December 24, 2012

A Christmas story

Home for the holidays

Paul finished packing up the back of his Lexus and slammed the trunk. The saleswoman at the department store had done an adequate job wrapping the gifts he had purchased for his family on his lunch hour the day before, and now they were all nestled in the back of his car, ready for the upcoming trip. He didn’t relish the idea of a six-hour car ride to Plattsburgh, but he had taken only that afternoon and Christmas Day off and wanted to be back in the office early on the 26th. 

He relished even less the idea of visiting his family. He hadn’t been back for any kind of visit — Christmas or otherwise — in, how long was it? Four years? Five? He hadn’t even planned to visit this year but his brother, Gordon, shamed him into it. 

“Mom isn’t doing well,” he had said on the phone. 

How had Gordon gotten his phone number? 

“She may not make it another Christmas, and this would mean the world to her,” his brother had said.

Paul stood with his hand on the car door handle, looking at the door that led to his apartment on York Avenue in New York City. He gave the thought just a second of his time. But instead of heading back up the stairs, he opened the car door and climbed inside. He looked at his watch. Noon. With any luck, the traffic wouldn’t be too bad out of the city and up Interstate 87. He might make it through the mountains before it got too dark. Driving through the Adirondacks at night in the middle of winter was akin to riding a tricycle in the Tour de France — your car being no match for some tractor trailer headed to Montreal with a payload of logs to run you off the road just as the cellphone coverage goes dead.

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