Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary



Kind of a jaded, postmodern Charles Dickens riff

A Christmas Story

Slogging through the semi-frozen slush in the parking lot I hear a jingling bell and off tune singing from just inside the doorway.

Ah shit! SHE’S here again. Where do they find these people?

Automatic door swings open and I’m greeted by a short, chubby, gnome-like woman, wearing an ugly Christmas sweater and a pair of bent wire holiday reindeer antlers jammed down on top of her head. Dancing the boogaloo near the Salvation Army donation kettle, ringing the bell in some kind of cadence to whatever music blasts through ear buds. She’s sings along in the key of whatever, twirls like a back up singer in a soul band, swings her left arm in a circle and points at me.

I’m ready for this. I’m prepared. I take the crumpled up dollar bill and try to stuff it into the donation kettle. It’s not like the old days where you just tossed money into an open pail. This is a locked steel box with an opening so tiny I can hardly stuff a dollar bill in there. You can put money in, but you can’t take it out. It also has serrated edges, so if you are stupid enough, or desperate enough to actually stick your finger in that hole, good luck trying to get it back out. Kind of like driving over those spiky things in a parking garage.

God save the queen, I mutter.

Merry Christmas to you too! she yells back.

She looks a hell of a lot like my old college friend who started the Jews for Jesus group on campus. Only he’s about 50 years older and Wonder Bread white. Whatever happened to that guy anyway? Disappeared into the void like most of the people I knew back then. Seems like everyone either started shooting heroin, became a born again something or other or a corporate lawyer living in some dystopian suburban purgatory.

Me? I’m just trying to get some last minute Christmas shopping done. You know. Put Christ back into Christmas. By shopping at Dollar General. The place where class and style go to die.

Hello. What have we here? A Trump Troll doll. Naked as the day I was born. The perfect stocking stuffer for the person who has everything they want but nothing they need. I envision myself, basking in the cozy glow of the living room tannenbaum as I turn this into a voodoo doll on Christmas Eve. Although this could have been so much better with tiny hands and an even tinier penis. And flatulent! Yes flatulent! One of those dolls that farts. They make those, don’t they?

I pay for 3 Trump Troll Dolls and a package red licorice twizzlers and head back toward the door. Dancing Gnome Girl is there to greet me. I stick a twizzler in the teeth of the donation pail.

Long live the king! I grumble.

 Merry Christmas to you too.



Holiday Newsletter

Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races
Happy Holidaze

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from our family to yours!

I know I’ve bitched and moaned about good old fashioned Christmas cards being replaced by tedious newsletters with sappy photo bombs of everybody and the family dog wearing goofy reindeer antlers and ugly Christmas sweaters while the kids all flash big toothless smiles. I used to tape the old school cards to the wall, but who the Hell wants to look at those friggin’ mugshots for the entire Holiday season? And then the newsletters! Oy Vey!

BUT who says a man can’t change? If ya can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em, right? (Although I can think of one or two people I wouldn’t mind licking, but I’m drifting off point.) Anyway, I decided to try doing it their way and see how it goes.

First of all, I apologize for this stick figure rendering instead of including an actual family photo. We haven’t actually been on speaking terms for most of the past year and really can’t stand to be in the same room together. In fact, I’m writing this in a Motel 6 while watching a show about making Viking swords, so this little pen and ink drawing will just have to do. It’s a strange and wondrous life!

It’s been a busy year for us. Of course, my release from prison and sex change operation were pretty much the high points of the year for me. There was that alien abduction thing last spring, but I don’t really consider that a high point, since I was missing two months when I woke up. So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s only been a 10 month year for me, but you work with what you’ve got.

Henrietta found Jesus and started a monitor lizard rescue shelter in our living room. Somehow we ended up with a Komodo Dragon named Ralph. It’s one thing to harbor an internationally protected endangered species in our living room, but that fucker is almost 10 feet long and over 150 pounds. I can’t even describe the unbearable stench. And how do you even keep a thing like that fed? Just read an article that places humans somewhere between pigs and anchovies on the global food chain, so that makes me a little nervous. All I can say is that I think we had too many cats anyway.

Almost forgot to mention waking up to find our yard mysteriously filled with garden gnomes. There must be 10,000 of them. I’m sure it’s some kind of close encounter, but I really haven’t quite figured out what to make of it.

After me and Henrietta get back on an even keel, we’re gonna buy an RV, leave all this behind and take our act out on the road. Of course we’re bringing Ralph. We may just show up on your doorstep! Life moves pretty fast and creeps up on ya like a pair of cheap undies!

Anyway, Happy Holidays!


Me & Henrietta & Ralph

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