Star Bright, Beer Tonight (Short Fiction by Colin Nickle)

Forward lightly

You come up behind me

“Where you spending Christmas” you ask me.

“I’m going to stay right here” I answered. “Because my parents pay overwhelming attention to me and the rest virtually none at all. If we could all land in the middle somewhere that would be copacetic.”

“And you expect premium circumstances when?” you ask me.

“Look” I retort, “I can pull off a fundraiser that ends in fireworks but my family is not all living and thinking and doing on Rural Route One. It’s pretty much ground zero during the year but all bets are off—even driving for five hours—when the holidays are near. So what are you, yourself and thou doing?”

You reply, “Well, on Christmas Day this group of singers I work with and I will be trolling the neighborhoods merrily on high with our tonsils hanging out. Then I’m involved in dropping children’s presents off to needy kids—”

“Well,” I interrupt, “You got my address.”

“Then,” you continue, “I’m working at a homeless shelter food bank serving up some fine grub.”

“Wow,” I say, “Good for you. That’ll really re-align your karma after all the shit you’ve pulled all this year. No, I’m kidding—I really need the time to reflect personally, actually well into New Year to see what’s next. My soul is just fine, but has questions, ya know?”

“I hear you,” you say. “Changing the numbers on the think tank that is you.”

“Kinda, sorta and yeah pretty much” I drift off.

“Yeah well you got a couple of major projects to push you into the don’t stop, keep goin’ lane” you answer me.

“So before we leave our destinations and arrive I’ll let you buy me a Christmas beer” I announce.

“Yeah that’s the green kind of beer isn’t it?” you query.

“Man o’ man if someone tries to serve you green in a mug this time of year you’ve either found your way into an Independent Health Lab, or you definitely need to change bars.”

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