Friday, December 19, 2014


Rerun—my annual Christmas story

Ah, nothing like Christmas memories.

I posted this back in April, but it's such a warm and tender and 100% true holiday story that it just begged for a rerun.  Some people thought this was piece of fiction. It's nonfiction. It happened to me.


A phone call on Christmas Eve.

I answer.

A strange man's voice on the other end. Kids are lying on the living-room floor watching TV, the tree a few feet away.

"I hate to tell you this," the man says, "but your husband and my wife were having an affair. I found his name and phone number in her purse." His voice is deep and flat. Menacing without the menace.

I say nothing.

"I just killed her. Blew her brains out. And I know where you live. Tell your husband that I'm going to do the same thing to him. Tell him that as soon as he steps out the door Christmas morning I'm putting a bullet between his eyes."


My thoughts race. Christmas Eve. Some sick prank. But not a kid. The voice belonged to a man, probably someone in his forties. Who?

The back door opens and a cold gust of wind comes in, wrapping around my ankles.

The children shriek and run to their father. "Can we open a present? Just one?"

I don't say anything about the phone call. Not at first.

But later, after the kids are in bed, I tell my husband. And he reacts in the way I thought he would. He gets out his rifle, loads it, and begins pacing the house.

"I wish I hadn't said anything," I say. "I shouldn't have told you. You're acting crazy."

"I have to be prepared."

"Are you saying the woman is real?" I pull up a stock image of a murdered wife, and I imagine her looking like someone who might sell real estate. Very put together, with a white suit, high heels, caramel-colored hair, and a big shiny bracelet. Her purse, the purse with the name and phone number, is white leather.

"Of course not, but there's a nut out there."

"It's Christmas Eve. It's some sicko making random calls. He most likely doesn't even live around here."

We call the cops and tell them about the strange man. A couple of weeks later someone from the police department stops by.

"The guy who called you on Christmas Eve? He was caught," the cop says as the three of us stand clustered inside the back door, the door where my husband was supposed to have met that bullet. "The man was a telemarketer in California. Do you remember getting a call from a tool salesman?" the cop asks.

My husband nods. "Yeah, I gave him a hard time. I put the phone down, walked away, ate something. When I came back he was still giving me his sales pitch. I put the phone down again, did some other stuff, then hung it up about thirty minutes later. The guy was still talking."

"Well, he kept track of every person who treated him badly and he spent his Christmas Eve making phone calls. Complaints were filed all over the country."


  1. YIkes! What a story! You were very calm about it...guess you had to for the kid's sake. Guess I'll think twice about being rude to a telemarketer. Happy Holidays!

  2. Thank you, Paul!

    Em -- I know! And happy holidays to you too!


  3. Wonderful and a great twist! Love it!

  4. Whoa. That was nonfiction? I am suddenly very grateful for my hearing impairment.

    Nice to see you back -- and Merry Christmas. :)

  5. Yet another reason not to pick up if I don't know the number.