SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Christmas SEAL, A Gift for Christmas
I decided to give you a little short story to sketch out a new character I'm going to be writing for my next SEAL book in the Bad Boys of SEAL Team 3 of my SEAL Brotherhood series. His name is Rory Kennedy and I'm already in love with him, and he's only nine in this story, until the very end.
Enjoy! Merry Christmas to you all!
Rory Kennedy didn’t believe in Santa Claus when he was a child, because there were no pictures in the orphanage he spent five of his young years in. There was a Christmas Tree, but they removed it when Rory and a number of the boys took the glass ball ornaments outside and tossed them at each other like snowballs.
They’d missed their dinner that night too, but the giggles continued all through the evening. Instead of Christmas carols, they told ghost stories in the corner of the locked room they shared. The room was always locked at night from the outside because these were the incorrigible boys, and though the oldest was seven, they had earned a reputation they liked: impossible to live with. They figured if they’d continue screwing up, they could stay together until their teens, and then be a pack of friends “on the outside” as they referred to it. Though they’d been scolded and reminded of it many times, it still felt like a children’s prison.
Rory’s parents were said to be still alive, but he didn’t believe it. The nuns had two classifications of children: orphans and true orphans. This made a difference since the center was given an allotment of new clothes every year, along with hand-me-downs given by the community. The true orphans got the new clothes, and the orphans, like Rory, got the hand-me-downs.
Rory didn’t mind this arrangement, because he didn’t like the look and feel of stiff pants that made skinny underweight kids like himself look like cardboard stick figures as they walked around in their new finery. The fact that his clothes had smudges and tears made him more comfortable, and less guilty when he damaged them further.
His mother visited him one time. She brought a boyfriend with her, and afterwards he realized he’d not passed the test she was hoping he would and they never returned. No doubt, the man was looking to see if Rory could come home and live with them and evidently he decided he couldn’t. It hurt a little bit. Would have been better, he thought afterwards, if she’d never come. It was evidence that she’d abandoned him, and not the other way around. And that sucked big time.
But fate had a way of messing up his community, and one by one the boys were sent off to foster care as the aging nuns began to close down the orphanage. The Diocese was in need of money, and this enterprise was considered expendable, especially since there were other agencies who could handle children that needed homes.
The first foster care home only kept Rory for a week. The second was another zoo of unkempt children with snotty noses and Rory took ill and wound up in the hospital. They discovered he’d picked up a tapeworm and along with other things, removed him from the home.
He’d developed an allergy to strawberries, of all things. His new foster mother liked to put them in everything, and Rory was soon covered in spots. At first he was quarantined like he had chicken pox, but when the spots continued for a month, the allergy was discovered. Rory had liked his quarantine. He’d started reading Playboys he’d snuck from his foster older brother, who also was a good source for alcohol and cigarettes for the nine-year-old Rory, who acted as lookout for some of the teen’s more questionable activities. But all that dried up when young Frank was sent to Juvenile Hall for some infraction he swore he never did, involving a girl at his high school. Rory was, once again, left alone.
He knew he’d developed an addiction to cigarettes. He’d heard and seen things enough to know that’s what happened when you smoked several a day. Sometimes he’d steal a whole pack from his foster mother when he learned where she stashed them after Frank was carted off. But then she discovered his sinister deed and kept her smokes in a locked cabinet.
Frustrated and telling himself he needed some kind of distraction or he’d start thinking about running away, he began a love affair with fire. He liked to set small fires in the rear yard, raking up leaves and burning them, thinking he’d been helpful to The House as he called it. His foster mother seemed to be okay with it, for some reason, since Rory was the only one to rake the leaves or do any work around the house. He liked tinkering with things.
He started tinkering with bottle rockets when he was given some firecrackers by a Chinese kid at school. Then he began unpeeling the paper on the little explosive devices and filling plastic straws with a longer fuse, which really sent the projectiles into the air. Of course he could never tell where they’d land. Only one of them landed on a car and set off the alarm. It left a large crater in the roof, though.
He found some shotgun shells in the old garage that was more of a toolshed than garage and he knew he was in like Flynn. He accidentally set one off on the workbench. He was lucky to get away with only losing the fourth finger on his left hand, but the ensuing fire burned down the garage and once again, Rory was sent to his fourth foster home after his surgery and hospitalization.
Now, as a grown man, and a Navy SEAL, he sat in the coffee house/book store and watched the chubby and well-loved children huddle at a book reading with a woman dressed as Santa Claus, telling stories to her little horde of fans. He allowed himself to drop the window on his calluses, and enjoy the scene, even though he felt a pang of hurt. It was like the caramel salted latte he sipped: some salt and some sweet. It was the story of his life.
Hope you enjoy your Holidays with friends and family. Let's remember those who are no longer with us this Holiday season as well. And the men and women who stand for us in harm's way. God Bless.
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.