TEARS ON CHRISTMAS EVE
“O little town of Bethlehem, how sweet we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by; Yet in thy dark streets…”
‘Despair had taken hold of me
It darkened all I saw
My soul cried out and tears came
I wished my life were o’er’
A tiny tear of melted snow wound its way slowly down the frosty window. The snow piled neatly in the corners gave a picturesque frame to the scene. Almost like out of an old fashioned Christmas card. Outside snowflakes floated on gentle winds descending on to the busy streets, tickling, caressing, gently ever so gently the many passers by.
Ian looked out of his window into the snow covered streets now filled with revellers, the noise outside was so confusing it was had to think. It was Christmas Eve: car horns were blaring, people shouting and swearing, drunks arguing, Christmas carols loudly played from car radio’s and shops open late to catch the last minute customers, all these mingled with the sirens of the police, ambulances, the discordant noise from clubs and pubs, merging into one loud orchestra of almost incoherent sound. Yes it was a typical modern British Christmas Eve one could say.
Ian lived in a grungy old one room flat in the midst of an old downtown district, a place no one in their right mind would want to live in; unless that is they were a student, drug addict, alcoholic or on perhaps on the run from something, but in fact Ian an was none of these, (though maybe all sometime in the past) unless running from himself was valid, yet this was his residence the past three years.
Old Mrs. McQueen lived next door, a nosey old crone who Ian tried to avoid as much as possible. On the floor below underneath him were Mousa and Isaac refugees from Somalia who were art students and forever playing the drums. Across from them were Khalid and Hamid both from Morocco who as far as Ian knew were unemployed, though he strongly suspected they were involved in dealing drugs. Munir and Farid from Lahore, Pakistan, lived on the ground floor, working part time while studying an IT course, and then there was Anna and Kristin young girls from Poland in the flat across from them, dancers in a popular ‘lap dance’ club so he had heard; though he'd never really talked with them personally, mainly due to different schedules.
The building to the left of his was a take away curry shop owned by some Bengali's and to the right was a small convenience store run by a Lithuanian couple. This was modern day Britain; multicultural, interracial, and predominantly a non-religious, secular society, with a pretence of Christianity.
Ian looked around his flat; a couch-bed and armchairs, small table and some shelves, a tiny kitchen no bigger than a walk-in closet and a bathroom just big enough for the bath and toilet! There was a scrawny little tree with a few pieces of tinsel and cotton wool, in the corner near the window. He had not been going to put one up but nostalgic reminiscences from his childhood had gotten the better. Derived of all that would turn this empty shell into a home it served as a place to sleep and a shelter from the wild elements outside. Ian was broke and I mean broke! His last pennies used to buy three quarter bottles of alcohol, a pipe, tobacco and cigar.
Tonight was meant to be night of thanksgiving, joy, love, giving; a time for people to remember the birth of Christ! A child lost in the midst of Xmas, lost to the true meaning, now a secular holiday, just a part of a money mad society seeking only pleasure, gain, profits, and all servants to the old god Mammon, money! From the sound of everything outside it would be one hell of a night, an endless party of drunkenness, a long way from the meaning and hope that represents the birth of the Christ child.
He sat down and shuffled through some of the CD’s scattered across the table; glancing briefly through them: Lou Reed, Nico, Jacques Brel, Yanni, Kenny G, Mozart, Julian Bream, Nana Mouskouri, Captain Beefheart, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, Dr John, Grace Slick; a long list indeed and quite a diverse selection you could say. Well he like music, music for every mood and tonight! One missing element though were Christmas songs or carols, he had deliberately omitted to include these. He would listen to the best of them all tonight. Ian had been busy all afternoon putting them on to his mp3 and then preparing his playlist of songs in the order he wished for this night to evolve.
‘White Rabbit’ kicked in and as he listened to it he turned the music up loud, the only way to appreciate Grace Slick’s powerful vocals! Ian closed the shabby curtain blotting out the flashing neon lights, and the poured a whisky. His life these many years since his wife's death had been like some trip down Alice’s rabbit hole, into a world of darkness, despair and strife, well tonight would change that.
Have you ever thought of death! When life seems to be just too much and you cannot go on another day, when everything seems to have failed and whatever you do flops? Have you fallen so many times that you no longer have that energy that inner spark that goads you into rising up and pushing onward! It feels like you are cursed and would be better of gone, a Midas touch in reverse, a Jonah syndrome! No one would really miss you or mourn your passing for long if at all.
Well Ian was there and had been for some time, yet he had struggled on for years, hoping, hoping, hoping, that something would change; a door open, somewhere a job appear, a means of income, a turn in the road; but always though it was to no avail, no matter how you look at it he was destined to fail, there was no escape from where he found himself, death comes at the end, and buddy this was the end of the road.
Here he was a prisoner in a cell, caught up in the endless pendulum swing of depression, a captive of his thoughts, his doubts and despair. Locked within a cell where the hours pass by ever so slowly, the minutes never seem to end. Days turn into weeks, the seconds spin endlessly into years.
His mind was a world of inner conflicts where his thoughts warred endlessly; he was in a prisoner of his own construction. There were no doors to keep him locked inside; there were no walls to confine him; the chains that bound him come from within the corners of his mind, keeping him forever bound in fear and condemnation, chaining him tighter than any iron bars could ever do. Dark and evil clouds of gloom hung forever there. Endless torments of regrets nagged at his soul and added to all the anguish and remorse he felt.
Ian could not undo the past. Oh hell he would if he could but it was now written in stone, solid and unchangeable. Tears! Yes, he wept a plenty of them and sleepless nights not few and agony of heart and soul; but nothing could change the irreversible past, the dice were thrown and there was no time travelling able to change things. Ha, he used to love ‘Dr Who’ when he was a kid and the possibility to time travel, it had always fascinated me, the novel ‘Time Machine’ or the movie trilogy ‘Back to the Future’, alas he was not Dr Who, life was not a movie or a book, he was stuck with the results of his bad choices and failures.
God, Christ, where were they in his life now? A long winding trail of darkness, despair, alcoholism, loneliness, failure! Ever since his wife’s death he had spiralled ever down, jobs, friends, family all deserting him as he followed the bottle and bitterness took hold. Yes that was the story of his life though he had beaten the bottle and had been clean for some time now still nothing changed.
It was many years ago now since Ian had thought of the true meaning of Christmas and tonight would not be one of them. How can you rest in the peace and joy of Jesus birth and yet at the same time plan destroy that very life He had given you.
Ian found himself tottering on the brink of insanity these past months Ian knew if he kept on like this he would snap! Well maybe he had snapped already, after all he was sitting here tonight planning to take his life. He had it all figured out though. He would enjoy a cigar and a pipe smoke; he had not smoked since a teen and had always wanted to try them again so now he would sit here in the room listening to all his favourites, drinking the bottle of whiskey followed with the cognac and brandy then pop the pills lying there in the small bottle on the shelf and let his senses leave him slowly drifting into death.