BOXING DAY BLIZZARD by Peter Nolan Smith

December 23 2010 was my last day of work for the holiday season. Richie Boy and I had worked three weeks solid. An extra hour was added to the schedule in hopes of last minute shoppers. There were none. Jewelry was x-ed off Santa’s list this year, although Richie Boy held high hopes for December 24.

“I can’t believe you’re leaving on the biggest shopping day of the year.”

“I’m going to Boston to be with my family.” I had skipped the trip in 2009. My Xmas mood was Elvis Presley ‘blue’. The day was spent drinking wine at Frank’s Lounge. This year was different. My father’s death in November slashed the fabric of my universe. I shrugged to Richie Boy. “I’m done.”

“Okay, if that’s the way you feel.” At the end of the day he gave me my salary and bonus. A little more generous than 2009.

Richie Boy, his father, and I drank a bottle of wine after the safe was locked for the evening. It was 7pm. We drank another and toasted our effort this year. In the summer we were dead in the water, but Richie Boy and I and Manny pulled off some lucky sales.

“See you next week.” I went home to Fort Greene to pack my bags with gifts for my nieces and nephews. Sleep came early as did my morning alarm.


On the Fung Wah bus to Boston by 10.

South Station by 3.

Two beers at Jacob Wirth and a train to the South Shore for a joyous reunion of friends and family at my old next door neighbors. I drank Black Russians, wine, and a glass of Irish whiskey. My brother-in-law said that I was the loudest person at the gathering.

“Then I accomplished my mission.”

Christmas morning I awoke on their couch. I had changed into pajamas. My breath could melt chrome off a tailpipe. I blamed the cat. Shadow. Christmas dinner was recounting on family tales. Laughter following accusation of mendacity. My stories were constant targets and I said, “All stories are true if interesting.”

My sister went to the movies with her son, daughter, and her new boyfriend from Maine. I sat with my brother-in-law and his good friend. We planned a May assault on Mount Washington. Vodka-tonics gave us courage for the future climb. We were all the same age.

His son returned from seeing THE FIGHTER with the phone plastered to his ear. Orbitz had called him. His flight to DC had been canceled due to the threat of a blizzard. Continental couldn’t get him back until Monday. Amtrak wasn’t accepting reservation on the Acela. There was only one option.

Fung Wah.

This morning we woke at 7:45 and his father drove Matt and me into South Station. We caught the 8:30 bus to Chinatown. The driver valiantly disobeyed every traffic law to get us into Manhattan within four and a half hours. The snow was light. I brought Matt over to the DC bus on Allen Street. It left at 1:30.

“I’ll be home by 6.” He hugged me goodbye. Matt and I have always been close.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay with me?”

“No, I want to get home.”

“Good luck.” I felt the same way and subwayed over to Lafayette and Fulton. The snow was nothing special, but by the time I left my house, tornadoes of snow were swirled down South Oxford. People were hurrying home. The good grocery on Fulton was closed. The wine store was open. I bought a bottle of wine and hurried over to Frank’s Lounge to watch the end of the Jets game in Chicago.

They lost to the Bears.

I had three beers with Roe during the first half of the Giants game.

They lost too.

The winds were wiping down Fulton. This was no joke. I texted Matt. He was nearing Trenton. Richie Boy texted me from Vermont. Tomorrow was going to be a snow day. The diamond exchange was closed, because of the blizzard. I shoveled the sidewalk twice and then retreated to the top floor to cook myself dinner.

Left-over Christmas ham.

I texted Matt to tell how good it tasted.

“Nice.” was his reply.

He was nearing Delaware.

DC was another two hours away.

But Fung Wah was determined to get him there.

“When no one else is moving, Fung Wah will get you there.”

They were dependable.

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