Pic by Sabina

A Traditional Time of Year

“Walter, what are we doing out here? It’s fucking freezing!”

“We’re going to hunt down the perfect tree then chop it down. Alex, you know all this. We discussed it at length and we agreed.”

“No, you discussed it at length and I agreed in order to get you to shut up.”

“Are you saying I coerced you?”

“Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. I was coerced and now I’m paying the ultimate price.”

“The way you’re talking it sounds almost fatal.”

“I do believe that at least parts of me are at risk of permanent injury.”

“Parts of you. I did tell you to wear a hat.”

“I don’t do hats. Assassins don’t do hats.”

“I beg to differ. I’ve seen plenty of assassins arrested and many were wearing hats.”

“Ah, my point exactly. They were arrested and so uncool. I haven’t been arrested, well not officially and I don’t do hats. Therefore, I am cool.”

“So cool that you’re fucking freezing.”

“Walter, answer me one thing.”


“Why are we out here before sunrise to find our tree? We can’t possibly use our tools safely in the dark even if we’re lucky enough to find a tree. And what the hell did you pack in this backpack? It weighs a ton!”

“You know, for the tall dark silent mysterious type, you’re sure fucking noisy!”

“Fine, I’ll just trudge along beside you, silently, getting frostbite.”

“You do that.”



“This is it!”

“What’s it? Walter, we’re in the middle of no place! A freezing no place.”

“Alex, love, we’re not in the middle of no place. We’re at the edge of the forest.”

“Far be it for me to question the wisdom of the man who almost singlehandedly ran the FBI during a time of supreme crisis and was able to keep a certain Fox we know in check.”


“But let me state the obvious. We’re standing at the edge, not in the forest. There are no trees for us to cut down. That’s if I could see any trees.”

“Be patient, Alex. You remember patience. It’s a technique the cool assassins use when hunting their prey.”

“Oh you did not just mock me! Not when I’m cold, miserable and can barely feel the tip of my nose.”

“But it’s a cute nose.”

“I don’t do cute.”

“Is that because you’re too cool?”

“Walter, I’ve killed men for less.”

“This is me, being scared. Wait!”



Over the ridge of a distant mountain range, a brilliant December sun was rising, turning the morning sky a multitude of colors.

“It’s breathtaking.”

“Yes, it is. Are cool assassins allowed to use the adjective, breathtaking?”

“Only us very cool ones.”

“I see. And now so can you. I do believe there stands our perfect tree. I’ll unload my backpack so we can cut this baby down.”

“Walter, if you’re carrying all the tools then what am I carrying?”

“Besides some water and rations, you’re carrying very precious cargo.”

“I am?”

“Why don’t you take a look while I get us ready?”

Alex carefully unpacked his bag, placing their water bottles in a small nearby snow bank to keep cold. There, wrapped up in a burlap sack was a seedling no more than a foot tall.


“Just replacing what we’re taking, Alex. This old fir is ready to come down; even the birds aren’t nesting in it anymore. Maybe when this little one grows up, the birds will come back.”

“Will it survive the winter?”

“We’ll plant it in its sack. That’ll protect the roots.”

“So we’ve walked all this way in the dark, in the freezing cold dark, to see the sun rise, cut down a tree then plant its replacement.”

“You got a problem with that?”

“Nope, just recapping for my readers.”

“Your readers?”

“Yes, I intend to write this down and post it somewhere. But I don’t think anyone will believe it.”

“Post it?”

“Maybe I’ll just give the story to the Gunmen. They live vicariously through us.”

“Alex, you’re one sick dude, do you know that?”

“Yeah, but I’m a cool dude.”


“Um, Walter, you never said why we’re doing this.”

“Well, it’ll be Christmas soon. You and I never truly had a life where we could enjoy the holiday traditions.”

“Before settling down with you, Walter, I never had something I could call a life. My tradition was just trying to stay alive.”

“Then it’s time we changed that. This can be our tradition. Put that in your story and post it.”

“I think I’ve changed my mind. Some traditions should only be shared between the two of us.”

“Then let’s get chopping and digging.”

“Only if you participate in one more tradition with me.”

“What’s that?”

“A kiss. One kiss now, one later after we plant the sapling and then more when we get home, under our decorated Christmas tree.”

“I think I like your new tradition.”

“I’m just a traditional kind of guy!”


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