The Christmas Carol
by Angela Rivieccio
Ray rushed down the stairs, straightening his tie. His family
was scattered about the house, his sisters upstairs dressing for
while his brother-in-law watched TV. His nieces and nephews,
their bed time for this special occasion, were dozing on
He found his mother in the kitchen, deep in preparations for
next day's feast. She looked up as he entered. "You're
You're sisters won't be ready for a while yet."
"I'm going to stop by Fraser's and invite him over for Christmas
"You mean you haven't invited him yet?"
"The couple of times I was able to reach him at the consulate
was too busy to stay on the phone more than a minute or so.
I think his
new boss is testing him -- putting him through his paces."
"She might just be trying to establish her authority,"
stated, whacking Ray's hand as he reached out to sample
"And I tried catching him after work earlier this week,
"Maybe he had some last-minute Christmas shopping to do."
Ray frowned. He knew from the previous Christmas that Fraser
only bought one present -- Diefenbaker's. He didn't think that
would expand by much this year. He glanced at his watch.
"I gotta go.
I'll meet you at the Church. Save me a seat."
He gave his mother a kiss
on the cheek.
Ray knocked on the door of apartment 3J, expecting to find Fraser
at home reading some obscure book on waterfowl of North America,
another one of his father's journals, but was instead greeted
silence. He knocked again. "Hey, Fraser. You in there?"
"He's not home."
Ray turned to find Mr. Mustafi had poked his head out of his
apartment. "You know where he is?"
The man shook his head. "No... He's been out every night
week--him and the wolf."
"Alone?" Ray's curiosity got the better of him.
"Uh, thanks. Merry Christmas."
Mustafi nodded. "To you, too." Then he closed his
the detective alone in the hall.
Ray fingered the wrapped gift in his coat pocket. He had hoped
to give it to Fraser tomorrow at his house, but on the off chance
Mountie had other plans, he'd brought it with him. He hadn't
much in the past couple of weeks. Now that she had
decided he could
remain at this posting, Thatcher no longer gave
him such choice
assignments as running her laundry to the dry cleaners,
and was keeping
the Mountie very busy. Ray thought that Fraser
probably preferred it
that way, being alone for Christmas and all.
Having grown up in a large
family, Ray couldn't even begin to imagine
what it would be like to have
to spend the holidays alone. Fraser
was probably used to it by now.
Even when his father had been living,
they were posted thousands of miles
away from each other, and had
not been together during the holiday
season. He may have gotten
used to it, Ray thought to himself, but
that doesn't mean
he likes it.
He checked his watch, then sighed. He'd have to leave now in
order to get to the Church in time for Midnight Mass. "Merry
Fraser..." he said softly as he headed for the stairs.
Ray was nearly out of breath by the time he sat down in the pew
with his family, having to park the Riviera several blocks away
Church and walk swiftly so as not to be late for the service.
leaned over and whispered, "Did you see him?"
"Nah, he wasn't home." He would have continued, but
music began to play, announcing the start of the Mass.
In the balcony, the choir sang as the re-enactment of the world's
most sacred night began. To the left of the altar was the set of
doorway that was the Inn, and to the right was the stable, with
representations of barn animals and a manger filled with hay. Every
the Church performed the same play, from Joseph and Mary being
away from the Inn to the Wise Men arriving bearing gifts,
yet it never
failed thaw out some of the cynicism that dealing with
the dregs of
society day-in and day-out built up in the Italian
As the Three Wise Men began walking down the aisle towards the
stable, the first strains of "Adeste Fideles" flowed from
the organ, then
a strong male voice began to sing.
Ray's eyes widened as his head snapped around.
In the middle of the choir stood the Mountie, the soft lights
reflecting off the red and white robe he wore, giving his face a
glow. Fraser held no hymnal in his hands, singing the song
his eyes fixed on the Wise Men giving gifts to the
newborn Christ child.
The Latin hymn was perfect for him, and although
the cop had heard his
friend sing before, his voice had never sounded
as rich nor as true.
Fraser seemed mesmerized, as if he was actually
there, witnessing the
Blessed Miracle as it was happening, and his
voice reflected his emotions
perfectly. A warm smile softened Ray's
At that moment, Fraser glanced down into the congregation, his
blue eyes meeting Ray's, and the corners of his mouth turned upward
continued to sing, beginning the song again in English, the
joining in. The emotional moment swept through the
Church, and the
parishioners added their voice in song.
The rest of the Mass seemed to pass in a blur, and as the service
ended, Ray went in search of his friend. The members of the choir
changing in a small room near the balcony area, and Ray waited
for the Mountie to exit. As the door opened and people
Ray could see many of them going up to Fraser and
Although he couldn't hear their words, he could
tell by his friend's body
language that Fraser was a bit uncomfortable
with their praise.
Ray straightened as Fraser made his way towards the door,
Diefenbaker following his master closely. "So this is what you've
They began walking towards the stairs. "Yes, Ray. Father
came to the consulate earlier this week and asked if I'd be
assist in tonight's service. It seems that several members
of the tenor
section, for various reasons, were unable to participate
this year, and
they were in desperate need male voices."
The trio stopped at the doors of the Church and waited for Father
Behan to join them.
"I wanted to thank you again for your help," the Irish
said, offering his hand. "I don't think we've ever
had a better Midnight
Fraser returned the gesture. "It was no trouble at all,
Behan. I was happy to assist."
"A Merry Christmas to both of you, and your family, too,
"Same to you, Father."
"Merry Christmas, Father."
Francesca and Mrs. Vecchio were waiting for them outside the
Church. "You were absolutely wonderful, Fraser," Ray's
mother said as
she gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Brought
tears to my eyes."
"Thank you, Mrs. Vecchio."
"Mine, too," Francesca added as she came up beside
Fraser glanced at Ray before replying, "Thank you kindly,
Ray cleared his throat. "Where'd everyone else go?"
"Home," his mother replied. "The kids were falling
their feet, and they knew Santa wouldn't come until after
they were in bed."
"You will join us for Christmas dinner, won't you?"
"You're not working tomorrow, are you?" Mrs. Vecchio
"No. Inspector Thatcher has given me the day off."
"Then I won't take no for an answer," the older woman
"We've got plenty of food, and there's always room
for one more."
Fraser smiled. "Well, in that case, I would be delighted
Thank you for inviting me."
"Good. We'll see you tomorrow, then." "I'm gonna
give Fraser a
ride home. I'll meet you back at the house."
"Merry Christmas, Fraser," the Vecchio women said before
for their car.
Fraser, Ray and Diefenbaker began walking towards the Buick.
On the drive home they made small talk about recent cases and
police procedures. Ray parked the car in front of the dilapidated
apartment building, and the trio went upstairs.
Ray looked around Fraser's dark apartment, noticing the tiny
decorated tabletop tree by the window. Two presents lay beneath
Fraser glanced at the small tree, it's miniature lights blinking
on and off.
"You sure you didn't have any plans for the day?" Ray
Fraser shook his head. "No, Ray. None at all."
Ray frowned. How could anyone want to spend Christmas alone
a place like this... he thought to himself. He forced a
I'd better warn you, if you thought your average
every-day meal at my
house was crazy, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
The holidays are sheer
Fraser met the detective's gaze. He'd seen the expression on
Ray's face as he saw the small tree, and he knew what his friend
trying to do. The corner of his mouth turned upwards. "I'll
Ray matched the grin. Digging into his coat, he pulled out the
rectangular present from his vest pocket. "I'd better give
this to you
now. Tomorrow we'll be lucky if we can fit in the same
Fraser took the gift. "You didn't have to do this, Ray."
"It's Christmas, Benny. Just open it."
Fraser unwrapped the small gift. Inside was a leather bound
with an ornately engraved spine. Fraser flipped through it
to find its
"I figure since your father seemed to have a talent for
I thought maybe you'd like to carry on the tradition."
The twinkling lights of the tree reflected in the Mountie's blue
eyes. "It's beautiful, Ray. Thank you."
Fraser went to the tree placed the book beneath it, then removed
of presents, handing it to Ray. "This is for you."
Ray took the gift, ripping the paper off in a matter of seconds.
Inside the small box was a well-worn pocket watch, its cover bearing
insignia of the RCMP. Ray carefully lifted the watch from the
opening the cover to find Robert Fraser's name and serial number
on the inside. Ray's head snapped up, his green eyes wide.
Fraser met his gaze. "Turn it over."
Ray did so, and read aloud the more recent inscription engraved
on the back. "To my friend, who never failed me. B. Fraser
"Merry Christmas, Ray."
After a few moments, Ray finally found his voice. "But
your father's, Benny. I can't accept this..."
"No, I want you to have it, Ray. I wanted to give you something
special, to thank you for the friendship you've shown Diefenbaker
since we've come here."
Ray smiled. "You already have, Fraser. Thank you."
The moment was broken by a whine. The two men looked down to
find Diefenbaker sitting by the tree, his brown eyes moving from
to the last gift beneath the tree, and back again.
"Oh, all right..."
He tossed the wrapped package to the wolf, who began tearing
the paper with his paws. Diefenbaker picked up the brown leather
with red name tag attached in his powerful jaws and looked
"Well, do you like it?"
Diefenbaker came over to Fraser and dropped it on the Mountie's
feet, walking away.
Fraser sighed, shaking his head. "You pay, and you pay,
Ray chuckled. "Listen, I'd better get going. Come over
11 am to make sure you don't miss the kick-off. Even earlier
actually want a seat in front of the TV."
"Thanks, Ray," Fraser replied as he opened the door
friend. "Merry Christmas."
Ray smiled. "Merry Christmas to you too, Fraser."
Copyright December, 1995, by Angela Rivieccio. Not intended to infring
on any copyright holder of DUE SOUTH -- past, present, or future.
do not reproduce for anything other than personal enjoyment
written permission by the author. Coments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.