Independence Day Chapter 14
by B. A. Ratzlaff

"Twas the night before Christmas, and all threw the house, not a creature was stirring..." yeah, right. Tom and Paul were working on into the night trying to find the last little bit of authenticity to make this Christmas a true Victorian Celebration. Homemade decoration adorned the Tree, as little faux candle lights flickered about it's surface making a dance of shadows around the bay window. They had ordered several running feet of real Pine Garlands to adorn the archways and Mantle, while adding small twinkle lights to accentuate the holiday mood. Paul turned and gazed on Tom as he tried to get the garland on the mantle to hang just right. He chuckled a bit at his lover attention to perfection. He became somber a bit, knowing that this holiday was going to be the biggest one of all as he knew this was also going to be Ike's last Christmas with them.

A week after after Thanksgiving, Ike announce to everyone that was at the Thanksgiving Dinner, that his body was beginning to reject the transplant. Of all people

Paul thought would take this the worst, he never realized that even though it was hard on Bill, Tom was devastated. Paul saw how Tom was growing more and more nervous and new he had to sooth Tom's tormented mind.

With a proclamating announcement he sighs, "Done!"

Tom turns and looks at Paul. For the first time that night Paul see's the pain in his lovers face. He knows that there is nothing that can be done to stop tomorrow from coming.

Tom looks at Paul, "Good, I'm almost done too." As Tom turns and puts his attention back to the garland on the mantle trying to get it to hang just right. "DAMN IT!" Tom exclaims "Hang right!" Slamming his fist onto the mantle, Paul comes up behind his lover and turns him around.

"Listen to me," Paul starts with tears rolling down his face, "there is nothing you can do to stop tomorrow from coming. It will be the best Christmas we have ever had, and there will be more after this." Paul holding Tom's shoulders slightly shaking his lover. "There is nothing we can do to stop this day from being Ike's last Christmas with us, you have done more than anyone else could, so stop torchering yourself!"

Tom's face starts to contort as he and Paul slump to the floor. Tom cries out, "Daddy!!!!" As the two men cling to each other in front of the roaring fire amidst the not so happy decor of the Victorian Christmas Splendor.

* * * * * * * *

Bill stands at the Bedroom Window looking out at the Bay as the fog starts to form on the horizon. He looks at the clock as the large Grandfather clock chimes 3 O'clock from down on the floor below. Bill knows that Ike may not even make it too morning as the pain medicine is not working anymore the way it should. Bill looks over to his lover laying in bed. With the announcement earlier in the day from the Dr. that the kidney transplant had failed completely and that dialysis was not going to help, Bill knew that he only had a day or two left if that.

Sleep is something Bill gets only at a short time hear and there anymore. Always jumping up and thinking that he hears Ike calling him from the bed next to his. Bill looks back out the window and down Steiner thinking about all the little children out there that can't sleep very well because of the excitement for what tomorrow might bring, wishing that he could have that happy feeling for just one moment. But this is for not. Ike grunts as Bill turns his head around to see his lover breathing deeply in bed realizing he is still asleep turns back and looks out the Window.

Out of the dead of the night, a voice quietly calls out, "Now what in the blue blazes of hell are you looking at old man!"

Bill turns with a smile on his face, "Can't sleep" as he walks to the side of the bed, "what woke you, you old fuck!" As Bill learns down to give Ike a kiss on his forehead.

"Don't know," Ike says, "maybe it is the excitement for what tomorrow brings." Ike smiles up to his lover who has tenderly sat on the side of the bed.

"Can I get you anything?" Bill asks.

"Yes," Ike replies as his hand reaches out to touch his lovers arm. "I know what you can give me for my own personal Christmas present."

With a mile of pure love Bill looks down to Ike, "What would you like for me to give you for Christmas my darling one?"

Ike looking up to his lover as a tear falls down his face. "Share my bed with me tonight and hold me."

Bill is torn with the feelings of love and worry for knowing his pain will be increased by the weight of being in bed with his lover. "What about the pain my love?"

Ike looks at him with tears rolling down his face. "Damn the pain," and he starts to sob ever so quietly, "I need the an I love more than life itself and much more than the pain I will endure to have him in my arms on Christmas Eve."

Bill stands and lets his silk housecoat fall to the floor revealing his naked form silhouetted by the dim lights outside. "Alright my love, get ready, hear I come."

Bill very tenderly crawls into bed with Ike as the men try to rearrange themselves into the classic spoon position.

"Merry Christmas my Love." Bill whispers in his lovers ear.

"Thank you for both presents." Ike whispers back.

"Both..." Bill questions his lover a bit louder than he had said a moment ago.

"Yes both." Ike replied. "For letting me have you hold me tonight feeling your body next to mine, and for the first time all day, I am with out pain."

With this, Bill just melted into his lover and gently squeezed him as they both fell fast asleep.

* * * * * * * *

Paul wakes up still holding his lover while laying in front of the fireplace, the roaring fire has been replaced with smoldering embers, both him and Tom were sweating profusely. As he leans over to Tom as he tenderly kisses him on the lips and very quietly he whispers, "Merry Christmas my Love." As Tom starts to stir.

"What time is it?" Tom asks as the Grandfather clock in the entry way strikes 6 O'clock.

Both men start to giggle at the timing of the question. Tom looks up into Paul's eyes as he brings his hand up and behind his lovers head. "I love too Darling." They seal their vow with a kiss of passion that has not dwindled since they became one. The kiss starts to go further as the two men start to undress each other in front of the fire.

Tom looks into Paul's eyes as he says, "Put another log on the fire please."

Paul looks on to his lover with bewilderment. "Another log?" Paul asks.

Tom sits up with the look of a little child ready to open his Christmas presents and replies, "Ambiance"

With a smile he jumps up and runs to the kitchen. Paul sees the dramatic change in his lovers mood from what it was only a few hours ago, and wasn't in any way going to try and figure it out. He resided to just eccept it and enjoy the time that was about to be shared between the two of them.

Tom returns from the kitchen in the nude carrying a large silver tray with a Strawberry Whip cream Champagne Breakfast for the two of them to enjoy.

Paul immediately removes his shirt and pants and sits on a bear skin rug that he pulls over closer to the fireplace. He sits as Tom joins him.

Tom pops the cork on the champaign bottle and pours two glasses for him and his lover. Raising his glass up in a toast, "Merry Christmas my Love."

As the glasses click, and they drink, Paul looks over to Tom and asks. "What about last night and ever...."

Tom puts his fingers up to Paul's lips in an attempt to stop him from talking. "You slept soundly last night, but myself on the other hand did not." He puts his glass down in the tray and looks at his lover sitting across from him. "We had a visitor last night." Tom starts. "My mother was here, at least I think it was my mother." Tom looks into the fire for a moment then looks back at Paul. "I finally realized that there is nothing I can do about the situation that is inevitable in our immediate future, just as I realized that there was nothing I could do to stop my Mother from dieing in my arms in the hospital, but the one thing I was able to do was to be there for her when she needed me the most." Tom looks down his lap for a moment then looks up to Paul as he radiates the love that is coming from his soul. "But the one thing I can do is to continue to live with the man that I love more than life itself." With this statement, Tom reaches over and takes a strawberry and dips it into the whipped cream and feeds it to his lover as his lover tenderly takes Tom's wrist and consumes the treat with little bite after bite till he is licking his lovers fingers.

Paul takes the lead as he ever so slightly pushes his

lover back a bit and tenderly takes a strawberry, dipping it into the whipped cream and offers it to his lover as his was offered to him, but not quite the same way, as Paul purposely drops the strawberry as it leaves a trail of whipped cream down the chest and abdomen of Tom finally coming to a rest right in the top of Tom's pubic hair.

"Oh Gee," Paul sighs, "I guess I have to clean you up now!"

With a smirk on Tom's face as Paul gets on his hands and knees and starts to lick off the trail of whipped cream like a cat, savoring, lapping at it's milk. Quick, swift and light strokes of his tongue as he slowly works his way down Tom's abdomen till he reaches the strawberry that is now held in place by the raging manhood reaching for the sky between Tom's legs. With his mouth, he tenderly takes the Strawberry up and leans over to the bowl of whipped cream, slightly dipping the strawberry into the bowl while still holding it in his teeth, then leaning over to Tom to feed it to him by the mouth, as they both consume the strawberry and then each other in a passionate kiss.

They break, they smile, Tom takes a Strawberry and starts the feeding all over again.

* * * * * * * *

With the striking of the Grandfather clock downstairs Bill wakes as it strikes 8 am. Leaning over to the ear of his lifelong love he wispers, "Merry Christmas My Love." as he lightly kisses Ike's ear and tenderly squeezes his arm around his lover. No response. Bill surmises that he didn't hear him, so he says it louder but this time with a hint of fear in his voice, "Merry Christmas Ike." Still no response. Bill becomes all but frantic, "Ike, Ike..." He calls out.

"Quiet down you old man," Ike grumbles as Bill takes a sigh of relief. "Merry Christmas to you too, and thank you."

"Thank you," Bill inquires, "for what?"

Ike slowly and carefully roles over and faces his lover. "Thank you for the best pain free sleep I have had in over two weeks." Ike states. "That's what!" As Ike reaches up and pulls his lover towards him as they French kiss as if it were old times leading up to a good ol' fashioned romp.

Ike slowly pulls his hand down from behind his lovers head and cups his cheek. They separate and Bill looks deep into his lovers eye's.

"Are you ready to give everyone there gift today?" Bill asks of his partner.

"Ready as I will ever be." Ike replies, "are you ready for your gifts?"

"Not yet," as Bill carefully removes himself from the bed. "I still have a few things to wrap." Bill leans over and picks up his silk housecoat just as a knock comes from the bedroom door.

"Come in." Replies Bill.

The bedroom door opens and in walks Miguel. Miguel is a young man in his mid twenties, Peruvian by heritage, and just out of school where he received his degree in Nursing with a double minor in Psychology and Physical Therapy. Miguel was employed by Ike and Bill to help in the care of Ike in the last few weeks. During this time they became very good friends.

"Felis Navidad my friends." Miguel proclaims as he enters the bedroom carefully not to disturb or surprise anyone that might be asleep.

"Morning Miguel," says as he leans over to give Ike a kiss, "I'm gonna go finish up the wrapping." Bill looks to Miguel as he walks past him and puts his hand on Miguel's shoulder. "Call me if you need anything, O.K?"

"Of course I will Senior." Miguel replies as Bill leave the bedroom.

"And how are we doing this morning Senior Ike?" Miguel asks as he kneels down next to the bed.

"Slept great!" Ike proclaims, "best sleep I have had in over two weeks and not even really much pain neither!" Ike smiles to Miguel.

"Good!" Miguel stands and goes into the master bath an draws a basin of warm water preparing to give Ike his sponge bath and shave.

"Do you have everything ready for the trip to My Sons' house for today?" Ike calls out.

"Si Senior," Miguel calls back as he enters the room, "a Friend of mine who has a van that is wheelchair equipped with a lift will be here around two to pick us up. He will take us to Tom's and Paul's house," as Miguel sets the basin and necessary equipment on the table next to the bed, "and he is willing to stay there with us while you are enjoying yourselves inside."

"Nonsense!" Ike screams out. "I don't want either of you to wait outside on Bill and I, you two have cell phones, we will call you about an hour or so before we want to come home. You two go enjoy yourselves today for the time we will be there."

"Thank you Senior," Miguel is touched that he is not expected to wait out side while they are inside. "But neither Juan or I have plans, our families are all in Peru."

"Give me the phone." Ike commands. Miguel looks perplexed as he hands the phone to Ike. Ike dials, "Merry Christmas Son," Ike greats Tom on the phone, "didn't interrupt anything did I?" Miguel blushes over Ike's candid question. "Say Tom, do you think you could have room at the table for two others?" Ike smiles as he looks over to Miguel who has a great big smile on his face. "Great!!!" Ike proclaims, "Miguel and his lover Juan will be joining us today. See you later!" Ike hangs up the phone as he smiles to Miguel.

Miguel reaches out to take Ike's hand and kisses the back of his hand. "Thank you. Thank you, Thank you Senior, how can I ever repay your kindness?"

"Don't worry about it, consider it part of your Christmas Bonus!" Ike giggles at his idea.

"You are too kind Senior," Miguel replies, may I call Juan and tell him now?"

"Of course you can!" Ike gleams with a great big smile.

Miguel reaches for the phone and dials. After he dials he looks at Ike with a perplexed look of wonderment on his face. "How did you know that Juan and I were lovers? Miguel asks.

As the voice on the other end says {Hello} Ike replies, " I didn't," Ike says with a massive smile on his face, "until now." {Hello} Miguel is left dumbstruck.

* * * * * * * *

With everyone in attendance, Ike and Bill, Max and Liz, Miguel and Juan, Anita and Dor, and their hosts Tom and Paul all sitting around the table enjoying the dinner the party is a huge success.

This time, the two lovers decided to have the meal catered so they wouldn't have to relive any occurrences such as the last time. The conversation is light and happy, no sad overtones by anyone, they all know of the events that would be taking place soon, but have all decided on the simple fact, Christmas is for life, and the celebration of it.

" So Miguel," Tom asks, "what made you think that you and Juan would have to stay in the van while we were partying in the house? And besides," Tom continues, what would the two of you have done out there for those long hours?"

Miguel and Juan both blush as Miguel answers. "We have only been together for a month Senior Tom, I think we could have thought of something, many things to do to occupy our time."

Liz chokes on her wine as everyone laughs at Tom's most embarrassing question.

As Dinner was pretty well over, Ike asked to be excused as him and Bill went off into the Foyer together.

Returning a few minutes later Bill asked to have everyone's attention.

"Christmas is a time for the celebration of life, the best gift of all being love. Today I have arranged a very special gift to be given to those of you here and it will be arriving shortly." Ike looks over to Tom then to Paul. "And if my Sons don't mind, I think we should move this party over to the living room and commence in the exchanging of gifts as I will be needing to head home soon, it has been a long day, does anyone object?"

With this, everyone grabs their glasses of wine and moves into the living room and sits around the tree. Bill pushes Ike in his wheelchair over to be next to the tree and next to the large red bag they brought. "I want to start by telling you all, that this is undoubtedly the best Christmas of my life." Ike begins, "I have my Son with me, and his family too. I am blessed with many many wonderful years with the man of my heart, and I want all to be hear to help me celebrate this joyous event."

Ike reaches into the bag and grabs two long boxes each the same size as the other measuring at 6" by 12" by 1" high and hands them to Dor and Anita. The open the gifts and both woman gasp for what's inside are matching pairs of 10 mm diameter 30" strand of Pearls with matching pairs of Earrings. Bill's mothers Pearls.

Ike returns his hand to the bag and pulls out two more boxes and hands them to Miguel and Juan. "Before you open these tokens of my feelings for all you two have given up to help Bill and I out in this time of need for us," Ike states, "I want you to know that this is only something that I have had in my collection and knew that the two of you would like to have them to use to decorate your house with, besides... they were just collecting dust any ways." Ike looks at Bill and they smile at each other.

Miguel has a tear running down his face as Juan is speechless. The look at each other and start to open the boxes. Inside each is one half of a pair of 18th Century Candle Sticks made by Paul Revere.

"As Ike said," Bill interjects, "these are only tokens of our affection to the ones we love." As he reaches over and gives Ike a kiss.

Ike pulls out an envelope from the bag and hands it to Liz with a smile. "This present is not only from Bill and I, but it is from Max as well," Ike proclaims, "Merry Christmas my dear in law!"

"But Ike," Liz is shocked, "I... I don't need anything?"

Max retorts in a manor he very seldom uses. "Open the damned envelope Liz and shut up?" Which makes everyone start to giggle and blush.

Liz looks mildly perturbed at her husband out of the corner of her eye as she starts to open the large 9X11 envelope. Looking at the picture then at the three of them one by one she asks. "Is this some kind of joke?"

The three men start to laugh for the picture is the storefront of a local construction crew. "No Joke my darling," Max tries not to laugh, "This is the company that will be doing the complete remodeling of your dining room to display the new dining room set that is a Christmas present from Bill and Ike." Max puts his arm around Liz' shoulder as she sits there like a stoic rock face from mount Rushmore until it finally hits her and she squeals with glee and jumps up and sits on her husbands lap and covers him in kisses.

"How can we ever repay this most kind and generous gift?" Liz asks of Ike and Bill amidst sobs and sniffles.

"No repayment is needed my dear lady." Ike states.

"Well actually..." Bill interjects as the whole room looks at him in question as to what he has in mind. "The day your husband and I went to the company owner to set up this 'little' present, your husband told me a lot about you." Liz looks at Max as Max looks back at Liz as if he has no idea of what he is talking about. "I am looking to hire a secretary someday to help me write a book and I think that you would be perfect for all I need help with." Everyone looks at Bill as he has never even hinted at this idea before, everyone except Ike, he hangs his head with a smile and a tear running down his face.

Solemnly Liz looks over to the two of them. "May I ask what the book is about?"

Ike reaches over to his lovers knee and squeezes it with all his strength. "It is my Christmas present from Bill." Ike replies trying unsuccessfully to hold back the tears, "the name of the book, 'My Life in Love, A true Love Story.'" Both men are in tears as they hold each other while everyone else in the room quietly weeps with them as they look at there lovers.

"Enough of this crap!" Ike pulls away from Bill as Bill starts to slightly giggle. "I didn't come hear today to mourn myself, I came to celebrate life. We don't have much time left before the big Christmas Present arrives."

Bill reaches for the bag and hands it to Ike. Ike reaches in and pulls out two small boxes one marked Paul, the other marked Tom. "The contents of these two boxes," Ike begins as he hands them over to Tom and Paul, "were purchased in the hopes that they would symbolize true and undying Love, and so they have done very well to for Ike and myself." Ike tries hard to hold back the tears, "Merry Christmas boys," as Tom and Paul start to open the boxes only to find in each matching mens 2 ct Blue Diamond Rings set in Platinum, Ike and Bills 25th Anniversary Wedding Rings.

Tom and Paul are trying desperately to hold back the tears as Tom looks up to his Father. "Last night," Tom takes a deep breath, "less than 24 hours ago Paul held me as we both laid crying on the hearth of the fireplace because I was trying in some way to keep going in hopes that this day would never come so you would always be hear, but now.... I don't want it to ever end." Tom looses the battle with the tears as he stands up almost running to Ike as he tenderly sits on his lap sobbing out, "I Love You Daddy!" As everyone in the room quietly weep as Ike and Tom hold each other and cry unto one another.

This tender and private family moment was rudely interrupted by the sound of the Doorbell. "I'll get that." Sniffling Bill moves to the foyer to answer the door.

Tom gets up from Ike's lap as Bill and another man come into the room. "This is John Turnick, Ike's and my lawyer." Pleasantry hellos and introductions respectfully given between all.

"I felt it was better for me to give now than to give after I was....." Ike couldn't say the words. "I have drawn up a type of living will that I want all to hear. This is my informal version of my formal Last Will and Testament."

"Dad, no," Tom pleads, "not now."

"Tom," Ike begs, "yes, now.... please." With tears running down his face.

John Turnick begins, "I want to start by saying that this is the very first time I have ever done anything like what I am about to do hear tonight." John reaches into his briefcase and pulls out a few pages stapled together. "In these pages Ike has written a letter of love to all of you hear tonight and I am instructed to read it to you now. This is an informal copy of his Last Will and Testament that he revised last week."

Bill kneels down next to his lover and takes his hand in his as John reads the letter.


I want you all to know just how special you are in my life and in my heart, that is why I am doing this tonight in this way. I can't tell you all myself because I would be overwrought with tears and would not be able to continue past the first page.
To start, I want to tell you all of my greatest love of my life, my life and love, Bill. i want him to have one eighth of my personal Estate to be listed formally later. I know you don't need any money, but then... I know you like to spend as much as I do, so your getting it anyway.

Bill giggles.

To Miguel, I want you to have the best of everything in this life, as you have put yours on hold for Bill and myself, I want you to know that the Candle Sticks are only a small token of my feelings for you. To you and your partner, I want to give you enough money to buy your own home, the home of your dreams, whether it be in the U.S., or in Peru, it is your choice.

Miguel and Juan hold each other and sob quietly.

"I originally had you in my will, but when I learned you were going to be here today, I wanted the two of you to be included in this letter as well." Ike smiles over to Miguel and Juan.
I want to say that if I had ever been blessed with a daughter, I would want one that turned out as lovely and as caring and considerate as you are Doreen.

Both Tom and Paul hold back giggles.

Don't even go there Paul and Tom, I know what you are thinking.

The whole room breaks out in laughter.

From the time of our walk on the beach that night, our talk inspired this gift to you and Anita. I am giving the two of you one quarter of my Estate along with the house that Bill and myself have loved and shared all these years of our life together.

"The HOUSE!" Dor screams, "we can't except that, that goes to Bill!" Dor is unsuccessfully holding back her tears.

"Bill sighs and looks over to Doreen and Anita. "Do you really think I could live there all by myself with out Ike? I......" Bill leaves it at that.

I am giving you the house in the care of it to be someday given to my Grandchild. I will not be there in flesh, but my spirit will always inhabit the house that I loved so much.
Dor and Anita sob into each others arms.


Max and Liz, I want you two to know, I owe you the world for taking care of my Son after the untimely death of his parents. The two of you have given of yourselves more than anyone has ever given to someone that they did not give birth too. I want you to have not only a new Dinning Room, but a whole new house along with the finances to manage it. The two of you deserve a Palace my Dear Liz and Max, and a Palace you shall have.

Both Max and Liz hold each others hand and silently weep as they look on to Ike and Bill as Ike looks down into his lap.

To Tom and Paul, the two of you are just starting out in life together as one, but already have a lifetime together already. You grew up together and you deserve to grow old together as well. Thus, I want you two never to want for anything again, as the Mortgage for your house is paid off free and clear and the deed to the property reads only your names, and a quarter of my Estate is to be given to you too.
And finally my unborn Grand Child, besides my house, I am giving you one quarter of my Estate, along with my holdings on properties listed in in my personal holdings that I inherited from my parents. All properties, investments, Real Estate, and Cash holdings are to be placed in protective custody of a Trust till your 21 st Birthday. The Trust will be set up so all four of your parents will be trustee's of equal power.
Please remember, that I love you all with my entire soul and being, and even after my bodily presence leaves this earth, my soul lives on in all of you.


Silence falls thru out the room as the letter has ended.

Bill looks over to Ike and notices he is having a slight difficulty in breathing as he quietly says to Ike, "I think we better go home now, don't you agree?"

Ike quietly nods his head yes as Bill gets up and with the help of Miguel and Juan start getting ready to leave.

Tom walks over to the Wheel Chair and kneels down to be near his Dad and whispers. "Now I know why Mom fell in love with you."

Ike looked up to Tom with a quizzical look. "Why?" Ike responds barely audibly.

"Because," Tom says, "the love you have for everyone else, is a thousand times more than the love you have for yourself. And I hope and pray that someday I will be half the man that you are today." As he kisses Ike on the forehead.

Ike whispers to Tom, "you already are, I love you too." As he tenderly with shaking hand holds Tom's face.

"We better go," Bill interjects, "don't you agree love?" leaning over to Ike's ear.

Ike nods his head as they move towards the door with Miguel, Juan, and John Turnick leaving together.

Tom, Paul, Dor, Anita, Max, and Liz are left standing

in the living room all thinking to themselves if they will ever see Ike alive again. Liz turns away from the departed group, walks over to the bar and pours herself a large tumbler of Scotch and drinks it in one gulp.

* * * * * * * *

Out in the Van strapping the wheelchair down, Miguel asks of Bill if they should head to the Hospital?

"NO!" Ike quietly screams, "Take me HOME!"

"Let's go home, now!" Bill tells Miguel and Juan in a voice of more authority and demand than request. Driving as fast as they can, they reach the drive of Bill and Ike's house, Miguel and Juan are unstrapping the wheelchair as Bill hurries up the steps to unlock the door and turn on the lights. They rush Ike up stairs and tenderly put him to bed with the greatest of ease helping him out of the little bit of clothing he is wearing.

Bill walks over to Miguel and Juan. "It is Christmas, as the two of you belong together. I am giving you the night off Miguel, Go, be together, Love each other," as he places his hands on one of each of the others shoulders, holding back the tears, "you never know how much time you will have with the other in this life."

Miguel and Juan both hug Bill as they turn to leave, turning out the lights in the old Victorian, locking the doors behind them as they leave.

Bill quietly pulls a chair over to the side of the bed where Ike is laying. Ike turns his head and looks at Bill, "Hold me."

Bill stands, removes his clothes tenderly slips into the bed and snuggles up to Ike.

They lay there for a few moments as Bill whispers into Ike's ear, "I love you."

Ike gasps out, "I.... love.... you."

As the two of them lay in their bed holding each other like they have done all their life together.

* * * * * * * *

Liz is standing in the Bay Window at Tom and Paul's house as the rest of them sit in the respective places that they were setting for most of the evening. They all have been drinking, even Dor had a couple before anyone realized what she had done, even Dor herself didn't realize it until it was too late. They all were staying the night in the spare bedrooms so they didn't have to drive home. Max tried to comfort his wife, but she wanted to be left alone. The house was still, no voices, no sounds other than those of ice cubes jingling in the glasses of the one holding them, and then it was very little noise at all. Liz stared in the direction that Ike and Bill drove off. Max looked at his wife and couldn't help think that she looked much like Garbo standing in the doorway waiting for her leading man to return, but knowing he wasn't going to be coming back. Max finished his drink in one gulp as the ice cubes in the bottom of the glass made the loudest noise in the room for over an hour. Max stood up and walked over to pour himself another drink as he thought he heard some sound.... singing.... almost like an angel. Turning with his glass full, he realizes the sound is coming from his own angel Liz.

"Silent Night.... Holy Night.... All is calm............ All is bright............"

Max stands there looking at his wife sing, tears are literally pouring down her face as her angelic voice rings out in perfect tune.

Max walks over and puts his arm around his wife joins her in singing as everyone else joins in too. They stay where they are, no one gets up, Max and Liz are in the Bay Window, Paul and Tom are on the Louis Couch, Dor and Anita are on the Love Seat both couples holding each other as they quietly sing.

".......Sleep in heavenly peace....... Sleep in heavenly Peace."

The singing ends, Tom looks up to the Ceiling and for the first time spoke since his father and Bill had left the Party. "Good bye Dad. I love you."

* * * * * * * *

Bill wakes and looks at the clock next to the bed as it displays the time of 6:24 am. He snuggles into Ike and whispers "Good morning my Love." Bill notices something different. He stops, for an instant he wants to bolt form bed yell, scream, shout. But nothing he can do will do any good as he leans in and sobs tears of sorrow into the knock of his departed Love. Ike was Dead.