by Carol Novack
"Happy Holidays, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Ho Ho Ho," exclaimed Bobo, the black cat with green eyes, the young Marlon Brando cat, the way he moves. He (Bobo not Brando) was lying next to me as usual. His chitchat induced me to surrender sleep and remove my American Airlines eyemask, which had drooped to my chin.
Bobo opened his mouth, sang, "Hark the Herald Angels sing," till I placed my hand over his tiny lips. "I hate that hymn. I hate Christmas and all those angloid things," I exclaimed, fiercely. "I want another planet real bad I want it. Stop drooling all over me."
So I got out of bed and fed all of the cats cornflakes and watched my upstairs neighbor float by the kitchen window as my coffee brewed. "Hi, Gloria," she shouted, gaily, waving her eggbeater. "Aren't you going to Saks? Big sale on, beating the crowds. I'll be the first through the doors." Henrietta was wearing her red leather shopping bag Santa shaped with green handles. "Ho ho," I replied, squirting cheap vodka in her face with my plastic pistol.
Henri sailed by, blue suit with black umbrella. "Goya Knoll," he remarked gravely when he saw me gazing out the window.
There were no pigeons around, not for a change -- only a baby puma basking in a pocket of shade on the sidewalk opposite my building. How cute, I thought, till she started singing: "Silent night, holy night . . ." Evidently, she had lost the map to the manger. She was shaking a cup full of coins.I grabbed my coffee and ran to my computer, only to hear "We wish you a Merry Christmas" emanating from a pop-up. Mephistopheles Ribs of Arkansas was offering me a free Christmas fruit and cheese basket at a discount. I decided my email could wait. I would burn the first fake pine tree I saw.
So I put on my flannel nightgown and left. I burned the fake tree in the lobby, within the purview of the President of the Co-op Board. She snapped a picture of me with her nifty digital, said, "Smile, Merry Christmas oh I mean Happy Chanukah, we'll leave a bill for you, $375 for the tree plus ornaments, including the burning Menorah, you fuckin idiot. The price of oil has gone up, you know."
It was tepid out, due to global warming, of course, drizzling slightly, but a terrific day for the boardwalk. No one would be heading for Brighton Beach days before Christmas, no way, I thought I'd skip the crowds and have a quiet time not writing holiday cards.
But a bunch of reindeer with boom boxes was heading for the beach, "going AWOL, dearie," one of them confided, they'd had it with Santa; "sweatshop exploitation," shouted another, competing with Bing Crosby crooning that cloying White Christmas song. Fuck the lot of those deer, thought I, dreaming of Caledonia. Daddy was kissing Santa Claus, and the reindeer were truly fucked. Two cops named O'Malley bound their spindly feet together with green and red ribbons and placed the reindeer under arrest for desertion. They were going to Guantanamo Bay, those terrorists. New York's bravest tied up the train for nearly an hour, but that's how it goes with traitors.
When I arrived at Brighton Beach boardwalk, it was pretty deserted and dry except for a little fat boy with barely any eyes eating MacDonald's hamburgers and fries. "Hey lady," he yelled, tossing a Russian fur hat at me. "Give some money for Christmas dinner for the Brighton Beach dogs, please!"
I tossed the hat back to the kid, emptier than it was before. I threw a thousand gold coins and a dollar bill into the Atlantic and plunged into the navy blue waters. Swam all the way to the middle of the world, where I could no longer see land. I had escaped.
A fancy ocean liner passed by. People waved at me; cheery holiday music was rising like smog from the ship. "Happy Happy!" they shouted, tossing me martinis with olives and blood sausages with apples. "Happy, Happy!" I waved, as I swam toward the South Pole.
About the author:
Carol Novack lives in New York City. A book of her poems was published in Australia, where she received a creative writer's grant. Carol's poetry and prose have appeared in various online and print journals and anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets, SmokeLong Quarterly, Yankee Pot Roast, The Journal of Modern Post, and Underground Voices. Writings are due to appear in Wild Strawberries, Edifice Wrecked, Opium, and Mindfire. Carol is the creator and editor-in-chief of a forthcoming multimedia ezine, Mad Hatters' Review. She is hosting a monthly flash fiction, prose poetry and experimental forms reading series at The Cornelia Street Caf (NYC). Her personal webpage is: http://carolnovack.bravehost.com.