Silent Night by Marcia Muller Mystery Short Story

“Because Michael’s… God, you don’t know a thing about him! He’s proud. He couldn’t admit to his parents that he couldn’t make it on his own. Any more than he could admit to them about not fitting in at school.”

What she said surprised me and made me ashamed. Ashamed for Charlene, who had always referred to Mike as stubborn or bull-headed, but never as proud. And ashamed for myself, because I’d never really seen him, except as the leader of a pack jokingly referred to in family circles as “the little Savages.”

“Angie,” I said, “do you have any idea where he might have gone after he left you?”

She shook her head. “I wish I did. It would be nice if Michael could have a Christmas. He talked about how much he was going to miss it. He spent the whole time we were walking around on the dunes telling me about the Christmases they used to have, even though they didn’t have much money: the tree trimming, the homemade presents, the candlelit masses on Christmas Eve, the cookie decorating and the turkey dinners. Michael absolutely loves Christmas.”

I hadn’t known that, either. For years I’d been too busy with my own life to do more than send each of the Savage kids a small check. Properly humbled, I thanked Angie for talking with me, wished her good luck with her parents, and went back out to continue combing the dark, silent streets.


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