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The Christmas Visit

A man’s future self visits him on Christmas Eve and gives him a precious gift.

“You cannot be me from the future!” I shouted. “That is just not possible! Besides… you’re old and ugly!”

“Deal with it!” the old man replied. “I am future you! And I can prove it.”

“How?”

“By telling you things that only you could know,” he said.

I took another hit of gin from my hip flask and stared at the seventy-something guy standing in front of me. If this was me forty years from now I was in trouble! But there was a definite resemblance. And his offer to prove himself had a logical basis.

So we stood there looking at each other in the alley behind Brom’s liquor store, my favorite booze emporium. It was Christmas Eve. My wife Veronica was at home worrying about me, probably crying as she often did when I disappeared for a while. And I knew that she had to be struggling to make excuses to all the in-laws who were there to celebrate Christmas.

“O.K. old man,” I said. “Go ahead. Prove that you are me. Tell me something that only I could know.”

“You, my dear fellow, have the hots for Mary Jane, your wife Veronica’s best friend!”

I laughed out loud. “Everyone knows that!” I replied. “Even Veronica knows that! I drool whenever she walks into a room.” To say that I had the hots for Mary Jane was a colossal understatement. My eggs sizzled like yolks in oil whenever she came near!

“Is that your best shot? What else have you got?” I asked.

“When you were twelve you took money from your Mother’s purse. And you used it to buy a Japanese love doll!”

Ah, fond memories of youth. I had always been a tad advanced for my age.

“Hmmmmmmm,” I said, “that’s not bad. But I’ve shared that story with my friend Larry. I shared the love doll with him too, now that I think about it! You could have gotten that from him…..errrrr….the information that is.”

The old man’s face tightened up. He stroked his chin with his thumb and forefinger. I could tell that he was doing some serious thinking.

“O.K.” he said, “I didn’t want to do it, but I will. Let’s approach it this way. Snow White, Alice…..”

My face started to flush…..

“Minnie Mouse, baby oil……”

I was turning redder and redder…….

“water bed, Pluto, more baby oil…….”

“STOP!” I shouted. “For heaven’s sake, someone might hear you!” I knew that Goofy was coming next. And there was absolutely no doubt now that I was talking to my future me! He knew my darkest secret fantasies that I had never shared with anyone! I took another swig from my flask.

“I now believe that you are who you say you are,” I proclaimed. “So what do you want? Why are you here?

“To give you the greatest Christmas of all,” he replied. “A chance to change your future.”

“I can change my future?”

“Yes,” he explained. “You are being given a second chance at life. A chance to truly love and be loved. To feel joy and happiness instead of the lonely emptiness that awaits you if you don’t change your ways.”

Life had been getting kind of sucky. So I figured that maybe I should listen.

“What should I call you, old man?” I asked.

“Call me Bruce. That’s my name.”

“But it’s my name too,” I said. “We can’t call each other Bruce. It will get confusing. I’ll call you Old Bruce.”

“O.K. Then I’ll call you Little Brucie!” he shot back.

“I don’t like Little Brucie! It’s demeaning! And anyway it’s not necessary,” I explained.

“Why not?”

“Because once I call you Old Bruce, you can just call me Bruce, and there is no confusion. Understand?”

“I think I get it,” he replied. “Of course, that implies that there would be no confusion if I called you Little Brucie, and you called me Bruce! So why don’t we do that? I think Old Bruce is demeaning.”

I took a deep breath.

“O.K. O.K. Here’s what we’ll do,” I said. “Neither of us will keep our real name! We’ll give each other an arbitrary name. How about if I just call you Chuck? Chuck is a nice, friendly name. And you can call me……”

“Fido!” he interjected. “I’ll call you Fido! That’s a friendly name too.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Fine, call me Fido, Chuck. Whatever makes you happy, Chuck.” More booze was called for.

Chuck pointed to an old chair in the alley that someone had left by the big green garbage dumpster that was always behind the liquor store. “Let’s go over there,” he said.

We walked over to the chair. Chuck leaned on it and tested its structural integrity. Then he placed the chair behind me.

“Fido,” he said, “I have a story to tell you. So sit, Fido. Sit.” I sat down.

“Look at me, Fido,” Chuck said. “What do you see?”

I looked up at him and for the first time I noticed how dirty, disheveled, and pathetic that Chuck was. An old, brown, frayed sport jacket with a torn pocket, dirty baggy pants, floppy-soled shoes……..greasy grimy hair, filthy fingernails …..and as a breeze blew from behind him I realized how foul he smelled!

“My gosh, Chuck! When was the last time you took a shower or a bath?”

“What’s the date?” he asked.

“You know the date. It’s Christmas Eve!”

“Yes, but what year is it?” he said. “I need that to answer correctly.”

I took another hit of gin.

“O.K. You’re pathetic,” I said. “You’re a dirty, smelly homeless guy in an alley on Christmas Eve. So you’re telling me that if I don’t change my ways, this is me forty years from now?”

“That’s right, Fido,” Chuck replied. “Lonely, lost, dirty, smelly, bones rotting, eyesight failing, nose dripping, chancre sores, soiled underwear, gum disease, teeth falling out, warts in naughty places…..”

“I GET IT!” I shouted. “I get it. You made your point. So what do you suggest that I do about it?”

“The simplest thing in the world,” Chuck said. “The absolute simplest thing in the world.”

I leaned forward as I looked up at him. “And that is?”

“Just stop being a jerk. Go to that woman who loves you. Tell her that you love her back. Beg her to forgive you for not saying it more and saying it sooner. Hold her. Caress her. And if she’ll let you, if she’ll bless you with the privilege, make gentle, sweet love with her. And be grateful for every moment that you have together.”

For whatever reason, hearing future me say those things struck home. I had my epiphany. I stood up, walked over to the garbage dumpster and threw my flask into it. When I turned around Chuck was gone. But it didn’t matter.

I took out my cell phone and made the call that turned my life around. Yes, she was angry and confused at first. Yes, she thought I sounded crazy and unreasonable. But eventually she came around.

“How can you ask me that? I can’t leave now!” she said. “I just can’t walk out on everyone that’s here! It’s Christmas Eve. Why are you doing this to me?”

“Please,” I begged. “Please. By the bench near the statue in the park. There is something that I have to say to you. There is something that I must tell you. I’m begging you. Please.”

“All right,” she said. “In an hour.” And she hung up the phone.

I got there first. I had been sitting on the bench, waiting for about twenty minutes before she appeared. She looked so beautiful. I stood up as she approached. But she also looked confused and uncertain. I walked up to her and cupped her face with my hands. I looked into her beautiful eyes.

“I love you,” I said. “I’ve loved you since first we met. Please forgive me for not saying it. Please forgive me for not acting like it. Please give me the chance to prove it to you.”

And then we kissed. Deeply and passionately.

“I love you too,” she said. She broke into tears. “I love you too.”

And that’s how Mary Jane, Veronica’s best friend, and I got together. Because after I told her how I felt, Mary Jane confessed that she had always had the hots for me! Her eggs had always sizzled too! And that night, we made love. Only it wasn’t sweet and gentle like Chuck had described; it was more like two rabid horny bunnies in mating season.

*** Epi(g)log **

That was forty-two years ago. To this day, the first thing that I do when I awake is to look at my wife and smile.

You see, after I ditched Veronica and Mary Jane ditched her hubbie we had twenty great years together! But one day, Mary Jane announced that she was leaving me for my friend Larry. (That’s when he finally decided that he would return the Japanese love doll.) But I’ll always be grateful for the time that I had with Mary Jane. And I’m equally grateful that the exact same spiel that I used on Mary Jane worked on Sally, my current spouse! That’s why I look at her every morning and smile.

Age does catch up with you though. Sally and I don’t do it like rabid bunnies. It’s more like two hippos with emphysema.

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