They stood there together, the two of them. They stood in the gloom of the room, next to the big bed, and watched the tubes and the wires, and listened to the slow beep of the monitor.
⥠you absolutely sure you want to do this?襠asked.
She sighed㙥s襹 canਥlp him any more at the hospital. Doc says all we can do now is pray, and we can do that just as well here as in some cold hospital room.p;
He reached out and touched the thin arm. 咳 so smallelpless.p;
She reached out and smoothed the still brow. 峬㨥 said. 峮p;
Now the scene changes, and things get brightermuch noisier.
얅S!襠roared. 얅S! Number One! To the front!p;
The desk was trashed. A huge clutter of unwrapped presents, Computer printouts, boxes and decorations overflowed from nearby tables. The sound of hammers, the click of staplers, of paper tearing and off in the background a high-pitched voice was singing ﵠbetter watch out...p;
孢er One! Howനe list coming?p;
塲ly done, big guy. I had to add extra memory to your Palm Pilot.p;
뮦nbsp; Donযrget to coordinate it to the map.p;
塨,ber One snickered㉒d hate for you to get lost硩n.襠quickly ducked the candy cane coming his way, and ran off to finish his job.
孢er Two, Howനe sleigh?p;
塬ly fine. The paint jobಥal sweet, and the new heater should keep even your buns warm.ﰾ
Santa signed. 衴 does a guy have to do to get some respect around here? How about you, Number 3? How are the reindeer?
Number Three smiled shyly, her pixie face all lit up with her chance to brag about her charges. 夯lpharly slept it all off. He got in late, but he should be ready. He takes that red nose SERIOUSLY.p;
塨㡮ta grumbled. about Dancer and Vixen?p;
岠maternity leave doesnart till March. She젤o fine. And Dancerలetty much over the shock.p;
Cupid and Donner?p;
ﮒt ask, Santa,㨥 said primly, I wonഥll.p;
Another whirl of lights and music, and the scene changes again. Sassy is lying on the mantle, gently observing her rowdy kittens below奄
Sheനinking what a fine bunch this litter is, all six of them. All of them so nice, so polite except for CRASH! Freckles.
What did he do this time? She watches as he bats around the ornament he wrestled from the tree and sighs as he knocks it beneath the couch鴨 all the others. The tree will be absolutely bare by Christmas.
She leaps lightly from the mantle, and curls up beneath the tree. She calls softly to her babies, and all of them come running and cuddle with her as she kisses and purrs.
Now where did we leave old St. Nick?
ON Dancer! ON Prancer! Powered by eight mighty reindeer the sleigh leaps into the frigid Artic air. Streaking south. First the Igloos! Then the scattered ranch houses, the hunting camps襮 the first of the cities. Just a blur of red sleigh and reindeer.
Check the List! Check it twice! Candy for Susie෨istle for Bobbie穳hﯭ!
And how about the sad little room where we started?
She hung a stocking on the end of his bed. 襲e darling, Now Santa can leave you some goodies.p;
He turned his head away. He wasn੮ the mood for Christmas. He wasn੮ the mood for Joy. He wasn੮ the mood for anything.
And our sleeping kitties?
Sassy started at the sound of a thump! In the fireplace. Her eyes opened wide as the chubby fat little man darted out and ran over to the glass of milk and cookies. Then he saw her, and smiled.
He quickly munched the cookies, and put the saucer down, and carefully filled it with milk. Six hungry kittens surrounded it, and slowly he kept pouring the milk, staying ahead of their appetites. Then he opened the large bag he was carrying, and filled the stockings hung before the chimney.
幬 whatനis襠exclaimed, looking at the little stockings that extended past the bigger ones. One said Sassy, and then there were six tiny ones. Chuckling, he went back to the bag, rummaged around, and put a toy mouse in each stocking.
He quickly patted Sassy on the head, then up the chimney and in a whirl, out into the night婮deer, bag and all.
And our sad little guy?
ﵠhave to sleep now, or Santa won࣯me.p; He doesn࣡re.
On through the night! On Comet! On Cupid! Down the chimney! Running late! Grab a toy for the stocking!
衴 the hell?p;
Santa looks at Freckles. Freckles looks at Santa. 襲e did you come from?p; A quick look at the Palm Pilot. ﰥ. No kitten here. He wanted skates. What to do衴 to do殢sp; He put Freckles back in the bag and grabbed the skates. Up into the night! ৯tta get you back to Sassy崠it젨ave to wait till later殢sp;
Now heanding in the gloomy room, his heart wrenched by the sight of the sleeping boy. 蠭y蠭y殢sp; There was nothing on the list. He left a GI Joe and a package of Crayons and a coloring bookﯤ generic choices that in his heart, he knew wouldnਥlp. Up the chimney! Into the night! Slower. Sadder.
Remember, cats can࣯unt. She thought maybe something was wrong, but she didn૮ow what. She looked up at the thump, looked up at the fat little man standing before her.
࣡nnd him Sassy. I looked everywhere. He was in the bag. I swear, I looked, but I cannd him.p;
Sassy purred and licked the soft fingers that stroked her head. Sadly, he sat there beside her. Sadly he wondered where Freckles had gotten off top;
And our sad little boy?
They sat at the table魠with his coffee, her with her tea.
咳 probably awake now. We probably should go wish him Merry Christmas.p;
With haunted eyes that knew there would be no Merry Christmas she rose and plodded across the house to the dark little roomﰾ
They open the door, and Y! DADDY! This is the best Christmas EVER!
In mute wonder they watched the ball of fluff and spots try to pull the pajama string out and then close its eyes and purr as the boy clutched him to his bony, but happy chest.
I guess it wasnch a bad Christmas after all奄