Assembling the Black

February 14, 2017

vault door

It’s Christmas Eve and Mom’s into her fourth eggnog before she starts ragging on Ray about his new tattoo. “I hope that fucker’s not real,” she says. “Ugliest thing I ever seen.”

She’d gone holiday shopping at the dollar store again this year. The confusing odor of burnt Italian meatballs mingled with the balsam reek of clearance aisle candles wafts in from the dining room. Hanukah giftwrap litters the floor, its myriad Stars of David lay trampled beneath the feet of us indifferent gentiles.

“Just grow your hair back, Ray. I don’t want to look at it no more.” She hiccoughs, and pours herself another. “What idiot tattoos a door on the side of his head, anyway?”

Her plastic tree, unfettered now of several candy canes and its support of hastily wrapped gifts, lurches suddenly to the right. A bulb hits the ground and shatters. The dog and I are the only ones who notice.

Ray smiles and nods, then leans down to give her a kiss before leaving. “Merry Christmas, Ma. Nice seeing you.”

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