(Author’s note: I owe ‘Nathan Burgoine for this idea, of posting some Christmas stories using characters we’ve written about. I haven’t done a lot of blog hops, so it seemed like fun! About a year and a half ago I started writing sci-fi stories told out of a bar in the mode of DeCamp and Pratt’s Gavagan’s Bar stories and Clarke’s “Tales From the White Hart.” To my surprise, I placed one of the stories in an anthology and have posted another online. There are five written so far, with more on the way and several plotted out. So, here’s a story that brings some of the various characters together. Happy reading!)
Christmas At Demeter’s Bar
By Jeff Baker
Demeter’s Bar closed up early the Wednesday before Christmas for their annual Christmas party. The lights were hanging over the side of the bar and around the big, round mirror behind it that Mrs. DeLeon said had come with the place, somehow making it look bigger.
Zack, the young-looking bartender with the shoulder-length red hair, grinned as he hoisted a crate onto the bar.
“Found these in the back, Mrs. Deleon. Under the box of napkins.”
“Good,” she said. Hang the plastic ones on top of the tree.”
“On it,” Zack said, rummaging through the box.
“Careful with those,” she said. “They’re plastic, but they were my Grandmother’s. I have her glass ones at home.”
The little Christmas tree had been set up at the corner of the small dance floor right next to the DJ’s booth.
“Hey, here’s mine,” Samuel said, handing her a small ornament. “You did this last year, didn’t you?”
“I do it every year, inviting all my friends and having them bring a decoration,” she said. “This is my family, so I have them come and decorate the party tree.”
The tree was festooned with a couple of plastic oranges, a little nutcracker, a model of the Golden Gate Bridge, a tiny spaceship whose lights twinkled and a stuffed bear in a Santa Claus suit.
“The bear is mine,” Regina said in a husky voice.
Likewise Mrs. De Leon knew Scotty, in his San Francisco sweatshirt, had brought the bridge.
“Hey, this eggnog’s wonderful, Mrs. DeLeon,” said the man in the suit and tie sitting in a booth with a sweet-faced middle-aged woman. Mr. Ross, who came to repair their ice machine usually every couple of weeks. He had become as much of a regular as some of their regulars. Vicki, who worked at the bar during the evenings, was laughing with Mr. Ross.
In the next booth, Miss Parker and Miss Anne were quietly holding hands as they glanced around, the lights reflecting off their gray hair. In another booth, three other women, considerably younger, were giggling like they were on a High School date. Brandi, Megan and Allison were about the same age as Day, Raven and Vicki who worked the evening shift and were trying to remember that Mrs. DeLeon had told them this was a party, they weren’t working and to help themselves to the eggnog.
Two other men were laughing with Zack as they wrapped a large garland of golden tinsel around the tree. One of them was Scotty’s husband and the other was Paco’s current boyfriend but Mrs. DeLeon wasn’t sure which was which. She glanced at the wall behind them where someone had pinned a Santa hat on a poster of a buff young man in a g-string. Christmas everywhere, she thought.
The line from A Christmas Carol kept going through her head: “Wonderful party, wonderful games, won-der-ful happiness!”
“You want some Christmas music?” That came from Stewart in the D.J. booth. “I got some Ralph Vaughn Williams.”
“That’ll be fine,” Mrs. DeLeon said with a smile. “Hey, did you put the little spaceship on the tree? It’s cute.”
“Nope, not mine.” Stewart said. “I brought the little train.”
“Nah, that little spaceship’s mine,” Paco said looking up from the pool table. “I found that in my backyard the other day, little lights and all. Guess it’s from a movie. Not sure which one.” The last word came out as a grunt as he aimed the cue ball towards a ball in the corner of the table and it went in with a clack.
“Oh, well,” she said, walking towards the bar. “Zack, where’s that box? I know I had the star for the top of the tree here somewhere.”
There was a sudden whistling whine which rose over the music. The twinkling lights of the little gray spaceship shone brightly as it rose from the tree, circled it once and then darted across the room. Zack ducked as it flew over him and crashed through the small upper window to the side of the bar.
Everybody stared for a moment.
“That fits in with some of the stories I’ve heard around here,” Scotty said.
“Yeah,” Zack said. “I’ll get that window.”
“Who wants more eggnog?”
Wishing everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, hopefully with plenty of good things to read!——-jeff