Charlotte had his gift all ready when
Robert got home from the office party
"The Xmas Present"
by Henry Lewis Nixon
Vol. 1, No. 7, 1956
was one of the more respected persons on North LaSalle Street because she
owned property. For seventeen years, ever since her husband had suddenly
left Chicago with a fan dancer, she had run a rooming house across the
street from the Moody Bible Institute. After her elder son, the one who
was taken to drink and late hours, left to join the Navy, she had been
even more respectable.
But all those unpleasant things
which come to even the best of wives and mothers, had happened many years
before and now she ran a very respectable house. She lived in a comfortable
suite on the second floor at the head of the stairs. Across the hall lived
her younger son Robert. He was a very reliable young man.
Mrs. Davis always said her
younger son took after her. And this was indeed the case, for he too was
very respectable. For seventeen years he had been a book keeper at the
State Street Bank and for the last ten years he had taught a Sunday School
class at the Lakeview Church.
Robert was thirty-eight years
old and his mother often said that he would live to be eighty because he
slept ten hours every night, did not smoke, drank no liquor and took a
stroll around the block to fill his lungs with fresh oxygen each night
before going to bed.
One fall day Mrs. Davis received
a letter from a friend which read:
I have been meaning to write
to you for just ages and see how you are getting along. Nothing much has
happened to us. We had a new colt born the other day and the pigs are all
doing fine for this time of year. Paul said just the other day that it
looked like the Lord was mighty good to us. How are you all?
The next month Charlotte arrived
at the Union Station. When she walked through the vast station, and later
when she saw the traffic and skyscrapers, little shivers of excitement
ran through her soft body.
My you should see how little
Charlotte has growed. My don't they grow just like weeds. She's got it
in her head to go to Chicago and study to be a secretary. Paul and I keep
telling her she ought to settle down here and get married now that she's
going on nineteen, but that one is sort of headstrong and just won't hear
to anything but going to Chicago to be a secretary. Paul said if she got
to go to that big city the best place for her would be in a fine home like
I am wondering would you
take her in and take real good care of her and see that nothing don't happen
to our little angel?
Do write to me right way.
This addition to the Davis
household caused only one change in its routine. Robert stopped taking
a stroll around the block before going to bed. Instead of walking around
the block he chatted with Charlotte the last thing each evening before
going upstairs to bed. They discussed current events and cultural affairs
and she was always interested in hearing about the funny little things
that happened in the Sunday School class which he taught.
His mother noticed that he
had given up the stroll before going to bed. When she asked her son about
the change in his habits he told her he had read that deep breathing exercises
were better for the lungs than strolls. He said that each night after opening
the window he inhaled very deeply a dozen times.
This seemed to satisfy her,
and when ten o'clock came she would walk to the head of the stairs and
say, "Robert, it's ten o'clock and time for bed," instead of her former
speech which said that it was ten o'clock and time for a stroll.
He always answered, "Yes,
mother dear, I'll be right up," and went upstairs.
The nightly conversations
with Charlotte gave Robert a fuller life, a warmth which was missing before
this gentle creature entered the household. It had been his custom at bedtime
to smile and think of the pleasant things he had seen during his stroll,
but now he smiled and thought about what a fine girl he had conversed with.
As Mrs. Gennings said in the
letter, Charlotte was a headstrong girl, and headstrong girls are usually
more normal than younger sons who live at home with their mothers. Charlotte
proved to be a reasonably normal girl be cause she fell in love with Robert,
the only man the strict Mrs. Davis would allow her to see. As the weeks
passed Charlotte's love grew until it reached disturbing proportions. At
night she would go to sleep with a pillow hugged close to her full breasts
and some times she wanted Robert so badly that her stomach hurt.
During her conversations with
Robert she sometimes walked about the room and stood close to his chair
in hopes that the new perfume she wore would cause him to fall madly in
love and sweep her into his arms as their eager lips met. The perfume did
not change him so she bought a television blouse and leaned far over to
look at the names on the phonograph records which they sometimes played.
Occasionally she leaned far,
far over toward him so that the softness of her bosom touched his shoulder,
but nothing moved him. When ten o'clock came and his mother called down
that it was time for bed, he always said, "Yes, mother dear. I'll he right
up." And he went to his room promptly, inhaled twelve times and got into
Hope held Charlotte to the
nightly conversations. With a woman's unfailing faith in the powers she
possesses, Charlotte waited each night for Robert in the hope that this
man would some day notice her charms but nothing happened until Christmas
On the day before Christmas
the bookkeepers and the tellers and the secretaries at the bank where Robert
worked finished their day's work earlier than usual and the President invited
them to the Board Room for an office party.
It was Robert's custom to
avoid the party because he had learned that the President had unwholesome
ideas in the field of recreation.
There was drinking of hard
liquor and kissing of the secretaries at these parties, and it made Robert
very miserable to stand on the side of the room and observe this unwholesome
scene. So Robert put on his hat and coat and started to leave. At
that instant the President's secretary took him by the arm and told him
to be sure and come to the party. Suddenly she pitied this shy man ''Thank
you very much for the invitation, he said. "But I have another appointment."
"But you gotta come to the
party today, Bobby," she said. There's a special surprise just for you.
He blushed and thanked her,
"But I really must be going." When he started to leave, she held him by
the coat sleeve and whispered in his ear. She whispered very close to his
ear because she had been at the President's party since noon and she felt
like whispering close to men's ears. "The boss is going to promote you
to a teller today at the party."
Robert was surprised to hear
this and decided to go to the party because he knew mother dear would be
pleased with his promotion from bookkeeper to teller.
The secretary went to the
board room with him arm in arm and took him before the President, and then
she whispered something in the President's ear and the President laughed
and stood up. He spoke in a loud voice, "Your attention ladies and gentlemen.
Your attention, please." He stood on top of the mahogany table and pulled
the blushing Robert after him.
"It gives me great pleasure
to announce that Mr. Robert Davis is hereby promoted from bookkeeper to
teller." There was much clapping of hands and many shouts of hurrah. A
chorus of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" broke out, and the President's
secretary jumped on the table and planted a big kiss on Robert's lips.
The President, the promotion and the kiss excited Robert so that his heart
raced and his mouth felt dry and bitter.
"Louise," the President said
to his secretary, "Take Robert to the punch bowl and fill a glass for him."
The President saw the panic
on Robert's face and quickly added that it was only football punch made
for those not accustomed to alcoholic beverages. He did not say that the
punch was made of equal parts soda, whiskey and port wine.
Robert tasted the mixture
and nodded his head in approval. After he finished the first cup the secretary
winked at the President and led Robert to the punch bowl again. Someone
brought down a radio and tuned in an all rhumba program, and Robert leaned
against the wall, near the punch bowl, and smiled at all the nice people.
He wondered why he had thought them so wicked all these years. He watched
the interesting movements the secretary made with her hips as she danced.
As Robert was drinking his
fourth cup of football punch Louise took him by the hand. "Come on and
dance this one with me, big boy."
And although Robert had never
seen rhumba dancing, except in the movies, he felt that he would be a very
good dancer. There was a new freedom in his heart that flowed out to his
limbs. It was like being a child again. All children can dance and sing.
Robert was certain he could dance and sing.
He walked to the dance floor
and swiveled his hips in cadence with the music. He held Louise close and
then masterfully swung her away from him as he sang his own words to the
"Darling, you are a wonderful
dancer," she said when they had finished, and she threw her arms about
him and kissed him wetly as her hips moved slightly to the music. He was
acutely aware of her hips because she held them very close.
New sensations tingled in
his blood and he felt young and strong. Robert drank more punch and danced
with other secretaries. He discovered that women were not unapproachable
cold goddesses. He decided women liked the way he danced and kissed. I,
Robert Davis, he thought, have something which is utterly irresistible
In such a mood he was driven
home by the President and Louise. His mother had already gone upstairs,
but Charlotte was patiently waiting for him in the parlor.
Gravely and with effort he
walked into the room. With his usual propriety he discussed current events,
but inwardly he was changed. When Charlotte leaned far over to see the
names on the phonograph records, he looked down into the valley of her
television blouse and the thought came back to him that there was something
about himself that fascinated women and that women were not unapproachable
goddesses. These feelings surged through his body like mighty ocean waves
upon a beach. He looked at his watch and wondered if he had time to kiss
From the top of the stairs
Mrs. Davis called down in her pleasant voice, "Robert, it's ten o'clock
and time for bed."
"I'm not sleepy, Mother,"
he called back.
Feeling confused by the answer
Mrs. Davis returned to her room to contemplate the implication of her son's
When Robert heard the door
close he turned off the light and took Charlotte by the shoulders.
"My darling," he said as his
arms held her close.
"Oh, Robert," she said, "I
do love you so very much."
He kissed her as she relaxed
against him. His hand sought the television blouse.
"No, no, Robert," she said
weakly as she pressed harder against him.
"No. Please don't, Robert,"
she said again as he carried her to the couch...
On Christmas Day the young
couple was surrounded by friends and family so that they were unable to
find a minute alone. Charlotte gave him knowing smiles, but he looked
serious, obviously because he was wise and did not want anyone to discover
On the next day he went to
work as usual. When he came home he passed the evening studying the Sunday
school lesson for the next week.
Charlotte dressed in her lowest
cut blouse and put a dab of perfume in the valley. During their conversation
about the cultural happenings of the day she gave him knowing smiles and
wrinkled up her nose at him several times. By ten o'clock she was beside
herself with anticipation.
Promptly at ten the door opened
and Mrs. Davis walked to the head of the steps and called down, "Robert,
it's ten o'clock."
"Yes, mother dear, I'll be
right up," he said.
Slowly and with a serious
face he walked up the stairs and went to his room where he took two dozen
deep breaths before going to bed.