This is a work of fiction
Copyright 2013 by Eric Wilson and Flo Wilson
All rights reserved
Santa Bieber by Eric Wilson
Inside his office at the mall, Marco’s dad removed his overcoat. He was wearing his security guard uniform, and now adjusted a peaked cap over his wavy hair. Dad always did his best to be cheerful, you had to admire him for that, but Marco knew it was a long fall from being a successful lawyer working at a big oak desk to rousting drunks out of the mall’s stinky stairwells.
Dad was a stand-up guy. He didn’t like his job as a security guard but he did it just the same. It made Marco feel proud.
“When will you be investigating that girl?” he asked.
“Right now,” Dad replied, glancing at his watch. “Will you come with me?”
“You bet,” Marco replied enthusiastically. He couldn’t forget the girl’s blue eyes, the look of agony and pleading. No way would he let her down.
On the office computer, Dad studied the reports submitted by various guards. “There’s been only one arrest for shoplifting today. The suspect matches your description of the girl.”
“What happened, Dad?”
“There’s a store on the basement level called Rick’s Curios. They sell junky stuff from around the world. The store’s never busy. I think it’s a front for organized crime, but I haven’t been able to prove it. The girl’s name is Mandy. She got arrested there. Let’s go talk to Rick. He’s the owner.”
As Marco and his dad walked through the mall they heard many voices joined together in Christmas song. “What a beautiful sound,” Marco exclaimed.
“Yes, isn’t it wonderful? That’s the choir from the cathedral.”
The members of the choir wore their best holiday clothes and carried big songbooks. As they sang, their bodies swayed rhythmically and they smiled cheerfully at each other. Everyone was having a good time, including the large audience of shoppers and store staff. When the concert ended, people applauded and then called Merry Christmas to the singers and to each other.
An attractive woman with stylish hair and modern red glasses came out of a hairdresser’s named Friends And Company. Dad smiled at her, and she smiled back. For a terrible moment Marco feared his Dad had found someone else, but then he relaxed after Dad made the introductions. “Flo teaches at Stewart College of Languages over in Victoria. She and her husband were once my clients, back in my early years as a lawyer.”
Down at the basement level they located Rick’s Curios. It was cluttered with all kinds of things including brightly-coloured pots and sparkly scarves and fake parrots in wooden cages. Despite how colourful it seemed, it was a dumpy place and the owner was a gloomy man. He sighed deeply when Dad pressed him for details about Mandy, the arrested girl.
“Three teenage girls were in my store,” Rick reluctantly explained. “I saw two of them stealing a scarf. I yelled, and they ran out of the store. So I grabbed the third girl, and held her for the police.”
“Did you see this girl steal anything?”
Rick shrugged. “No, but she looked guilty to me.”
“Have you replayed your security video? Checked to see if she did anything?”
Rick shrugged. “Why bother. She . . .”
Dad seized the front of Rick’s shirt. The big, sloppy man’s teeth rattled in his head as Dad yanked him close. “I’ll tell you why to bother, Rick. Because that girl matters—she matters to someone.” Dad shook the man. “Now get that video, and let’s take a look.”
Rick slumped away, and kept them waiting a good long time. Eventually he returned with the security recording. It clearly showed Mandy’s innocence. Outside the store, Marco congratulated his Dad. “It was just like a movie! How you grabbed Rick, and made him cooperate. They should make a movie, with you as the star!”
Dad was clearly pleased at the thought. But then he glanced at the time on his wrist and his look changed from contented to guilty. “I’m running late, and I need to keep this job. The first chance I get, I’ll contact the police about Mandy.” He smiled at Marco. “What are your plans for this evening?”
“I’m going to the hospital to visit with Mom during her meal break.”
“She’s working a double shift?”
“Tell your Mom, I still love her.”
Marco hugged his Dad. “If only we could be together again, as a family.”
Dad’s striking face lit up with a smile. “It could happen.”
“It seems like I’m fighting a lot with Mom these days,” said Marco. “I don’t like it, but it just seems to happen.”
“It’s not her fault we separated.”
“She kicked you out, Dad! That’s why you’re living down at Victory Square!”
“There’s more to it, son. Cut your mom some slack. There are things you don’t know about.”
“So why don’t you . . .”
Dad held up his hand. “We’ll talk about it another time. I’m late. I’ve got to get patrolling the stairwells.”
They wished each other Merry Christmas and then hugged farewell. Outside in the dark, Marco decided to walk to the hospital. It was a fair distance, across the bridge and up the hill, but Marco liked walking in the busy city. He saw many amazing people and had witnessed some astonishing dramas.
“Hey there, Marco, hey, I’m calling your name!”
It was James. He had a wise guy smile on his face, like he was the champ and knew it. Approaching Marco, James held out his hand. Marco saw a Justin Bieber ticket. His heart leapt. Maybe it would still happen, maybe he’d get to see the star.
Delighted, Marco reached for the ticket. But James snatched it away. “It’s not for you, Marco.”
In a doorway, an elderly man leaned on a cane. He held a tray; it displayed neon pencils and fancy wrapping materials. “Pretty papers,” the man sang out, “to say I love you.”
Marco felt something tighten within his heart. He’d forgotten to tell his dad that he loved him. Dad’s work could be dangerous and Marco never knew what might happen. It was probably foolish of Dad to grab Rick, but it sure felt good to hear the man’s teeth rattle together.
James approached the elderly man. “What’s your name?”
James kicked away the man’s cane. The old fellow almost fell, but Marco managed to stop that from happening. Picking up the cane, he handed it to the man.
As the boys walked away together, Marco looked back at Roy. He was leaning on his cane, staring at the ground. A look of great sadness was in Roy’s eyes. Marco wanted to say something kind to the old man, but he couldn’t take the chance. His friendship with James was too important.
In a store window, an elaborately decorated scene featured an electric train rolling proudly through a winter landscape in which miniature people stood together outside houses and stores that sparkled with Christmas decorations. The train was a retro beauty, an El Paso Silver Streak with a gleaming all-metal body. Inside the train, seen through lighted windows, people in hats and ties read newspapers or enjoyed a meal together.
“My dad loves trains,” Marco said. “I can’t wait to tell him about this one.”
James spat on the store window. “That’s what I think of trains,” he said bitterly, “and that’s what I think about Christmas.”
Marco was shocked. “What are you talking about?”
James looked at him with wretched eyes. “When I was a kid, my life was bad. Everyone fought, they yelled all the time. I got sick of it. Families are stupid, and so is Christmas.”
Then James shook his head. “That stuff is no one’s business,” he said to himself. James sauntered down the street toward a man who was chalking an image onto the sidewalk. The art was vivid and striking. Its beauty made Marco catch his breath. He stared at the artist, envying his gift.
About 35, the man carried his First Nations heritage with pride. He had a youthful face with piercing black eyes. His dark hair hung down his back in a thick braid. Now the man frowned as James smeared his foot across the forest scene, spoiling the image. Glancing at James, the artist said, “Does that make you feel good?”
James overturned the man’s collection of crayons onto the forest scene. Stomping the chalk into fragments, he further tarnished the picture. When James was finished, it was ruined.
James arrogantly threw money onto the sidewalk for the artist, and then walked away. Marco paused long enough to whisper sorry to the man and then he hurried after James. “I’m going to the hospital for my Mom’s work break,” Marco said. “Want to come with me?”
“Your mother doesn’t like me, so why should I visit her?” James answered a text on his phone, then said goodbye to Marco. “I’ve got something happening tonight. There’ll be good coin for you. I’ll text you and we’ll set up a meeting for later.”
“Sounds good,” Marco replied. “I sure could use the coin.”
* * *
From a window in the hospital cafeteria, Marco looked out over Vancouver. On this Christmas Eve the city shone like a bright jewel in a setting of dark velvet mountains. A large and prosperous seaport, Vancouver’s many docks were crowded with vessels from every part of the world.
Some were yachts, up from California with movie stars hoping their kids could ace a ticket to Justin Bieber’s special concert. No way was that happening, but the stars and their offspring soon got over their disappointment and were seen enjoying Science World, the Canucks and other attractions. The paparazzi had come along, too, and were noticed around town with their cameras. The Biebs was somewhere close by, but his exact location was a well-guarded secret. Better to seek the code that guards the Crown jewels than try to find the star.
Marco’s mom brought a cup of coffee to his table by the window. “I just saw a news flash on TV,” she said, gesturing toward the screen. “Something’s happened at the city jail.”
Marco thought of Mandy, wondering what had happened to her. “Was there a jail break? Did someone escape?”
“I don’t know. It was just a news flash.” Mom grinned. “Guess what? I know a secret! At this very moment something amazing and totally hush-hush is happening in this very hospital. Want to go see?”
“Promise not to text anyone about it, okay? Not until it’s over. The hospital doesn’t want people to come running from everywhere.”
Marco reluctantly agreed. If he didn’t, she’d withdraw the invitation. Mom was strong-willed that way, and it could make things a nuisance. You had to be careful around Mom. She wasn’t afraid to apply the family rules, while Marco could always talk Dad around. Appeal to his vanity, and anything was possible. But now it didn’t matter because Dad was living in some dumpy place down near Victory Square and Mom was cracking down at home. Working two jobs to cover the rent sometimes made her cranky so the rules were enforced to excess, in Marco’s opinion.
Mom was a beauty when she married Dad, and looked radiant in their wedding photos. The photo albums were put away now, but Marco often looked at the pictures when Mom was off at work. The best photos showed the years of success, with Dad as a well-respected lawyer and Mom his chief adviser and best friend.
Then it happened. Everything changed.
Marco shook his head, trying to rid himself of the memory. He followed Mom along a corridor deep within the hospital, and then they climbed metal stairs that clanged underfoot. Eventually they emerged behind the hospital at an outdoor metal deck connected to a row of loading bays. During the day these bays would be busy with goods and groceries arriving in big trucks, but now the bays were empty and the place was quiet. Marco’s gaze was drawn immediately to a black limousine waiting beside the bays. The limo looked very out-of-place in this setting. Gleaming with a flawless shine, the Lincoln Town Car had 1-Ascot on its license plate.
A few hospital staffers had gathered, and were whispering with excited voices. There was tension in the air; it seemed to crackle with energy. Then around a corner appeared a small group of people, led by the world’s most famous singer.
“OMG,” cried Marco. “It’s Justin Bieber, in person!”
His mother grinned. “He’s been here, visiting the kids. We’re all sworn to secrecy.”
“Mom, I can’t believe it!”
Marco could only stare as Justin Bieber walked toward the waiting limousine. It was amazing to see him in person! Some of the nurses reached out to the star. With a good-natured smile he made a show of kissing their hands, and then the singer gave a friendly wave to some staffers who were applauding him. He seemed very relaxed in the public gaze.
Suddenly Marco ran forward, holding out his phone. “Please,” he pleaded, “I’m your biggest fan. Be in a picture with me. Please!”
Justin’s security guard moved to block Marco’s path, but the singer motioned him away. Grabbing Marco’s phone in one hand, Justin playfully locked his arm around Marco’s neck and they mugged together as the phone’s camera clicked repeatedly in their faces.
Then the star turned to the blue-eyed, silver-haired chauffeur waiting to open his door. “Let’s move fast, Wilson. We’ve been tipped that the paparazzi are on their way.”
The chauffeur smiled and nodded. “Yes sir, Mr. Bieber.”
The superstar’s assistants climbed into a second vehicle, this one a white stretch Lincoln bearing 2-Ascot plates. One gestured at Marco’s phone. “Tweet that picture, will you,” she called to him.
“Sure,” Marco enthused. “Love to!”
Then it was over, and the singer was gone into the night. Marco turned to his mother was shining eyes. “That was something!”
They said goodbye. Marco promised to wait up for his Mom so they could welcome Christmas together when she got home from work. Outside the hospital he thought about his amazing luck in seeing Justin Bieber in person. Few people could say that, and Marco knew his friends would be deeply envious. Even James would be jealous. He might have concert tickets but he’d only be watching from a distance and never get the kind of photo that Marco was about to post everywhere!
* * *
Marco followed the Granville Street Bridge to downtown Vancouver. He thought about his cat, Stripe, worried he might have forgotten to feed him. But then he remembered sitting on a kitchen chair, smiling fondly at Stripe as he gobbled down pink salmon, his favourite. Marco looked forward to seeing Stripe, but first he wanted to check out the Orpheum Theatre where Justin Bieber would be performing. Marco might even get doubly lucky, and see the singer arriving for the concert.
Then he saw Mandy.
She was standing in a dark alley. The force of Mandy’s stare drew Marco’s eyes in her direction. She looked frightened, haunted. Her enormous eyes gazed at Marco from the shadows.
Here was Marco’s chance to help her! He needed to tell Mandy the good news. His dad had proven she was innocent. She didn’t have to be on the run, hiding in an alley. She was free!
“Mandy,” he called. “Wait! I’ve got something to tell you!”
But it was no use. Mandy turned, and ran swiftly into the night.
What will happen next?
To find out read Chapter Three. (click here) If you would like to purchase the entire book click below.
Eric Wilson enjoys receiving messages about his stories, including Santa Bieber. He may not be able to write back to you, but please know that Eric reads, and thinks about, every message he receives.