Happy Thursday, Christmas fanatics! Welcome to the twenty-fifth official installment of “Another Christmas Story“!
This week, Glen Warren of “Seasons Eatings” will read to all of you Chapter Twenty-Four of our tale, entitled “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”. Within this chapter, we take a deep dive into the mindsets of Officers Dwyer and Lee and spend some time with Elizabeth Meyer and Noah Clarke as well!!
We hope you like it! If you do, make sure to share this episode and our website, upon which the text of this installment is posted, to get it in front of as many ears and eyes as possible! Make sure to check your main feeds on Monday as well to hear all three elves discuss the animated holiday special from the year 2000, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer“, in addition to checking it next Thursday for the twenty-fifth official chapter of this story – “Chapter Twenty-Five: My Grown Up Christmas List”, which Lauren Simone will be reading to you!
Chapter Twenty-Four: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
December 24th – 2:30 p.m. EST
Seamus Dwyer and Andrew Lee were sitting in their squad car, parked curbside at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park. They each cradled a venti coffee from Starbucks in their cold hands, and an open box of donuts from Dunkin Donuts balanced precariously on the center console in-between them. If it were up to Andrew, the two officers would have just gotten their drinks from the shop that America ran on, along with the donuts, but it was a pet peeve of Seamus’; he believed that while Dunkin Donuts had the better food, Starbucks had the better coffee, and since both were essential for nourishment, it was worth stopping off at two separate places to acquire what they needed.
The two officers sat in silence as they chewed on their food and took enormous swigs of their hot beverages, staring out of the windows at the cold, snowy landscape around them. It was getting precarious outside, and both wondered when the mayor would end up issuing a state of emergency in order to get people off of the roads. Traffic was bad, both on the streets – on which cars were, thankfully, going slower than usual so as not to crash – and on the sidewalks, and once again, Seamus found himself shaking his head in disbelief over the fact that people left their homes in such horrendous weather for no other reason than to be tourists. Luckily for him, however, he didn’t have time to dwell on it for too long, for before he could spiral down that rabbit hole, the car’s two-way radio crackled to life and their commanding officer’s voice echoed loud and clear throughout the vehicle. “Dwyer! Lee!”
Seamus excitedly straightened up in his seat as Andrew threw the radio a wary glance. “This is it, buddy! Finally we’re going to get in on some of the good action today!” He grabbed the radio and pressed down on the button to speak into it. “We hear you loud and clear, Lindsey. What’s up?” He winked at Andrew, who winced as he pictured the infuriated grimace that was surely spreading across Lindsey Pendleton’s face at being addressed by her first name by a subordinate while out in the field.
Sure enough, when the woman responded, her tone of voice conveyed her annoyance. “I’m just checking in for a status report.” The reply sounded as though it were being spoken through clenched teeth. “Any trouble out there?”
Seamus visibly deflated in front of Andrew’s eyes, forcing his partner to take the radio from his friend and reply. “Unless you count a fender bender and a stray dog as trouble, then no. It’s been pretty quiet. We’re–”
“How about on your end?” Seamus interrupted loudly, in order to ensure that he would be heard by his superior despite the fact that he wasn’t talking directly into the radio. “Need any help?”
“We’ve got it handled,” Pendleton replied forcefully. “Where are you two now?”
“Columbus Circle. At the entrance of Central Park. It’s–”
“We’ll gladly show up wherever you are though to assist you if you need it,” Seamus called loudly again, earning himself an exasperated eye roll from his partner.
“I told you, we’re fine,” Pendleton snapped, downright angry now. “Keep your eyes open and let me know if you spot any trouble. I’ll check in with the two of you later.”
“Wait! I have a question for you!” Seamus grabbed the two-way radio back from Andrew, who glanced at him in surprise. After a moment of anticipatory silence, he asked in a sultry tone of voice, “What are you wearing?”
Andrew clapped a hand to his forehead, unable to contain a laugh of disbelief as Seamus flashed him a goofy grin. For a moment, neither officer thought the woman reply. Then, a loud sigh of frustration echoed throughout the car, which Andrew was sure the woman allowed to be heard on purpose. “I’ll check in again soon. And I’ll deal with you two later.” And with that, their conversation ended.
“Huh.” Seamus placed the radio down gently. “She must be around somebody really important not to lose her temper with me over a comment like that directly after I made it,” he remarked sarcastically. Then, noticing the serious expression on his partner’s face, he demanded, “What?”
“Nothing.” Andrew shook his head. “It’s just – one of these days you’re going to push her too far, you know.”
Seamus scoffed. “Give me a break. She loves me. She knows I’m just joking around. I actually do respect her, you know.”
“I know,” Andrew insisted quickly. “But everybody has their breaking point.”
Seamus considered this for a moment before giving a curt nod and allowing silence to fall between them, in which he contemplated his partner’s words. Had his wife reached her breaking point with him? Ash had always been supportive of him and his career, but were the long hours becoming too much of a drag on their marriage on top of everything else? He could admit to himself, he wasn’t the best husband – he definitely could afford to help his wife out around the house more, and with the kids – but he did love her, and he sure as hell loved their daughters. But they did fight a lot, over important issues like money, and stupid things like where they would go on vacation or what they would have for dinner on a given night. And not small fights either; both of them had a tendency to overreact, so the smallest of arguments very often turned into the biggest blowouts. During counseling, their therapist had suggested it was very possible they had just grown apart and become different people – they had, after all, had a shotgun marriage very young when Seamus had accidentally impregnated Ashley. But even if their therapist was right, Seamus was committed to making their marriage work if he could, not only for his sake, but for the sake of his kids too. He just hoped that Ashley felt the same way and wasn’t reaching her “breaking point.” He’d have to make a conscious effort to not let every little disagreement get blown out of proportion. Perhaps he’d even have to let her win more and give into what she wanted more. After all, happy wife, happy life, as the old saying went.
He turned to stare out of his window at the falling snow. What was something that his wife really wanted? ‘To spend Christmas together as a family in Boston,’ a voice in the back of his head pointed out immediately, much to Seamus’ frustration. Yet, here he was, sitting in a squad car parked on the curb of Columbus Circle on Christmas Eve, stuck in the middle of a winter storm that would prevent him from being able to fly out to join his family once his shift ended. Slamming the steering wheel of the car angrily, he let out a loud groan before resting his head against the blissfully cool window. Turning to face him, an eyebrow raised, Andrew asked, “Penny for your thoughts?”
“Why does life suck so much?”
Andrew’s face softened. “Because that’s life.” He shrugged. “Bad things are always going to be part of it. Things that suck – fear, loneliness, heartbreak…But the goal in life isn’t to eliminate all of that, it’s to keep it all at bay as often as you can; to keep it all to a bare minimum. But all of those feelings, they’re essential to being human. If you want to feel the good things in life like love and happiness, you have to take the bad with it. It’s all hills and valleys. You’re always going to have your highs and your lows, but in the end, when you’re on your deathbed, if you can honestly say that you had more ups than downs, than you had a good life.” Noticing the bewildered expression on his friend’s face, he blushed slightly before asking defensively, “What?”
“Nothing! It’s just – that’s a very profound thing to say, Mr. Miyagi. You should write fortune cookies or something.”
Andrew laughed despite himself. “I’m Korean, you know. Not Chinese.”
Seamus rolled his eyes. “I’m just joking with you.” He sighed deeply. “So, what did you end up getting Barry for Christmas, anyway?”
Andrew’s face fell somewhat. “He said if I wanted to get him something, he didn’t want anything physical from me.”
“Sounds like the opposite of what I want from Ash.” Seamus winked suggestively.
“He said all that he wanted was for me to let my family know about our relationship.”
“Well, it has been nearly two years,” Seamus pointed out, almost apologetically.
Andrew nodded. “You don’t need to remind me,” he assured his friend. “Trust me, I’m well aware. And I was supposed to come clean with my parents tonight, but given the circumstances, it’s going to have to wait until tomorrow morning. Though of course, like I said earlier, he thinks I’m just making excuses and planning to delay it indefinitely…”
Seamus considered this for a moment before softly replying, “You know, if you’re not ready to make that move, you shouldn’t let Barry pressure you.”
“He’s not,” Andrew insisted. “Really, he’s – you know, I’ve wanted to be honest with my family for a long time. I’ve wanted to truly be myself. Why do you think I came out at work so long ago? I didn’t want to hide it anymore! And Barry, he’s such an important part of my life, and my parents should know that. They need to understand that he’s more than a roommate. I want them to know. I’m just – I’m nervous about how they’ll react, that’s all,” he finished lamely, pink in the face.”
“I understand.” Seamus nodded hesitantly, aware that both he and Andrew knew full-well that he could never understand. “But try not to worry so much. You be you. That’s the only way to live life. And like I said, your family–”
“—is my family, and will love me no matter what,” Andrew finished automatically, his voice monotone. “Yeah, I know. I hope you’re right.” Then, forcing a smile onto his face, he asked, “How about you? What did you get Ash?”
Seamus snorted. “Nothing as grand a gesture as you’re doing for Barry, though admittedly, that’s probably what I should be doing given the state of our marriage. But…” He gave a half-hearted shrug. “I just got her a necklace. A golden locket,” he elaborated. “Encrusted with diamonds. It has our names and our anniversary engraved on the back, along with the kids’ names and their birthdays. Inside of the locket, I put our wedding picture on one side, and a picture of the kids on the other. It’s stupid, I know,” he hastened to add, flushing a deep shade of red.
“I don’t think it’s stupid,” Andrew insisted. “I think it’s very sweet!”
“Yeah, well…it may be a bit too material for her liking. She’d forego gifts altogether for romantic gestures instead, but I’m all out of those ideas.” He let out a sad, humorless laugh before asking, in a half-joking manner, “Unless…what do you think the odds are Pendleton would fire me if I just abandoned my shift early, called an uber, and paid them triple what it would cost to get me to Boston in time for Christmas Eve dinner with my family?”
Andrew laughed. “I would say it’s a safe bet you’d be filing for unemployment on December twenty-sixth.”
“That’s what I figured.” Seamus said glumly, leaning back in his seat. “Man, when did Christmas become so stressful?” He glanced sideways at his partner. “I used to love this holiday so much, but the past few years…”
“I started finding it stressful when I realized that Santa doesn’t exist, and I actually had to start buying presents for people myself,” Andrew supplied, eliciting a laugh from the man sitting beside him. “In all seriousness though, it’s our own fault. The collective ‘our’, I mean. We build up this one day in our minds so much that stores start preparing for it in early September! It’s insane!”
Seamus nodded absentmindedly, as he focused his attention on a green SUV that pulled up alongside the curb in front of them and parked. “Well, I know something that will make me feel better at least…” He nodded his head at the car, drawing Andrew’s attention to it for the first time.
“This is a no parking zone,” Andrew pointed out, as he grasped for the handle of his door. “We better go tell him.”
“No, wait!” Seamus threw out an arm to stop Andrew from climbing out of the car. “I want to give him a ticket!”
Seamus shrugged. “That’s what the holiday season does to me.”
Andrew begrudgingly obliged his partner, and the two sat in silence as they waited for the driver of the vehicle to emerge and walk off to wherever he needed to go. It took five-minutes – Andrew assumed that they were probably debating whether or not to actually get out of the car in such bad weather – but finally the driver emerged, revealing himself to be a middle-aged, balding, heavyset man. After slamming his car door shut and locking it, the man looked around to make sure that it was safe to cross the street, and hurried across the road toward a crowded liquor shop on the corner. The moment he was out of sight, Seamus giddily suggested, “Let’s go!” and the two cops pushed their way out of their parked squad car and emerged into the middle of the freezing cold snowstorm that it had been protecting them from.
Folding his arms across his chest and rubbing them violently in a desperate attempt to keep warm, Andrew watched as Seamus moved for the car a lot quicker than he himself could over the ice, a wide smile on his face as he pulled out his ticket book from his shirt pocket. Deciding it didn’t really take two cops to write a parking ticket, Andrew turned to hurry back toward the squad car when he caught sight of something out of the corner of his eyes just within the entrance of Central Park. Turning to stare into it – which looked like it had been plucked out of a fairytale storybook with its snow and its high lanterns glowing brightly – Andrew noticed a large black mass bundled up atop one of the city benches nearest him. From where he stood, it almost looked like a deformed, sad attempt at a tent. So, deciding to investigate, Andrew cautiously walked over to the shape in order to get a better look at it. Once he got close, however, he felt his face fall as his heart shattered into a million pieces.
The reason the black mass atop the park bench looked so much like a hastily constructed tent was because it was one. It was a dirty, stained, wet old piece of plastic tarp that was serving as a makeshift shelter to shield the man beneath it from the harsh elements. Indeed, it was nothing more than the man’s body itself that kept the tarp propped up, dressed in rags and old, holey blankets, surrounded by old newspapers and empty bottles and cans. Despite being unshaven and covered in dirt, Andrew thought the man himself was quite beautiful – with long, well-kempt red hair and bright green, soulful (though extremely sad) looking eyes. He actually looked very feminine, and it took the police officer a moment to determine his gender. He was sitting with his legs crossed, an empty can in his lap, perched just in front of a sign he had made out of old cardboard, across which the words “I Tried” were written in marker. Though the man was wide-eyed, it appeared as though he didn’t notice Andrew standing in front of him until the police officer gently asked, “Sir, are you okay?”
It was a stupid question, and Andrew knew it. Of course he wasn’t okay. The man was homeless, and had little more than a piece of plastic to shield him from the blizzard pummeling the city. Hell, he didn’t even have shoes on his feet! The cop didn’t know how he could possibly survive the day, let alone the night, if the storm kept up, and it infuriated and depressed him beyond belief that horse-drawn carriages were clopping by with passengers, kids ran by throwing snowballs, couples sauntered by holding hands, and individuals hurried past in order to get to their destinations as quickly as possible, all without throwing the man a passing glance. What happened to human compassion? To peace on earth and good will toward men?
“I’m fine, officer,” the man replied, sounding more confident and educated than Andrew had assumed his voice would. He didn’t sound like a typical New Yorker; it was a neutral accent, as though it was a mixture of so many regions that they all cancelled one another out. “I’m not breaking the law.”
“I know,” Andrew quickly assured him. “It’s just – can I give you a lift somewhere? There are homeless shelters and soup kitchens that you can spend the night in. You know – to get out of the storm for a while.” He shivered just mentioning the storm, and threw an annoyed glance at the snow falling around them.
“I’m fine here, officer.”
“You’ll freeze to death!”
“Maybe then my death will draw attention to the homeless problem this city has and our elected officials can finally do something about it,” the man replied. “I may not have a home, but I have enough dignity to stay out here and weather the snow rather than spend the night in a shelter that’s so badly maintained by the city that it’s just as bad as sleeping outside.”
“What’s your name?” Andrew asked, taken aback by the man’s reply.
“Gabe,” Andrew repeated. “Short for Gabriel? Like the Christmas angel?” The shadow of a smile flickered across the man’s depressed face as he gave the smallest of nods. “I’m not implying you don’t have dignity, but is dying in the snow worth proving a point? I mean, clearly you have no trouble asking for assistance.” He chose his words carefully, as he motioned at the sign and the empty can for collecting spare change that was sitting in the homeless man’s lap.
Clearly, he didn’t choose his words carefully enough, for Gabe bristled with indignation at the comment. “If there’s any human being out there who wants to help me get back on my feet, or help me to afford a nice meal or a room for the night, I’m not going to say no. In fact, I’d be extremely grateful. But since I was forced onto the streets, I’ve learned very quickly that human beings are not as compassionate or as kind as they like to pretend they are as a species.”
Andrew was impressed by the man’s calm demeanor as he spoke, and fundamentally, he agreed with what the man was saying. While he believed in trying to find the good in everybody, the sad fact of the matter was – in his line of work especially – he saw how cruel people could actually be. Still, it didn’t make him feel any better that the poor guy was going to freeze to death due to the combination of facts that not only had the system failed him, but also that he was incredibly stubborn. So, taking pity on him, Andrew reached into his pocket and withdrew his wallet. “Well, Gabe, lucky for you, I’m one of the good ones.” He smiled to himself, avoiding the homeless man’s wide eyes as he withdrew three crisp hundred dollar bills. “Here you go.” He shoved the money into the can in the homeless man’s lap. “Get yourself a room for the night. You should be able to get a decent one with that and still have money left over for a warm meal afterward.”
Gabe withdrew the money from his can, his hands shaking as he ran the bills through his fingers. When he finally stared up at the police officer, a wide smile on his face, Andrew noticed tears in his eyes. “I don’t – I don’t know what to say. Thank you.”
Andrew shrugged awkwardly. “If you want to thank me, get out of the snow.”
The homeless man nodded and sprung to his feet. Though his feet were bare, he barely flinched as he gathered his cans and newspapers in the dirty tarp he had draped over his head before tying the corners of it in order to turn it into a makeshift rucksack. Throwing it over his shoulder, he addressed Andrew. “Thank you so much. Have a Merry Christmas.”
“You too,” Andrew replied before adding quietly, “I hope things pick up for you in the new year.”
“You and me both, brother,” the man replied with a sad smile. “Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity.” And without another word, Gabe turned his back on the cop and began to scurry deeper into the snowy park. Andrew watched him retreat for a moment before turning back toward the entrance where Seamus was waiting for him expectantly. Andrew was just beginning to wonder how much of the exchange his partner had seen when Gabe shouted, “Oh, and officer?”
Andrew turned back to find that Gabe had stopped about forty-feet away and turned to face him, calling loudly in order to be heard over the high winds whipping the snow around. At this distance, he didn’t look nearly as shabby. Indeed, through the falling snow, illuminated by the lights of the streetlamps lining the park’s path, there was something regal looking – almost angelic – about the beautiful man. “Just remember: ‘For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received without thanksgiving.’”
Andrew blinked in surprise at the odd piece of advice offered through a bible verse. He opened his mouth uncertainly, unsure of how to reply to the homeless man who winked at him knowingly before he could muster a response, turned his back again, and disappeared into the snowy landscape without stopping again. Closing his mouth, Andrew mulled over the meaning of the words and realized that, somehow, Gabe had told him exactly what he needed to hear in his panic about coming out to his parents. He was just beginning to wonder what on earth had prompted the stranger to say that to him when Seamus called out, “Are you frozen to the ground? What are you doing?”
Rolling his eyes, Andrew turned back toward his partner and hurried – slipping and sliding over the path – to join him at the park’s entrance. “What was all of that about?” Seamus asked.
“I honestly have no idea. I–”
“Excuse me, officers?”
Both men turned at the sound of the woman’s voice to find a pretty, college-aged female practically standing on top of them, wearing a curious smile on her perfectly made-up face. She was dressed professionally, and her wavy blonde hair fell past her shoulders as she clutched a microphone in front of her tightly with both hands. Andrew thought she looked quite adorable, especially with the purple beanie pulled down over her head, while Seamus thought similar – though much lewder – things as he gave her the once over. Sure, she was bundled up appropriately for the weather, but he could tell that beneath all of the winter layers, she had a figure that would make any father nervous. And it was then, upon thinking of her father, that he thought of his own daughters growing up and immediately felt guilty for thinking such inappropriate things about this college student. Shaking his head, he stammered, “Uh – sorry. Can we help you?”
“Actually, you can!” the girl exclaimed brightly. “My name’s Elizabeth Meyer. This is my boyfriend, Noah Clarke.” She gestured behind her at a burly, bearded college student standing beside her, holding a heavy-looking video camera at his side. Seamus had been so taken by the girl’s striking appearance, he hadn’t even noticed the boy until she had pointed him out. “We’re journalism students at NYU, and I’m in charge of handling tonight’s broadcast for our streaming service.” She proudly pushed out her ample chest. “We’re going around filming a few public interest stories for it, and I was wondering if you had time to talk to me for a few minutes.”
Seamus and Andrew exchanged an uncertain look, trying to have a completely silent conversation through their eyes. When it became clear that neither of them had an objection, Seamus gave a tiny shrug and Andrew nodded his head. “Sure. Yes. Absolutely.”
Elizabeth’s already wide smile seemed to grow even more. “Excellent! Noah!” She rounded on her boyfriend. “Get the shot ready!”
“Yes, ma’am!” Noah mock-saluted her, which caused her to roll her eyes and Seamus to laugh; it was obvious to the officer that he found his girlfriend demanding and overbearing, and yet, he dutifully obeyed her commands. “Officer…” He eyed Seamus up and down uncertainly.
“Dwyer,” Seamus replied. “Officer Seamus Dwyer. This is Officer Andrew Lee.” He motioned at Andrew, who raised a hand in greeting. “It’s a pleasure.”
Noah nodded. “Likewise. And, uh – you know…” He cleared his throat awkwardly, going red in the face. “Thank you for your service and everything.”
The two cops exchanged a wary look. Both of them found it awkward whenever citizens came up to thank them for their service, especially because the majority of them only did it because it was the trendy thing to do. “Actually, if you could stand right here…” Noah guided the policemen to a spot on the sidewalk that was smack-dab in the middle of the park’s entranceway. “And then Liz–”
“I know where to stand, thank you very much,” Elizabeth interrupted confidently before addressing the cops. “It’s not my first rodeo.” As both men laughed politely, the college student took her place just to the left of them, so that she’d appear just to the right of them on camera. “How does it look?” she asked Noah, who took a few steps backward and raised the camera up onto his shoulder. After studying the shot for a few moments, he backed up another two feet so that he was practically standing in the road before nodding his head and giving his girlfriend a thumbs up.
“Right.” Elizabeth glanced at the cops. “Now, don’t worry. This isn’t live television, sadly, so I can edit all of the awkward parts out later in the editing bay. Sound good?” And before either officer could answer, the woman took a deep breath and forced a smile onto her face as she raised the microphone in her hands up to her mouth, just as the red light on Noah’s video camera blinked to life. “I’m standing here with Officers Seamus Dwyer and Andrew Lee – two members of the N.Y.P.D. who have valiantly given up their Christmas Eves in order to dutifully serve and protect the people of New York City. Tell me, how do you do it?” She turned to the cops with an inquiring smile on her face. “Is it ever hard putting your own needs last in service of others? Because,” she let out a dainty laugh as she pressed a hand to her chest. “I think I can confidently say I speak for most people when I assure you we’re all extremely grateful.” She stuck her microphone squarely in-between the cops, silently indicating that either of them could answer. After a moment of silent debate, Andrew leaned down to speak into it.
“Well, firstly, uh – thank you,” he began awkwardly. “Secondly – I mean, there are definitely times that it’s not easy – around the holidays especially. But, you know, it’s all part of the job. It’s like enlisting in the army, right? You know what you’re getting yourself into when you apply, and if you’re not fully sure, those in charge make it abundantly clear.”
Seamus nodded before leaning into the microphone to get a word in for himself. “We love doing it though. We love protecting our city, and love serving our country this way. And as hard as it is on our families from time-to-time, they’re proud of us for doing it.”
Andrew glanced sideways at his partner surreptitiously, recognizing his statement for what it was – a pleading dig to and at his wife. Leaning forward again, Andrew added, “Though I will fully admit that it can get exceedingly frustrating sometimes that while we do our best to protect the residents of this city, city officials aren’t doing all they can to protect the people who live and visit here.” An image of Gabe, shrouded in rags and standing barefoot in the snow, burned brightly at the forefront of his mind, firing him up. “On top of which, I feel like sometimes City Hall goes out of its way to intentionally make our job harder.”
Elizabeth blinked in surprise before glancing at Noah, who was staring over the camera at her excitedly. Seamus, meanwhile, hissed in an undertone to his partner. “What the hell are you doing?”
Andrew shrugged. He truthfully didn’t know what had come over him, but there was something about hearing Seamus air his grievances that made him want to do it as well. “I’m just speaking my mind. Isn’t that what you always do?”
“If this airs unedited, Pendleton is going to blow a gasket–”
“Let her,” Andrew interrupted. “What’s she going to do, fire me? She hasn’t fired you yet!”
Before Seamus could reply, Elizabeth cleared her throat to bring their attention back to the interview. “Could you elaborate on that a little bit more, Officer Lee?”
“Absolutely.” Andrew nodded as Seamus clapped an exasperated hand to his forehead, looking impressed nonetheless. “I mean, just look around you! It boggles my mind that Mayor De Bellis refused to declare a state of the emergency given the weather conditions, despite the advice of Commissioner Burke! People would be far safer at home, or at the very least, if they weren’t allowed to drive on the roads! So why hasn’t he?” He shrugged. “It just makes our jobs more difficult. We have to spend time resolving fender benders instead of focusing our attention on more serious problems. Not only that, but just a few minutes ago I met this homeless man in the park, wearing no shoes and little more than rags, who looked as though he were freezing to death! Why isn’t the city doing anything to help less fortunate individuals like him, especially in extraordinary circumstances like this? On the holiest night of the year! Look around you!” He gestured past Noah, who swung the camera around to capture the skyline against the darkening sky, glowing brighter than usual with the added Christmas decorations. “It’s not like we’re a city or a nation that doesn’t recognize Christmas! Isn’t the true reason for the season helping others? And even if you don’t believe that, isn’t it the government’s job to make the lives of the public better?”
“Now, now, Andrew.” Seamus smirked as he leaned forward to speak into the microphone, looking as though he wanted in on the fun. “It’s unfair to place all of the blame squarely on the mayor’s shoulders. I mean, he can’t very well shut down the island if the president is in town with her guests, can he? Then she – and he – might be accused of ruining everybody else’s day for their own enjoyment!” He winked at Andrew in a silent attempt to let him know that they were sticking together until the end, even if it wasn’t a particularly desirable one.
Elizabeth, elated that she was getting such good material, stared excitedly between the two officers. “Well, that’s certainly something for city and Washington officials to take into account for the future, for sure.” She smiled. “Speaking of the president, did you get a chance to meet her today?”
Seamus’ face darkened. “We weren’t added to her security detail, unfortunately.” He wanted to go on a rant about this specific issue, but it was Christmas Eve, not Festivus. Besides, he worried it would undermine the legitimately good points he and Andrew had already made and make them come across as whining, so he decided not to get into it.
“Well, I’m sure she’s a lovely person,” Elizabeth replied. “But back to what you were saying a moment ago – has Mayor De Bellis’ decision not to declare a state of emergency made your jobs more difficult today?”
“Thankfully, besides one fender bender, we haven’t had to waste our time with any accidents due to the inclement weather yet,” Andrew replied. “But the day’s not over, and the roads are only getting worse, which means that not only is there a greater chance we’ll have more snow-related accidents to contend with, but also, a slower response time when answering other emergencies. It’s the sad reality of weather like this in general, but it will be made even worse with all of the other cars on the road.”
Elizabeth nodded her understanding. “Well, best of luck to both of you. Officers Dwyer, Lee – I hope you both have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.”
A moment later, Noah gave Elizabeth the thumbs up and let the camera fall to his side again, at which time his girlfriend allowed her shoulders to slump somewhat. “Thank you both for doing that,” she said brightly to the cops. “It means a lot!”
“Well, our job is to help people in need.” Seamus winked.
“How much of that is going to make it to air?” Andrew inquired, already beginning to regret his decision to go on such an honest tangent with the camera rolling.
“All of it,” the girl answered. “As long as, you know, you’re okay with it, of course!”
Before Andrew could reply, Seamus clapped a hand onto his shoulder and nodded. “Of course we’re okay with it! You two have a very Merry Christmas!”
The moment the two university students were out of earshot, Andrew let out a loud groan. “Why didn’t you stop me from talking?”
“I tried!” Seamus exclaimed defensively. “But honestly, I was impressed! It’s about time you started speaking your mind and becoming more like me!” At the comparison, Andrew groaned again. “Oh, would you stop? Don’t worry so much! It’s an online student channel. Pendleton is never going to find out we gave an interview!”
“Absolutely! You’re stressing yourself out for nothing! It’s–”
“What the hell?! Who the hell left me a ticket?!”
At the sound of the irate voice, Seamus and Andrew turned as one to see the balding, overweight man who had parked his green SUV along the curb of Columbus Circle in order to quickly run into the liquor store across the street discover the ticket they had left for him under his windshield wipers. Exchanging an exasperated glance, both cops started in his direction in order to let him know exactly what he did wrong, and explain why they had left him such a crappy Christmas gift.
* * *
As Noah filmed Elizabeth’s interview with the two frustrated members of the N.Y.P.D., he couldn’t help but ponder the woman’s constant good luck – it was as though she had a shamrock shoved up her ass or something. The two of them had paced the border of the park that bordered 59th Street for over two hours, mainly at his insistence, as Elizabeth kept impatiently suggesting they go stake out Radio City. (He was determined to keep her busy, because he knew that she’d be more stressed and impatient just waiting outside of the music hall for the president to emerge – especially considering the show hadn’t even started yet!) And during that time, Elizabeth had scored interviews with a large number of families and tourists. It was only when she put her foot down and insisted that she would only do one more interview in that location that Noah spotted the two cops standing at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park and suggested that she interview them.
It turned out to have been a stroke of genius on his part, for while they had merely been expecting platitudes about how it was their job to work during the holidays so the public could enjoy them, they got a heartfelt rant about the mayor and other public officials who made their jobs harder and kept the city less safe. It was nothing short of a surprise coup amongst all of the interviews they had conducted that day. In fact, Noah was positive that had any major network scored such an interview, they’d air it during a decent timeslot to get the public questioning how their city was being run. Best of all though, it seemed to put pep back in Elizabeth’s step. Indeed, she grasped his arm excitedly after they finished speaking with the policemen. “Can you believe that?” She flashed him a wide grin. “How openly they talked? I did no prying, yet the damn doors blew wide open! Think they were drinking?”
“Who cares?” Noah laughed, as they strolled toward the east entrance of the park. “If they were, it probably gives them more credibility; you know that people are more honest when they’re drunk.”
“Oh really?” Elizabeth asked, as her eyes flashed mischievously. “Because I seem to recall you making a few dubious claims when you’ve been drunk in the past…”
“Yeah, yeah. You’re welcome, by the way.”
“For?” Noah sputtered. “For keeping you here as long as I have and suggesting you interview those cops! You lucked into a real story with some depth thanks to me!”
“Relax!” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “I know. I know. Thank you.” She stressed the words before smirking again. “Also, thanks for agreeing to that bet earlier today! It’s going to be a fun year for me!”
Noah sighed as he rubbed the back of his neck; he could practically feel how stiff it was going to become in the coming months. “And yet despite knowing I’d lose the bet, I still did what was best for your budding journalism career. I should get a gold medal that says ‘best boyfriend’ or something!”
“Firstly, you didn’t know anything when you suggested that I interview those guys,” Elizabeth pointed out before shrugging and adding, without missing a beat, “And secondly, maybe for your birthday. Christmas is tomorrow, so there’s no time for me to get you one in time to put under the tree.” As Noah laughed, she continued. “What if we make it two years if I actually manage to get a question off to the president?”
“Ha! No, thank you!”
“See? I can’t even call you selfish because you’re not trying to renege on the first bet!” Elizabeth expressed her quandary with faux outrage, eliciting yet another laugh from her boyfriend, just as they reached the east corner of the park. Then, checking her watch and noticing that it was nearly three o’clock, she glanced up at the sky. The snow was still coming down at a steady clip, and if anything, it was only getting heavier. The roads and sidewalks were completely covered now, and though there were still a fair amount of people out and about by the standards of any other major city, by Manhattan standards, it was clear that the streets were beginning to empty as people began to seek shelter from the cold and get to where they needed to be for their holiday celebrations. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s start heading toward Radio City.”
“We’re only a few blocks away!” Noah pointed out, as he followed her dutifully down Fifth Avenue. “The show hasn’t even started yet!”
“We’ll grab lunch,” Elizabeth replied. “That’ll kill some time before we go to wait outside of the theater.” When she noticed her boyfriend’s exasperated glance, she added, “I want a good spot! Plus, look around you!” She gestured around them at the white landscape as they trudged slowly through the snow. “It’s clearly going to take us a little longer than usual to get there. God knows how long it’s going to take us to get to Nyack later tonight! We have may have to wait until tomorrow…” She shuddered at the thought, knowing that her parents wouldn’t be pissed, but worse, disappointed in her if that were the case.
“But after we see the president?” Noah prompted pointedly. “We’re done, yeah? Maybe we can head back to the university, get all of the footage edited together, and slowly start making tracks toward Nyack?”
“We’ll see how the interview goes.” Elizabeth winked at her boyfriend as they crossed 58th Street.
Knowing that was as close to a promise as he was going to extract from his girlfriend, Noah dutifully followed her downtown, screwing up his face against the snow being whipped around by the wind.