Our 3-part working Christmas series begins HERE.
I arrive in Auburn down route 4, glide past the empty parking lots and deserted stores of Center Street and down into the inner business district, pull to a stop at the traffic light and wait for it to change. A young happy-looking man in a red windbreaker walks in front of the car… now looking like reaching for the doorhandle, so I stretch out a forefinger and press the lock, averting my gaze from his smiling face, ashamed. I suspect he’s developmentally disabled and feel ungenerous for refusing to share even a smile with what could be an angel in disguise. Neither of my sons, I think, would have refused him. My hard suspicious nature has robbed me of a telling moment. It is Christmas Day.
He passes away down the main street toward Lewiston and, more waiting, then the light changes and I turn that way myself. I cross a bridge over Maine’s Androscoggin River and enter the old textile milltown, stopping to make another collect call on the pretext of determining whether I unplugged the coffee pot before leaving earlier. During the exchange JD and I wish one another Merry Christmas again and I’m listening for a tone, a timber in his voice to determine if he’s unhappy about being alone. His tone is light, uncomplicated, content. I hang up and sigh.
The morning’s coffee has triggered the bodily system and I find myself in need of relief: but where can one find a public toilet in a deserted city on Christmas Day?