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The Christmas Concert
By Amanda Berendt
Copyright December 2002
The sky was growing darker as the sun set over the city. The light snow that was falling sparkled in the waning light, competing with the blinking Christmas lights strung up throughout the city. Metro Police Detective Nick Knight was just finishing up getting ready for work when his phone rang.
Hoping it wasn’t the precinct, he answered. “Knight.”
“Hey Nick!” It was Natalie Lambert, the coroner assigned to the night shift. She was also one of Nick’s closest friends and the only mortal privy to Nick’s secret. Nick Knight was an eight hundred year old vampire. He was trying to regain his lost mortality by atoning for his sins. Natalie was striving to help him.
“What are you doing after your shift tonight?” she asked.
“Nothing, why?” He answered, wondering if he was walking into a trap.
“Ok, then,” she came back excitedly. “I’ll meet you at your place after work and we can ‘deck the halls.’” They spoke for several more minutes; working out the details, then said their goodbyes.
Later that evening, Nick sat at his desk in the 96th precinct. He and his partner, Don Schanke had just wrapped up a case and were working on their reports.
Hearing papers shuffling and angry muttering coming from Schanke’s desk, Nick looked up from his computer screen. “Everything okay with that report, Skank?”
“Oh, yeah.” His partner answered, still shuffling through papers looking for something. “The report’s done, but I can’t find Jenny’s letter to Santa. She did it on the computer so it looks like every other piece of paper on my desk.” Finally, he picked up a sheet of paper and sighed. “Thank god! Myra wanted me to do some shopping tomorrow morning.”
“Good luck at the mall.” Nick said with a smile before turning back to his computer screen.
“So what are you doing for Christmas?”
Nick looked up again. “Nothing much, probably just relaxing at home.”
His partner sat up. “Oh, no you’re not. It’s Christmas. Jenny’s school concert is this Thursday. You’re coming.” Before Nick could protest, Schanke was digging in his wallet and pulling out two bright green pieces of paper and handing them across the desks to Nick. Nick looked at the papers. They were two tickets to a grammar school holiday concert. “Just in case you want to bring a friend.” Schanke added with a grin.
After work, Nick drove home. Pulling into the parking area in front of the loft, he saw Natalie’s car already parked there. He parked the caddy in the garage and took the elevator up to his apartment.
When he slid the door open, it was as if Santa’s workshop had exploded in his living room. A fifteen-foot tree stood in the corner; boxes of Christmas decorations, ornaments, garland and tinsel lay strewn all over the floor. His simple white candles had been replaced by cinnamon, gingerbread and other holiday scents. Then to top it all off, Bing Crosby was blaring from the stereo. And in the middle of all of this Christmas cheer stood Natalie wearing her Santa hat and a huge smile.
“Wow!” he said as he stepped into the room. “You weren’t kidding.”
She came over and put a Santa hat on Nick’s head. “We Lamberts always go all out for Christmas. Too bad you don’t have a yard, there was a sale on those plastic lawn ornaments.”
For the next several hours, the duo set out to turn Nick’s ‘Fortress of Solitude’ into a Christmas wonderland. Finally, as the stereo was playing O Holy Night, they stood before the tree. It was glittering with tinsel, ornaments (some of which Natalie had brought from her own collection) and twinkling lights.
Natalie handed Nick the golden angel and asked, “Would you do the honors?”
Smiling, Nick took the angel and climbed the stepladder, gingerly placing it on the top of the tree. Returning to Natalie’s side, he put his arm around her shoulder and they stood there together, both still wearing their matching Santa hats, gazing at the tree.
“So,” Nick said after a moment. “Are you up to a Christmas concert?” Then off Natalie’s questioning gaze he added, “Schanke gave me two tickets to Jenny’s school concert on Thursday.”
Natalie grinned. “I would love to. I absolutely adore children’s concerts. They are so cute.”
Thursday night arrived. Since both Nick and Natalie had managed to get off, they had decided to meet at the loft and go to the concert in one car.
As Natalie rode up in the elevator, she could hear Nick playing the piano. It was Greensleeves. She was smiling and humming along as the elevator came to a stop and she slid open the door. Nick stopped playing and looked up when he heard the door open.
“Hi, Nat.” he greeted her as he stood up. “You ready?” She nodded and he grabbed his overcoat. “I’m not over dressed, am I?” he asked. She looked him up and down. He was wearing black slacks and a royal blue button down shirt.
“Nope, you look perfect.”
Nick took a bouquet of white roses from the dining room table and smiled as he took Natalie’s hand. “This is for the young star.” He said as they stepped into the elevator. They got into the caddy and drove off toward the school.
Ten minutes later Nick pulled the caddy into a parking space in front of the school and he and Nat set off toward the entrance. They quickly found Schanke and Myra in the crowded lobby and the group went into the auditorium and sat down.
An hour later, following lovely renditions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, and many other holiday favorites, the children took their bows. As the crowd filed back into the lobby, Nick whispered to Natalie, “It was actually pretty nice.”
They stood in the lobby with the Schankes looking for Jenny. When she emerged with several other girls, they eagerly congratulated her. She flushed a bright purple when Nick handed her the roses and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.
The group said their good nights – Nick and Nat wishing Jenny a Merry Christmas – and then walked out into the parking lot to their cars. Reaching the caddy, Natalie looked up as Nick unlocked the door. It was beginning to snow. She smiled and got into the car as he held the door open for her.
“So…” Natalie smiled as they drove back to the loft. “What did you really think?”
“It really was wonderful.” Nick answered wearing his little boy grin. “I thought it was going to be chaos and silly with all the kids, but it was actually kind of beautiful…and innocent.”
They had reached the loft. Nick got out and came around to help Natalie to her car. He gave her a hug and they said their good nights.