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A Christmas thought.

Wandering Jew and Methodist, the two of them, deliberately feeling alien to the Yule season, jeered and grumbled when they drove by signs of the season: the draped lines of lights, the mistletoe wreaths, the brass quintet on the corner. They were in league against the Christ Child and were having a dialogue as if the both of them were Herod.

"I shall strike the babies."

"I shall not play Captain Kangaroo with them, nay."

An old tattered half-Chinese Negro walked out of the alley, leaned against the wall of the laundromat, and spat feebly, looging his phlegm on his left cuff. Then it fell and brightened over the pants of his knee, like a cobweb.

"Ho!" said the Methodist, once a conscientious tenor in his church choir.

"Oh, let's dig Mister Poor-At-Christmas again," said the Jewish crew-cut man, a lapsed Rabbi.

They drove the van once more around the block. In the back, stolen wreaths and cut-out reindeer swished and knocked. The smell was piney in there, and warm with their cigar smoke and eggnog breaths.

The van came by the laundromat once again, their windows rolled up securely. They stared at the foul and bleary half-breed, who peered deadly into the laundromat window, perhaps seeking an acquaintance or easily frightened Mexican wife he could touch. The two men stared at him, the Methodist knocking on the passenger widow so the fellow would turn around and give them his entire aspect again. He finally did turn. He, if his eyes were clear enough at all, could only have seen their mouths moving and heard nothing.

"Yo, Mister What-Christmas-Is-All-About," said the Jew.

"Is he not Mister Dickens himself?" said the Methodist. "|May I speak with you a moment, sir? Sir, I've had some bad luck,'" he mimicked the fellow. Then this ex-Methodist made a flatulent sound with his lips.

When they came by the third time and stopped, they were glad he was facing them fully. They were overjoyed. They were going to pitch him a wreath.

When the Methodist man, long white ascetic face on him, rolled down the window, the winey, crack-besnotted person came alive. He had ripped up a yard-long aluminum alloy track from the floor where a washing machine had been taken off for repair. He hid this piece behind his leg and when he saw the window come down, he rushed over to the van and drove the track-piece through the eye of the Methodist man with such force that it came out bent through his right ear, evicting a burst of dark blood upon the windshield.

The Jewish person at the wheel was transfixed by such horror that he was for all purposes mummified when the assailant jerked away the rod with a gruesome banging of the passenger's skull against the window ledge and flew around the vehicle, tearing open the door the Jew held.

He could not even plead before the man rammed the good end of the rod through his ear, again with such a vehemence that the end curled around out of his mouth, dragging a clot of tongue and tonsils with it, and with much dark blood.

The half-breed then waited, simply, hands on hips, for the two of them to gurgle and whisper, then die.

When you read and wonder, for six seconds, about the random, pointless violence of these days, then are blissful it was not you, having, really a better day, stop and think: Could not these felons be, really, God's children, loose, adept, so hungry and correct in our world?
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Author:Hannah, Barry
Publication:Chicago Review
Date:Jun 22, 1991
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