The Kilroy All-Star Christmas Spectacular: Last Chapter
All is calm. All is bright.
All of the Herpezoid remains have been cleaned up and sent the top secret Herpezoid storage facility where they are studied. I don't know what we learn from them that we don't already know. They're annoying intergalactic pests who could really do some damage if they ever get their shit together. But "shit" and "together" are two words that are lost on Herpezoids. The Mrop has also been shipped off to a top secret storage facility. The tree is still destroyed, but building maintenance replaced the tables. As for the innocent bystanders, a special holiday punch was prepared that will erase the short-term memory in the same way that getting blackout drunk does.
The party now consists of a precious few. Kevin and Dean sit at a table drinking non-memory erasing punch. Randi stands next to Kelly Clarkson by the stage. I walk up to them both, a gift for each.
"Here ya go, ladies." I hand them their presents. "You each get a bonazlite paperweight."
"Thank you, Jeff." Randi holds the paperweight up to the light. "Look how the colors shine."
"This is very nice," Kelly Clarkson says. "I didn't get you anything."
"Just knowing you're a Herpezoid hunting bad ass is gift enough for me."
She smiles. "I gotta do my soundcheck, y'all."
"Merry Christmas, Randi." I say.
Randi hugs me. "Merry Christmas, Kilroy." Randi never calls me Kilroy. She walks away looking at her bonzalite and Tony struts up with a shit-eating grin on his face.
"What's that smile for?" I ask. "Enjoying the spiked punch?"
"Nope. I mean, yes, I am, but that's not why I'm so happy." He holds his phone up to me to show me a text:
Merry Christmas, Tony Pershing
"So Marlene finally texted you back, eh?"
He nods and then gives me a big hug. "I love you, man. Merry Christmas."
"I love you, too, pal." I pull away and look in his buzzed eyes. "Say. What happened to you when you drank the N'jilarian nectar?"
His shit-eating grim fades into a dark, distant stare. "I'd rather not talk about it, but I'll never think about kangaroos the same again." He raises his glass to me and we share a drink. A welcome holiday warmth overtakes me as I have this moment with my best friend. Once he goes back to college and I head back to space, I don't know when we'll see each other again.
"What about you?" he asks. "What happened to you?"
"I saw my dad, my mom, and you which normally sounds fun, but this wasn't fun at all. Yet, somehow, I feel better. After all, Kilroy and Mr. Roboto saved Christmas!"
"Well," he says. "We had some help."
I can't argue with that. Everyone stepped up their game.
"I'm gonna go stare at this text from Marlene for awhile," Tony walks off and Mom replaces him. She holds out a package for me wrapped in green paper with little candy canes on it.
"Now that all this has died down I can give you your gift."
I tear open the paper and see that she has given me one of my favorite things: a 50-pack of green Kwench-aid packets. She knows exactly what I want each Christmas.
"Mom? What happened to you when you drank the N'jilarian nectar?"
She sighs. "I had to face my greatest fear."
"Are you comfortable sharing that with me?"
"Of course," she smiles. "My greatest fear is losing you."
She pulls me into her and for the first time in a while I feel safe.
"Did you ever hear from Leigh Ann, sweetie?"
"No," I say. "She doesn't want me in her life. My greatest fear realized."
"I'm sorry. I wish I could make you feel better about that."
"All things considered, I'm fine." I pull away. "I'm glad I came home."
"Me, too!" We hug again until Kenzie's voice calls out.
"Check it out, guys! It's snowing!"
"Now it's a Christmas party!" Randi says.
Kelly Clarkson fires up a tune and starts performing as we all walk over to the windows and take in the falling flakes. It's so peaceful and beautiful. My heart is growing three sizes just looking at it. Finally, snow is falling on Christmas Eve in Poplar Bluff. Kelly Clarkson is delivering a master class contemporary Christmas pop styling as we all drink in the gorgeous view.
Damn, it's really coming down, too. Like, those flakes are huge and fluffy. Now I can't even see anything beyond the driving snowfall.
"Merry Christmas, Jeff," Mom says. "I love you."
"I love you, too," I say. "Also, how the hell am I supposed to drive in this shit?"