Johnny opened the door of his shabby house - shivering from the steady snow that was making him feel as dark as the night, his Ford pick-up parked out front, the lights still on so he could bring his equipment into the garage until the next gig. The school auditorium was packed that afternoon, as his band played song after song, dancing on the gym floor, the room decorated with the usual tacky high school tinsel. The large Christmas tree that stood in the far corner had about the same aura, but at least some of the decorations were made by the art classes, giving it some originality. Johnny was hungry now, he went to the fridge and popped a frozen pizza in the microwave - and as he cracked open a cold can of beer, he put his feet up stretching back on the old torn sofa. "Another day another gig, it's the night before Christmas Eve." He thought, and closed his eyes. "The night is still young, what to do - let's see if the boys are heading out for that party at Chenill'es house." He remembered, the bass player's girlfriend was having a house party tonight. "I bet she invited everyone from this town to the next five cities in Minnesota." He laughed at his own joke, scratching his sweat soaked hair. Playing the drums was his life, he did work part time at Leroy's Garage, but mostly he did as many gigs as he could, took off on the road as often as the wind blew. He would do this until the day he couldnt hold a drum stick in his hand. And even at that, he would still play somehow.
"Hey Bubba, you going to Chenill'es tonight for that party?" He had called his lead guitar player. When Johnny got picked to be in the band he was glad that his friend Bubba, or Bobby MacKinnon was also, he was the best guitar picker in town. Six years had now gone by, so quick he couldnt remember ever feeling tired or bored, and it had its benefits too. Meeting new people (not to mention women, always groupies lolling around their table) to woo them and feed on their ego's. 'Oh what a life, heaven on earth', he thought, but now, maybe it wasnt so much heaven, his house seemed so quiet tonight,
while the snow continued to coat the air with its smell of freshness and powdering the trees with white flakes.
"How many presents did i get this year ma, i was good wasnt i?" His little child voice rang in his memories now, as he would jump up and down looking at the empty tree on Christmas Eve. His mother always baked gingerbread cookies, and left them for Santa. "I dont know now, we will have to wait until morning comes." She would always answer the same, and grab him and kiss him, he was five or six maybe.
"Is Uncle Jake going to come too?" Several more years later, he was ten or twelve, not sure but he hated Uncle Jake, who just came in to boast and brag.
"We got ourselves that snowmobile - oo0wie, what a babe she is. We plan on tearing down those sweet trails up by the old mountain", he huffed, helping himself to seconds, never once thanking mom for all the cooking and free food. "Ma he never brings gifts either, he is such a free loading cheapskate, i cant stand him." I told her, and she would scold me then. "Now, that is no way to talk - disrespectful, this is my house, i pay the bills." She got all mad at me then, turned the other way while clearing the dishes after he left. Something didnt fit right at all with this picture, Johnny thought, trying to dig into his heart but he was too young then to fully understand what was going down. "Ok mom, but i still dont care for him, i cant help the way i feel." He would say, and stomp off to his room for the night.
It wasnt until years later, when he found some old photo's and notes in a shoe box during his move from her house. He had sat there, on the bed, staring at the pictures from the past, and began to piece things together. "OMG this cant be real." He thought, his body tightened from the strain of some unhappy thoughts so dark he wanted to scream to the sky. "Mom, you couldnt have, not possible, not HIM." Johnny knew then, that his uncle was more than just a visitor who didnt bring any gifts. He was mad then, he swore he was going to kill the bastard.
In months that followed, Johnny kept his secret to himself. He'd wished he never found that box - life would never be the same after learning of such a dark secret as that. He often noticed his mother too, and saw how quiet her strong beauty was, she raised him on her own, having worked as a waitress and saving pennies, literally to keep them afloat.
"One day i am going to take us on a trip, maybe down to Coney Island, how would you like that?" She would dream, resting in her big yellow chair with the soft foot rest attached and stretched out for her sore tired feet. "You can ride the pony or go on the ferris wheel, we can have hotdogs by the water, its so nice at Coney." She would say, having had been there before, with her college friends, then she got pregnant with him. "Yea ma, i would love to go there. " He always went along with her fantasies, knowing the possibility never would come about, he was only a kid then - and knew so much as it stood. She had got him the drums, he never did think about how she could afford one, it was used, but it had a good sound.
And so Johnny played and learned, and practiced as much as he could. While his mother would dance, and move around in the house as he did his playing in the garage.
By the time he left, he buried truth, and now, as he sat in his silent living room, the night before Christmas Eve, he had already made peace, his mother died two years before. Now it only mattered to him. No one cared or knew about his past, his evil Uncle who violated his poor mother. Johnny got up, cranked the radio to a station playing some old classic Christmas songs, and went to take a shower to get ready to go to the party, whistling Dixie going into the bathroom........