“Gee, Taylor,” Brian mentioned to the kid over lunch at the diner. “What was Ben so eager to get a hold of you for? He actually sounded panicky when he couldn’t locate you right away.”
“I’m glad you asked that, Bri,” Justin smiled at him over the blue plate special – specially embellished by Debbie for her best customer. “He wanted me to do something for him and I can – if you’ll help out just a little ….”
“Sounds like you want to implicate me in some skullduggery, Babe,” Brian smiled back at him. “And you know how I don’t like to meddle in other people’s business.”
“Christmas is coming, Brian.” Justin ignored Brian’s caveat. “Seems Ben is very afraid Mikey is gonna get him something for Christmas that he doesn’t want.”
“Doesn’t he have faith in Mikey’s unfailing good taste, Twink?” Brian wanted to know. “We all know about Mikey’s good taste in gifts – probably inherited from his mother.”
“Cut it out, Brian,” Justin demanded. “”It seems that they were in Redshaw’s haberdashery the other day and Ben saw this real ugly sports coat that cost like - $800. He tried it on like – just for a joke and ….”
”And Mikey liked it,” Brian got the picture. “And he thinks Ben likes it too, and so now Ben thinks Mike is gonna break the bank to get it for him as a Christmas gift.”
“Yep,” Justin confirmed. “That’s it all right. Ben tried to talk Mikey out of it – subtly of course – but Mikey thinks he just doesn’t want it because of the cost – and our Michael thinks that nothing should be too good for Ben ….”
“And how does Ben think you can help, Taylor?” Brian wanted to know. “The best thing for Ben to do would be to just come right out and tell Mikey ….”
“He doesn’t want to hurt Mike’s feelings, Brian,” Justin explained. “And he called me because I’m a good problem solver and …..”
“And I suppose you solved the problem for him – quick as a flash – like you always do,” Brian grinned at him.
“Well,” Justin beamed back at him. “With all modesty I must admit that I did. Here’s what we need to do. You know Leonard Glassner who works at Redshaw’s. OK – Ben is going over there today to pick out some coat that he really likes – reasonably priced – and I got Leonard to give him a discount too. Anyhow, Ben is gonna tell Leonard which one he wants. Meanwhile you are gonna ask Mikey to go with you to Redshaw's to look for a present for me. Len is gonna tip you off about the coat Ben likes and you are gonna find it and tell Mikey how that very coat would be perfect for Ben. Mikey will show you the coat he is planning to get for Ben and you will tell him that it’s a great coat too but you think Ben might like the other one better. Mikey will always do what you think he should. And that will solve the problem.”
“You want me to participate in a trick on my best friend Mikey?” Brian recoiled. “And at Christmas time too?”
“That’s about the size of it, Bri,” Justin affirmed. “I can always solve stuff but sometimes I need help in the actual execution ….”
“And if I do agree to betray my friend,” Brian hedged, “which I shouldn’t by the way - maybe Mikey will really help me pick out something nice for you while we’re at Redshaw’s.”
“Forget the threats, Mr. Kinney,” Justin warned him. “You pull a trick like that on me and I’ll wear the monstrosity everywhere and tell everybody you picked it. So much for the famous Kinney designer taste ….”
“And if I refuse to go along with this whole sneaky plot, Sweetheart?” Brian wondered.
“If you don’t, Honey,” Justin replied with a broad smile, “you’ll probably eventually wish you had ….”
“You know what, Baby?” Brian told him with just a trace of feigned irony. “You embody the true spirit of Christmas better than anybody else I ever met. If Charles Dickens had known you, I bet you would have ended up as a character in one of his Christmas stories – like Ebenezer Scrooge did …..”
“Gee whiz Bri,” Justin chortled. “I always kinda liked Eb Scrooge - but I didn’t know why. And I knew you were old too - but I didn’t know you knew Charles Dickens personally so I never…. I guess there’s still a lot I have to learn about you.”
Brian was laughing too. It appeared that the prospect of Ben getting the coat he wanted was a lot brighter – and the guys seemed happy at the prospect of learning more about each other too.
And that helped to put them into the proper Christmas spirit.
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