This weekend, as part of Hub Theatre’s Crazy Christmas, several of us MOHO’s were asked to share a special Christmas memory. Here’s mine…
When I was six, Santa finally brought me that bike I’d been asking and asking and asking for. It was a snazzy little red number with a fancy plastic doo-dad, shaped like a gas tank, attached to the main ball-busting strut to make the bike resemble a motorcycle.
Because I lived in a small town in east Texas, the weather was nice so my dad helped me learn to ride that very same day. He put me on the bike, held it as he ran along beside me, then let me go! Then he came over, picked me up, put me back on the bike, held it as he ran along beside me, then let me go! Then he came over, picked me up, put me back on the bike, held it as he ran along beside me, then let me go! Then he came over, picked me up, put me back on the bike, held it as he ran along beside me, then let me go! Came over, picked up, on bike, let go… Eventually, Dad decided to install the training wheels which Santa had sent along but not attached because it seemed like a pain in the ass at the time.
The very next day, empowered by my training wheels, I grabbed a fistful of Christmas dollars and pedaled down the streets of Marshall, Texas to Old Man Johnson’s candy store. Honestly, I’ve never understood why his parents named him “Old Man.” He must’ve caught hell in grade school. But so anyway, I sauntered into Old Man Johnson’s candy store, asked for a half pound of gummi bears and plunked my Christmas money on the glass counter like a big shot. Old Man Jonhson smiled and rang me up.
The instant the register was open, I whipped out the Saturday Night Special I’d taken from the drawer of Mom’s nightstand (in case Dad got frisky) and pointed it at Old Man Johnson’s pacemaker. “Put ‘em up, Old Man Johnson,” I said. “Put ‘em up and keep ‘em up!” I emptied the register then forced him to open the safe.
It was a nice haul. Forty-five thousand dollars, more or less. That might seem like a lot of cash for a neighbrhood candy store in a small east Texas town, but not when you consider that Old Man Johnson also sold heroin.
But as I packed the wads of bills into my Dukes of Hazzard backpack, Old Man Johnson brought up some things I hadn’t thought about… What did it mean that I was stealing from Old Man Johnson in the very midst of the season of giving? What would Santa think about all this?
Old Man Johnson’s words got to me… Not only was I violating the spirit of Christmas, I had betrayed Santa’s trust and turned his wonderful gift into a crime getaway bike. Boy, did I feel guilty.
I didn’t like feeling guilty so I shot Old Man John. “Die, Old Man Johnson! Die, die, die!” Then I grabbed my backpack and left.
But it’s so dadgum hard to keep secrets in a small town, and before long I was caught and made to pay for my crimes. After all, murder is illegal, even in Texas. But luckily for me, a six-year-old is considered a “juvenile” so they couldn’t execute me. Even in Texas.
Anyway, it’s my first Christmas out of the pen, and I’m really happy I get to spend a small part of it with you. Thanks and good night.