A Devil’s Angels Christmas
Updated: Jan 18
Late evening, December 23rd
“Are you sure nobody’s here tonight?” Lucy asks in a hushed whisper.
“Positive. Everyone’s at someone else’s house or home tonight. Only one here is James and he’s at the main gate,” I answer while switching hands on the wagon handle.
“How do you know?” Lucy questions.
“People talk, I listen,” I answer simply as we slip through the main door of the clubhouse.
“I need to remember that,” mumbles Lucy as she reaches for the light switch.
“No lights!” I whisper shout at her while batting her hand away from the switch.
“Damn! I mean dang! I …,” Lucy half shouts.
“Woman, take a deep breath and calm yourself. We’re not breaking the law, you know,” I say cutting her off before I give a small snort.
I have no idea why she’s so nervous. Yeah, we’re sneaking around like a couple of creepers but it’s for good, not bad. Maybe I should have asked Tessie to help tonight instead. She wouldn’t have been nervous at all but there’s a good chance she would’ve made the clubhouse a drive-thru if she drove here. Also, I’m far from being stupid enough to ride with her. I leave those dim-witted decisions to the others in the club.
“I’ll grab the other stuff if you want to start unloading things from the wagon,” I say to Lucy while handing her a small flashlight.
After making several trips in and out the door, I make my way to Lucy’s side. I brought a few small camping lanterns to set up around the room to give us enough light to see but not enough light to be seen. Other than the small beam of light in Lucy’s hand, the room is completely black. I set the lanterns on the bar and turn to Lucy.
Before I speak a single word, a deep, throaty voice, rumbles very near to my ear, “I see dead people.”
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Lucy’s wasn’t the only girlie screech that was heard in the clubhouse in that moment. We were loud and our tones matched perfectly. Instinctively, I swing a fist at the voice as I push my body against Lucy’s in an effort to get between her and the unknown intruder. My fist makes contact but not with a human body. Even more confusing, I hear a squawk instead of a curse.
“What the fuck?” moans the voice.
Lucy aims the flashlight toward the voice, and I see Mac, laying on his back, feet in the air.
“What the hell, Mac? Why are you here, by yourself, in the dark?” I bark at him in a relieved voice. Relieved that it was only Mac and not some homicidal maniac.
“Why you hit me?” he asks while dramatically placing a wing over his face.
“You scared the shit out of me, you whack job!” I shout.
“You okay, Mac?” Lucy asks while carefully setting him back on his feet.
“My poor face,” Mac replies in a mournful voice.
“You’ll be fine. You’re still a hottie, Mac,” Lucy says encouragingly.
“Mac? Why are you here?” I repeat while willing my heart rate to return to normal. I’m way too young to have my headstone read, “Heart Failure Brought On By A Demented Bird.”
“Axel,” he answers knowing that explains everything in a single word.
“Ava’s going to lose her shit on him this time,” Lucy says on a sigh.
“Lucy can take you home when we’re done but you’re going to have to keep your beak shut about why we’re here,” I inform Mac. “It’s a secret.”
“Okay,” Mac easily agrees but before I can take a relieved breath he continues. “For cashews.”
“Blackmail, Mac? Really?” I ask in a disgusted tone. The tone is on purpose but I’m actually impressed. It’s the perfect blackmail moment and he’s going for it. I probably would have too.
“I’ll set him up with a bowl of them so we can get to work,” Lucy says in a voice that indicates she knows when we’ve been beat.
With Mac recuperating on the bar, eating cashews and shouting out his opinions, Lucy and I get down to work. After cleaning up our mess, including the few that occurred for no earthly reason other than Lucy’s presence, we slip outside of the clubhouse and go our separate ways.
~~ ** ~~ ** ~~ * ~~ ** ~~ ** ~~ * ~~ ** ~~ ** ~~
“Ava’s looking for you,” Gunner says to Axel with a huge smile.
“Mommy told us to tell you goodbye, Uncle Axel,” Mia adds.
“And to tell you we love you,” Zoe states with a grin.
“Complete accident. I told you that, Gunner. Did you explain that to your rabid wife?” Axel asks in a falsely innocent voice.
“Happens once, it can be an accident. Five times? Nope, you’re a dead man. I saw your sister googling maps this morning. Probably looking for burial sites,” Gunner explains while his smile takes on a sinister twist.
“Love you, Uncle Axel. Come on, Alexia. Let’s go play with Snots,” Mia states while hopping off her dad’s leg and taking little Alex by the hand.
I finish my juice and stand to leave. My work here is done. I came over to Gunner’s just to make sure Mac has stayed quiet about our secret and it appears he has. Several of the guys are hanging out here while waiting for the club dinner Ava and the women are cooking so it was the perfect reason for me to pop in.
“See ya later,” I say to the room while signing the same to Luke as I make my way outside.
Once there, I mount my bike and start it up. I love the sound of a bike, so I sit for a couple of minutes enjoying it. Normally, during this time of year, riding a bike at Christmas can’t happen because of the snow but the roads are bare today so I’m taking advantage. I strap on my helmet, pull down my goggles and roar off.
It was decided that, as a club, we’d have our Christmas dinner and exchange club gifts tonight in the clubhouse. On Christmas Day, everyone can spend the morning with their kids or grandkids, then do whatever they choose for the holiday. For the guys who don’t have family they have choices to make because they’ve been invited to everyone’s homes. If they’re wanting a break from excited children, there will be the leftovers from tonight’s dinner available to them and the peace of a quiet clubhouse.
As I’m cruising along on my bike, I pass a smiling Ava. She’s been cooking at the clubhouse and I know she’s seen Lucy and my handiwork. She’s now headed toward her home and where Axel thinks he’s safe. I snicker because I know the wrath of Ava is about to unleash itself on Axel. I’m tempted to return for the fireworks but I have things to do before dinner.
I stop my bike beside the gatehouse and dismount. Walking into the little building, I find James starring at his phone.
“Hey James. Is your mom coming for dinner tonight?” I ask while taking a seat.
“Hi. Yeah, her, my sisters and youngest brother will be here,” he answers before looking at me and tucking his phone in a pocket. “Why?”
“Just wondering if she was bringing the potato dish she brought to the picnic. It’ll be nice to see your family again, too. You have good family,” I answer while meaning every word.
“Yeah, I do. Thanks though,” James answers with a genuine smile.
“Your boyfriend coming?”
“No! Uh, I mean no, he’s not. We haven’t dated long enough to introduce him to all this crazy, you know what I mean?” James questions.
“Yeah, I get that. No sense in scaring him off until you decide if you want us to do that for you. Again,” I say on a laugh. “I’ve got to go. Just wanted to stop and ask about your family. See you in a few hours.”
I give James a fist bump on my way out the door. Straddling my bike, I head for Pooh’s. Walking in the door, I scoop up Bart. Setting him on the counter, I search the fridge for a snack for both of us. The house is quiet, even after I shout out Pooh’s name, so I know he must be at Gunner’s now. Bart and I share our snack and I take him out the back door so he can run around for a bit.
As we’re entering the woods, I freeze at a loud scream, then slide silently behind a tree. I try to determine where the sound came from, but I don’t have to wait long to know. I hear Axel before I see him as he makes loud whining sounds while crashing through the lawns of his friends and family. Christmas decorations are knocked over and a string of lights are wrapped around one of his legs. I see his white t-shirt, stained in red, and my blood freezes. Before I can get unstuck and rush to his side, I see the barrel of a rifle, sticking out from behind a tree, aimed his direction.
“Ax! Get down!” I shout as my feet finally catch up to my brain and start moving.
At my voice, Axel slows and turns toward me, surprise on his face. He should have listened to me instead. I hear a “pop”, Axel bellow and more red appears on his shirt. At the same time, I see Loki heading toward Axel at a dead run. I break into a sprint but I’m no match for Loki’s speed.
Axel’s eyes go wide a second before Loki hits him square in the chest. Axel hits the ground hard and Loki places his very unsmiling dog face in Axel’s. I slow, hold my hand out in a placating manner and approach. Loki’s eyes flick up to mine and his tail gives a half wag. Relief that he’s not going to take me out next washes over me as I carefully place a hand on his head. Dropping to my knees, I look down at Axel to assess the damage.
“Dying,” gasps Axel while not moving anything but his mouth.
“Step away so I can end everyone’s misery,” states Ava as she comes to a stop next to us.
“Save yourself, man,” Axel croaks out while sounding like getting air into his lungs is more important than the threat of the big dog on top of him.
Looking up in confusion, I note the rifle in Ava’s hands. I also note the glee shining in her eyes as she stares down at her brother.
“It’s a paintball gun!” I shout as realization dawns on me. “You shot him with a paintball gun! Holy fuck balls, I thought he was actually shot! Jesus H. Christ woman! You just took years off my life!” I roar as my fear for Axel slowly drains away.
Standing on somewhat shaky legs, I swipe my hand through my hair.
“Sorry about that,” Ava says sincerely but says it without removing the rifle barrel from being pointed at Axel’s stomach it should be noted.
“I’m getting too old for this shit,” I mumble as I turn to leave.
“Wait! Don’t leave me here with her!” Axel begs.
“Sorry, dude, you’re on your own. Good luck though. Good shooting, Ava. You’ve improved a lot,” I reply with a grin.
As I’m walking off holding Bart, I look toward the road and see several large men, cameras out, laughing their asses off. I toss a chin lift their direction and continue on my way. As I’m walking along, I start laughing to myself. I live in a crazy world, surrounded by people who not only live their lives as they chose to, but do so enjoying every minute of it. I wouldn’t want it any other way either.
~~ ** ~~ ** ~~ * ~~ ** ~~ ** ~~ * ~~ ** ~~ ** ~~
Hours later, I find myself walking down the street, heading to the clubhouse. I’m surrounded by all the people I love most in this world. Lucy is on one side of me, Luke on the other. In front of us are Pigeon, Horse Nuts, Rex, and Reeves. Behind us is everyone else. Other than a few of the women that are already at the clubhouse, the entire club and their families are walking in a large group. There’s the usual joking and horsing around, little girls wanting their daddies to carry them, and pets trailing the mass of people.
I hustle forward, open and hold the door for the group to enter. I hear the gasps and squeals of delight from the little girls and grin. Following them in, I watch their faces light up with joy. Totally worth all the work that went into decorating the humongous main room and bar.
I notice the women that were here to cook all crowded in the doorway to the kitchen. Smiling, soft faces aimed at the kids and their reactions.
Not one, but two Christmas trees stand in opposite corners. They’re both fully decorated and beautiful, wrapped presents stacked under and around each tree. Along one wall, stockings with names are hung and bulging. Lights twinkle in every direction and greenery decorates the stairs and bar. Over-sized Christmas ornaments hang from the ceiling and mistletoe from the ceiling fan.
A motor can be heard, then a soft whistle. A train comes out from behind a tree making its way along the tracks to figure 8 around the other tree and returning the way it had come. With several cars attached, it comes with no surprise, that Duffy has found one to his liking. Laughs can be heard as the train chugs past with the fat, temperamental cat sleeping on top of one.
I listen to the oohhh’s and aahhh’s of little voices when a snow machine starts tossing “snow” in the air in a corner with a sign reading “The North Pole”. That corner of the room now looks like it belongs in a snow globe. Next to that, are several elves moving about as if building toys. There are reindeer, sparkling with their tiny, white lights, standing near Santa’s workshop as if overseeing the elves. Each table has a small, lighted snowman as its centerpiece. Each chair back is draped with a red bow. The entire room looks like a Christmas card.
Looking around the room, I feel a rush of pride at what Lucy and I accomplished. That feeling doubles when I see the look of wonder and awe on Luke’s face. Because he’s been adjusting to his new life so well it’s easy to forget that this is probably not a normal Christmas for him. I approach him and tap his shoulder to gain his attention. When he looks my way, I begin pointing to things and signing explanations of everything. Leading him to a string of lighted bells, I try to explain that they are chiming out Christmas carols while blinking to the beat. I’m not sure how much he understands since we’re all still learning ASL, but I try. After a few minutes, I decide to try something else. Getting his attention, I stomp my foot in beat with the chimes and flashing lights of the bells. I can tell he’s confused but realization dawns when the twins each grab one of his hands and do the same as me. It’s not long and we’re all stomping our feet to the beat of Jingle Bells. Luke’s grin and the twins’ giggles make my holiday even brighter.
“Holy shit,” Rex mumbles. “This is incredible. Ladies, you’ve outdone yourselves.”
“It wasn’t us,” Bailey answers. “It looked like this when Ava and I showed up this morning.”
“Seriously?” questions Pooh.
“Everything was dark when we came in the through the kitchen door. A little while after we got here, lights came on and the train started running. Bailey and I walked in here to see what was going on and found it like this,” Ava states.
“Who decorated then?” Axel asks as he turns slowly to view everything.
“No idea. Anyone want to answer that?” Gunner says absently while looking at his office door that was now wrapped like a gift.
“I know nothing,” Mac shouts, gaining everyone’s attention.
I hold my breath hoping Mac remembers how many cashews he enjoyed last night.
“You must know something, Mac. You were here,” Trudy insists.
“Nope,” he answers, and I breathe out in relief.
“You love tattling, Mac, so spill it,” Axel orders.
“Does it really matter? It’s done and it’s fucking perfect. We’re all together and have a great meal to enjoy. It’s Christmas so let’s just assume Santa took some extra time here last night,” Petey tosses out.
“I thought Santa was coming tonight?” questions Mia.
“He came early this year. We have so many good boys and girls that he had to make a special trip,” Taja explains.
Heads nod and people start milling around to view everything up close. Crisis averted.
~~ ** ~~ ** ~~ * ~~ ** ~~ ** ~~ * ~~ ** ~~ ** ~~