The War on Christmas: Rick and Annabelle Again, Again
“If I have to hear ‘Happy Holidays’ one more time, I swear to Christ someone’s gonna get a candy cane up their ass.”
Rick Belson threw his blackberry on the couch and shook his head. He had barely walked into his apartment when the phone rang – it was his bitch atheist sister wishing him holiday cheer. Where the fuck did she get off doing that at all? She didn’t believe in God and the baby Jesus, but still enjoyed her government sanctioned week off from teaching. The least she could do is thank their Savior. Rick shook his head and took off his coat.
Christmas was Rick’s favorite time of the year, but he couldn’t go home to see his family because of the blizzard that fell a few days earlier, resulting in his flight getting cancelled. Unfortunately he had also taken the week off of work from the news station where he hosted his popular evening program, so unsure of what to do with himself on this day of the Lord’s birth, he dropped by work that morning to see if anyone was also stuck in town on this Holy day. He knew exactly who he wanted to see, but she wasn’t there. Of course she wouldn’t be, Rick thought, she was likely home with her family. Feeling stupid, he went home, and that’s when his heathen sister called. Glad to finally get her off the phone, he headed towards the kitchen to pour himself a Christmas scotch.
A familiar voice came through the hallway – it was at that moment that Rick realized he was in such a huff over the conversation with his sister that he had forgotten to close the door to his apartment. But surely it couldn’t be…
“I said Happy holidays. Does this mean I get a candy cane shoved in my ass now?”
She smiled coyly, leaning against the doorway, curling her flaxen hair with a finger. “I heard you talking to that person on the phone. I was in the hallway.”
“But Annabelle, how did you… shouldn’t you…”
“Shhhh…” Annabelle said as let herself in and shut the door. “Is it ok if I stay here a bit? I’m actually trying to avoid someone.”
“B…but what are you even doing in my building,” Rick stammered. “I have security!”
“I know. I came in with Bill or Bob or whatever his name is. I had a date last night and I spent the night at his place. I didn’t know you lived here too until just now.”
Rick winced when she said ‘date’. Since their first risqué encounter at his studio where she was an intern, she was all he could think about. After their second liaison in his office, well, he didn’t think it was possible to think about someone that many times in a day. But he had to admit it. Rick Belson was having… feelings for Annabelle.
Feelings. The bros in his weekend men’s group told him that feelings were natural, and should be nurtured. But feelings about a woman should be controlled and tempered. Feelings. Why, he felt like a 7th grader just thinking about her. And that brought him back to the time when no girl would ever talk to him. But here was Annabelle, again, and in his apartment no less. And Rick hadn’t the damnedest idea what to do with the fact that he was falling for her. That realization made him more nervous than John Boehner on any given day this week.
“You are welcome to stay Annabelle, um, I’m guessing date went well?”
“No, the jerk passed out while we were making out .” Annabelle plopped down on Rick’s couch and stretched her arms back. “So, you know, I slept there, but we didn’t fuck. Merry Christmas to me.”
Rick timidly sat down on the far end of the couch, unable to look her in the eye. Was he… nervous? He cleared his throat and tried his best to fill the thick silence that was intensified every time Annabelle shifted on the leather seat.
“Yes, well, I’m stuck here because of the blizzard,” Rick said. “So I guess it’s good luck for you that I was even home so… that’s my gift to you.” Rick glanced at her and smiled shakily, while Annabelle studied him up and down.
“Hm,” she muttered, screwing her face as she looked at him. “Why are you sitting all the way over there?”
“Why are you dating that douchebag down the hall?”
Rick was shocked by his own retort. Annabelle, however, was amused. She scooted closer to him. He could feel the excitement rising in his trousers. Oh my God, this was happening.
“Rick, I only went out with him because he asked me.”
“Of course,” Rick sighed. Annabelle leaned closer into him, the sweet scent of her skin making its way towards his nose. He finally spoke again, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Anything,” offered Annabelle, grinning.
“Why aren’t you home for Christmas?”
Annabelle leaned back, slightly disappointed that Rick hadn’t picked up on what she thought were very obvious verbal and physical clues. And now he wanted her to talk about her personal life.
“Well, fine then.” She took a deep breath before continuing, “My mom hates me, and my father passed away many years ago so it’s just me and that’s why I hate this fucking holiday. It’s the only day of the year I feel more alone than any other day, which, might surprise you, is quite often. And that’s how I ended up in this building, with that guy…” She pointed in the direction of the apartment down the hallway. “So now you think I’m pathetic or something, but yes, I don’t have a family and I don’t have a Christmas and I don’t really like talking about it.
At that moment, something happened that shocked both of them. A tear slid down Rick’s cheek.
“Annabelle, that’s the saddest thing I ever heard.”
She looked away for a second. This was a side of Rick she had never seen. Warm, caring, emotional. Annabelle turned back to him and wiped the tear away from his cheek before saying, “I don’t usually like telling my sob story. It’s so indulgent.”
“No, not about your family,” Rick began as he grabbed her hands and pulled him closer to her. “I mean, yeah, that’s terrible but… Christmas? How can you hate Christmas?”
Annabelle was simultaneously confused and amused. “I mean, it’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it.”
“Ridiculous?!?” Rick jumped up off the couch and fervently paced back and forth in front of Annabelle as he continued, “Don’t you see, this is what those other people want! To kill Christmas! And you’re letting them do it!”
Annabelle cocked her head to the side and studied Rick’s face, which was now an aggravated shade of red. She listened intently as he spoke.
“Annabelle, Christmas isn’t just about family and shopping and Santa. It’s about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Did you know that across the country nativity scenes in public parks are being banned by atheist groups, who, by the way, are rapidly becoming a majority in this country?”
“No they’re not even close to being a majority.”
“But they CAN BE!” Rick pointed a finger towards Annabelle’s face. “And people like YOU are going to let that happen. If there’s no Christmas, there’s no joy! There’s no community! And to be quite honest, no reason to live! It’s the MOST WONDERFUL FUCKING TIME OF THE YEAR and I won’t let you not believe, Annabelle.”
Annabelle jumped up, and threw herself into Rick’s heaving chest. She wasn’t sure what exactly it was, but there was something about the passion in his speech that nearly brought her to tears, her loins drenched from adoration.
She lifted her head up and said, “I want to believe, Rick.”
Then something happened that surprised the both of them. Rick deftly swept her off the floor into his arms, carried her into his bedroom and threw her on the bed.
Annabelle fell back in delight and squealed, “Oh, Rick!”
He gently placed one hand on her flushed face, steadying himself on top of the bed with the other, and whispered, “I don’t want you to do or say a single thing. I want to make you believe.” He leaned in and brushed his lips gently over Annabelle’s parted cherry mouth before delicately pressing them down into hers. When she leaned up to match his intensity he pulled back, cupped Annabelle’s face with his hands, and whispered, his breath hot against her ear, “I said I don’t want you to do anything.” Rick placed a soft kiss on her yielding neck, and traced a trail with his mouth down to her shoulders. Annabelle surrendered to every kiss, every touch.
And oh, he took his time. After what seemed like an eternity, Rick made his way down to Annabelle’s pleasure garden, consuming her with ardent adoration. She was sure she would explode at any moment, but Rick would not let that happen just yet, stopping every so often to gently trace his hand over every inch of her body, luxuriating in every squirm and delighted moan that escaped Annabelle’s lips.
Finally Rick pulled himself on top of Annabelle, their breaths heaving in unison. He savored the feeling of flesh against flesh for another glorious second before guiding himself slowly inside her, joining his body to hers. And there the two of them made love, riding the torrential and extraordinary waves of sheer ecstasy.
The next morning, Annabelle awoke to find her head resting on Rick’s chest, their fingers entwined. When she looked up, Rick smiled at her.
“Good morning Annabelle.”
“Well, good morning Rick,” she replied before nuzzling her lips into his neck. “I think you made me like Christmas again.”
Rick sat up, giddy. “Really?”
Annabelle pulled herself up and furnished Rick with an affectionate gaze, “You see, when I said my father died, I wasn’t being quite forthcoming. He actually died on Christmas, fifteen years ago.”
“Oh my God Annabelle, I’m so sorry.”
She nodded soberly and continued, “Me and Mom were decorating the tree, waiting for Dad to come home from work. A couple hours went by. Dad wasn’t home. So Mom called the office. No answer. Christmas Day came and went, and still nothing. So the police began a search. Four or five days went by. Neither one of us could eat or sleep. Everything was falling apart. It was snowing outside. The house was freezing, so I went to try to light up the fire. That’s when I noticed the smell. The firemen came and broke through the chimney top. And me and Mom were expecting them to pull out a dead cat or a bird. And instead they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He’d been climbing down the chimney… his arms loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly. And that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.”
There was a long pause as Rick tried to digest everything that Annabelle had just said. There was something oddly familiar about that story.
“Annabelle,” Rick began.
“Hmmm,” she murmured, pressing her face in his chest.
Rick caressed her back as he spoke, “I just think… I’m pretty sure that’s the story Phoebe Cates’s character tells in Gremlins.”
“Oh, is it?” Annabelle queried.
“No, like, word for word. That is the exact monologue from Gremlins. I’m positive. I’ve seen that movie about a hundred times. I have it on DVD.”
Annabelle smiled and looked back up at Rick’s concerned face. “I knew there was a reason I liked you. Yeah, I was just fucking with you.”
The two of them laughed heartily. Rick was in awe of how this woman managed to surprise him at every turn. Yes, she really was the best Christmas present he ever had received from the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I mean, Annabelle, that’d be pretty messed up.”
“Yeah. He is dead though. Brain cancer.”
“Rick,” Annabelle lifted her head and looked into his soft brown eyes. “Thank you for the best Christmas I can remember.”