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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

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MontgoMERRY ChristmasTurn-of-the-century MontgoMERRY moppets bid you a fine Christmas!

Out into whistling night air I step, the brisk winds scraping their icy fingers the length of my unprotected jaw.

Really gave a great performance, Black! exudes Screen Three, oblivious to the cold. Too bad this was the finale!

“Yes,” my lips want to say, but prove too cold to form anything beyond “Es.” I plunge my key into the car door’s lock, slide into my chilly chariot, and prepare to fire up the engine. All motion is arrested by a wail of unbearable sorrow.

A woman weeps, declares Six. We must rescue her!

“Seriously?” I mumble, half-heartedly. “We always do this.”

Repetition is good, assures Three. Really good. Creative, even.

“Would it be so bad if just this once, someone else stepped in? It’s late. The Christmas play – all six performances – is over. Done. Kaput. I’d kind of like to bask in the warm laughter and applause of the crowd.”

Your announcing the birth of the Christ Child as an angel was wonderful, compliments Three. Your hesitation to help here just makes me wonder.

Sighing, I scan the darkness for the origin of the trouble. A single streetlight throws enough radiance to outline a figure swiftly, imperfectly stepping in white drifts, her body pitching as she alternately encounters icy resistance and snowy hindrance.

Target identified, says Four.

I shake my head in protest. “Cold. Tired. Hungry.”

Enough about you. What about her? rebukes Two, surprising me with his boldness.

Though my feet loudly crunch across the partially plowed street, the stranger’s wild sobs mask my arrival. We frighten one another: her “Oh!” at my presence collides with my “No!” at her piercings.

Silver porcupine! shouts Three, fascinated.

This tall creature – spiked heels gifting five unnecessary inches to her black-leather-garbed height – collapses, head of unevenly dyed (and curiously cropped) tresses dropping onto my shoulder. She pours tearful breath into fearful furies.

I hold her tightly, unsure of better options.

Running might be one, hints Six, who never runs from anything.

Green mohawkDisbelieving eyes take in the even-taller, undeniably wilder man with Nazi stormtrooper boots now stomping up to us. His six-inch black Mohawk, carefully topped with green ends, resembles not hair but a cultured grove of palm trees.

Equally pierced, he is visibly unhappy.

We are visibly alone, reminds One, and likely to be pierced.

“Jess,” the gothic giant’s voice strains, “can’t we talk?”

Jess nods agreement – I am unsure how her apparent consort divines this – but tearfully declines to be released, an offer I make repeatedly.

Repetition is good, shivers Three, gauging the man’s considerable size. Really good. Creative, even.

Words are bruising, bitter, brawling. But as wind dies, hope flies. Tones take tender turns. Jess still sobs, yet surrenders to suitor’s arms. I ask for eyes that look past plentiful piercings the two faces freely advertise and see a handsome youth, male forehead creased in worry; a beautiful woman, heavy makeup resculpted by tears.

They, awkward and embarrassed, seek suggestions from surmised “wise, untroubled” me. I wonder aloud whether I might pray with them. They agree. I closely hold both dark figures, their unrestrained, unashamed weeping gently rocking, softly soothing our trio. My prayer concluded, Pincushion People passionately hug me back, wordlessly apologize to one another, then step away into what has become a remarkably peaceful –

Almost silent, whispers Two.

– night. A holy night, really. All are calmed. All seems bright.

Watching the twosome inexpertly navigating the unshoveled sidewalk, I smile at what’s just unfolded, at what I’ve been allowed to help heal, certainly strengthen.

Awed screens murmur, Joy to the world.


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Postscript: It really IS the night before Christmas, and I am at the country-style residence of beloved buddies Barb and Rob Schafer.

Blackwells and SchafersAfter much merriment and mirth, I ascend steps to my sleeping quarters in this immaculate home and settle down by the heater, an orange glow guiding eyes and warming body. Before sleep subdues my senses, I think how aptly a famed poem’s well-known lines describe this place of safe repose.

Minutes later, my long winter’s nap is interrupted. I gently reach into my thick beard, grown for the annual play, to see what’s the matter ….

And grasp a nestled baby mouse, coos Screen Two.

Laughs Three, So much for “not a creature was stirring, not even a ….”

Well, you know.

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