Christmas Love a short story by Austin Mitchell
Rog was feeling pleased with himself. The Christmas season was coming up and he was hoping to enjoy it. There would be non-stop entertainment. He and his friends usually attended lots of parties. His girlfriend, Megan, was never around during these holidays. She was around during most of the other holidays. But at Christmas she had to be with her relatives. He didn’t mind, since it afforded him the opportunity to get a new girl. This had happened for the past three seasons. Megan was making plans on how she was going to spend her holidays in Howell’s Content. She had always insisted that one of the reasons for her going to spend the holidays with her parents was that they had a big family dinner. She also got the opportunity to attend church. He would usually take her down there and return for her.
Rog worked with a large insurance brokerage house. They normally had their party two weeks before Christmas. It was a big event with all the staff turning out. Megan would come too and he would go to her company’s party the next night.
So the Christmas season was upon them. He owned his own flat, a one bedroom spread in a new development in Vineyard Town. She lived with her aunt. She would spend time with him as her aunt was a liberal woman and knew that when she was her nieces age, she wasn’t allowed a lot of freedom by her parents. However, she recognized that times had changed.
That Friday evening Rog drove Megan down to Howell’s Content and returned to Kingston. He went on the plazas and saw his good friend, Trend Roofe.
“What’s going on, Trend? I just took Megan down to the country,” he greeted his friend.
“Yeah, well my girl, Latoya, just got news that her sister met in an accident in Fort Lauderdale and she has to go up so I’m rushing to drop her at the airport.”
“I hope everything’s all right with Latoya’s sister. I suppose we can start tomorrow night.”
They shook hands and the latter departed for his car.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city Chanella Pearson and Debra Deacon were in deep conversation.
“Have you ever seen that guy, what was his name again?” Chanella asked Debra.
Three years ago Debra had met this fabulous guy, who was two years older than her. He had his own car, his own flat in Vineyard Town. He was also in a good job. They had partied the Christmas away and then just when she was ready to announce him to her friends as the new man in her life he had disappeared after New Year’s eve. Despite numerous attempts on her part, she never saw him again. A different guy answered his cell phone and when she asked for Rog, he told her that this was his cell phone number and he didn’t know anybody by that name. When she turned up at his apartment complex the security guard refused to let her in.
“I remember that his name was Rog. I still feel so silly for letting him fill up my head with all those stories. I still feel like a fool.”
“I feel like a fool too, my guy’s name was Trend and just about the same thing happened to me like what you described.”
Chanella worked as a secretary for a New Kingston based insurance agency. She was of medium height and would be twenty five years old in January. Debra was a customer service representative at a large building society branch office also in New Kingston. She was tall and was twenty five years of age. They were talking as they waited for transportation to take them home to Portmore and Spanish Town respectively.
Chanella’s boyfriend of one year had migrated to Trinidad with his company three months ago, so she was in for a lonely Christmas. Debra had been through two boyfriends since her experience with Rog. She and her last boyfriend had broken up in mid-September but she nevertheless was hoping to really party this Christmas.
Both girls said their goodbyes as their buses came.
On Monday Chanella was shopping after work on the Constant Spring Mall when she bumped into this guy and her bags fell out of her hand.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Miss,” the guy said as he bent down and picked them up.
“Say, you shouldn’t be out shopping all alone.”
“My sister was supposed to have joined me, but at the last minute she phoned to tell me that her boyfriend has this party he wants her to go with him.”
“I’m out shopping, myself, just for some pieces of clothes to maybe go to a few clubs and parties.”
She loved his easy smile and he was so handsome plus he was wearing an expensive perfume.
They were in front of Woolworths now.
“I’m going inside to get some gift wrap paper,” she told him.
“Say, maybe I could hold some of your things for you. You don’t have a car you could put away some of these things?”
“No, I don’t have a car,” she said, handing him some of her parcels.
They went into Woolworths where she chose some gift wrap paper.
They soon found themselves upstairs the Food Court having a drink.
“Say, you haven’t told me your name,” he remarked.
She put up a face, then took some more of her fruit punch through a straw.
“I don’t give out my name to strangers.”
“I’m Rog and that’s short for Roger Lecky.”
At the name Rog, her heart skipped a beat. She looked him up and down. Was this the same guy Debra was talking about? In her heart she wished that it wasn’t so.
“That took ages. You seem to have been lost for a moment there, but I like your name. Are you finished shopping?”
“Sure I am, but I’ll have to take these parcels over to the bus park. Can you help me?”
He helped and solicited a date with her for the following night.
Chanella called Debra and they decided to have lunch together. The two girls were lunching upstairs the New Kingston Shopping Centre.
She had given Debra a description of Rog. Debra agreed that this was the person she knew.
“So you told him that you were Shanique. So what did he say?”
“I’m going out with him tonight.”
“Wow girl, I can’t wait. I want to hear all about it.”
“We’ll be going to this party his friend is having up in Jacks Hill. I’m so excited.”
“I hope I’ll be as lucky as you. I really want to party this season, but I suppose I can always go out with my friends.”
“I can ask Rog, maybe he could introduce you to one of his friends.”
“Not another Trend Roofe. Do I sound so desperate, Chanella?” Debra asked and it was Chanella’s turn to be embarrassed at the mention of Trend’s name.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m just going to enjoy myself without making any commitments.”
“I hope you enjoy yourself, Chanella,” Debra remarked and Chanella burst out laughing.
They had finished eating now. They both got up from the table and returned to their respective workplace.
Trend looked at the girl in the receptionist booth. She looked hot, he thought. Her face was so pretty and she had an easy smile. She was definitely his type of girl.
Debra saw the young man looking at her and moved to help him.
“What can I do for you, sir?”
“I got a notice that I was overdue on my premiums.”
She directed him to speak to Janice Stephenson, another customer service agent.
When he was passing her he gave her his card. He asked for her cell phone number, but she refused. He decided to call her when he reached his office.
The receptionist put him through to her.
“I’m the guy you just met, the one who gave you his card and asked for your cell phone number.”
“I don’t remember you. Nearly every guy who comes in here wants my cell phone number and gives me their card.”
He described himself to her.
“Okay, I remember you now. You also wanted my number, but as I told you if I give every guy who comes in here my number I’d just spend the whole day talking on the phone.”
Still, she was recounting how she had reacted when she saw him. She knew that she would dearly love to see him again, but she wasn’t going to make it easy. After what happened between her and Rog she vowed not to make the same mistake again.
“Why don’t you call me back later? I’m kind of busy right now plus I’ll soon have to meet one of my girlfriends for lunch.”
“Why don’t you let me take you to lunch? We could go to Simpsons Eatery.”
His offer was tempting. Simpson’s Eatery and Waterhole was a combination of a night club, sports bar and restaurant and Rog had taken her there once.
“Thanks for the invitation, but I have something important to discuss over lunch and I really have to go.”
“Lunch with me tomorrow, then.”
“I really must go and thanks for the call. When you call me again we can discuss that lunch invitation.”
“I had a fabulous time with Rog. He’s such a wonderful guy and can he dance,” Chanella remarked to Debra as they sat at lunch.
Debra raised her eyebrows at her.
“I used to say the same thing about him. Remember how I used to gush about him to you, Chanella.”
“A guy came to my office today and after he left could I get him off the phone. His name would you believe me is Trend Roof,” Debra told her and Chanella nearly hit the roof.
“So did you give him your cell phone number?”
“Sure I did and we are going to lunch at Simpson’s tomorrow.”
“Rog and I are supposed to lunch there the day after that and return to the club in the evening.”
Both girls could feel a certain amount of tension building up. They both knew that if they didn’t cool it, they would soon be in a spat. They would leave and fall into the same trap they had fallen into before.
“So, Chanella, what do you intend to do about Rog?”
“I don’t intend to be anybody’s Christmas girl again. I’ll let him take me to the swankiest places, but I’m only going there to enjoy myself and not to fall in love with anybody.”
“Are you still Shanique?” Debra asked and she could see the pensive look on her friend’s face.
“I told him my right name but I didn’t tell him why I’ve been hiding it from him. He would have found out anyway.”
“I’m sure he would. He’s a smart guy.”
The two girls finished their meal and returned to their respective posts.
The Thursday before New Year’s day Rog met Trend, atop Dodd’s Restaurant in New Kingston.
“So how’s the season treating you, Trend? It’s the second time I’ve seen you since the Christmas season start,” Rog remarked as a waiter brought their lunch.
“I have to be pinching myself and wondering if I’m the same person. I’m going around with this girl and I take her to the most fabulous parties and lavish the most expensive gifts on her and all she tells me is that she wants to know me some more.”
“Sometimes I wonder if I’m the same person too. I’ve done the same things for my girl that you’ve done for your girl and nothing’s happening. I’m glad that my real woman will soon return.”
“I mean I’ve gone to parties where the girls were all over me. I could have abandoned her and up to now I don’t know why I haven’t. I must be getting soft or something.”
“Some girls have been encouraging me to leave my girl and come to them, but it’s like keeps with them and I’m not into that,” Rog explained as they finished their meal.
“Say where will you be tomorrow night, New Year’s Eve?” Trend asked.
“I’m saying goodbye to her from the Reasons Night Club,” Rog replied.
“Then I’ll get a chance to show you my girl and me yours. Should be fun, I sometimes wonder if there is some sort of a conspiracy, but let’s wait until tomorrow night to find out,” Trend declared as they paid their bills, shook hands and exited the restaurant.
Debra and Chanella were lunching in Clive’s Great Eats Restaurant in New Kingston. Their lunches had just arrived and they were eating.
“Debra, you look different, I have to believe that something has happened to you.”
“I haven’t fallen in love with Trend not for his glib talk, his expensive parties and gifts.”
“I have to be wondering if I’m the same girl who used to be swept off her feet by all those wild boastings of Trend Roof. Here I am not even moved by Rog. I don’t mean he’s a bore, no far from it, but I’m not throwing myself at him.”
“So what are you lovebirds planning for tomorrow night?”
“We’ll be saying goodbye from Reasons. I’m staying in Kingston and I have my taxi fare already.”
They continued eating in silence.
“So that makes two of us. I’ll be saying goodbye to Trend from Reasons tonight too. My aunt and her boyfriend will be at Corners Night Club so he needn’t worry how I’ll reach home,” Debra stated.
“I’ve gone to parties with Rog where girls have come on to him very strong. It’s just because I knew he wasn’t my man, why I didn’t have a confrontation with any of them.”
“What’s happening to the guys? At some of these parties, girls are outnumbering guys like three to one. I’d be afraid to attend one of these parties with my right man,” Debra stated.
“So then see you tomorrow night, Debra,” Chanella said as both girls paid their bills and exited the restaurant.
Chanella had taken a taxi as Rog had phoned her at the last minute to say that he was having car problems. When she entered the night club she saw Debra and Trend seated at a table. She ignored her friend as they had planned. The time was ten thirty and she knew that the place would soon be crowded with revelers. She saw them getting up to dance and she became fidgety, wondering where Rog was.
When she looked at her watch again the time was eleven thirty and people were making all sorts of noises in anticipation of the New Year. She knew that something was wrong and maybe Rog had gone somewhere else or maybe was with another woman.
Seeing that he wasn’t going to turn up she went to dance with a guy she knew. She had some food and drinks and joined other revelers in ushering in the New Year.
“Chanella, Trend wants to talk to you,” Debra told her as she came over to her table.
“I’m not interested in talking to him,” she shouted and picked up her purse and made her way outside with Debra behind her.
Debra caught up with her in front of the night club.
“Chanella, wait, don’t be so hasty.”
“Look, Debra, I think I’ll better go home. I told you a lot of lies. He stood me up and I should have known better than to fall for him after what he did to you.”
She let her last few words hang out for Debra to grasp the meaning and then she burst out crying.
“You did what? Oh, Chanella, I’m so sorry. Trend only wanted to apologize for what he did to you. We’ve decided to remain good friends. He told me about his girlfriend.”
“Tell him I’ve accepted his apologies but I’ve already called a taxi. I don’t want to ever see Rog again,” she cried as she saw her taxi coming.
Debra returned inside and danced some more with Trend. He told her that Rog was at home. A mutual friend had phoned to tell him that Megan was holidaying in Negril with a man. When he called her all he got was her voice mail.
He also told her that Rog had lied to him about Chanella. Debra continued dancing with him until her cell phone rang. Her aunt told her that she was ready. She and Trend decided to remain friends. She knew that after this she wasn’t prepared to be anybody’s Christmas love. She hoped her good friend, Chanella, had learned her lesson.