose was much too large for his face, as if it were a fake nose. The man’s eyes were blue, but too blue, as if the man wore colored contacts, and the man’s beard looked too coarse and had too clean edges, as if the beard were pasted on. Jeremiah did as he was told, and the woman, who he noticed was actually pregnant—swollen ankles are a dead giveaway—proceeded to duck tape him to a chair and blindfold him.
He heard the static of a radio, followed by, “The manger is set except for the three kings.”
Everything that followed sounded like a series of angry metal noises. At least, that’s how he described it to the police. He told them that before the thieves left, they placed a straw in his mouth, and told him there was water at the other end. Then they bid him a Merry Christmas.
“Merry Christmas?” the officer asked, clearly as confused as Jeremiah had been. It was the middle of July.
“Merry Christmas,” Jeremiah repeated.
Jeremiah never felt bad about the whole thing. Some security guards get too rattled after being held at gun point, and they can never work again. Instead, Jeremiah found himself hoping to see the woman again. He wanted to know if her child had ten fingers and ten toes. Some times, he realized he was waiting for her to arrive. He tried to imagine what she would say, or what the child might look like, but somehow he couldn’t. He began to find himself standing right at the glass doors at night, pressing his face against the glass to see past the black velvet curtain.
One December night he ignored regulations and he opened the door. He stepped outside and let his eyes gradually adapt to the darkness. He looked up and he marveled at all the stars. It was easily one of the most beautiful things he’d ever seen. And just above the horizon, he saw one particularly bright star. It seemed to call to him.
The next morning, when the relieving security arrived, he found the bank empty, and no one ever saw or heard of Jeremiah again.