Christmas 2014 belongs to the past. I was too sick to travel to visit my family in Boston. My Christmas Eve was spent hacking clear my lungs like I reincarnating the final agonies of Doc Holiday on his last legs at the Hotel Glenwood. Reputedly the tubercular gun fighter looked at his bare feet and said his last words.
"Damn, this is funny."
Doc didn't die with his boots on, but I bare-soled through Christmas with my lungs choking for precious oxygen.
My condition on December 26 mimicked Camille's demise, but on the 27th I attended a soiree with longtime comrades. Between us we knew each other for centuries. Our departed friends haunted the gathering and we drank hard liquor with the abandon of the wicked. Old Evil David lanced me with insults. I smiled back with a glass of gin in my hand.
I was too drunk to be mean, but one of our friends. Suzanne, was having an affair with a born-again reprobate. The tortured painter deserved happiness, but her beau's high-pitched dialogues were dotted with Jesus and he had bad words for us sinners.
I have been a devout atheist since the age of eight and hate Bible-thumpers, so I avoided born-again Ben throughout the evening.
After a venerable cinema professor recounted his parents' curtailing his possible baseball career with the New York Mets, we went to main table laden with deserts and bottles.
Ben stood before the unsullied chocolate cake. He was contemplating the size of his slice. His lips were moving in prayer and a knife quivered in his hand. Every sinew attached to my bones shivered a warning to shut my mouth, however the gin spoke for me.
"You look like Adam the first time he saw Eve, but a chocolate cake is not Satan." I pushed down on his hand.
The knife pierced the chocolate.
I smelled it on the air.
"I know that." Ben cut himself a miserly slice.
Amos, the cineaste, directed himself out of the scene.
I cut my hunk and raised the richness in the air in my bare hand.
"To another Christmas to come." I hoped to spent 2015 with my family in Thailand. My children meant the world to me. Every parent in the world shared the same feeling and I stuffed the chocolate cake in my mouth.
It stuck in my craw and I washed the crumbs down with gin.
"But there's one thing that bothers me about Christmas."
"Such as?" Ben shut a small pice of cake in his mouth.
"I worked every day of the holiday season and I'm not complaining since the one thing worse than too much work is too little work."
I had relearned that lesson through 2014.
"So what is the problem?"
"This year Christmas fell on a Thursday, which meant I couldn't take off Friday." My boss had cut out to Florida, the Holyland for the Chosen Tribe. "Not that I had anyplace to go, but millions of workers would have benefit, if Christmas was a moving holiday."
"Yes, like Labor Day, so it creates a three-day weekend for the workers."
"Christ was born on December 25."
"Says the Bible."
"I never saw that date in the New Testament, besides God knocked up Mary on August 8, which means that Jesus was probably born on May 8 as a Taurus."
"Jesus' birth was recorded by the Romans. He is God. His birthday is December 25th."
"What did you give him this year? An iPad, a tie, a blowjob?" I really hate Jesus freaks.
"Shut up, you old git." Old Evil David interfered with my fun, knowing I was about to get ugly.
"But nothing, you wicked sinner." David swung his fingers over my head in a Picasso sign of the cross and led away, whispering, "Our friend like this guy. Leave him alone."
I turned my head.
He was right.
Suzanne was in Ben's arms. They were a happy couple in Christ. Ben gave her a bite of his cake.
"Thanks, Dave." I gave my friend a hug. He looked out for me and I looked out for a change as would any atheist on the days after Christmas.