Part III: 'The Magic Box' Christmas taleBernadette loved the necklace that Charley gave to her. She loved it so much that it made Charley want to absolutely shower her with gifts and trips, money and good times.
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
Bernadette loved the necklace that Charley gave to her. She loved it so much that it made Charley want to absolutely shower her with gifts and trips, money and good times. In fact, he wondered if he could quit his job and do that full time, since he really didn’t need the money anymore and because he wanted so badly to impress her.
Maybe the box would never ever run out of wishes and if that was the case, he could do whatever he wanted for the rest of his life!
“Well, maybe that could be a wish?” he said and then realized that the box wouldn’t have to last forever if he wished for a few hundred million dollars. Because then he could buy everything he ever wanted and not need the box anymore anyway.
“What?” Bernadette asked.
“Oh nothing,” Charley said and blushed, not realizing that he’d uttered those words out loud.
His mind was beginning to work overtime, running like a high-powered motor, as though someone had stomped down on the gas pedal and wouldn’t let off, to the point that it was almost painful, and he tried to decide what to do next and thought about calling his boss because he’d blown off work, not called in and noticed a message from the office on his cellphone.
He even thought about telling them that he was quitting except that they’d been so kind to him over the years, he and the boss’s wife, hiring him when he was just 18, letting him work in the shop until he earned his truck driver’s license and then trusting him with what was one of a few trucks at the time, a big 18-wheeler that hauled gravel and such.
Of course, the recent oil boom had been good to them, earning them suitcases full of money and a fleet of new trucks and they’d passed along their new-found wealth to him, paying him much more than any truck driver deserved to earn, even suggesting, in a roundabout way, that he might want to date their youngest red-haired daughter who they were afraid could marry that silly motorhead, Chet, who did nothing but wear sleeveless T-shirts, drive in demolition derbies and drink beer.
They even implied that he and Little Red could inherit the business someday and live happily ever after, of course, only after he and she gave them an appropriate number of little red-headed grandchildren, which made him both gleefully happy and a little bit claustrophobic and was also the reason he hadn’t told them about Bernadette, because he obviously wanted to keep that option open. Still, in the end, he preferred to “make it on his own” and that’s another reason why the box was so important to him.
It gave him a sense of freedom to do whatever he wanted without having to kiss up to anyone. Plus it gave him respect and dignity and put him on a much higher rung on the ladder of success, or so he thought. Except that having possession of it was already driving him a little bit crazy.
Especially since everyone, including the Internal Revenue Service, was going to wonder where he was getting his new toys and he’d have to wish for more money to pay taxes and have accountants keep track of things and insurance for all of the toys and maids and servants and, oh man, this was getting way too complicated and he felt a little like he was chasing his tail.
Ultimately, he just wanted to get away, find a high hill to sit on and meditate and clear his mind or at least slow it down before it ran out of gas or burned up and then an odd thing happened after he left Bernadette’s place and turned into his alley and drove by the Dumpster.
Sitting next to it was an old man with white hair and a beard, dressed in bib overalls and wearing a red and black checkered shirt with unusually friendly eyes and a cap like cattlemen wear in the middle of winter and he greeted Charley after he parked his big blue pickup truck.
“Do you have the box?” he asked.
“Yes,” Charley admitted, slightly taken aback.
“It’s magic,” he said.
“Not because it grants wishes,” the old man said, “but because it puts lives into perspective.”
“Sure does,” Charley said.
“Do you need it anymore?” the old man asked.
“Don’t think so.”
“Good,” he said, “because someone else does.”
“I hope it helps,” Charley said.
“It always does,” the old man said as he walked down the alley with the box.
Holten is a freelance cartoonist and columnist from Dickinson.