Christmas With Young Harley: Ride With Harley Short Story 8

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Christmas With Young Harley

Ride With Harley Short Story 8

Cassandra Parker

 

Christmas in Sagaponack is wonderful. Everyone gets involved, and the town reminds me of a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. It is full of traditional events like visiting neighbors, hosting parties, having a sing-along, and people helping to decorate the village tree. That time of year there are a lot of parties starting from Thanksgiving and ending on New Year ’s Eve.

The official tree on Sagg Main Street is decorated and lighted in a traditional ceremony. Spiced cider, hot chocolate, and cookies are provided

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for refreshments. People gather around the tree and share in the goodwill of the season. Members of the community sing Christmas carols beginning at five o ’clock. After caroling, they participate in refreshments and general camaraderie.

Christmas in Sagaponack is one of the few times I look forward to spending holidays with my family. During this holiday I can overlook the horrible way my family treats employees. As a child, I practiced playing Christmas songs on my violin and piano.

There is a benefit concert with church choirs singing Christmas songs and hymns. Plus, local bands and individuals play their favorite holiday tunes. Each year the benefit concert committee is comprised of pastors, city officials, and business owners.

The first time I played at the annual holiday benefit, I was seven.

“Harlan,” Mother rested her hand on my shoulder.
“Yes, Mother?” I looked up at her, wondering what I had done wrong.

“It’s time for your first recital. I registered you to play two musical pieces at the annual Christmas benefit concert. The first piece will be ‘Silent Night’ on the piano followed by ‘White Christmas’ on the violin.”

I looked at Garrett in horror. I was just learning to play the violin, and both songs were currently beyond my abilities.

“Mistress Davis,” Garrett interjected. “Might not simpler songs such as ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘What Child Is This,’ or ‘Frosty the Snowman’ be more fitting for young Master Harley? He is just learning to play the violin.”

“Nonsense,” Mother replied. “He is ready.”

“Mistress Davis, I beg to differ. I hardly think you wish to embarrass the family with a piece that is beyond his ability at this time.”

“Oh, very well,” Mother pouted.

I practiced for hours each day. I wanted my playing to be perfect. Brad joined me in the music room and sang the songs. There were days my fingers bled from overuse, but I didn ’t care. To my seven-year-old mind, music was the one thing I could do to make my parents notice me and be proud I am their son.

The day of the concert arrived with snow flurries and deliciously cold air. I was filled with joyful anticipation and felt like a five-year-old turned loose in a toy store. I hoped my father would finally say, “Well done, son. Well done.”

I was in heaven daydreaming about praises from him. How I longed to hear congratulatory words and see him smiling at me. He might even pat me on the back or give me a hug. I hungered for his love.

I couldn’t decide what to wear and kept changing suits, shoes, and ties. Finally, I settled on a blue suit, white shirt, and a Reindeer tie with shoes to match my attire. I agonized over making sure everything was just right. My shirt was properly buttoned, the tie was on straight and notched just so, and my shoes were spit-shined until they glowed.

We took two limousines. Mother, Father, and the Vickmans in one. Ashley, Elizabeth, Brad and I with my violin rode in the second vehicle. Garrett drove our car. The community center had been set up to seat five hundred people. Donated gifts were piled high under a tree in a corner at the back of the assembly room. Tables with refreshments lined the walls of the serving room.

I stood in the wings waiting my turn on stage. I bounced from foot to foot and pirouetted as people played and choruses sang. My stomach felt like it was doing flip-flops and there was an odd fluttering sensation. It was almost as though I had tiny birds or butterflies flitting around in my tummy.

“You okay?” Brad asked as he fiddled with his bow-tie. “You look a little green.”

“I feel like throwing up,” I announced unceremoniously to everyone within in hearing range.

“Oh, no, you don’t!” Brad danced away from me. “Garrett!” He hollered. “Harley ’s gonna hurl!”

Garrett hurried to me and knelt in front of me. He rubbed my back and looked me in the eye. “Young Master Harley, all you have to do is breathe deeply and try not to think of a turnip.”
“What?” I gasped.
“Take a deep breath and try not to think of a turnip.”

He did say turnip. Garrett’s words set me to giggling, Crisis averted.

“If you get overwhelmed just look in the front row,” Garrett smiled. “I’ll be there to encourage you. ” He brushed a lock of hair from my eyes.

I watched him leave and wanted badly to run after him. I wanted to wrap my arms around his legs like I did when I was a two-year-old. My knees shook, and I could hardly breathe. I closed my eyes and took a couple of deep breaths and thought about nothing except turnips.

“The village of Sagaponack is proud to introduce Harlan Davis and Bradley Davis-Weser. They will perform two of our favorite Christmas songs,” announced the emcee.

I stepped onto the stage to polite applause. I gulped air like a fish out of water and squeezed my eyes shut.

“Thank you,” I said and settled on the piano bench. “My cousin, Brad, will accompany me.”

Brad stepped onto the stage and grasped the microphone. I sucked in a deep breath and placed my fingers over the keys. Then I made a tactical error. I looked directly at the audience. So many people! And everyone was looking at us. Panic set in as a wildly glanced around the stage for a trash can or bucket to catch anything my rebellious stomach might toss out. Nothing! There was nothing!
My urge to vomit got stronger, and it was all I could do to keep from spewing the contents of my stomach all over the stage.

Desperately I searched the first row for Garrett. Where was he? I became frantic and couldn’t breathe. Then, I spotted him in front and center. He smiled and nodded at me.

It’s amazing how he can calm me down with just a look and a smile.
“Our first song is,” Horror or horrors my mind went completely blank. Try as I might, I could not recall the song. In desperation, I named the first tune I thought of. Our first song is ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.’” I began playing hesitantly at first. It took me a few moments to realize Brad wasn’t singing. I looked up to find him staring at me. Oh no! It was the wrong song!

“I’m sorry, that’s the wrong song! I’m so sorry! ” There goes the praise from my father, I thought dismally. “I meant ‘Jingle Bells.’” I re-settled myself on the bench and flexed my fingers. Soon the lively strains of  ‘Jingle Bells’ was flowing from the keys, and Brad added the bells as he sang.

The audience clapped loudly at the end. I rose from the piano and walked over to my violin. “Our next number is ‘What Child Is This.’”

I drew the bow tentatively across the strings before launching into a lilting variation of the classic song. Soon I was swaying to the music as it ebbed and flowed in a haunting melodic rendition. The hall became completely silent except for my violin and Brad ’s voice as he sang along.

I got carried away and continued playing by launching into ‘The Little Drummer Boy,’ followed by ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’

“Thank you, and Merry Christmas.” I bowed and quickly left the stage with Brad at my heels.

“What happened?” Brad asked.
“I couldn’t remember which song we were supposed to do.”

My father strode toward me. His face was flushed red, and veins stood prominently at his temple. “You had to embarrass us, didn’t you? What are you, stupid? Did you want to shame us?”

“I’m…I’m sorry!” Tears welled up in my eyes. Brad turned away so as not to cause me further discomfort.

“Mister Davis,” Garrett growled. “There’s no shame here. You have a fine son who turned in a wonderful performance.”

“Stay out of it, servant!” Father snapped at him.

“I merely meant to say you are bringing embarrassment down upon yourself with such a public outburst.”

“How dare you! I’ll deal with you later.” Father clamped his mouth shut. He stomped away from us.

“I’m sorry for bringing you trouble with Father,” I sobbed.

Garrett pulled me into his arms. “Nonsense. Your Father will imbibe too much tonight, and by tomorrow he will have forgotten all about his threat.”
“Are you sure?” I hiccupped.

Garrett tenderly wiped the tears from my face. “You and Bradley did very well.”

The Mayor came over to us. “Good performance, Harlan and Bradley. We’d like you to play again next year.” The mayor said and embraced first Brad and then me.

 “Thank you, Sir,” I felt my cheeks growing warm. “But I messed up the first song.”

 “And you corrected it. Beautiful rendition of ‘What Child Is This. ‘ Bradley’s bells in ‘Jingle Bells perfectly complemented the variation in the music.”

Brad shuffled his feet and blushed from the praises.

Those simple words buoyed my spirits immensely.

 “Well, Master Harley and Bradley, shall we refresh ourselves?” Garrett herded us into the assembly room and the refreshment tables.

 “Yes!” I crowed rubbing my hands greedily. There was nothing like eating treats made by community members. Everyone made their most popular sweets, snacks, and drinks.

There was an amazing assortment of treats from typical holiday fruit cakes and custards to regional orange cranberry bundt cake made with orange peels. One table held maple syrup blueberry candies, salt water taffy, rhubarb pie, whoopie pies with some made using chocolate, pumpkin and ginger spice pie. Another table had pumpkin, pecan, and gingerbread cakes with cream filling, snickerdoodles, and Boston cream pie.

There were cheeses such as goat, buttermilk, brie, and gruyere that were paired with wine and cider.

Other beverages included assorted ciders both hot and cold, Moxie soda, coffee, tea, wine, and water. I sure love food.

I expend so much energy playing sports, practicing music and crawling around the innards of vehicles I can eat my weight in delicious treats and never gain an ounce of fat. In all, it was a fun evening listening to holiday music and eating.

The next day we left for Grandma and Grandpa Harley’s resort. Brad, Elizabeth, and I were going to spend Christmas with them while my parents were traveling in Europe. I love visiting them and spend most summer vacations at the resort. My sister, Elizabeth, is the opposite. As she grew older, she hated the place. But the year she turned five was a magical one at the resort for her.
I glanced over my shoulder and saw Mother and Father hugging and kissing Elizabeth. A surge of jealousy rose in my heart. I couldn’t remember when the last time my parents hugged and showered me with kisses. Garrett rested his hand on my shoulder.
“There, there Young Master Harley. You are important to them too. Elizabeth just needs more attention.”

“And me? Don’t I need their attention?” I continued to look at them.

Elizabeth’s Nanny, Olga, lifted her and carried her toward us. Elizabeth had tears streaking her face. Her chubby hands wiped at them.

“It’s her first time away from home for an extended period, Young Master Harley.”

“Did they ever hold and kiss me like they do Elizabeth?” I felt that old familiar longing tugging at my heart.

“Your Mother and Father love you, Young Master Harley. Do not begrudge Elizabeth that little bit of comfort. She is only four-years-old.”

“What is begrudge?”

“It means to be jealous.”

“It’s always Elizabeth this, Elizabeth that. She’s cute, pretty, and, and…”

“Young Master Harley!” Garrett admonished. “That is most unbecoming of you. You are a much better person than you are showing me right now.”

“Yes, sir,” I mumbled. “I’m sorry.”

We flew into Albany, New York and was met at the gate. It took us a little under two hours by road. The roads were dusted by snowfall and patches of ice. The resort looked like a winter wonderland. Grandma and Grandpa Harley went all out decorating.

The entry gates had springs of holly festooning the iron bars. Each pine lining the drive was decked out like Christmas trees. Every one was different from the others. Some were all gold, some silver, some mixed gold, and silver. There were reds, blues, and every color you could imagine. Lights blinked, twinkled, or sparkled.

The entrance into the resort had rocking chairs wrapped like Santa’s sleigh. Inside was just as extravagant. The reception desk was covered in silver and gold garland. The foyer was decked out with a huge tree that went up to the second floor. Bells, lights, tinsel, hand-painted ornaments, popcorn, cranberries, and globes. Some of the decorations were hand blown glass, and others were carved from various wood. Stacks of gifts lay under the tree. The fireplace in the lounge had a fire and a service table laden with holiday treats to one side. Hot cider, toddies, and cocoa lined the other side of the hearth.
“Harley! Elizabeth! Brad!” Grandma Harley rushed into the foyer. Evangeline followed close behind her. Grandma enveloped each of us in a giant bear hug.

“Just look at you! You’ve all grown so much!” She wiped moisture from her eyes. I have her eyes, blue-gray, and Grandpa’s hair coloring, a dark sandy brown with natural highlights.

Elizabeth resembled Father’s side of the family. Brad’s family came from my paternal grandparents, so it stood to reason he looked more like my Father except for his hair coloring. Where Father had dark brown, almost black hair, Brad’s was just a shade lighter than mine.

Grandma and Grandpa wore matching red and black outfits that when combined with their ruddy complexions made them look like Santa and Mrs. Claus. Evangeline, dressed in green and gold resembled an elf.

“Santa dropped off gifts earlier today,” Grandpa explained as he pointed to the tree. “He left a gift for each guest.”

“And us?” I asked hopefully.

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“He’ll be back for you children.”

George came in from the kitchen. He blew on his hands. “The ice is nice and hard. It should be safe to skate on the pools tonight. I’ve got a bonfire started. Everything’s ready for the party.” Turning to us, “You kids are just in time.”

Evangeline piped up, “I was just going to take them to their rooms. Will you help bring their luggage up, George? ”

“With pleasure.”

Our rooms are suites on the top floor. I have a series of rooms that I share with Brad. Garrett’s rooms are next to mine and have a connecting door.

“Why don’t you freshen up while I see to the musicians. The party starts in an hour. It’s guests only,” Evangeline winked at us.

Inside the room on a sideboard was a plate of sandwiches and cookies. Two glasses of milk sat next to the plate.

“Cookies!” I crowed as Brad, and I hurried to the table.

Garrett joined us. After consuming our repast, he assisted me in dressing for the party outside. I couldn’t wait to get out on the ice. I enjoyed skating. Brad had never gone skating, so he was going to have to learn to stand.
Elizabeth and Olga were already outdoors when we arrived. My sister was busy making the rounds and greeting the guests. Olga followed dutifully behind her.

“C’mon Brad! I’ll help you!” I shouted.

Brad sat on a chair and looked at his feet. Grandma had bought him a pair of ice skates. “I don’t know how to stand.”

“I’ll help you,” Garrett gently grasped his arms and helped him to his feet.

I stood in front of him and held his arms. “Use me to push up on your feet.”

Garrett stood behind him ready to grab him should we fall. I looked at Brad and saw he was standing knock-kneed. “Spread your feet a little. Now shove off on one foot and then bring the other foot forward.”

My directions were unconventional at best and downright funny at worst, but it seemed to work for Brad. Slowly we made our way around the outskirts of the pool. Brad pinwheeled his arms for balance, and I held onto his jacket. I don’t know how many times we fell.

Once we even spun around on our derrières as we slide across the ice. Each accident resulted in peals of laughter.

Elizabeth made her way toward us with her Nanny. My sister’s face was glowing red, and she seemed to be having fun. I was glad she was having a good time.

Eventually, we made our way to the refreshment tables where we piled plates with favorites such as fig pudding, hot mincemeat pie, sandwiches, and hot cocoa. After a couple of hours, the party moved indoors.

A quartet was playing Christmas songs. The aroma of hot mulled cider filled the lobby and reception area. Tables lined one wall and had drumsticks, assorted cheeses, fruit, hot tarts, and cookies. We sat on the floor near the fireplace after removing our outerwear and coats.

“I don’t like hot apple juice,’ Elizabeth wrinkled her nose.

?“It’s not apple juice, silly,” I said. “It’s cider and has cinnamon in it. You haven’t even tasted it.”

“I like cinnamon,” she said and lifted her cup. She took a small sip. Her eyes widened, and she smiled. “I do like this! Boy, we are having all kinds of junk!”

I watched the adults dancing to the music as I nibbled on a cookie. I sat contentedly watching the party. Happiness made me feel giddy.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” the entry doors opened. In trundled Santa with a huge bag filled to the brim, “Merry Christmas!” He made his way to a rocking chair that had been placed in front of the tree. “Who wants a present?”

“Me! Me! I do!” Elizabeth and some of the younger children screamed. They all rushed to gather around him.

“Have you been good!”

“Yes, Santa!” A little boy shouted.

“What is your name?” Santa asked. His blue eyes really appeared to twinkle.

“Rick Albemarle.” He clapped his hands excitedly.

Santa reached into his bag and pulled out a gift. The boy eagerly tore the wrapping off to reveal a toy truck.

“Oh boy! Thank you, Santa!”

“You’re welcome. That’s just one gift. You’ll get the rest Christmas morning.”

Santa had a toy for each child and small gift boxes filled with my Grandma’s fudge for the adults. He then handed out the presents from under the tree. Finally, there was only Elizabeth, Brad, and me left.

“Elizabeth, here is one present for you. Like the others, I’ll be back with your other presents on Christmas Eve.”

Elizabeth ripped open her package to find a teddy bear.

“Paddy! I have been wanting you!” She hugged the bear to her chest. “Oh, thank you, Santa! We got milk and cookies for you!”

“Thank you, Elizbeth.” Santa took a cookie before turning his attention to Brad. “Brad, I have something for you.”

Brad held his gift and turned it over in his hands. He slowly unwrapped the gift to find a hardbound copy of ‘Tarzan of the Apes’ by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

“Oh, wow! Just what I wanted!”

“Now for you, Harley, Your grandparents wanted to give you something special.” Santa pulled out a large box.

I held the gift in my hands and shook it lightly. Something rattled inside. Cautiously, I tore off the paper and lifted the lid of the box. Nestled inside were Matchbox cars including an MG Midget TD, a Vauxhall Cresta, Ford Zephyr, a dump truck and a cement mixer. The box also contained a few cars from the I-75 series. I was in heaven.

Christmas dawned clear and chilly with a light dusting of snow. After a hearty holiday breakfast that included steak and eggs, assorted fruits, cheeses, pastries, and pancakes with maple syrup, waffles with apple butter. There were hot toddies made with bourbon whiskey, golden ginger ale, lemon, and a stick of cinnamon. Hot chocolate was also available along with cinnamon spiced tea, and coffee.

We moved to the foyer. More gifts rested under the giant tree. The stockings were from Santa, while the other gifts were from our grandparents, Garrett, and Mother and Father.

Grandpa handed them out. Elizbeth received a baby doll, doll clothes made by Grandma, a stroller from Garrett, and a new dress from our parents. She eagerly pulled items from the stocking. Hers held candies, a necklace, bracelet, and rings.

Brad got toy trucks from Mother and Father, books from Garrett, and puzzles from our grandparents. His stocking was stuffed with his favorite nuts, cashews, and roasted chestnuts, and a pen and ink set used for drawing. He seemed pleased.

I got books from my parents. Brad and I smirked at each other and quickly exchanged the trucks and books. Grandma and Grandpa gave me a new stand for my violin, and Garrett gave me a toolset.

“I thought you’d like tools to start learning how to fix automobiles,” Garrett said.

“Boy, howdy! I sure do! I can’t wait!” I grinned from ear to ear.
I picked up my stocking. It seemed less full than Brad’s and Elizabeth’s, but it was fairly hefty. I gingerly felt it up and down. I didn’t want to break anything inside. I reached into the stocking. My hand went all the way down into the boot before I felt a round object. It had to be a baseball! I grasped it and yanked my arm out.

In my hand was a huge lump of coal. Coal! Everyone knows only naughty children get coal in their stockings. I had tried so hard to be good! Try as hard as I did, I could never make my parents happy. Father always found something lacking in what I did. I was never good enough, never did enough. He wanted a perfect son, and that wasn’t me!

The room had become silent as everyone stared at the hated coal nugget. I gasped and burst into tears. Garrett was quick to pull me into his arms. My whole body shook with my crying. “There, there, Young Master Harley.” Even Garrett seemed at a loss for words.

“Just wait until I give them a piece of my mind!” Grandpa thundered.

“What’s wrong with Harlan?” Elizabeth asked. “Was he bad?”

“I don’t know,” Brad replied. “I didn’t think he was…but…”

“He wasn’t bad!” Garrett snapped. “It’s pettiness on his parents. They did this to punish him for announcing the wrong song at the concert.”

Grandma hurried from the room with her hands over her mouth. She quickly returned. “I had hoped this wouldn’t happen. I got these just in case it did.” She handed me a baseball and a football.

“Thank you,” I sniffled. “I can’t take these. I must have been bad.”

I heard Grandpa’s voice rising in volume as he talked on the phone. “I don’t care what you say! It was wrong and nasty of you to treat your son so callously! What? Speak up! The connection is bad! I don’t give a darn what time it is over there! You did grievous harm to a darling young boy who only wants your love!”

The clatter of the phone being slammed down on the receiver was deafening. Grandpa stomped back into the foyer. “What an awful person he is!” He stooped down and picked me up from Garrett’s arms and placed me on his shoulders. “What say we all get bundled up and go for a sleigh ride?”

I vowed to enjoy myself despite my fathers intentions. We had a great time riding in the sleigh, going Christmas caroling, and sharing treats with our neighbors.

Later, we attended a special Christmas presentation at church. After the sermon and singing of Christmas songs, we participated in the reception and enjoyed delicious food made by the parishioners.

Thus, Christmas was saved.

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Copyright © Cassandra Parker 2018 All rights reserved.

The right of Cassandra Parker to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988 First published by Cassandra Parker US E-book Edition.

Parker, Cassandra (2018-12-13). Christmas With Young Harley Ride With Harley Short Story 8

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author/publisher.

Christmas With Young Harley Ride With Harley Short Story 8 is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. Motorcycle Clubs mentioned in this book in no way refer to actual or existing clubs as far as the author has been able to determine. All locations except known towns, cities, and those listed at the back of this book are fictitious.

Any errors are entirely made by the author.

Photos used under licensing through Most Photos.

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Cassandra Parker

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