Pablo Michael’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: It Happened That Christmas
Chris inspected the homemade ornament he had hung on the Christmas tree. He had made it from a photograph of the first Christmas Eve Tim and he had spent together. He reminisced about that holiday ten years before.
He did not stay home by himself on that Christmas Eve, almost wishing his boss had not given him the day off when handing out the bonuses.
“And you Chris Stevens have Christmas Eve off for your good behavior,” his boss had said.
His good behavior had given Mr. Pickens his quota for the quarter. So Chris was told to go home with his bonus, a bottle of Napa Pinot Noir. But Chris had no intention of drinking that wine alone that night. Even though he had no presents to exchange or friends to celebrate Christmas with, he wanted to get into the seasonal mood of good cheer, holly, mistletoe, and carols.
He walked among the hustling shoppers, downtown, in the retail district. Inside Macy’s he stopped at the Santa display. Santa’s helpers, consisting of young teenagers dressed as elves and reindeer, huddled around Santa. They prepared to let the children in line request their most prized toy to Santa. A young man, obviously not an elf, stood next to Santa. Chris assumed he worked with Santa and the helpers, possibly giving advice. But then Chris’s gaydar recognized the man as a fellow employee from work. Since they worked in different departments they knew each other no more than as an acquaintance. They had exchanged inquisitive glances periodically, Chris suspecting the man was gay.
The man walked away and disappeared into the crowd of parents and children outside the Santa display. Santa’s helpers began the day’s festivities, escorting the children, one by one to Santa’s lap. Just as Chris was about to explore more of the store, a reindeer and an elf approached Chris. From behind the red rope, separating Santa display from the shoppers, they greeted Chris.
”You have a request from a secret admirer.” The elf reached for Chris’s hand.
Chris had nothing planned so he thought he’d play along with the two younger kids. He had no idea what was about to occur.
“Come with us,” the reindeer led the way, following the red rope to the back of Santa’s display.
“Santa has a present for you.” The elf pointed to a man with his back facing them, eating a bag of popcorn and watching the children line up to sit on Santa’s lap.
“Oh, Tim.” The reindeer sought the man’s attention. “Here’s the man Santa promised you for tonight. Christmas Eve should not be spent alone.”
Tim turned around.
“Santa said you two should spend some time together on Christmas Eve. He expects you both to be in bed before he fills your stockings tonight.” The reindeer handed them each a seasonally wrapped present.
“These are from Santa. Open these presents later.” The elf reached for Chris’s hand.
The two men played along with the elf and the reindeer, with their hands clasped together.
While they stared at each other, hints of smiles formed on their lips.
The two Santa helpers giggled when they returned to help Santa, escorting the chattering children, waiting in line to express their wishes.
“Haven’t I seen you at work?” Chris initiated the conversation. “Do you know that Santa? I saw you talking to him earlier.”
“Yeah, I work in the executive offices. I’ve seen you in accounting. I can’t lie. Santa is my friend, Jerry. Do you have any plans for tonight?”
“No, I don’t, but this is kind of awkward.”
“Why don’t we go to my place?” Tim grinned, like a man scheming something devilish but playful.
“Okay.” Chris laughed, releasing some of the anxiety he felt when meeting someone new, like he usually did.
They left Macy’s and took the subway to Tim’s apartment.
When they entered his living room, Chris felt chills of the Christmas spirit ripple beneath his skin. “Wow! You have a tree. I love the scent of it. It smells like the forest. Are you expecting your family?”
“No. I didn’t have plans for any guests this year. I always have a Christmas tree. I love the Holidays. It’s the spirit of giving I like so much. Here let me put that under the tree.” Tim put both presents from Santa under the tree. “We can open them later.”
“It was really a coincidence running into each other at Macy’s.”
“I know. I was just gossiping with Jerry when I saw you standing there at Santa’s display. I devised the idea of us meeting with Jerry. He loved the idea.”
“I thought Santa’s gifts were for the kids. Aren’t they toys?”
“They might be. But Jerry and I exchange presents every year. The ones he gave us were for me. Are you playing hooky from work?”
“Oh, no. Pickens let me off early because I helped him reach his quota for the quarter. I had the highest numbers in the department."
"I bet you got a nice bonus?”
“A bottle of wine. Because I’m new.”
“What a cheap-scape! Well, I’ll make sure you have a nice day off.” Tim smiled the same devious grin again.
Chris smiled in return.
“Why don’t you have plans for tonight? I thought you’d be with another guy. I think you’re hot.”
Chris blushed. “Probably the same reason you aren’t. The feeling’s mutual. Actually I moved here six months ago. And I don't know many people.”
“Come here, you stud. I want to welcome you to San Francisco.”
Chris walked toward Tim, who pulled him close. Chest to chest, crotch to crotch, they kissed.
They kissed long between breaths for several minutes, until Tim began to undress Chris.
They continued kissing, while undressing each other, until Chris broke the silence. “Let me put on some music. First let me open Jerry’s gift. He told me to open it if we connected.” He opened the present. “Hmm. A bottle of gin.”
“Do you like gin?”
“Oh, me too. Would you like one of those or an egg nog?”
“Egg nog. I haven’t had one yet. Why not save the gin for later?”
“Brandy or rum?””
“A man after my heart. Sit down. I’ll be right back.” Tim turned on his stereo and then walked to the kitchen naked.
Returning to the living room, Tim handed Chris a mug of egg nog and sat down next to him.
“I’ve never had egg nog hot before.”
“Do you like it? I can make one with it chilled?”
“No, it’s good. I like it this way.”
They sipped their egg nog, listening to Christmas music.
After a few minutes, Tim kissed Chris.
Fondling and lovemaking progressed in front of the Christmas tree.
Chris woke from his daydream. It was Christmas Eve. He had just completed decorating the tree. Every year they repeated the ritual like that first Christmas Eve together. He was excited, waiting for Tim to come home from work with the egg nog and the bottle of gin from Jerry.
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Pablo Michaels writes LGBT fiction and has published with Naughty Nights Press, http://naughtynightspress.blogspot.com You can follow him at @bell2mike