I was driving through North Carolina when I got the news. My friend Smokey was sick and dying. I could not believe my ears when he told me on the phone, and I had no idea what to say. This guy who had been like an older brother to me got a serious case of cancer and they found it too late.
As I was dealing with my many mixed emotions, I was also trying to pick up a car from a man who was being very uncooperative. He had just been fired and was not ready to surrender his car just yet. But I had been told to pick it up from him the night before, and waited for two hours to meet him. Then he called to say to meet him at a house first thing the next morning. So here I was, sitting in the driveway of the house, texting and calling the man but getting no answer. I had knocked on the door, but he wasn't there.
My cell phone rang. "Hey, this is Bill."
"What the hell are you up to now, you Pillsbury doughboy Christmas edition?"
"This is Riff," bellowed my boss. "Tis the season to get your work done and quit screwing up."
"I'm not screwing up."
"Do you have the car yet, my little crumb cake?"
"I don't want to hear 'NO BECAUSE' you stupid moron. I want to hear that the job is done. And a Sir wouldn't hurt to throw in there."
"The guy is playing games with me, I will call you when I have the car." I hung up, and my phone rang again almost immediately. "What is it, Riff?"
"This is Henry Seltzer."
"Oh, hello sir, I am here at the house waiting for you."
"What house?" he asked.
"The house at 6440 Danbury Lane, the address you gave me."
He began to laugh. "Well how about that. I gave you my old address. Why, I haven't lived in that house for five years."
"How about that," I said, not feeling very good about it.
"I'm at 1007 McManus Circle. Can you get over here quick, I'm tired of waiting." He hung up, and I looked up the address. It was on the far side of Winston-Salem, and I was getting frustrated.
As I got close to the correct address, my phone rang again. "This is Bill."
"Hey buddy boy, its Christmas Carol time." It was Riff again, and he sounded drunk. "Jingle balls, jingle balls, jingle in my butt!"
"Riff, put down the bourbon bottle and make a pot of coffee."
"Don't you tell me what to do, you little precocious jack ass brat mofo..." It sounded like he dropped the phone, so I clicked off. I pulled into the driveway of the house on McManus, and I saw the man run out the back door and jump into the car. He started it and began to maneuver in the circular driveway to get out. I deftly pulled over in a position to block him indefinitely, and he jumped out of the car as mad as a hornet.
"You bastard, you're blocking my way!"
"That's OK, I will get out of your way as soon as we've done the paperwork."
"I'm not ready to give up the car."
"My boss said don't take no for an answer. The company you worked for wants their car back."
"It's not like its their property."
I squinted. "Well..."
"This is your job, ruining people's Christmas?"
"No sir, I just have to get the car then go."
"But you have two cars. How you gonna get both of them out of here?"
"Just leave that to me. Sign here please." I indicated the spot for him to sign, and he responded by shooting me the bird. He held the keys out to me then dropped them on the ground for me to pick up.
Henry gave me a look like he wanted me to disappear. And then he said, "I hope you get cancer and die."
I drove the car I had come in down the block and parked it on the street. Then I drove Henry's old car a few blocks away, to a supermarket parking lot. I walked back, got in the original car, and delivered it ten miles away. I took an Uber back to the supermarket and got into Henry's car. It was going up to Vermont, and I was afraid I might run into some snow.
Sadly ironic how Henry had chosen to wish me cancer when I just learned my friend Smokey is dying from it. What a cold, harsh reaction from the man when I was just doing my job. But I don't want to be sad, I insist on good cheer. Elvis sang about a Blue Christmas. And blue is my favorite color. And bright blue is my favorite shade of blue. So I'm going to remain upbeat and happy and have a Bright Blue Christmas.