This is a work of fiction
Copyright 2013 by Eric Wilson and Flo Wilson
All rights reserved
Santa Bieber by Eric Wilson
On a corner in downtown Vancouver, a man with a trumpet played a melancholy song of Christmas. The man wore blue jeans and a coat. His shiny, golden trumpet reflected red and green lights from surrounding store windows. His horn was off-key, but he was sincere.
Marco pushed past people who crowded the busy sidewalks. Ahead of him was Mandy. She was moving fast. Marco couldn’t seem to close the gap between them, but he never lost sight of her.
This was a colourful part of the west-coast city. Business people had gone to a lot of trouble creating window displays to celebrate the season. Marco’s favourite was a window filled with angels, their feathery wings shining under white Christmas lights. One candy store advertised Maple Syrup Fudge made from 100 percent pure Canadian maple syrup. Marco was tempted, but didn’t stop.
He had to reach Mandy. He had to tell her she was free, and didn’t need to run anymore. Thanks to Marco’s dad, there would be a happy ending.
Somewhere in the night, a clock bonged the hour. It had a deep, rich sound. People crowded the sidewalks, carrying last-minute purchases. Marco heard several languages being spoken, and realized that these people had come here to the province of British Columbia from many corners of the world. Some of them, he felt certain, had come for this evening’s Justin Bieber concert. Marco glanced at the time. He needed to get to the Orpheum Theatre, and soon.
An impressive totem pole stood outside a store selling First Nations art along with silver jewellery. The pole featured elaborate and colourful designs. It was topped by a fierce thunderbird with large teeth and staring dark eyes. It was such a proud face. Marco felt sad to see the thunderbird stranded in the city, stuck up against a brick wall, so far away from the forest where it belonged.
Ahead, a dragon greeted visitors to Chinatown. It was red; the lucky colour could be seen on street fixtures and bright doors, even above where scarlet lanterns glowed against the dark night sky.
It was a vibrant scene. Above Marco, a sign announced Shanghai City Seafood. The air smelled pleasantly of spices, and the people passing by were all interesting. Some men had beards and long hair down their backs. Others leaned on canes, gazing with interest at a group of young people weighed down by large backpacks. A man wearing lime green gloves wheeled his bike past Marco. It was hand-painted in bright reds and greens.
Mandy approached a phone booth; it was the color of cherries and had a charming pagoda-style roof. Stepping into the booth, Mandy checked the phone for forgotten coins. Marco saw Mandy’s face reflected in the window of the booth. At the same moment, the girl saw Marco.
Her face registered shock.
Mandy took off fast. She darted past numerous grocery stores with boxes of vegetables on display along the sidewalk. Marco couldn’t catch up to Mandy. It was like a dream where you’re running and running, unable to get anywhere despite your best efforts. Two police cars came out of the night, sirens wailing, red and blue lights flashing. As they screamed past, Mandy’s steps faltered. She looked at the cars in fear.
Then suddenly she darted into an alley with brick walls on either side. It was long and narrow, sized strictly for pedestrians. A few people wandered the alley looking in the windows of the stores, which were small but attractive and offering many unusual items for sale.
Marco couldn’t see Mandy anywhere in the alley — she had disappeared. Walking forward slowly, he left the stores behind. The alley was now very dark and seemed much narrower. If Marco put out his arms, he realized, he could touch both brick walls at the same moment.
He came to a small passage leading into darkness. Inside the passage Mandy was trying to hide against the wall, but Marco saw her immediately. He was thrilled — finally he could give her the good news!
“Mandy,” cried Marco, “I’ve . . .”
Without warning Mandy swept her foot beneath Marco, knocking his legs aside. Marco went down hard. Winded by the fall, Marco struggled up to lean against the wall, catching his breath. At the far end of the alley, Mandy stopped to look at him. Marco thought he saw regret in her eyes.
Then Mandy was gone.
Refusing to give up, Marco went after her. Eventually he reached the waterfront where he stopped, looking for the girl. Ahead was a huge railway marshalling yard where trains were assembled for journeys to the many cities and towns of North America. Marco wandered closer to have a look. He loved trains.
Then he saw Mandy. She was in the yard, running for the shelter of a train. Marco wanted to call her name, but he realized that would be a mistake. It might spook her. She didn’t seem to understand that Marco could be trusted.
Mandy disappeared into the shadows of the yard. Marco followed, determined to help her. He found himself beside a long, long line of boxcars carrying the name and logo of the Canadian National Railway.
Steel ladders were attached to the boxcars. They were for the use of railway workers, not for Mandy; but that didn’t seem to matter. Grabbing a ladder, she started climbing.
Running forward, Marco seized the ladder. The steel was cold in his hands. Above him, Mandy reached the top. She looked down at Marco and then was gone from sight.
Marco’s heart pounded as he climbed the ladder. Then he made a mistake. Unable to resist, he looked down. The ground was dark below; he couldn’t see anything. If he fell, it would be horrible. Marco shuddered. He tightly gripped the cold steel of the ladder. His breath came in short gasps. Heights scared Marco; this was bad.
But he had to reach Mandy. Marco forced himself to climb higher. He didn’t look down again. A narrow platform ran the length of the boxcar. Mandy stood at the far end, looking at Marco. “Mandy,” he called, “you’ve got to listen to me. You . . .”
Turning, Mandy leapt nimbly across to the next car. As she moved rapidly away from Marco he knew it was all over. Mandy was in the wind. She was lost to him.
* * *
Thirty minutes later, Marco and James sat together on a dock overlooking the restless dark waters of the ocean. Marco could smell seaweed. Seagulls drifted against the black sky, looking like white ghosts, their cries piercing the night.
The boys had made contact by text message, and agreed to meet. Marco needed time to get to the Orpheum, but he didn’t like saying no to James.
A beep sounded—James fished an electronic device from the pocket of his jeans. On the screen was his mother. She had sunken cheeks; her brown eyes stared from dark sockets. She dragged on a cigarette and then exhaled dirty smoke from the corner of her mouth.
James glanced at Marco. His friend shook his head impatiently, and then spoke to the screen. “What is it, Mom?”
She tried to smile without much success. Marco wondered about her age. She looked so gaunt, so haggard. His heart went out to her.
“James, where are you?” said his Mom. “I need you here, at home. It’s Christmas Eve.”
“I know. It’s just . . .”
“Don’t give me excuses, James. Just get yourself home. It’s a bad night for me to be alone, it’s the worst.”
“Why, Mom? What’s the reason? You won’t ever tell me.”
Her eyes narrowed. “What’s that I hear? Are those seagulls? You’re at the ocean?”
“Sure, Mom, but . . .”
“James, how could you? I’ve begged you to stay away from the ocean. If it happened again . . .”
“Mom, what’s going on? Tell me what this is about.”
A tear ran silently down her cheek. She didn’t say anything, just looked at James. He touched the screen and it went blank. James sighed deeply. “My mom is on anti-depressants. They aren’t helping.”
Then James suddenly jumped up. “You need cash to spend?”
“Who doesn’t? What have you got in mind?”
James led Marco to a marina at the end of a pier. Beyond the mysterious waves they could see the large shape of Vancouver’s heavily-forested Stanley Park, a treasured jewel in the heart of the city. White lights twinkled on the bridge, which led across the water to the neighbouring communities of West Vancouver and North Vancouver.
Close by, inside the marina, were several high-end yachts. Small waves rose and fell against their hulls, making a pleasing liquid sound. Nearby, seagulls floated on the dark water.
A chain-link fence protected the marina. James tried the gate, but it was locked tight. “Not a problem,” he said with a self-confident grin. “My uncle can pick any lock. He’ll get us in.”
“What’ll you do then?” Marco responded sarcastically. “Steal a boat? Go for a joy ride?”
“Of course not,” James said with contempt. “My uncle’s not that dumb.”
“So why break into the marina?”
“Some of those yachts belong to movie stars. My uncle heard that one of them has gone to a party, and taken along the entire crew. The yacht will be empty. He wants me to be look-out on the dock, while he breaks in. Why don’t you help us? The money could be real good. My uncle heard rumours the star has diamonds and rubies on board — the real thing!”
“When does all this happen?”
“That’s the trouble,” said James. “My uncle’s totally unreliable. He may never show up.”
Marco looked at the time. “I can’t wait around. I’m hoping maybe I’ll see Justin Bieber when he arrives at the Orpheum.” Then Marco frowned. “But, wait a minute, James! Don’t you have tickets for his concert?”
“I sold them for big cash.” James smiled. He was very self-confident. “I love making money. It’s the greatest thrill of all.” He gazed at Marco. “I’m going to be a big success. Lots of people will know my name.”
Yeah, yeah Marco said to himself. I’ve heard it all before—you’re such a big shot.
Without saying goodbye, Marco took off walking in the direction of the Orpheum Theatre. He couldn’t believe that James had bought into his uncle’s idea. The guy probably wouldn’t even show up, and the whole evening would be wasted. Even if his uncle did eventually arrive, he most likely wouldn’t know the first thing about picking locks. Besides which, those expensive yachts were certain to be protected by all kinds of security.
It was a brainless scheme, and Marco was pleased that he wasn’t involved. What if he got arrested? That’s all he needed! Things were bad enough at home. A phone call from the police was not what Mom and Dad needed. Marco’s goal was to get them together again, not be the cause of even more tears for his Mom and unhappy sighs from Dad.
* * *
Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre is one of the most beautiful concert halls in North America. It was built in 1927 as a “movie palace” with seating for almost three thousand. For Justin Bieber, this would not be a large audience. At a football stadium in Mexico City he had entertained almost 200,000 fans. But tonight’s concert was something unique, with the star’s entire family rumoured to be coming for a special tribute to the season of peace.
A large crowd filled Granville Street outside the Orpheum. The air buzzed with excitement. The lucky ones clutched tickets for the big event, and grinned happily as they entered the theatre. Marco soon learned that he was too late to see Justin Bieber arrive; the singer was already inside.
Around the back of the theatre, Marco found an alley. He followed it to the stage door, where performers enter and leave the theatre. No one was around, but he could hear music through the door. He recognized the distinctive sounds of the opening act, A Tribe Called Red.
The stage door opened. Out stepped an usher. Seeing Marco, the teenager smiled and walked over to chat. “You didn’t get a ticket, eh?”
Marco shrugged. “At least I got to see him earlier today, at the hospital.”
She nodded. “I recognize your face from the picture of you with Justin Bieber.”
“You saw that? Cool!”
The girl smiled at Marco. “I’m Molly.”
Marco introduced himself. “You’re lucky, Molly, being an usher for this concert.”
She smiled. “That’s for sure.”
They continued to talk for a few minutes, and then Molly suddenly gestured Marco toward the stage door. “Hurry,” she whispered, “and I’ll get you inside. You can watch the show.”
Molly smiled at Marco as he slipped into the theatre. His eyes were bright and shining, like stars in the sky. He couldn’t believe his good fortune.
Marco was about to attend the Justin Bieber concert!
* * *
To read the remaining five chapters of Santa Bieber please click below. The price is five dollars.
* * *
You’ll be in attendance for Justin Bieber’s Christmas concert and then you’ll share Marco’s delight when he meets the superstar in person. There’s also suspense and adventure waiting for you as Mandy and Marco’s breathtaking escapades continue in the pages of Santa Bieber.
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