Christmas in Town


The tree is green and the tree is a triangle and the children hold hands and one of them is sick.


Amen and Hallelujah and Amen, the minister says. Holy-holy, the churchwoman says. That boy will die, Dan Dougherty says. Dan Dougherty likes to sit in the front row of the church. I belong in the front row on Christmas Eve, Dan Dougherty says.


The tree has little white lights and the little white lights flicker. Do they still sell sno-cones at Laurel’s, Diana asks. Who does that boy belong to, Dan Dougherty asks.


The tree has oddly made ornaments and the oddly made ornaments are from shops in the streets and alleys of towns like Greenwich and Carmel and Aspen and La Jolla. The boy has turns in his stomach and his mangled arms make him look like a snake.


The boy is on the floor and the boy is covered in blood and urine and he looks really quite sick and ill.


The boy has turned into a snake, the minister says. We should get the women out of the church, Dan Dougherty says. I will get the holy water, the minister says. The hell with holy water, Dan Dougherty says.


On December 22, 1981, Jill asks Santa Claus for a blue sweater with a green and red heart in the middle. That is a silly request, Michael says. Michael is Jill’s brother and he is twelve and he kisses Sally behind the auditorium during the school dance. You taste like peppermint, Sally says. No I don’t, Michael says.


Jill opens her presents. Santa gives her a blue sweater with a green and red heart in the middle. I am so happy, Jill says to her parents.


Dan Dougherty drinks coffee at Laurel’s. You don’t sell sno-cones anymore, Diana asks. No, the clerk says. Maybe we should have taken him to the hospital, the minister says. He was sick, Dan Dougherty says.


On Christmas day the town looks at the green tree with the white lights. Michael was the sick boy, Diana says. That is my brother, Jill says. Michael is on the ground and he is not moving. We had to shoot him in the face because he was quite sick, the minister says.


Now we can’t have an open casket memorial, Jill’s mother says.


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