It was Christmas Eve. Rudy and Oscar sat talking in Oscar’s office ”So Rudy, when will Steve be ready to go back into the field?” Oscar asked.
“He’s still not ready Oscar.” Rudy sighed.
“Its been a year now Rudy.” Oscar reminded.
“Yea. I know a year ago tonight. Cassie and the twins were killed in that accident. Actually this is the worst I’ve seen him.”
“I know you did everything you could Rudy.” Oscar reminded.
“Thanks Oscar I appreciate that.”
“By the way, do you still have Tommy?”
Rudy nodded. “Steve just isn’t ready to take him yet. The depression goes that deep. I don’t know if he’ll ever come out of it.”
“You mean he’s not taking him for Christmas?” Oscar sounded shocked. “Steve has always enjoyed the holiday. Especially with the kids.”
“Not this year Oscar. I spoke to him earlier today. He sounds so bitter. I just can’t explain it. I’m going to stop by his place tonight just to see if he’s changed his mind.”
“Let me know how it goes. I really need him Rudy.” Oscar reminded.
“I don’t know if he’ll ever be ready to go back out. If he doesn’t come out of this soon I may have to resort to drastic measures.”
“Drastic measures?” Oscar removed his glasses and looked up at Rudy.
“Yea Tommy needs a stable home. I’ll have Steve declared incompetent and adopt Tommy as my own son”
“That would destroy…”
“Oscar we’ve already lost him. I may even have to go as far as to have him commited.” Rudy turned to leave.
“That bad huh?”
“Well Rudy Keep me informed would you? I don’t dare go to Steve’s I’m sure he still blames me for what happened.”
“Well if you hadn’t sent him on assignment on Christmas Eve. Cassie would never have been out. After all she was on her way back from the airport after dropping him off.”
“I know. Don’t you think I know that?” Oscar shouted.
“Well I’m going to see how he’s doing. Then I need to get home to Tommy. I told him I’d be home early tonight.”
“Ok then Rudy. I’ll see you after the holiday.”
“Yea Oscar. Have a Merry Christmas.” Rudy thought for a moment. “Listen why don’t you join us for dinner tomorrow?”
“I just might do that. Thanks Rudy.”
“I’m sorry Tommy. I just don’t feel like it.” Steve sighed into the phone.
“You always liked Christmas dad. I thought I could come home for Santa’s visit.”
“Yea well don’t count on it.” Steve hung up on his six-year-old son.
Tommy sat on the edge of the couch crying.
“What’s the matter honey?” Rudy’s housekeeper Paula asked.
“My daddy doesn’t want me any more.” Tommy sobbed.
“Oh now honey don’t cry.” Paula soothed “Listen why don’t you pick out the cookies you want to leave for Santa ok.”
The boy went out into the kitchen and Paula picked up the phone. She quickly dialed Rudy’s number at work.
Rudy was just on his way out when the phone rang. He came close to not answering it. But decided he better.
Rudy was furious with what Paula had just told him. He stormed out of his office and headed for Steve’s.
“Ok Steve! I’ve had it! Do you hear me? I’ve HAD IT!!!” Rudy screamed.
“Big deal!” Steve snorted as he sat on the couch surrounded by personal items of Cassie and the twins.
“Steve you can’t keep going this way. Your son needs you.” Rudy calmed down just a bit.
“I don’t care Rudy. Don’t you understand? Nothing matters anymore. Look no one invited you. Why don’t you just leave my house?”
“Ok Steve. I’ll leave. But I’m leaving you with this. You are invited to Christmas dinner tomorrow. If you chose to come, fine. If you don’t, I’m seeing my lawyer after the first of the year and ask for full custody of Tommy.”
“What ever you want Rudy. Just go away and leave me alone.” Steve muttered.
Rudy left. Leaving Steve alone in the house. He had stopped turning on the lights when it got dark. Except for the few things he surrounded himself with he couldn’t stand seeing the toys and things the kids used to play with. So he remained in the dark.
He had sat there for several minutes when the knock came to the door. Grumbling Steve stood to answer it. “I thought I told you to leave Rudy.” Steve shouted as he opened the door.
Steve was shocked. Cassie was standing on the porch.
Steve closed his eyes and shook his head. He then opened them once again
Hoping the apparition would be gone. It wasn’t. “Cassie?” He questioned.
“In a way Steve.” Cassie spoke softly to him.
“Dead?” Cassie finished the statement.
Shaking Steve nodded.
“I am Steve. I died one year ago tonight to be exact.” Cassie continued to speak softly to him.
“I don’t understand?” Steve stammered.
“Steve. We have to have a serious talk, then you and I are taking a little trip.”
“I think I’m already on one, but ok.” Steve looked at his wife who had been dead for a year now.
“I don’t like the way you’re treating our son. Tommy needs you, now more than ever. Look I know the girls and I were your life, but Tommy was too. Remember today is Tommy’s sixth birthday?”
Steve slowly nodded.
Cassie reached out and took Steve’s hand. “Come on blue eyes.” She called. “We have a few stops to make.”
Hand in hand they walked out the front door. “Where are we going?” Steve asked.
“We’re taking a trip down memory lane.” Cassie smiled. “Steve you used to love Christmas so.”
“That was before Cassie.” Steve sighed. “Nothing matters anymore.”
“That’s why I’m here.” Cassie pointed and Steve followed her finger.
He was in his parent’s house in Ojai.
“Steven!” Helen called from the front porch. “It’s getting chilly, you really need to come back inside now.”
“Ok Mama I’m coming.” Steven called out
Steve and Cassie stood in the living room and watched the eight-year-old version of Steve wiz past them.
“Where’s dad?” Steven asked.
“He went to the airport to pick up your aunt Martha.” Helen told him. “Come and help Mama get the table ready for dinner.”
“Ok.” The boy giggled. “I love Christmas so much. Mama I have a question.”
“What is it dear?” They had begun to get the table ready for dinner.
“Is there a Santa Claus?” Steven asked.
“Well that’s a tough question. But I’m going to say yes there is.” Helen wanted to keep the tradition going just a little longer for her only child.
“Well some of the bigger kids at school were saying there wasn’t.” Steven gave her a suspicious look.
“Well I believe in Santa.” She told him.
Steve tried to approach his mother to tell her how grateful he was for her to let him go on believing for another two years but Cassie stopped him. “Look this way Steve. Besides they can’t see you or hear you. These are merely shadows of the past”
“Oh I see.” Steve sounded sad. He looked in the direction she was pointing. Steven was now in his room plotting on coming down the stairs to get a glimpse of the man in the long white beard.
They watched as Steven crept down the steps and saw Santa himself placing presents under the tree.
“It was dad all along.” Steve spoke to Cassie.
“He wanted the magic to be with you for just a little longer. He knew you were watching. Come on Steve we still have much to see. Again she pointed
Steve followed her finger.
He and Cassie were sitting in a restaurant
Steve ran up to the two of them calling their names.
“Steve they can’t see us or hear us.Remember?” Cassie reminded
“That’s right I forgot.” Steve sighed.
“Just listen Steve.” Cassie held a finger to her lip.
“You know I love you Cassie.” Steve was saying. “I can’t believe this is our first Christmas together.”
“I know. Our first Christmas together who knows maybe if we get things right next year we’ll have another reason to celebrate.”
“I hope so. I want nothing more than to have a family with you.” Steve smiled at her. “I love this time of year.”
“So do I.” Cassie sipped her drink.
“I always want this night to be special to us.” Steve smiled at her.
“I have a feeling it will be.” She took his hand and gave it a kiss.
“Come on Steve.” Cassie pulled on him. “It’s time to go.”
“No!” Steve cried. “I want to stay here.”
“There is still much to see.” Cassie took his arm and led him down the street. “We’re going to skip ahead one year.”
“The night Tommy was born.” Steve winced
“That’s right.” Cassie again pointed, this time he was in Rudy’s office.
“Any word yet?” Oscar was asking
“No nothing yet.” Steve was pacing around the room like a mad man. “I mean here we are ready to go to Cassie’s parents for dinner, and bam. Cassie says it’s time.” Steve turned to Oscar. “I never thought I would be a father on Christmas Eve.”
“Why don’t you sit down and relax for just a bit.” Oscar coaxed.
“I suppose you’re right.” Steve sat on the couch and he and Oscar talked
After what seemed like days, Rudy appeared in his office. Steve jumped to his feet when he walked in.
“Well?” He questioned.
“Everything is great. Cassie is fine, a bit tired but she did great. And your son is perfect.” Rudy smiled.
“My son? When can I see them?” Steve demanded.
“In just a few moments, Linda is getting the little guy all spruced up to see the world. I’ll let you know.”
“Look over there Steve.” Cassie pointed.
Steve was now in Cassie’s room at the hospital. Steve watched himself walk over to Cassie’s bed.
“Well, well!” Steve exclaimed. “Who do we have here?”
“We did agree on Thomas didn’t we?” Cassie looked up at him.
“Yes Thomas it is.” Steve turned to his son. “You know daddy loves Christmas. I’m always going to make each and every one just as special as I possibly can. He cradled the boy in his arms. “So Tommy. How do you like being born on Christmas Eve?”
The boy gave a slight yawn and closed his blue eyes and drifted off to sleep.
“Time to go Steve.” Cassie was pulling on him again.
“No. Please, can’t we stay a bit longer?” Steve cried.
“We still have one more scene. Look.”
He was in his own living room. Tommy and the girls were gathered around the fireplace with Steve and Cassie.
“Remember Steve? Just two years ago?”
Steve watched as the girls crawled around the floor.
“Daddy?” Tommy then four asked. “Can I leave Santa a piece of my Birthday Cake instead of cookies this year?”
“I don’t see why not.” He reached over and picked up one of the girls who had crawled over to him.
“That’s daddy’s princess.” Steve smiled. Then turned to Tommy. “I know a little boy who better get to bed if he wants Santa to pay him a visit tonight.”
“I only hope he hasn’t passed us up because you were still awake.” Cassie added.
“I’m going to bed right now.” Tommy ran down the hall to his room.
They watched as their young son sped down the hall to his room. The door slammed and Steve turned to Cassie “Ok Cassie. Ready?”
“I’ll get the presents.” She smiled.
“Come on Steve.” Again Cassie pulled on him arm.
“I really want to stay here.” Steve pleaded.
“We can’t. I still need to show you what’s happening this Christmas…
“This Christmas?” Steve stared at her.
“Of course Blue Eyes. This Christmas.” Again Cassie grabbed onto Steve’s arm.
Steve followed her down the street. “Look over there.” She pointed.
They were now in Rudy’s living room. Rudy was sitting on the couch with Tommy. Tommy hadn’t stopped crying since his conversation with his father. He had never really picked out cookies for Santa.
“It’s ok son.” Rudy was trying to comfort the boy.
“He doesn’t want me Rudy!” Tommy continued to sob. “Daddy doesn’t want me!!”
“That’s not true son.” Rudy put his arm around the boy. “You’re father loves you. It’s just that right now he hurts so bad because your mommy and Sisters aren’t here anymore.”
“Maybe daddy would feel better if they were here and I wasn’t.” Tommy looked into Rudy’s eyes.
“No, no Tommy. Your daddy would be just as sad if you were gone too.” He soothed.
“I don’t think so.” Tommy whispered.
“Oh Tommy no!” Steve cried. “I know you can’t see me son, but I love you more than anything.”
Tommy turned back to Rudy. “I maked daddy a present at school. Can I give it to you?”
“I’d love to have it son, but why don’t you save it till your daddy’s feeling better.”
“Can I go see Santa?” Tommy’s blue eyes flashed at him.
Rudy looked deep into them. “You are so much like your father.” He ran his fingers through the light brown hair. “I think Santa’s awful busy.” Rudy explained. “I tell you what if you have something extra you’d like to ask Santa for, I’ll write it down and we’ll see if he can leave it for you.”
“I want him to give my daddy a present.” Tommy stared in the direction where Steve and Cassie stood watching the scene play out.
“What do you want Santa to bring your daddy?” Rudy’s eyes were moist.
“I want him to give him my mommy and sisters back. I can go live with him.”
“With who son.” Rudy’s eyes filled with tears of pain for his friend’s son who was to young to understand what had happened to his mother and two baby sisters.
Steve saw the pain in Rudy’s eyes.
“I could live with Santa. I bet he’d love to have a little boy live with him. Unless…”
“Unless what Tom?”
Tears rolled down Steve’s cheeks.
Unless Santa is like my daddy and likes girls and mommies better than boys I’m tired I want to go to bed. I just hope Santa can give my daddy that present.”
“We’ll see Tommy, come on I’ll take you to bed. Want a story?”
Rudy reached for one of the books on the shelf. “How bout this one The Night Before Christmas…”
“No, no!” Tommy cried that book will make me to sad. “Daddy always read it to me.”
“Ok son. You just climb into bed.” Rudy tucked him into bed then stepped out of the room ‘Dam you Steve” he muttered.
Steve watched as Rudy went back down stairs and picked up the phone.
“Oscar you still awake?” Rudy asked.
“Yea Rudy how was Steve when you stopped by.” Oscar wondered.
“The same, look I need to talk to someone, could you come over for a while?”
A few minutes later Steve watched Oscar join Rudy in the living room.
“Tommy said what?” Oscar wanted to know.
“You heard me. He wants Santa to give Steve back his mother and little sisters, he can go live with Santa, unless Santa is like his daddy…”
“What are you going to do about it?” Oscar wondered.
“I’ll tell Tommy that I stopped Santa, because I want him to be my little boy.” Rudy told him.
“Think it will work?” Oscar wondered.
“I hope so.” Rudy sighed.
“Then what Rudy?” Oscar wondered.
“As soon as the holiday is over. I intend to call my lawyer and have the paper work put into motion. I’m sure Steve won’t care. You should have heard Tommy. My heart still aches.”
“Well I didn’t hear him, and mine aches too.” Oscar stood to leave. “I’ll see you for dinner tomorrow?”
“Yea we are also doing Tommy’s birthday. I apologized for forgetting.”
“Ok then, I’ll see you in the morning.” Oscar turned to leave. “Did you ask Steve to come?”
“Yes I did, weather he does or not is up to him.” Rudy opened the door
Oscar went out into the darkness of Christmas Eve.
Steve turned to Cassie. “Now what?”
“Now we take a look at what’s going to happen in the future…”
“I was afraid you were going to say that.” Steve winced.
“Look this way Steve.”
Steve turned in the direction Cassie was pointing.
“Well here we are again Rudy. I still can’t believe it. One year ago tonight Steve killed himself.” Oscar sobbed.
“He just couldn’t get over it. I should have seen the depression was getting worse. I should have seen it.” Rudy blamed himself.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have taken Tommy…”
“Steve didn’t even show up at the hearing, even though the court sent a car just for him. He just stopped caring Oscar about everything and everybody.”
“And Tommy?” Oscar didn’t know if he should bring up the subject.
“He’s not doing so good. After Steve killed himself, you know he stopped talking…”
“Yes. He was such a bright boy too. Did you?”…
“I had no choice Oscar.” Rudy’s eyes were moist. “He keeps trying to hurt himself. Especially after his father killed himself last Christmas. He needs to be watched more than I have time. I hated doing it to him.”
Steve turned to Cassie. “Where is our son?” He demanded.
“This way Steve.” Her voice had lost the softness. she had started out with. In fact her voice had become quite cold.
They were standing outside the DC Pediatric Hospital. “Our son is here?” Steve asked
“Yes Steve. Rudy was afraid Tommy would hurt himself so he brought him here. Let’s go inside.”
Steve started to follow. “Cassie before we go in, I have a question, you said earlier these were shadow of things yet to come. Now are these shadows of things that will be, or might be?”
“That choice is entirely up to you Steve.” Cassie hissed.
They walked into the hospital together. “They have him in the psychiatric ward.” Cassie turned to him.
“He still won’t talk?” Steve asked as he watched his now eight-year-old son through the glass.
“No Steve he won’t.”
“It’s not fair.” Steve cried. “Like Oscar said. He had such a bright future. Please tell me I can change this Please…”
Steve rolled over and fell off the couch. Bright sunlight streamed through his window. He raced for the window and threw it open. A young boy not much older then Tommy was passing by.
“Excuse me son but what day is it?” Steve asked the perplexed boy.
“Today?” The boy gave him a stunned look. “Why it’s Christmas Day!” the boy exclaimed.
“Christmas Day. I haven’t missed it.” Steve said more to himself than anyone else.
He flew upstairs and showered and got ready to go over to Rudy’s and bring his son home.
He got in his car and drove over to Rudy’s house.
Rudy and Tommy were just starting to open presents when Steve rang the doorbell. “I’ll get it Tom.” Rudy stated. “Then we’ll open our presents.”
Rudy walked to the door. “Steve!” He cried. “Come on in. Tommy and I were just getting ready to open presents.”
“That’s good. I have some of my own for Tommy. They’re from last year, but I don’t think he’ll mind.”
“Steve all Tommy wanted for Christmas was you.” Rudy told him. “Come on we’re in the living room.”
Tommy was sitting on the couch ready to open his presents. “Hey Tommy.” Rudy called out. “I want you to open this present first.”
“What is it?” Tommy started. “Daddy!” Tommy cried. He ran to his father. “I’m sure glad Santa brought you.”
“I am to son. Look Tommy. Daddy’s sorry. I love you more than anything.”
“I love you too daddy.” Tommy exclaimed.
“Rudy if it’s all right my son and I would like to stay for dinner, then I’m going to take my son home.”
“No Steve I don’t mind at all.” Rudy smiled.
“I’m glad your feeling better Dad.” Tommy continued to hug him.
“Me to son. Come on I’ll help you pack your things so you’re all ready after dinner.
“I don’t know Oscar.” Rudy said after Oscar arrived. “He just showed up at the door. I’m glad don’t get me wrong.
“I am to. But I think I’ll hold off on sending him anywhere for a while.”
“Good choice. Let him and Tommy get to know each other again.
“I understand.” Oscar smiled back.