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By O. Crap

One thousand BUC$  and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of the bulldozer that killed them. Three times Harvey counted it. One thousand and eighty-seven BUC$. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the fluid-stained Binghamton Review couch and howl. So Harvey did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, bong-rips, and smiles, with bong-rips predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first and second stages to the third, take a look at the home. An unfurnished flat at ~$11,710 per year. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a recycle bin into which no beer can would go, and a light switch unto which no light connected. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. Baxter Bearcat.” The “Baxter” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the letters of “Baxter” looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D (like mine, lol). But whenever Mr. Baxter came home and reached his flat above, he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. Baxter Bearcat, already introduced to you as Harvey. Which is all very good… NOT!

Harvey finished his cry and attended to his cheeks with the powder rag. He stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard of our grey house in the middle of a grey street in the middle of our… Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and he had only BUC$1000.87 with which to buy the Bax a present. He had been saving every penny he could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than he had calculated. They always are. Only BUC$1000.87 to buy a present for Baxter. His Baxter. Many a happy hour he had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Baxter.

There was a pier glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier glass in an $11,710 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Harve, being slenderman, had mastered the art.

Suddenly he whirled from the window and smashed the glass. His eyes were shining brilliantly, but his face had lost its (nonexistent) color within twenty seconds. Rapidly he pulled down his pubic hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the Baxters Bearcat in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s, but now in the possession of Baxter after the massacre of ‘87. The other was Harvey’s bush. Had the Queen of Endwell lived in the flat across the airshaft, Harvey would have let his hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Baxter would have pulled out his dick every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Harvard;s beautiful pubic hair fell about him, rippling and shining like a cascade of grey waters. It reached below his knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then he did it up again nervously and quickly. Once he faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet (is anyone else super aroused rn?).

On went his Binghamton sports sweatshirt; on went his toupée. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in his eyes, he fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where he stopped the sign read: “Tully’s. The Best Chicken Tenders on Earth.” One step up Harvey ran, and collected his funko pops, panting. “What do you want?’ said that mean lady from Tully’s.

“Will you buy my bush?” asked Harvey.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer merkin off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the grey cascade. “Twenty BUC$,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.

“Give it to me quick, babe,” said Harvey.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. He was ransacking the stores for Baxter’s present.

He found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and he had turned all of them gay, and was thrown out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation—just like my girlfriend. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as he saw it he knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value—the description applied to both. Twenty-one BUC$ they took from Harv’ for it, and he hurried home with the BUC$999 and 87 cents. With that chain on his watch, Jim might have been properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, Baxter sometimes looked at your balls on the sly.

When Harvey reached home his intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason—a first for a Binghamton student. He got out her curling irons and leaked the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by the hacks—generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends—a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes his bush was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made him look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy (somehow gross in the original and parody). He looked.

“If Baxter doesn’t kill me,” he said to himself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl.”

At 7 o’clock the dining hall was closed, and Baxter was late.

Baxter was never late (except for this time, where he was late, negating the impact of the aparenthetical clause). Harvey doubled the fob chain in his hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then he heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and turned white for just a moment. He had a habit of saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now he whispered: “Please God, make.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it and opened it again because it didn’t completely close but this time it did. Baxter looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only two—and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new pelt and he was without.

Baxter stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of weed. His eyes were fixed upon Harvey, and there was an expression in them that he could not read (because this was Binghamton), and it terrified him. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor happiness, nor joy, nor orgasm, nor confusion, nor rapture, nor aporia, nor laughter, nor gonnorhea-piss-pain, nor any of the sentiments that he had been prepared for. He simply stared at him fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face. 

Harvey wriggled.

“Jim, darling,” he cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my bush cut off and sold it because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again—you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say ‘Merry Faucimas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Baxter, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Harvey. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”

Baxter looked about the room curiously.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air of idiocy.

“You needn’t look for it,” said Harvey. “It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my pubis were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the moves on, Bax?”

Out of his trance Bax seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Harvey. For ten hours let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year—what is the difference in meal plan costs? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on (it won’t).

Baxter drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

“Don’t make any mistake, Harv’,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my twink any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The pube-pluckers—the set of pube-pluckers, side and back, that Harvey had worshipped long in a Leroy Street window. Beautiful pube-pluckers, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, he knew, and his heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were his, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But he hugged them to his bussin’, and at length he was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

And then Harvey leaped up like a burned bearcat and cried, “Oh, oh! I forgot your name is Baxter!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. He held it out to him eagerly upon his open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of his bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Baxter tumbled down on the fluid-stained Binghamton Review couch and put his hands under the back of his bearcat-butt (soon to need NYS Hand Sanitizer) and.

“Harv’,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your pube-pluckers.”

The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are.

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