|(Image by Xtra West files)||
story by Michael Harris /
Dec 25 2003
“Just open it, will you?” “I’m trying. It’s too tight.” Christmas Eve morning at Mole Hill and Will was hunkered into the mossy cleft between Sharif’s buns. Lick, lick, lick. Breathe. Lick, lick.
“I can’t. You’re clamped up.”
Sharif sighed and pounded his ankles on Will’s shoulders. “Look, I wasn’t going to tell you, but I put your Christmas present in there.”
Will’s eyes widened. “In there?” The room seemed to expand slightly.
Lick, lick, lick. Breath. Lick—there! Something hard, under the pucker. Will looked up with a start. “You promise this isn’t scat?”
“It’s not scat.”
So one finger wiggled in, then two, until he had the nubbin of a condom. Within the latex there was something metal.
“Gentle!” commanded Sharif.
Inch by inch, the rubber-wrapped gift emerged. Flopping, finally, onto linen, its contents remained a mystery. Sharif moaned with fragile shivers of pleasure and rolled onto his stomach to bite pillow.
Which was right when a knock came on the door, prompting the boys to pull on pyjama bottoms.
“Breakfast!” Ryan backed into Will’s bedroom, his arms loaded with toast, coffee and juice.
“You’re a doll,” said Will, making room on the rumpled bed. “Why all the fuss?”
“I’m making Christmas, jackass. Get on the train.”
Ryan laid out his wares and pressed play on the stereo (the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Christmas album may well be the greatest of holiday recordings). “Will, your mom phoned while you two were tossing.”
Will frowned. How did mom always know when he was having sex? It felt like psychic incest. “What does she want?”
“Oh, who knows.” Ryan tweaked Will’s nipple. “Christmas Eve Day—could be a where-the-fuck-is-my-ungrateful-son thing.” And the phone rang again, like an angry bird. Will answered, standing. He looked out the window and did not move.
“Hello . . . It’s me . . . Mom, I told you, I’m not coming home tonight . . . I know, but I’ll be over first thing in the morning . . . Not really, no. . . Mom, I . . Listen, I . . . . But I . . . I . . . Okay, fine. Yes, fine.”
Smile tight and nostrils flared, he turned to Sharif and Ryan. “She’s making me come home. That’s that, I guess.” He blew up his cheeks.
Ryan fingered Sharif’s condom-wrapped gift, still splayed on the sheets. “What the hell?”
Sharif rolled the rubber back, exposing a silver pocket watch. “It’s Will’s Christmas present. Here you go.”
Will took it up like a relic. “I love it, Sharif. God, I wish I could stay with you guys tonight.”
“Just stay. Why not?”
“I’ve got family.” Wrong thing to say.
Ryan poured more coffee. “That’s cool. Sharif and I can stay here and have a chopped-liver convention.”
But Sharif rose and started making the bed. “Don’t hassle him, Ryan.”
“Oh, Will, you know I don’t really care.”
“It’s just, it’s a family thing.”
“I have to!”
They decided, with the organizational fervor of the holidays, to phone up Lucy Cadaver and fit a Christmas brunch in before Will had to bugger off.
“I’m coming!” yelled Lucy down the line. “Don’t do anything festive ’till I get there!”
By the time Lucy arrived, the boys had managed to commandeer some rum from the landlord and were mixing it carelessly in jam-jars of eggnog.
“How many glugs do we want?” wondered Will, poised with the bottle.
“I’m here!” came Lucy’s muffled voice through the window, a mittened hand waving ecstatically. Will opened the door and was instantly piled with baking, presents and Lucy’s fur coat.
“Hurrah!” cheered Ryan, bumbling past Will for hugs and a tag-check on the presents.
At the table, Sharif kissed Lucy’s cheek. “Your parents don’t mind you missing Christmas?”
Lucy smiled, “Jewish parents are funny that way.”
The dinner that Will was not to partake in slowly assembled in the kitchen, and mixed together in bowls on the futon.
They opened presents. The names appeared on cream coloured tags—Will, Ryan, Lucy and Sharif.
Lucy pulled out a feathered hat—“Wild! Yeah! Look at me all fucked up with glam!” Stunning.
Will bought Sharif the new Germaine Greer, and Ryan received a butt plug. “Look at the little flirt,” smiled Ryan as he pulled it from the plastic wrapping. “Oh, Will! Is this . . . Silicone! You shouldn’t have!”
And by the time 6 pm had rolled in, it became clear that Will wasn’t going anywhere. When he called his mom for the second time that day, one hand went instinctively into a Peter Pan pose on his hip. “Mom, I’m not coming home tonight. No, I’ll be there tomorrow morning. . . This is important too! . . . No, I . . . I . . . Would you listen? You could come here you know.” Silence. “Okay. Then I’ll see you tomorrow.”
And the room roared a little holiday roar.
“Ooh,” grinned Ryan, “huzzah for the post-modern family!”
“The urban family!”
“The found family!”
“But where’s the landlord?” Lucy asked.
“Prior? No idea.” Will looked to Ryan who shook his head and stuck out a chapped bottom lip.
“For fuck’s sake!” Lucy stomped up the steps and banged on the door with embarrassing confidence till Prior, alone, answered her knock. Lucy took him by his rough hand and the two of them came back to the group.
At the table, as A Charlie Brown Christmas played quietly on the broken TV and Ryan served Safeway turkey cold cuts to all his friends, the landlord started to cough and brush at his pants.
“This is very nice of you all to invite me,” Pry said to his napkin. “It’s very nice.”
“Sure, Pry,” smiled Will. He refilled some wine.
But the landlord shook his head as he cut into his dinner. “No, you don’t know when you’re young. You can’t.” He tucked in his elbows and coughed. “It’s very important.”
Lucy smiled benevolently and put her cutlery down. “We should really say grace or something.”
“Grace?” Will smirked.
“Yes, Will,” shot back Lucy. “I wanna fucking be thankful for once.” So they all put down their forks and knives. Lucy said, “I’m thankful for my friends.”
And Will, shrugging, said, “I guess I’m thankful for my new watch.”
Sharif slapped Will upside the head. “I’m thankful I don’t have a watch up my ass anymore.”
Ryan, attempting to regain the solemnity of the occasion, said, “I’m thankful for Davie Street. For my gorgeous gay ghetto.”
And Prior looked embarrassed but said something anyway. “I’m just glad to be here.”