The Kilroy All-Star Christmas Spectacular: While Shepherds Watched Their Chapters By Night
Road trips require a playlist. Intergalactic road trips spanning astronomical light years via a series of portals require a special playlist. When said road trip is toward home for the holidays, well, the playlist speaks for itself. That's why I created A Very Kilroy Christmas, a collection of Christmas songs that speak to me. This is a big step for me because I used to listen to Styx almost exclusively. I'm attempting to broaden my horizons. At heart, though, my affinity for '80s music and artists is my go to and that's why I'm listening to Billy Squier's "Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You" while I traverse the portal into Earth.
The thing about portal is some just plop you out somewhere in a galaxy far, far away while others have an operation about them. They've been charted and organized. This particular portal to Earth is one of the charted ones. My Dodge van floats along through the spectacular light show toward the entry point to the way station where I check in before entering Earth. I know this spot and others like it well. This is where trading happens; even trading in the No Trade Zone. Places like this require me to know a guy. To have a contact. Here, that is Moonbeam, an alien with a one of those stereotypical alien heads and bodies like you see in drawings from people who claim to have been abducted. Moonbeam swears he has never abducted anyone and I take him at his word. The van lands at the docking station and I switch to driver mode and steer it up to Moonbeam's checkpoint. He wears coveralls and I think that may be the only outfit he owns.
"Kilroy," he smiles and offers one of hands "Good to see you, brother."
He glances toward the back of my van without looking at anything in particular. Typically, a guy with his job checks your van and your manifest if your hauling something to make sure you're not carrying contraband. Kind of like intergalactic customs. Guys like Moonbeam, if you know how to connect with them, can overlook certain things for a price.
"Do you have your manifest?" he asks but he doesn't really want my manifest, if you know what I mean.
I reach up the visor and pull an envelope from a clip and hand it to him. He opens it enough to see some Mongalisonian tobacco, a prepaid debit card good at any space port in the Jaqrillion quardrant, and five packets of Kwench-aid. What is a mere delightful sugary drink for me is a powerful aphrodisiac for him. Don't ask me why.
"Everything appears to be in order, brother." he says. "Safe travels."
"And a little something else." I grab a box from the passenger seat and hand it to him. He opens it and holds up a necklace with a small round stone attached to a pendant.
"Wow, man. Thanks."
"Nah. It's just a bonzalite stone. But i wanted to give you a gift. Ya know, for the holidays."
"Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanza. New Year's. All that."
He frowns for a second and then the light bulb goes off.
"Oh, yeah. It's that time on Earth again. Crazy. I don't celebrate it, but thanks anyway. Your gold, Kilroy."
"You, too, brother."
We shake hands and he sends me on my way through the next portal. I pop through the other side and land with a bounce in an open field a few miles outside Poplar Bluff, my hometown. Usually, a couple of security people are manning this spot because no one is supposed to know this portal exists. I know this because I used to do the job. I was doing that last Christmas. But, no one is here this Christmas. Weird. I call up Mom to find out what the hell is going on.
"Oh," she says, "our monitoring has shown little to no activity there, so we're not keeping full time staff there."
"What if some Herpezoid or some other asshole pops through?"
"You mean like you did just now?"
"Come on over to the office," she says. "You can help us decorate for the office Christmas party."
"That sounds like something I wouldn't enjoy."
"I've got a big surprise planned for the party." She lowers her voice to a whisper. "Kelly Clarkson is going to perform."
"I don't know who that is."
"How are you a child of the 21st century and not know Kelly Clarkson?"
"I'm not of this world or era. We both know that. I take it she's a big deal so how did you score this Kelly Clarkson." "Let's just say she owes me a favor."
I tell Mom I need to make a couple of stops first and let her go. I pull the van up to a speaker box at the security gate that separates this field from the highway. What happens now is part of bizarre protocol my dad invented. I roll down the window and talk into the box. I pull up a script Mom sent to my phone. I have to follow this script in order to leave the area.
"I'm here to see Santa," I say, per the script. A voice from the box responds.
"Have you been naughty or nice?"
Now it's my turn and I gotta read it word for word or the whole area goes on lockdown and no one wants lockdown.
"Naughty and nice are such arbitrary, subjective notions designed to apply random judgment to a person's behavior. On what basis is one determined to be naughty or nice?"
"Strange are the ways of human behavior," the box says.
"You didn't answer my question."
"I didn't intend to."
And with that, three beeps are followed by the sliding open of the gate and I steer out onto the highway. I send a quick text to my buddy Tony letting know I'm home. Before I see him, I have two stops I need to make. First, I'm going to Hayden's BBQ for the best pulled pork sandwich and pink lemonade in the known universe.
Then, I'm going to Leigh Ann's house.
...to be continued...