RICH PASCHALL – A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE: ORIGINAL FICTION

It has been three years since I first stopped in at SERENDIPITY with this “A Family Plus One Holiday Tale,” and for some reason Marilyn Armstrong has allowed me to come back once a week since then.  I am grateful for her support and the opportunity to share some stories on her blog site. Here again is my Christmas short story.

 

A Christmas Surprise

A family plus one holiday tale

by Richard Paschall

Tree Lights 14

Kyle was coming home for Christmas. He was bringing with him his college roommate. The boys met during freshmen year and became fast friends. Somehow they maneuvered the dorm manager into assigning them to be roommates for sophomore year. There was no one on earth Kyle would rather spend time with than Michael. So he was glad Michael agreed to come to dinner on Christmas Eve. This was in exchange for Kyle agreeing to go to Michael’s parents’ house on Christmas day for dinner. Michael was going to make a big announcement to his parents and of course Kyle just had to be there.

Kyle’s father had slipped into a den on the east side of the house. All of the family noise was a bit more than his reserved nature could take. Kyle’s sister, Mary, who was 8 years younger than Kyle, was louder than usual and no matter how many times grandma told Mary to “quiet down,” things did not get any quieter. The threat of Christmas carols by Mary and Uncle Roy was enough to drive dad into the den. There he immediately made haste to the bar where a glass of sherry seemed to be in order. Dad only drank a sherry on special occasions and this certainly was one of them.

It was dark now and the neighbors across the street had turned on their Christmas lights. Almost everyone on the block had a nice display so the street was well-lit. Kyle’s dad was drawn to the window to see the lights, look at the gentle snow flurries and enjoy a moment of peace. As he stood there sipping his sherry and waiting for Kyle to appear, he finally spotted his only son walking quickly down the street with another young man right behind. As they got to the walkway that led up to the house they stopped to exchange a few words. Then a sight took dad’s wondering eyes totally by surprise. Kyle kissed the other boy. It was not a short kiss, but long and passionate which they both seemed to enjoy.

Soon Kyle rang the doorbell just to announce their arrival before he put his key in the lock and opened the door. Off the entrance way on the left was a door to the den. Kyle’s father was standing in the doorway just staring at the two. Kyle’s mom came through a big archway on the right that led to the living room. Mary was close behind and eager to see her brother and his friend. Uncle Roy and grandma did not vacate their seats. They knew the rest would join them soon.

First Kyle walked over to his father and said, “Dad this is my room-mate, Michael.” The roommate held out his hand and the father shook it. “I am pleased to meet you, sir. Kyle says such wonderful things about the family.” Kyle’s dad just sort of nodded at that, while studying this stranger in his home. The silence was out of character for the head of the household and a bit of a surprise to everyone except Michael, and that is only because Michael did not know him.

Then Kyle introduced Michael to his mother and his “little brat sister” Mary. Michael held out his hand to each in turn but the little brat held out her hand instead as if he was supposed to take it and kiss it, so he did and she squealed and ran from the room. At that Kyle’s mom offered to introduce Michael to the others. Kyle’s father then announced to all, “We will join you in a moment.” With a more serious tone, father said, “Kyle, would you step in here for a moment, please?” This was not a question but rather a command of the type Kyle knew was not good. As the father retreated into the room Kyle followed. Before turning around dad said, “Close the door.”

Kyle only took a few short steps in before his father turned around. He looked at him as if he had never seen him before. It was the strangest look Kyle had ever seen from his father. “Kyle, is there something you should be telling me?” the “official business” dad said in an odd businesslike tone. Kyle figured it was some sort of trick question but knew he should answer it anyway.

“No, dad. I don’t think so.” This clearly was the wrong answer. His dad did not say a thing but his body language spoke volumes and Kyle became as nervous as a first grader who has been caught stealing Oreos from the kitchen. Now the master of the den, the commander of the car keys and the payer of his tuition walked slowly to the window, looked around the outside and turned to Kyle.

“You know, son, that there is a great view of the neighborhood from this window. You can see all of the beautiful Christmas displays across the street. You can see a nice Christmas snow flurry. You can see everyone walking down the sidewalk and turning up the walkway toward the house.” At that Kyle’s father fixed his sights squarely on Kyle and said, “So now is there anything you should tell me?”

Kyle stood motionless as his dad threw a stare at him that went right through and hit the door behind. It took Kyle almost an entire minute before he realized what his father had seen from the window of the den. All the while, that whole long minute of time, Kyle’s father stood there waiting. Kyle wanted to begin “I’m sorry dad…,” but nothing came out of his mouth. He was so nervous and so afraid of his father’s reaction that he could say nothing. It is not that he wanted to be silent, he just couldn’t speak. Fear of saying the wrong thing paralyzed his tongue for the moment. Finally Kyle’s father just nodded that same nod he gave Michael when he was introduced, walked around Kyle, opened the door and walked across the foyer to the living room.

Kyle was knocked off his spot when his mother’s voice came floating into the room. “Kyle, don’t be rude. Come join your guest.” Kyle shuffled across the hall and searched around the room for Michael. He did not look at anyone else as his eyes avoided everyone but Michael. At that moment, with a room full of family, he had no way of telling his mate that he needed a hug and he thought he might need to cry. After a little small talk by grandma and Uncle Roy, Kyle’s mom asked them all to go to the dining room. Christmas Eve dinner was ready.

“Michael, you sit right there next to Kyle and Kyle will sit next to me. I have this end of the table and Kyle’s father will carve things up at that end of the table. Uncle Roy will be there next to you and grandma and Mary will be on the other side.” At that the little brat sister ran around the table and dropped herself on the chair opposite Kyle. She looked at him with a smirk as if she knew his little secret and was going to blurt it out if he did not stop calling her a brat.

Everyone sat in silence until Kyle’s mother looked down the length of the table and said to her husband. “Sweetheart, will you say grace for us?” There was a long, awkward pause before he said, “No. Tonight Kyle will lead the prayer.” At that instant Kyle prayed that something, anything that made sense would come out of his mouth. All eyes were on him as he began, “Bless us, oh Lord…” The words that fell out of Kyle’s mouth were for blessing and thanksgiving, but in his heart he was praying for acceptance. That became the only gift he truly wanted for Christmas this year.

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Blessing

I was recently thinking of those who seek their parents blessing, only to be turned away.  On St. Valentine’s Day you offer your heart to those you love in hopes that you will be accepted and blessed in return.  The article below originally appeared on this space two years ago.  I thought it was a good time to repost. 

As I was making my way around Word Press yesterday looking for interesting blogs where I could leave comments, part of the Zero to Hero 30 Days to a Better Blog exercise, I came across The Open Closet, so I went in to take a look.  The first post I encountered was titled Blessing.  It is about the role a particular song played in the author’s coming out process.

“I know this song,” I thought immediately.  I was certain that it was one that my cousin posted last year on facebook when she surprised some of us by speaking of coming out.  It has a powerful lyric and speaks strongly to the emotions felt by the author.  The video was of low quality picture but had good sound.  It featured the composer at the piano and “The Broadway Boys” took over after the first verse and brought the message home.  This particular video has not exactly gone viral, but is worth a look nonetheless.

When someone falls in love and wants to spend the rest of their life with someone, they frequently look toward home not just for support, but for blessing.  It can not be understated how adult children still want and crave the blessings of their parents for the love in their lives.  In a certain way, it validates what the “child” is thinking and feeling.  He or she wants to know it is OK.  That he is supported.  That he (or she) and his or her love is also loved by the parents.

In a powerful scene in Fiddler on the Roof Tevye, the father, is told by the daughter that she is not asking his permission to be married, but rather his blessing.  This is a cultural shock for the time period but demonstrates what children have always wanted from their parents, their blessing.  Why should it be different for a gay man or lesbian?  They still want the love and the blessing of the parents.  If they can not bless the union, then they risk hurting the child and missing an important moment in life.

Rather than leave the Scott Alan version for you, I thought I would choose the one I saw on You Tube last year.  You can find the link to the Scott Alan version above or drop into The Open Closet.  This cover version of the song is beautifully captured in this video.  Listen to the words as well as the beautiful voices.  I think you will be moved.

SUNDAY NIGHT REVIEW

Writing the Blog

Years ago, before I had a blog, I would tell people after they did something a little crazy, or I caught them in a candid picture, “You will be on my blog by midnight,” or “You will be in my blog on Sunday.”  I really did not give much thought to actually doing a blog.  It did not seem there was enough time for it and besides, who would read it anyway?  So it was just a running joke, nothing more.

I did have a Windows Live Space, however.  I think it was supposed to compete with the popular myspace.  This was all before facebook began to dominate social media.  My Windows Live Space was more of a repository of photo albums than anything else.  Only a few friends actually looked at anything I posted there.  I had no thoughts of promoting it to the general public, although that was a possibility.  I also had a myspace, still do I guess.  It was THE social media outlet of its time.  I used it to play Mobsters for a while.  Now it is a site for promoting music and entertainment news.  I rarely visit it.

When it was clear Windows Live was never going to hit it big, they decided to migrate everyone to Word Press.  Some of the content transferred when I finally got around to moving everything, most did not.  All the pictures are in some Windows cloud off in cyberspace that I can find if I explore my Outlook.  The Word Press page, named after my long running joke, sat idle for a long time.  A couple of articles came over in 2010.  I wrote nothing in 2011.   Then I started to post things in 2012.  It was fun, for a while.

At the end of 2013, Marilyn Armstrong offered me a Sunday spot on SERENDIPITY.  I offered a Christmas story.  We both liked it enough to run it every year.  So the true Sunday blog posts ended up over there.  There is something new on SERENDIPITY every day and Marilyn has a following.  A site with new content daily is far more successful than a weekly site, I think.

I am CharlieThe most posts for this site appeared in 2014, but the readership never grew and I decided to concentrate on the SERENDIPITY posts.  For 2015 most of what appeared here were actually written for SERENDIPITY in 2014.  There were original posts too.  The most topical and political pieces showed up here.  Here are the top 5 of the past year written for Sunday Night Blog:

  1. HASHTAG: I am Charlie  This followed the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.  It was more than an attack on freedom of the press.  Millions came together to support a publication they had never head of before.
  2. A life too short I have run this story several years in a row.  It concerns the life of French singer Gregory Lemarchal and his losing battle with Cystic Fibrosis.  I don’t feel I have adequately explained it yet and have tweaked it every time trying to do better.
  3. WE STAND WITH PARIS  This political commentary came 11 months after the Charlie Hebdo piece and following another terrorist attack.
  4. Beyond Freedom of Speech  This was a follow-up to the Charlie Hebdo story.  There was another side that I felt needed to be said.
  5. A TRIP TO ALSACE  A short article plus a photo gallery of my trip to France.

All of these had something in common.  It was not intended but likely speaks to the influences of my life.  They all have to do with France.  So it is no surprise that after American readers, the next country on the “views” list is France.  Photo galleries really skew the stats in deceptive ways.  A look at each picture counts as a “view,” which is equal to reading a whole article.  One person can run your total way up by looking at every picture in several galleries.  One day I had 136 views (according to the stats page) but only 3 visitors.  We can not take the stats page too seriously as they seem to be behind real-time.

Interestingly, the stats say my most popular day is Sunday.  Imagine that!  I wonder why that is, LOL.  Search engines, facebook and teepee12.com (SERENDIPITY) drove the most traffic to this site.  I was surprised to see StumbleUpon drove traffic here as well.  I thought the site did nothing for me so I stopped posting there.  Their stats did not reveal views on anything I posted there.  I may have to resume posting there.  Like my tumblr posts, the StumbleUpon posts are just links back to here or SERENDIPITY.

My most read post ever all time is ANGEL COMES OUT.  It was written for SERENDIPITY in 2014 and almost immediately found an audience.  It’s the true coming out story of someone I saw on You Tube and subsequently located.  It’s harrowing, to say the least.  Angel kindly let me proceed with a dramatic retelling, although it certainly is an episode he would like to leave behind.  His dramatic telling of it is still on You Tube.

EVERY SPORT NEEDS ONE

Because the “gay athlete” stories never go away, here is a reblog of a story from last year at this time.

SERENDIPITY

The Openly Gay Athlete, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

If you have read any stories about gay athletes in professional sports you would certainly know about it.  That’s because no matter how often it has been stated, any article that mentions a gay athlete will state that he is “gay” or even “openly gay,” as if telling you he is gay is not enough.  I guess if you tell the press you are gay, then you are pretty open about it, and you certainly can’t take it back.  Reporters follow around openly gay athletes just for the purpose of asking them what it is like to be openly gay and play ______ (fill in the sport here).  I wish just once the athlete would respond that it is the same as being “openly heterosexual.”

Perhaps they should ask the reporter what it is like to be “openly heterosexual” and asking…

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WHO ARE YOU? FAMILY TO STRANGER, OVERNIGHT

Since it is “Pride Month,” I thought it was a good time to replay this story.

SERENDIPITY

A family of strangers story by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Russell was home from the university, perhaps for the last time.  He finally graduated after four and a half years and a double major from the School of Business.  He lived at school each year and came home for the summers.  Now his plan was to get a job, save a little money and move out.  His college roommate would soon become his roommate again, if they could arrange it.

Russell’s parents, now in their 50’s, never seemed to change.  To Russell they always looked the same and acted the same.  Russell’s father was a hard-working, quiet guy whom everyone liked. His mother was also hard-working and dependable.  They seemed to naturally know which household chores to perform without ever talking about it.  Russell sometimes thought they held secret meetings to plan out the details of their lives, Russell’s included.

After…

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OVER AND OUT

I thought today was a good day to present this short story again.

SERENDIPITY

A short story by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

It was not like Billy’s dad to just walk into his room. At 17 years old he really expected his parents to knock first. He quickly closed out of his chat and turned around to see what his father wanted.  “What’s up, dad?” Billy began.

“Son, I think there is something you should tell me.” Billy’s father paused and waited for a response. Billy was clueless. He could not think of a thing he should say so there was this long awkward silence as the two of them shot puzzled looks at one another.

Billy’s father had noticed over the last two month’s the nature of his son’s friendship with a handsome young classmate named Josh. They went everywhere together. They studied together and they spent hours on the phone together. Going to the movies on a Saturday night was just like…

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SNOW HATE – By Rich Paschall

Another Harold! I wonder how often I used that name. Since we are in the midst of a blizzard here, I thought it would be a good day to reblog this.

SERENDIPITY

A NO H8 story by Rich Paschall – Sunday Night Blog

The door bell startled Harold.  He was not expecting anyone on a snowy Saturday afternoon in January.  He moved quickly to the front door and opened it to find his teenage grandson.

“Hello grandpa,” the boy blurted, “I came to shovel your snow.”  At that Billy grabbed a shovel from just inside the front door and went immediately to work.  Harold closed the door and watched him through the glass in the door.  Billy attacked the snow like he was angry at every single flake that fell from the sky.  The look on his face and the force at which he threw each shovelful of snow concerned Harold.

75-BigSnowHPCR-9

He went directly to the phone and called Billy’s parents.

“Hello,” came the voice of Harold’s daughter-in-law.  Madeleine was sweet, nice looking and ultimately clueless.  Her small social circle was her main…

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RICH PASCHALL – A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE: ORIGINAL FICTION

It has been a year since I stopped in at SERENDIPITY with this “A Family Plus One Holiday Tale,” and for some reason Marilyn Armstrong has allowed me to come back once a week since then.  I am grateful for her support and the opportunity to share some stories on her blog site. Here again is my Christmas short story.

Rich Paschall of SUNDAY NIGHT BLOG has graciously agreed to collaborate with me on Sundays. You will get a taste of his rich and beautiful prose, some of which you have already seen here because I love his work and have reblogged quite a bit of it over the past year. But it will also give me a much-needed day off. I’ve been writing every day for almost a year and I admit, I could use a day to recharge my aging batteries. It’s a win-win. You get some great new fiction — or whatever Rich is in the mood to offer you — and I get to enjoy a little breather.”

– – – – –

A Christmas Surprise

A family plus one holiday tale

by Richard Paschall

Tree Lights 14

Kyle was coming home for Christmas. He was bringing with him his college roommate. The boys met during freshmen year and became fast friends. Somehow they maneuvered the dorm manager into assigning them to be roommates for sophomore year. There was no one on earth Kyle would rather spend time with than Michael. So he was glad Michael agreed to come to dinner on Christmas Eve. This was in exchange for Kyle agreeing to go to Michael’s parents’ house on Christmas day for dinner. Michael was going to make a big announcement to his parents and of course Kyle just had to be there.

Kyle’s father had slipped into a den on the east side of the house. All of the family noise was a bit more than his reserved nature could take. Kyle’s sister, Mary, who was 8 years younger than Kyle, was louder than usual and no matter how many times grandma told Mary to “quiet down,” things did not get any quieter. The threat of Christmas carols by Mary and Uncle Roy was enough to drive dad into the den. There he immediately made haste to the bar where a glass of sherry seemed to be in order. Dad only drank a sherry on special occasions and this certainly was one of them.

It was dark now and the neighbors across the street had turned on their Christmas lights. Almost everyone on the block had a nice display so the street was well-lit. Kyle’s dad was drawn to the window to see the lights, look at the gentle snow flurries and enjoy a moment of peace. As he stood there sipping his sherry and waiting for Kyle to appear, he finally spotted his only son walking quickly down the street with another young man right behind. As they got to the walkway that led up to the house they stopped to exchange a few words. Then a sight took dad’s wondering eyes totally by surprise. Kyle kissed the other boy. It was not a short kiss, but long and passionate which they both seemed to enjoy.

Soon Kyle rang the doorbell just to announce their arrival before he put his key in the lock and opened the door. Off the entrance way on the left was a door to the den. Kyle’s father was standing in the doorway just staring at the two. Kyle’s mom came through a big archway on the right that led to the living room. Mary was close behind and eager to see her brother and his friend. Uncle Roy and grandma did not vacate their seats. They knew the rest would join them soon.

First Kyle walked over to his father and said, “Dad this is my room-mate, Michael.” The roommate held out his hand and the father shook it. “I am pleased to meet you, sir. Kyle says such wonderful things about the family.” Kyle’s dad just sort of nodded at that, while studying this stranger in his home. The silence was out of character for the head of the household and a bit of a surprise to everyone except Michael, and that is only because Michael did not know him.

Then Kyle introduced Michael to his mother and his “little brat sister” Mary. Michael held out his hand to each in turn but the little brat held out her hand instead as if he was supposed to take it and kiss it, so he did and she squealed and ran from the room. At that Kyle’s mom offered to introduce Michael to the others. Kyle’s father then announced to all, “We will join you in a moment.” With a more serious tone, father said, “Kyle, would you step in here for a moment, please?” This was not a question but rather a command of the type Kyle knew was not good. As the father retreated into the room Kyle followed. Before turning around dad said, “Close the door.”

Kyle only took a few short steps in before his father turned around. He looked at him as if he had never seen him before. It was the strangest look Kyle had ever seen from his father. “Kyle, is there something you should be telling me?” the “official business” dad said in an odd businesslike tone. Kyle figured it was some sort of trick question but knew he should answer it anyway.

“No, dad. I don’t think so.” This clearly was the wrong answer. His dad did not say a thing but his body language spoke volumes and Kyle became as nervous as a first grader who has been caught stealing Oreos from the kitchen. Now the master of the den, the commander of the car keys and the payer of his tuition walked slowly to the window, looked around the outside and turned to Kyle.

“You know, son, that there is a great view of the neighborhood from this window. You can see all of the beautiful Christmas displays across the street. You can see a nice Christmas snow flurry. You can see everyone walking down the sidewalk and turning up the walkway toward the house.” At that Kyle’s father fixed his sights squarely on Kyle and said, “So now is there anything you should tell me?”

Kyle stood motionless as his dad threw a stare at him that went right through and hit the door behind. It took Kyle almost an entire minute before he realized what his father had seen from the window of the den. All the while, that whole long minute of time, Kyle’s father stood there waiting. Kyle wanted to begin “I’m sorry dad…,” but nothing came out of his mouth. He was so nervous and so afraid of his father’s reaction that he could say nothing. It is not that he wanted to be silent, he just couldn’t speak. Fear of saying the wrong thing paralyzed his tongue for the moment. Finally Kyle’s father just nodded that same nod he gave Michael when he was introduced, walked around Kyle, opened the door and walked across the foyer to the living room.

Kyle was knocked off his spot when his mother’s voice came floating into the room. “Kyle, don’t be rude. Come join your guest.” Kyle shuffled across the hall and searched around the room for Michael. He did not look at anyone else as his eyes avoided everyone but Michael. At that moment, with a room full of family, he had no way of telling his mate that he needed a hug and he thought he might need to cry. After a little small talk by grandma and Uncle Roy, Kyle’s mom asked them all to go to the dining room. Christmas Eve dinner was ready.

“Michael, you sit right there next to Kyle and Kyle will sit next to me. I have this end of the table and Kyle’s father will carve things up at that end of the table. Uncle Roy will be there next to you and grandma and Mary will be on the other side.” At that the little brat sister ran around the table and dropped herself on the chair opposite Kyle. She looked at him with a smirk as if she knew his little secret and was going to blurt it out if he did not stop calling her a brat.

Everyone sat in silence until Kyle’s mother looked down the length of the table and said to her husband. “Sweetheart, will you say grace for us?” There was a long, awkward pause before he said, “No. Tonight Kyle will lead the prayer.” At that instant Kyle prayed that something, anything that made sense would come out of his mouth. All eyes were on him as he began, “Bless us, oh Lord…” The words that fell out of Kyle’s mouth were for blessing and thanksgiving, but in his heart he was praying for acceptance. That became the only gift he truly wanted for Christmas this year.

ANGEL COMES OUT

A story I wanted to write for a long time became my most viewed story of the year by far.

SERENDIPITY

Based on the story that is sad, painful and true, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Angel was a handsome boy who had a secret he desperately needed to keep. By the age of 13 he knew what he liked and by 16, he had a boyfriend. He spent a lot of time with his boyfriend and his cover was always that he was working on his homework. No one knew that his homework included kissing another teenage boy.

When Angel would return home from his after school “homework sessions,” he would have his boyfriend drop him off 2 blocks from his house so his father would not see him kiss his boyfriend good-bye. One day, however, his father was behind him on the street and saw the boys from a short distance away. When Angel realized his father was watching he told his boyfriend to leave immediately.

“Are you going to be OK?”…

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Blessing

As I was making my way around Word Press yesterday looking for interesting blogs where I could leave comments, part of the Zero to Hero 30 Days to a Better Blog exercise, I came across The Open Closet, so I went in to take a look.  The first post I encountered was titled Blessing.  It is about the role a particular song played in the author’s coming out process.

“I know this song,” I thought immediately.  I was certain that it was one that my cousin posted last year on facebook when she surprised some of us by speaking of coming out.  It has a powerful lyric and speaks strongly to the emotions felt by the author.  The video was of low quality picture but had good sound.  It featured the composer at the piano and “The Broadway Boys” took over after the first verse and brought the message home.  This particular video has not exactly gone viral, but is worth a look nonetheless.

When someone falls in love and wants to spend the rest of their life with someone, they frequently look toward home not just for support, but for blessing.  It can not be understated how adult children still want and crave the blessings of their parents for the love in their lives.  In a certain way, it validates what the “child” is thinking and feeling.  He or she wants to know it is OK.  That he is supported.  That he (or she) and his or her love is also loved by the parents.

In a powerful scene in Fiddler on the Roof Tevye, the father, is told by the daughter that she is not asking his permission to be married, but rather his blessing.  This is a cultural shock for the time period but demonstrates what children have always wanted from their parents, their blessing.  Why should it be different for a gay man or lesbian?  They still want the love and the blessing of the parents.  If they can not bless the union, then they risk hurting the child and missing an important moment in life.

Rather than leave the Scott Alan version for you, I thought I would chose the one I saw on You Tube last year.  You can find the link to the Scott Alan version above or drop into The Open Closet.  This cover version of the song is beautifully captured in this video.  Listen to the words as well as the beautiful voices.  I think you will be moved.