Patrick Flincher pressed his nose up to the glass of an electronics store and blinked in sync with the Christmas lights decorating it. He lip singed the playing song, ‘ding, dong, ding, dong, that is their song….words of good cheer….filling the air’, via memory from commercials and a Sunday lunch where niece Marie hammered her punk teen angst version on a piano in the living room and stomped the ground declining slavery to commercialism, making the porcelain clatter in the antique cabinet. In honesty he didn’t understand the anti-commercialism anti-celebratory trash version of niece Marie. It felt a waste to the holiday cheer.
Mr. Flincher watched the a Capella group beatbox and carol in perfect harmony the ancient song on a 40-inch smart TV, priced off, a real bargain, but as soon as the clip ended he caught a glimpse of himself and stepped back from the glass leaving fingerprints to fade. His reflection looked distorted by the bright lights, really a half-face with leaky eyes and messy hair, a beard that showed more grays each day and that thick wool scarf reddening his neck with irritation. Mr. Flincher sighed and treaded home; he passed screaming golden, red, white, green placards, “HALF-PRICE”, “50% OFF”, “TOP-PRICE”, “GET YOURS, GET NOW – 70% OFF”, “CHRISTMAS OFFER”, “TODAY ONLY” , but clutched his small paper bag, trying to put the cheer back into his soul.
The Spirit of the season leaped from one electrical circuit to the next, green florescence sparking brighter in the next electrical ad posted outside a store. Mr. Flincher peeked over his shoulder finding the world had suddenly moved to neon signs. He blinked blind at the overflowing colors which heated through the glass corral. The bulbs of the neon sign burst individually in a symphony of their own; fumes escaped and expanded the atmosphere inside the enclosure and the crackling sound of the glass went Ho. Ho. Ho.
Mr. Flincher ran away from the neon bomb, rushing himself into clusters of people squeezing tight crumpled dollar bills or waving plastic Gods of online and paperless shopping, lining outside overcrowded stores with giant Neon Santa and a Neon Rudolf Ho. Ho. Ho-eing and waving and winking at them below, bargaining for a price below the bargained one.
The signs above Mr. Flinchers’ head beamed to explosion, reaching critical mass in their painful exploration of the limit of neon colors. Yet the spirit of the season kept leaping and stealing the electrical energy, feeding itself from a small bolt of green to one of red, consuming voltages in its connected path. It was such a wired world.
Mr. Flincher shut the door behind him, cutting off the low buzzing that haunted him throughout the city.
“Daddy, what Is that?”
It was his son and his daughter doing point and stare at the top of the stairs, where there was a thing that shouldn’t have been there. It was a Neon Claus. A Claus Neon.
It stood in his house, synchronized with a holiday tune of his own, which Mr. Flincher recognized instantly from the way the connected tubes changed their traditional colors to fit a rhythm and conjure the bearded full face of the ghost of Christmas present and Christmas future. He tried to hum instead niece Marie’s punk experiment, but its lyrics were vague in the presence of the Spirit.
“Is that Santa, daddy?”
“But he climbed through the window!”
“Why is he like that?”
“I can see through him!”
“Is that a new decoration?”
Mr. Flincher gave his children the paper bag and told them to behave with the sweets. When they ran into the other room he closed his eyes and wished the Neon Claus away.
The low electrical buzz went Ho. Ho. Ho.