An American Noel

by Marianna Boncek

Charlie Reardon is a down-and-out bum looking for some returnables and a warm place to sleep on a snowy, Christmas night. Instead, with the help of his on-again-off-again angel, Gabriel, Charlie finds a baby in an alley. Does the baby offer some type of redemption?


Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street. There was a waitress there, a thin girl with kind eyes, who always served him a sandwich and a coffee, no charge. He didn’t take advantage of it too often in fear her boss would find out and fire her. Now, with the thin flakes making everything damp, he made his way down Madison Street. As he walked, he buttoned his brown faux shearling coat and turned up the collar. In the 1970s, some young teenager had worn this coat and thought it was cool. Now the coat was dirty and worn, the faux fur collar, once a light beige, was now a greasy, clumpy, brown. Charlie just didn’t care. The coat did what it was supposed to do, keep the winter off his neck. He didn’t remember exactly where he had gotten the coat, but he probably got it like he got most things; someone gave it to him or he found it.

This was the first snow of the season. Charlie knew it wouldn’t stick. He thought that he ought to hurry if he was going to get a bed at the mission. Then he thought better of it. He really hadn’t been in the mood lately for sleeping with a bunch of smelly, mentally-ill derelicts who filled the place on a cold night. He thought he’d treat himself and sleep in a pew at St. Catherine’s. The door would still be open. He’d slip in and hide in the confessional. Then when the place was locked up, he’d slip out and find a pew to stretch out on. He didn’t do this too often. He didn’t want to get caught. If he got caught he’d be forced to look for another church.

He got to the corner of Madison and Third Avenue and took a right. The church was just a few blocks. Third Avenue had recently become the trendy, artsy section of town, filled with boutiques, art galleries and bookstores. The local young professionals just referred to the area as “Third.” “Have you been to Third, yet?” they’d ask each other. “Is that located on Third?”

"An American Noel" by Marianna Boncek


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Holiday - Christmas

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