“Have you got it, bab?”
“Just about, bub!” said the babbitt through the teeth he clenched to hold the ends of the evergreen garland. In his white suit with red tie, he climbed the platform of the horse statue and felt for anything that a garland could hold onto. The babbitt and the bromide had sprouted wings, which gave them access to the normally hard-to-reach parts of the statue; still, there was no tape in heaven, nor hooks, nor anything practical to aid in keeping decorations in place.
December in heaven meant the midwinter holiday season and all its celebrations. In the two weeks since their reunion, the babbitt and the bromide had set their minds on decorating to make their corner of heaven into their home. The horse statue they had known all their lives was there, and if our heroes wandered to the right or left, they found their neighborhood to resemble the park where they first met many years ago, replete with stiff green foliage, white doves, and a curiously smooth floor for dancing. The only thing they had to furnish for themselves was a bench for leisure.
Around the front of the statue, the bromide stuffed a newspaper into the babbitt’s stocking–goodness knows where he found such a treat! “Welcome home,” he whispered. He peeked into his own stocking to see a small bottle of gourmet olive oil. “Ahhhh.” The bromide smiled and put a hand to his mouth, suppressing the urge to either cry or chuckle. He had missed the coziness of their apartment kitchen and found cooking in heaven to be comparable to cooking on Earth, but now more heavenly, if you will, with his friend and partner in the kitchen again.
The babbitt decided to tie the ends of garland around the horse’s ankle. Even in heaven the horse was only a statue, so he knew the horse couldn’t possibly mind. Then the babbitt stepped down and around to the front to join his partner. Placing an arm over one another’s shoulders, they, matching in white evening jackets with scarlet neckties, admired their work: evergreen wreaths about the horseman’s head and the horse’s neck, the scalloped garland that circled the base of the statue, the central wreath, and the green and white stockings with their names emblazoned in gold.
They had likened their beloved statue to a hearth with no fire, and placed a tree to the left, just for them, decked with ribbons of silver and star ornaments of crystal and gold. The babbitt beamed. His eyes were still adjusting to their renewed state of clear vision. “This is a nifty setup we’ve got.”
The bromide smirked and shifted his eyes from his babbitt to the horse and back. “Watch.” The bromide leaned forward, eyes wide, lips parted in anticipation, and snapped his fingers. A splash of warm lights appeared on the statue and in the air around them like heavenly fireflies against the great blue set of their living space. They listened to the opening of “Waltz of the Flowers” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite” coming from–was it the horseman’s harp?
“Well, well.” The babbitt was impressed, wearing a look that you or I may read as “You’re kidding,” but surely there is no such thing as kidding in heaven.
As they were nearly in position to waltz, the bromide asked stiffly, “Whose turn is it to lead?” The babbitt replied steadfastly, “I’ve been waiting all of two weeks for you to lead.”
“Whaddya know?” The bromide blushed. The babbitt and the bromide had been quietly, though not secretly, rehearsing this dance. Either cracked a smile which relaxed into a good-humored “Ahhhh” before they swept into the waltz together.