Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Giraffe’s Christmas

Whipping down 17th Avenue, in my Levis and sweat shirt, I spot a giraffe lying next to four trash cans. It’s a beautiful giraffe about four-feel tall. Someone has thrown away this giraffe. It leans against the trashcans, rear legs buckled and long neck limp and hung over. I inspect the giraffe and I see it has both eyes. Its cloth nose is sewn back on and its ears are still in place. I see small holes where the wire for its hips has worn through.

This is sinful. This giraffe needs a child to love it, even in the shape it is in, so I pick the giraffe up by its tail and neck and slip down the street, careful not to be too conspicuous. A few houses down, I decide to prop it against a tree, but I’m not sure if the people in the house have kids. I try to remember where children live. As I prop the giraffe by the tree, I hear a car bearing down on me. I scoop the giraffe and keep walking, which is good because the car pulls right into the driveway.

I remember the new baby around the corner on 6th Street where bushes line the house and the father smokes cigarettes outside the front door. It would be nice for the baby to have this giraffe, even if it doesn’t really know what a giraffe is. Father and Mother can take the baby out and show them the giraffe. Magic is what little children need. I love my giraffe, but I know what must be done.

I sneak up to the drive. A small palm tree, with spurs looms to the right and a line of hedges runs down the front of the lawn to the left. I sidle-up under the short palm tree and prop the giraffe’s neck in a spur. I stuff the body upright underneath and it stands proudly in its great giraffe jungle night. I am so pleased to know this Christmas Eve that someone will find a giraffe in their yard by morning. I slip across the street. As I walk off, I hear the baby start to cry and wonder if the baby suddenly knew the giraffe was there. I slip down 17th Avenue.

Christmas morning I wake-up in the dark. I lie in bed thinking about Laura. I’m not feeling quite myself. I get out of bed and pull the covers over Laura’s right hip. It’s raining and I worry immensely about the stuffed giraffe under the palm tree. I sit in the big chair, in the dark, looking at the Christmas tree lights drinking my coffee at 5:52 AM. I know the four-foot fuzzy giraffe outside the baby’s house is getting very wet. I am worried. I wonder if I can find a raincoat for the giraffe.

That night I walk in heavy blue sweatshirt, Levis and my black running shoes. I find the giraffe by the palm tree; its head slipped one notch down the spurs. I lift its soft head and hoist it’s behind up a notch so it remains regal. It’s dry. It has survived the rain.

Every day I check on the giraffe. Laura has gone north to work. She didn’t call last night. I sit in the early morning dark drinking my Bustelo coffee and staring at the Christmas tree perched on the bookcase. It’s almost New Years.

It’s cool, very cool and I’m up for a long walk, but that night when I start walking my heart begins to pound coming down 17th Avenue to 6th. Maybe the giraffe had been tossed out. At the corner, I glance to my right and see its left hind leg sticking onto the sidewalk and his long neck reaching into the palm tree to its full four-foot height still attached to a palm spur. My giraffe survives.

I am so pleased. Above, Orion has just passed the zenith. There’s Aldebaran and to the North, Pegasus gallops silently and where Cassiopeia should be, spotted clouds sweep the sky. I listen to sound of this night. I breathe it simply and as clearly as a glass of water. I know I shall never hear this night again.
The next morning I wake up alone. Laura is still up north. I take a pillow out to the couch where the Christmas tree is lit. I’m mesmerized by the light. I take the brown woven comforter from the back of the green chair and lie on the couch. I’m afraid I won’t sleep, but soon doze off.

That night I skirt the corner and ease-up on the house. When I reach the drive, I see the man sitting on the top step of two by the front door. He wears a dark shirt and white slacks. His hair is dark, full and curly. He stares at me. The Giraffe is gone. We stare at each other for a few seconds. I walk on. .The giraffe is GONE.

For a few days I harbor an empty place in my heart. Where could it go? Who took it? Did the man out front toss it out after Christmas? Did he know I put the giraffe by his palm tree? How could he do it? Every giraffe deserves a Christmas. This is HIS Christmas.

Laura arrives late on New Year’s Eve. When I ask her why it took her two and half hours, she goes crazy and runs around the house screaming, “It’s the driving, driving, driving. The cars! The crazies out there. On Christmas and New Years and every day. She’s shaking. I walk out to the living room and stare at the blank TV screen. She calls me back to the kitchen. We hold each other. We stay home for New Years. We sleep. I awaken early worrying about the Giraffe.

Late that afternoon I bake the small organic turkey with a dressing of spices, kumquats, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, dates, onions and carrots. I make cranberry sauce with orange peel. We hold hands before eating our dinner. We have vanilla bean ice cream dessert. This is our ninth News Year together.

I convince myself I must get on with my life without the giraffe. That night I take my evening walk. Orion is just rising and the weather is cool. I loop the neighborhood and for a nice change I slip down 17th Way toward 5th Street. A long row of one floor apartments with a connecting porch lie to my right. Trees line the sidewalk in front. When I pass the first apartment, I see a flash in my right eye. I stop.

There in the first crag of a fat Banyan tree sits the giraffe. His button eyes sparkle. Nearby, I hear a child singing.



At December 8, 2010 at 12:45 PM , Blogger Myra's Musings said...

Oh David Plumb,

I love your words.
They are music
to my ears.

Thank you for
via Facebook,
that we should
check out your
story on
Notes From a
Wavering Planet.

I have now
your Planet.

Sending love
and good wishes
to you and Lorraine.

Enjoy the Holiday's,
with or without
the giraffe.

At December 10, 2010 at 9:03 PM , Blogger David said...


Thank you so much. The giraffe thanks you too.

Great that you are out there dancing.



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