"You know, Roxy, I didn't expect to see you this Christmas."
Justin Pelligrini lowered his camera, gazing thoughtfully out at the
foaming surf. "You've spent so many weeks and months travelling, I
know where you are anymore."
"Well, if you got the means, why in hell not?" Roxy settled herself on
the sand, idly doodling patterns in the damp grains. "It's kinda cold
today, even for Cali. What gives?"
"I don't know, but it's damn good for pictures of wild surf." Justin
remarked. "Why did you drag me down here, anyway?"
"Well, I decided it was time you had a break from that wife of yours."
Roxy shrugged, looking amused. "It's Christmas, after all."
"Roxy!" Justin shook his head slowly, a wry smile on his lips. "It's
been more than twenty years - am I supposed to believe you still hate
the way you used to?"
"Nah, too much energy to hate her." Roxy sprawled on her front, resting
her chin in her hands. "Gimme the camera, huh? I wanna take some shots.
And then, well...do you reckon the surf's up to some swimming?"
"I reckon you'll drown before you reach the buoy." Justin said frankly.
"I'm serious, Roxy. It's not July...I wouldn't recommend it."
"Spoil sport." Roxy grimaced. "Okay, okay. Gimme the damn camera, huh?"
"Here, but don't get it wet." Justin handed it over. "It's the best one
"Yeah, yeah. I do know how to use it!" Roxy rolled her eyes, grabbing
it from her brother's hand and pointing it idly at the surf. "You know,
where I come from, people don't make silly fusses about cameras. You
you swipe a new one. Simple as that."
"Well, in this case, if you break it, you'll buy a new one." Justin
grinned. "Because I don't want to be putting up bail over Christmas."
"Oh please." Roxy snorted. "Like they'd ever catch me! The cops ain't
never nailed me for anything...I'd like to see them start now!"
"You're not telling me that you played the law even at Christmas time?"
Justin raised an eyebrow. Roxy smirked.
"Justin, if you don't know me by now, you never will." She said simply.
"What's in a holiday? Wasn't like Christmas was all that different to
any other day back then, anyhow."
"Not at all?" Justin was surprised. Roxy pursed her lips, lowering the
"Well, maybe a little." She conceded.
"It's damn cold."
Roxanne wrapped her coat more tightly around her body with a shiver.
"I thought you were going to get some matches or something! We could at
least have a goddamn fire! But no, we're stuck here freezing to death!"
"Chill, Rox. It's Philadelphia, not the North Pole." Her companion, a
heavy set young man of two or three years older cast her a grimace.
"Some hope, if you can't get heat and you can't get matches." Roxanne
snorted. "What in hell are we going to eat tomorrow? Some Christmas
this is gonna be."
"Look, Rox, that's how it goes. We take the rough with the smooth -
didn't think I'd have to point that out to you!" Link dropped down
"You can have my sweater if you're that cold."
"I'm not a wimp." Roxanne snapped back, through chattering teeth. "I'm
just cold, that's all!"
"Well, ain't it better to be cold and safe than warm and beaten?" Link
asked bluntly. Roxanne narrowed her eyes.
"We don't talk about that." She muttered. "Not ever, you got me? And
you know it is. I'd rather get frostbite than go back, and you know it."
"Juan and Flint are out scouting for food." Link leaned up against the
wall of the small squat. "So we won't starve, don't worry. I got a
hunch that, in all the Christmas chaos, people won't miss a bit of food
and there. We'll eat, I promise ya. And I'll go get some matches
I found a buck on the sidewalk earlier anyhow."
"Winter sucks." Roxanne grimaced. "What would it take those stuck up
folk to give a damn about keeping us warm too, huh?"
"They'd rather pretend we didn't exist." Link scooped up a motheaten
blanket from the floor, wrapping it around his friend's shoulders and
her protests. "There. You're going blue, Rox! You ain't as old or as
as any of the rest of us, you need to be warm!"
"Why? Cos I'm a weedy girl, is that it?" Roxanne raised her fists.
"Rox, we all know there ain't a weedy bone inside of ya." Link laughed,
unperturbed. "But I'm serious, kid. If you get sick, noone's got money
to fix you up or buy you medicine. You know that and I know that. So
don't be dumb, huh? It don't suit you."
Roxanne cursed, but saw the logic in his words, and stopped her
complaining, pulling the blanket tighter around her.
"Christmas is for suckers." She muttered. She glanced up at the
ceiling, taking in the stringy piece of tinsel that adorned the light
fixture, concealing the absence of any bulb. "And what in hell is that
"Flint thought it'd put us in the holiday mood. He found it hanging out
a dumpster on fourth." Link shrugged. "What of it? It's kinda purdy,
"Aw, c'mon, Rox. I know it's not much, but we gotta get in the
"Why?" Roxy's expression became obstinate. "Noone ever did anything for
me on Christmas. Why should I care what day it is?"
"Well, sorry to hear that." Link pursed his lips. Then he reached in
his pocket, pulling out a ratty piece of newspaper. "Maybe this will
"What? Some trashed out piece of paper? I don't understand." Roxy
"Unfold it, stupid." Link looked embarrassed.
Still nonplussed, Roxy carefully unfolded the scrunched up piece of
paper, a look of surprise crossing her face as she registered what what
inside. Slightly tarnished by the print of the paper, but still shiny
nonetheless, was a small silver chain.
"You're always complaining how a girl can't look her best living down
here." Now there was no hiding Link's discomfort. "I found it, when we
were checkin' out that old chevy Juan was messing with in the
scrapyard. I figured you might like it."
The teenanger stared up at him, surprise in her brown eyes, and for the
first time, Link caught a hint of gratitude in their expression. He
"Merry Christmas, Rox." He said with a wink. "Now let's see 'bout
getting those matches!"
"What are you thinking?" Justin eyed his sister in interest. Roxy shook
"Just stuff. You know, things from before." She said vaguely. She
indicated his bag. "Ain't that your phone bleeping?"
"Yes, which means someone's probably found work for me to do." Justin,
knowing better than to pry into his companion's head pulled a face,
scooping up the bag and dipping inside it to find his phone. "I might
have to bail on you."
"Nothing new there." Roxy shrugged. "Did that when you married Jetta,
I'm used to it now."
"Oh don't play that with me." Justin scolded, knowing that she was only
playing with him.
"I'll go drag Stormer out for lunch." Roxy grinned back. "Working at
Christmas? Sheesh, what a drag!"