“Christmas Cradle” part 1 (2011)
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The words were few between the couple as they remained in flux between bewilderment, shock and service. He tidied up the downstairs bedroom and upon completing their meal tucked the brothers and into bed after wiping them down with a damp wash cloth and inviting them to brush their teeth, passing a small plastic cup between them and then lifting them over the sink to rinse their mouths. They refused to get into the bed and asked for their mommie. He realized that this was to much for them and invited them back into the den and the warmth of the fireplace. They crawled up onto the couch and watched out the front window until they were just to tired to keep a vigil for the return of their mother and eventually the younger brother curled up into the corner of the couch and dozed off to sleep. The elder brother sat down and watched the flickering of the brilliant flame in the otherwise darkened room but each time a car raced past he jumped up and gazed intently through the reflective glass peering into the darkness. Eventually he tired too and fell asleep agasint the arm of the sofa in the opposite corner of his brother. Lauren watching from across the room in his chair then retrieved two new blankets from the baby’s room and gifted by his mother for their anticipated first born. He gently laid the soft cotton fabric on top of one then the other black haired children, returned to his seat, and for the first time processed the events on this Thanksgiving Eve since before this life altering interruption was completing a checklist and mental inventory of things to do while sipping his Cognac. He walked into the kitchen where his glass sat on the counter undisturbed its metallic amber contents untouched. He drank it rinsed the glass walked to the bar and poured a triple of his favorite tequila saluted the cross on the wall and drank that too in one elevating moment. His face pulsated with a flash of heat and a constricted throat the symptoms of escapism all to familiar when he seeking instant spirituality less the sacrifice through an instant mood altering experience.
He stepped outside and opened the door to the fire adding some water soaked cherry wood chips, closed the door and lifted the top of the cooker to see a beautifully bronzed turkey the slow heat and smoke from the chips and charcoal crafting the most succulent and tender bird he had ever tasted. It was a slow process taking all of eighteen hours to complete one large fowl and hence was usually reserved for the sacred Holidays and Feasts of Easter, Christmas and of course tomorrow this Thanksgiving. He glanced at his Movado and realized that today was now yesterday and tomorrow was today and Thanksgiving. He returned to the den and sat down now focusing on the darkness and his wife this whole time quietly rocking the baby in her arms in her hand made cedar rocker. He worked long and hard to craft the chair the rounded back supports were the most difficult part as the chair required thirteen of them to be lathed with equal precision to insure symmetry of look and more importantly to equally distribute the stress of the weight on the frame when leaning back in full tilt. His thoughts drifted back to the baby and why would someone abandon their children if they did on their front porch. He was a man of faith studying at the great Christian Universities but he also believed that there existed no such event in life as a random act preferring instead the definition that coincidences are the Lord’s way of working anonymously in our life.
He was awakened by the glint of sunlight breaching the blinds the shimmering brilliance to much as the laser like precision beam provided form to the smallest dust particles on the hardwood floor cutting a path halfway between he and his sleeping wife in her rocking chair with babe in her arms. He moved to rejuvenate the circulation in his right hand and both legs. Then the two boys quivered and stretched in their sleep and Laura leaned forward and stood up laying the baby on the couch between the boys.
He rallied the boys for a quick breakfast and a glance at the parade on television rhwn recorded the event for later and bundled them up in their tattered coats and departed to church for the Thanksgiving Mass.
Their parish was simple yet elegant in its design and today the base of the altar was adorned with the fruits of harvest including pumpkins, grapes, acorn and butternut squash flowing out of three black horned shaped whicker baskets and laid on top of carefully placed rustic, amber, chocolate, and burnt orange maple, oak and cherry leaves with a handful of pecan and almonds tossed in for good measure symbolizing the richness of a Texas harvest here in God’s country where although challenged in court and on school boards they continue to pray before high school football games and a state where the textbooks remain historically accurate promoting a narrative of reverence of our forefathers and how their Christian beliefs affected their vision in the founding of this Constitutional Republic or more affectionately known Universally as America!
As Lauren approached the communion rail Father Paul laid a hand on each of the young boy’s heads and offered a blessing and after Mass Father Paul upon greeting the departing congregants many with offers for Father to join them later for Thanksgiving Dinner.
Father Paul whispered to Lauren as he signaled for them towards his office: “If I accepted half of these invitations for later today I would be twice as large as I am and drunker than ten wild Indians” pausing and then with a glint of contrived political correctness continued:
“not that I have anything against drunk wild Indians.”
Father Paul reclined in his easy chair and shot a miniature rubber basketball at the plastic hoop on the opposite wall and with said “Hello Dere” to the boys offering them candy from his March madness dish shaped like a basketball until he flipped up the top half of the orange sphere accented with black lines just like the real thing. They politely and quietly accepted and then climbed back into their chairs one on each side of Lauren who was also seated facing Father across the other side of his desk as financially or emotionally distressed couples behave when seeking counseling in his office. “Did I ever tell you my Marty Allen story” and continued uninterrupted: “Marty Allen was taking the stage at the Dunes or the Sands I can’t remember which one, for the first time in Las Vegas for one of those afternoon happy hours. He faced the packed house and was so nervous he flubbed his first line and instead of saying Hello There he said Hello Dere. The house erupted in laughter and a star was born. You might ask how do I know this, well I’ll tell you when in my former life I visited Las Vegas for some fun in the sun I met Marty at the Las Vegas Athletic Club a gym managed by Bill St. George a good Catholic who became an adult acolyte at Our Lady of Wisdom a local Byzantine Catholic congregation whose diocese extends from Albuquerque to Fairbanks Alaska. Can you believe it! "Beleive what Lauren replied" "Believe that I remembered all of what I just spoke" Father Paul continued: "I also met his Bishop but that’s another story anyway Lauren you never told me you were previously married you devil”. Lauren stammered: “This is serious Father; someone dropped these children off late last night at our front door, and Lauren is at home with a baby girl who has some form of facial deformity.” Ah! replied Paul. It’s either the Californians or a Mexican street ministry. Lauren was taken aback and inquired: “You know what this is about? Paul: replied: “Well no one really knows what anything is about except the Lord, but what I have heard is that people in California who are stuck and can’t get out of the state are bussing their children to Dallas and Houston to an underground network that deposits the children on the door steps of stable families hoping they will head the call and take these children in as their own, but in your case these may be Mexican children who because of the handicap you described with their sister may have been orphaned by their own parents and left on the street. Lauren was taken aback and responded: "Why would a parent abandon their children?" Paul shot another basket and said:
“These people are living under the stress of war time conditions in Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere with the insanity of the cartel violence although I believe the government with our intelligence now has the upper hand in the fight and once the Mexican people join in mass it’s over for the cartels. That’s a lot of reward money in dollars not pesos and with the drones marking their every move it won’t be long now. The gun battle resulting in the death of the head of La Familia was a real turning point as this particular cartel leader lived a sort of Robin Hood like existence and enjoyed the popular support of the local population, so if he wasn’t safe none of them are safe. It’s now a function of time but to your point Lauren although abandoning your children as cruel as it may sound may be morally justified if you’re seeking a better life for them, exercising your right to a safe and legal abortion here in the United States is never justified."
But you know what Lauren I pray every day for everyone associated with the cartels from the lookouts to the leaders as I don’t want them to be forsaken for all of eternity as a result of the evil they have allowed to penetrate their lives. You know what else Lauren Our Lord is a merciful God and he loves all of his children and I mean all of his children, and Lauren I believe that the end users of drugs here in the United States have blood on their hands too regarding their fueling the demand through consumption and addiction to these horrible drugs and the ensuing violence and turf wars fought to push this scourge across the border and I pray for them too!
A friend of mine told me that some cartel members created a saint that protects them in this life and although many of them believe they will go to hell for their transgressions they hold firm that in death this saint will allow them to remain at a higher level of hell not unlike like the depiction in Dante’s inferno.” Then Father Paul leaned over his desk and stared directly into the eyes of Lauren and whispered: “So do you want to keep the children?” Lauren was caught completely off guard mesmerized by the hypnotic drone of Father Paul and stammered: "I don’t know what time we’re having dinner today so what kind of question is that” Well, as we both know the Lord works in mysterious ways but let’s ask the judge what we should do? So what do you think Roy? Lauren exclaimed: “Have you been listening the whole time.” “Well yes with you chatty Kathie ‘s I haven’t had a chance to get a word in edge wise besides Lauren haven’t you heard of speed dialing, plus the whole town already knows what happened last night as your neighbor Karen Engle the local version of Gladys Kravitz, you remember from the show Bewitched. I loved that show, how about you Padre.” "Yes Roy, observing the dysfunctional lives of witches and warlocks is what motivated me to join the priesthood." Everyone laughed.
The Police Chief thought Karen Engle was going to refer to him as “Abner” when she called him the moment those kids were let out of the car and dropped off on your stoop and then the car sped off.
Judge Roy continued: "Listen I’m a few hours out here in the Texas wilderness on a boar hunting trip. My back up plan is a 44 Mag Ruger Super Redhawk if my 357 Revolver doesn’t take the Hog down with the first shot and it’s holstered right next to my flask of Jimmie Bean but of course everyone knows the best Hog hunting is at night when they amble through the hollow and you can hear them but can’t see them and are scared out of your wits especially on moonless night and then exhilarated when you hit them with a faded laser or pen light pick one out and blast away praying, no offense padre, that you pierce that tough hide or worse that a wounded boar doesn’t charge requiring you to reach for your back up revolver and finally as I have always preached to these weekend warriors never hunt boar with a shotgun; so what’s your back up plan Stan, I mean Lauren as the courts and all social service agencies are basically closed except in case of emergency until Monday? So is this an emergency, Lauren? Well no. Okay then lets all have a nice Thanksgiving? Go Dallas and here Piggy Piggy echoed into the phone then nothing but a dial tone.
Father Paul stood up and extended his arms: “So there you have it, Are you still on for your trip to Little Rock on Monday, Ms. Kitty the widow is counting on you?” Lauren replied: “Yes! A pallet of roofing tiles was delivered yesterday.” “Great, listen if all else fails try that old time remedy and go down and pray at the edge of the river. Whenever I am seeking some discernment in my life, it works for me; and Lauren, Happy Thanksgiving”. Paul, Lauren conveyed as the two parted in different directions: “They haven’t said ten words between them since they arrived: Paul gestured to heaven and said: “Like angels on high they’ll talk when they’re ready. Be at peace now as you’re assisting in the design of the Master. Besides I’m sure your place in heaven is secured if there is such a place” and laughed as he disappeared around the corner of the building. Father Paul lived life large like and bore an uncanny resemblance to Dom DeLouise especially his smile, laugh and love of life. He also larger than life for many in his fledgling congregtion and new parish of those departing Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt due in part to their own spiritual rebirth and the expansion of the Catholic Faith Community in these parts of Texas.
Lauren led the two boys who now offered their hands the three of them walked with Lauren guiding them from the middle to their waiting Suburban. It hadn’t been one full day since this chance, or was it, meeting Lauren thought; but these two boys who hadn’t spoken ten words between them since last night were well behaved especially under the circumstances almost as if they had been coached to accept their new destiny away from their own family and he surmised how heart wrenching it must have been for parents to let go of their children in an attempt to extricate their offspring from the cycle of violence and poverty that may have overwhelmed their own lives.
He opened the kitchen door adjoining to the garage and they were greeted with an aroma of fresh baking bread, the turkey removed from the smoker was nestled in one bay of their gas oven on hold warm replacing the pumpkin and pecan pies Lauren had set on the counter to cool. Katy Ritz, like the cracker she always joked in school, greeted them at the door and kissed Lauren on the cheek then ushered everyone into the bathroom to clean up and then to the den where they would enjoy this day with each other and in front of the television where the kick off for the Detroit game was only minutes from now. They were all very hungry and tired from sleeping in the den and not their own beds and Katy her motherly instincts awakened from a deep slumber of denial and grief catered to their circumstances by moving the clock forward and serving Thanksgiving dinner at eleven in the morning.
The baby was nestled in her new duds and blanket wraps destined for another child so she thought a person was not destined for them, her tears of joy now replacing her stoic Norwegian Polish roots of dealing or not dealing with feelings more conveniently repressed in isolation to a corner of her mind like the deep snowfalls of Scandinavia inhibiting all but the most ardent of souls. Her father once related how a Swat team was deployed from Oslo to their small enclave near the artic circle and how it required almost twelve hours via high speed rail for the Police to arrive in the middle of the night to relieve the overmatched local constable and subdue the hooligans returning with those arrested to the capital for their incarceration and arraignment.
They donned their comfy clothes and sat in front of the Television the two boys fixated on the noise of Ford field the home of the Lions  and with each score they became more enthralled and started pointing at the screen between bites of turkey and gooey stuffing feeding themselves with their hands as did Lauren after his third beer.
WOW Hits 2010
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