Season Finale: A Deadly Christmas (Part 2):
Even later, Ike could be seen lying under the covers long before anyone else in the house. He was clad in a set of plaid flannel pajamas, not asleep and instead with a somber look on his face. He slowly turned his head towards the bathroom door after he heard it creak open, casting a bright patch of light onto the shagged carpet. Immediately following this, some thick white fumes leaked out into the bedroom (presumably from the hot shower), a humanoid shadow behind them. At the same time, "I Feel It Coming" by The Weeknd began to play from somewhere in the bathroom, growing louder as the figure stepped through the wall of fumes.
It was none other than Robyn, her dreadlocks tied back in a ponytail, and her body covered in nothing but bright red lacy lingerie with fluffy white trim on the edges, alongside a black leather choker, some white thigh-stockings, and a Santa hat. She was holding her smartphone, which the music was playing from.
"Good evening, Ike." She said seductively, "Let's consummate our first Christmas together as a married couple, shall we? I dunno about you, but I'm in the mood to be filled to the brim with some piping hot eggnog!"
Without warning, a gift-wrapped box crashed through the window and landed on the bed, startling the both of them. Robyn switched off the music on her phone during the brief second of suspense.
"What the hell?!" Ike asked, bewildered as he and Robyn looked out the window, "Wait! Santa Claus?! But... but I don't even believe in you!"
Outside, cruising along the streets in a dark red Ford Mustang, was a Santa Claus look-alike. His car was in neutral gear, being pulled along by a group of eight reindeer as he callously tossed presents into the windows of the houses he passed.
"Ho ho ho ho ho! I'm not Santa! I'm just the guy that Tim Allen killed in The Santa Clause!" The man replied, "Regardless, merry Christmas! Ho ho ho!"
Robyn proceeded to open the gift, revealing a box of Trojan brand extra-large condoms.
"Well that was conveniently and comedically timed." She said matter-of-factly.
Ike then thought back to what Robyn had suggested a few moments ago, instantly remembering his first Christmas since getting married to Janice back on Earth, and remembering the emotional pain he was currently going through. His eyes widened at the realization, but he quickly went back to a straight face.
"First of all Robyn, it's not Christmas yet. Secondly, why are you parodying a scene from a story made by the same creator? And third, I'm not in the mood." Ike replied.
"Aw, come on! You've never refused sex before!" Robyn whined, "Seriously, why are you acting up all of a sudden? Don't you know it's making you stick out like a sore thumb? Trust me, I know what that feels like."
A cutaway began, showing Robyn and a bunch of other women around her age, sitting in a circle of fold-up chairs. On the wall above them was a white banner that read: 'Sexuality Club: Women Confess Their Secrets About Sex And Motherhood'.
"So I don't know if anyone else can relate to this, but after I had my first kid, having sex afterwards almost felt like nothing. I guess it was because I was... y'know, so loose from the delivery?" One woman said.
Most of the others nodded and grunted in acknowledgement.
"Back on Earth, I used to work as a hooker, and I held that job for almost ten years. I remember I was strongly against abortion at the time, so I would often get pregnant. So eventually I popped out so many kids that I ended up completely filling two orphanages, and the delivery didn't even hurt anymore. It was like taking a shit out of my vagina!" Robyn confessed, prompting everyone else to go dead silent, a few cricket chirps signifying this.
"Hypocrite!" Ike said.
"Pushing that aside, why are you being such a scrooge? Aren't you excited that we're about to have our first Christmas since we became a thing?" Robyn inquired.
"Of course I am. And my mood has nothing to do with you. It's just that this is gonna be my first Christmas away from the family I started back on Earth." Ike sighed.
"Ooh, yikes." Robyn replied, "Well, if I'm being completely honest with you, I kinda' feel the same way."
"Really?" Ike asked.
"Yeah. I remember I had parents, and an older brother who I didn't see much. Everything went along swimmingly until both my dad and my brother joined the army and were stationed overseas. During all that time, Mom just wouldn't stop drinking, and because of that, she became so physically and verbally abusive that I eventually legged it out of there." Robyn explained, "And so afterwards I resorted to the prostitution career that was mentioned in that last cutaway, and the rest is history."
"I'm truly sorry to hear that." Ike replied.
"It's cool. But y'know what? Instead of dwelling on the past, I'm instead focusing on the future, and right now, I'm excited as all hell for the fact that I'm about to celebrate my first Christmas with the family I never had." Robyn replied, kissing Ike passionately on the lips, "You get my drift?"
"Yeah, I... I guess so." Ike said.
"Good. Now about consummating the holidays..." Robyn began sultrily, only to get cut off.
"Robyn, you know I can't perform when I'm emotionally stressed." Ike replied flatly.
The next day, Todd, Jay, and Eli could be seen strolling along the recently-plowed streets of Grand Rapids, approaching the entrance to The Rusty Tap. With the exception of Todd (being the playful kid that he was), they were trying to avoid the thick mounds of snow that were now on the curb.
"You guys wanna know something? And don't tell anyone I said this, but... I kinda' wish we had school in heaven." Todd said.
"Todd, we've been over this." Jay replied, "You know why there's no school in heaven. The reason why education exists on Earth is so we can prepare people for the hardships that the world provides. But since we're in heaven, we can do almost anything with little to no consequences, so education is pointless."
"It's a pretty good system overall. Pushing aside the fact that they're basically forcing all teachers into retirement upon death, of course." Eli chimed in.
"I know, I know. But to me, one of the best things about the holidays back on Earth was the fact that we would always get two weeks off school to celebrate them." Todd explained, "I mean, school was in session for seven hours a day, five days a week for two thirds of the year. So the fact that they let us off with no homework whatsoever only made the holidays more special. But now that I'm dead, being off school for the holidays doesn't feel like a big deal anymore, because I'm off school 24/7, which thus makes the holidays themselves not feel like as much of a big deal as they used to be!"
"Gee, I never thought about it in that way." Jay said, taken aback.
"Gotta say, I've never heard such insightful commentary out of a kid before." Eli added.
"Yeah, well it happens." Todd replied.
Eventually, the trio arrived at the bar, entering the door and proceeding to take off their winter gear, hanging it up on a few unoccupied hooks near the entrance. Looking deeper into the bar, they were able to spot Ike, sitting alone at the counter. The whites of his olive-green eyes were turning pink, and his honey-brown hair was untidy. A somber expression was on his face. He felt utterly crushed under the knowledge that he would be away from his family from Earth this Christmas, but now he was also trying to appear pleasant by the time Christmas rolled around, so he wouldn't ruin the holiday for Robyn or his parents.
By now, he had downed upwards of ten mugs of 'Santa's Jack-Off Lube', an oddly-named drink that the bar only served in December. It was a mixture of eggnog, hot chocolate, and bourbon, and he was presently finishing his fifteenth mug. He guzzled it down so quickly that the mug still emitted steam even after its contents were gone. He then slammed it onto the table after it was empty, hard enough to make a sound, but lightly enough to not crack the glass. He scooted it ahead of him, into the cluster of other empty mugs on the counter.
"Ugh, damn it! How many of these is it gonna take?!" He groaned, before looking up towards the TV, "Oh, TV! Maybe that'll take my mind off things!"
"Good morning, I'm Pietro Vicciotelli! In today's top story, the transgender population in heaven is on the rise! I mean, why wouldn't it be? After all, they're currently at the highest suicide rate in America back on Earth, so it only makes sense!" Pietro announced.
"Clearly it's a slow news day." Ike groaned, rolling his eyes, "Travis, do you mind changing the channel?"
"Well given the amount of drinks you just bought from me, I'd say you're my best customer. And as they say in the cartoons, 'anything for my best customer'." Travis replied, casually pulling out the remote and changing the channel to Fox.
"Most people associate the dead with being freaky." The TV announcer said, "But the one thing that's even scarier... is the living!"
"Wait, what?" Ike asked, immediately hooked by the trailer he was watching.
"Tune in for an all new series premiering after New Years Eve! The Walking Alive!" The announcer continued.
"Huh, this sounds interesting." Ike replied.
"Featuring an ensemble cast, including Gene Wilder." The announcer said.
"Alright." Ike replied.
"And Robin Williams."
"... And a soundtrack composed by Amy Winehouse!" The TV announcer finished.
"Goddamn it!" Ike groaned loudly, "You were so close! You were so close to getting me hooked, but you failed! Failed, I say!"
It was then that he dropped his head onto the counter, effectively returning to his depressed mood.
"Er, Ike? Just wanted you to know that uh... that's the last one of the season, alright?" Travis chimed in, removing all the used glasses from the tabletop.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Ike grunted, not paying attention as his friends approached him.
"Yo, Ike. We've been thinking about what you've been going through, and we thought we'd offer you to spend the holidays at one of our houses." Jay suggested.
"Well I know I'm not staying at Todd's place. It's too much of a pigsty." Ike grumbled, "Plus, I'm not in the mood to hear him constantly obsessing over some non-existent Santa Claus."
"Ike!" Eli growled.
"No, no, it's okay. I already know." Todd replied, "I mean, if Santa existed up here in heaven, then how would he be able to bring presents to all the kids on Earth?"
The others simply shrugged.
"Anywho, Jay's house is out of the question too, because I may be too tempted to steal from his bourbon stash. And don't even get me started on yours, Eli." Ike continued.
"Is there something about Judaism that offends you?" Eli asked, slightly angrily.
"No, religion has nothing to do with it. It's just how much of a neat-freak you are. In fact, you even openly admitted that after the last time I paid you a visit, you got all the bulbs in your house replaced with black-lights." Ike replied.
"Oh, right." Eli replied, scratching his head through his thick, curly hair.
"I honestly don't know who I should spend the holidays with!" Ike moaned, "I-I just want to be with my family again!"
He ran out of the bar in silent tears, as the others did nothing more than watch him.
"I think I'd better go after him." Eli said.
"No, just leave him be. Trying to get through to him is like trying to punish your kid after they move out." Jay replied.
A cutaway began, showing Jay back on Earth, and in a rather heated phone-call with his only daughter Loretta.
"Young lady, you are going to attend your grandfather's funeral like the rest of us!" Jay ordered.
"And miss my chance to get a raise? I don't think so! I've got my own life going on! I don't have time to attend the funeral for some relative I hardly ever interacted with!" Loretta barked back.
"If you don't come to the funeral with us, I'm cuttin' you off from our finances!" Jay threatened.
"Dad, you cut me off years ago! And I've been doing just fine since!" Loretta replied, looking rather unamused.
"Well then I'll just take away your video games and dessert privileges!" Jay threatened further.
"Face it, Dad! All my belongings are at my place with me! There is nothing you can take away from me anymore! So why don't you just save your breath and go the funeral yourself, if you cared about Grandpa that much?!" Loretta finished, before intentionally dropping the phone receiver onto the floor as if to prove a point.
"Damn it." Jay groaned.
Back on Earth, it was late at night as both Janice and Lucius could be seen in the dimly-lit living room, making a few final preparations for the quickly approaching holiday before going to bed. After the latter gently set a plate of cookies and carrots, and a glass of milk onto the coffee-table, he joined his mother at the fireplace where she was busy adjusting the stockings.
"Mommy?" Lucius asked, somewhat timidly, "I... I think we should hang a stocking for Dad. It's gonna be our first Christmas without him, and... y'know..."
Janice hesitated for a moment, before adopting a genuine smile.
"What a great idea, Lucius." She said at last, tousling his hair a little bit.
Lucius proceeded to grab a box of decorations that was still lying around, before pulling out a red stocking. A piece of felt with Ike's name on it was sewn onto the front. Both of them looked at each other somberly before getting started on their tribute.
Up in heaven at the Van Dyke household, everyone living there except for Ike was long asleep. He was sitting all alone in the festively-decorated living room, clad in a typical holiday sweater that was mostly dark green. He was looking rather depressed as he sat in the comfy recliner, the room illuminated only by the flickering fireplace and a few sparse candles sitting on the windowsills. In his hands were two framed photographs - one being a wedding photo of himself and Janice, and the other was a picture of them holding Lucius while he was still an infant - which he stared at for several minutes. At this point, he felt that there was nothing he could do now other than suffer through his first Christmas away from his family.
Maybe this'll only last for one Christmas. He thought to himself wishfully, Maybe I'll get over it if I just don't think about it. I mean, it's not like there's anything I can do about this.
It was then that there was a series of three polite knocks on the front door in quick succession. Just audible enough to forcefully yank Ike out of his thoughts for a moment. He sighed and stood up, approaching the door and pulling it open as quietly as possible. The doorstep had been shoveled completely clean of snow just a few hours ago, and standing on it were two men, one white, one black.
Both were wearing vivid orange prison jumpsuits and shiny handcuffs that twinkled under the dim porch-light, with the connecting chains cut in half. The white man was completely bald, but with a chocolate-brown arched mustache and goatee on his face. The black one had a short black buzz-cut, but was clean-shaven everywhere else, save for a soul-patch just below his mouth. As soon as Ike got a good look at these two, he immediately freaked out. He didn't scream, but he nonetheless started breathing heavily and sweating profusely, his entire body trembling all the while.
"Excuse me, sir. Sorry to disturb you at a time like this, but would you by any chance be Ike Van Dyke?" The black thug politely asked.
It took some effort, but Ike managed to summon a nod.
"Good, we've come to the right place. I'm sure you don't have any trouble recognizing us, right?" The white thug added.
Ike nodded again, still paralyzed with fear.
"Well in case you forgot, we're those guys who were having a heated argument on the streets way back when. Shortly after you died, we were put on the chair, but since killing you was the first and only criminal offense we'd done, we didn't go to hell." The white thug continued.
"We came here because we wanted to apologize for... y'know, killing you back there." The black thug said, before holding out a gift-wrapped box, "Merry Christmas, Ike!"
With trembling hands, Ike managed to grab the box, staring nervously at it as the two thugs stood there expectantly. He gently untied the bow on top and lifted the lid, before pulling out its contents. The only object inside the box was an ordinary black pistol with a safeguard on it.
"It's the gun we accidentally shot you with. We don't need it anymore, so why don't you mount it on your wall or something?" The black thug continued.
At this point, Ike could only let out a gasp before he fainted, landing flat on his back.
"Told you this was a bad idea." The white thug punched his companion in the shoulder before they walked off.
The next morning, Robyn, Cassandra, and Russell all descended the stairs into the living room, all wearing robes above their pajamas. They were all surprised to find Ike loudly snoring in the recliner, the photos he had been holding last night now clenched to his chest, and the present from his assassins lying on the ground in plain sight.
"Good morning, Ike." Robyn started, gently kissing him awake.
"What's with the gun, son? Is there something you're not telling us?" Russell asked.
"Uh, no. The uh... thugs who killed me dropped by last night and apologized. This gun was the gift they gave me." Ike replied drowsily.
Everyone else shrugged, satisfied with his answer before they all gathered around the Christmas tree and started opening the gifts. Ike reluctantly joined them, trying as hard as he could to look pleasant. A good five minutes passed by, during which everyone had opened roughly six presents each, though they were only halfway through the immense pile beneath the artificial tree. Ike in particular was sure he would get some use and enjoyment from all the presents he was getting, though right now he was too depressed to get very excited about them. He was just about to open another gift when the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it." Robyn offered, immediately standing up.
Opening the door revealed a postman, wearing a skull cap and a thick winter-coat over his uniform.
"Good morning, folks. And happy holidays. I've got a tribute package for Ike Van Dyke." He announced, prompting Ike to look towards the door upon hearing his name.
"Thank you, sir. Merry Christmas to you as well." Robyn replied, accepting the package and signing for it.
Upon closing and locking the door behind her, she proceeded to bring the package to her husband, who was in the midst of opening his eighth present, revealing it to be a panini-press. Intrigued, he quickly accepted his new package and proceeded to open it. The box's only contents were a stuffed holiday stocking, which he immediately lifted out and examined, before pulling out all the items within one by one. Everyone else watched him as he grew more and more curious and continued to examine his tribute package.
The first item he pulled out was a stack of Christmas cards that had been sent to his family from his various friends on Earth, all of them complete with high-definition photographs. One of these cards stuck out to him: it was from none other than the couple he had wed just three days before his own passing. Mark and Katrina could be seen posing in the photograph at the top of the festively-themed card, with the latter sitting down on an ordinary wooden chair and the former standing behind her. Both were positioned in front of a mottled gray background, smiling warmly at the camera as they wore identical blue holiday sweaters. In the case of Katrina, her already large bust had nearly doubled in size, and a massive baby bump had formed, so large that her sweater couldn't hide it all the way. A red undershirt was visible, but even that only worked partially. Both her own hands were positioned over the bump, as well as Mark's. The card was captioned: "Merry Christmas, from the Simmons-Vicciotelli household, and soon-to-be family! May a Happy New Year soon follow!"
Setting the cards down next to him, Ike continued to dig through his stocking. The next item he took out was a framed photograph of himself carrying a three-year-old Lucius on his shoulders as they ran through the backyard, the latter holding a model airplane over his head. Following this was an old white teddy bear that once belonged to Lucius, covered in gray, washed-in dirt stains. Next was a $75 gift card for Dick's Sporting Goods, as well as replicas of the engagement and wedding rings that Janice had once worn during Ike's time on Earth. After rooting through the rest of the stocking's contents, he was surprised to notice a crimson envelope inside, which he didn't hesitate to shake out. He quickly opened it and began to read.
We hope you're having a very merry Christmas up there in heaven! God knows how much we've been missing you. Even to this day, we're still having a little trouble getting over the fact that you're gone - at least physically.
As for Lucius and I, we're doing alright. No words can describe how sad it is to celebrate our first Christmas without you, though. We definitely have our work cut out for us, concerning life changes we need to get accustomed to. Included in this stocking is the gift-card I would've given you directly this Christmas, had you not left so soon. Now you can finally buy those golf-clubs you've been wanting for quite some time now. We also sent you the Christmas card that was sent to us by that couple you wed. They're just as happy as they were on the day they tied the knot, and they've recently told us that they're expecting twins! Can you believe it?
Anyway, I'm afraid I'm running out of paper, so I should keep this a little on the brief side. Merry Christmas, dear, and a happy new year to you as well.
Sincerely, Janice and Lucius.
Ike adopted a soft smile after he finished reading the letter to himself. Only now had a realization struck him: he wasn't truly separated from his family, as he could always keep in touch with them, even if he couldn't communicate back. He was taken by surprise as he found Robyn silently reading the letter over his shoulder.
"Aww, how sweet!" She cooed, "You feelin' better now, Ike?"
"You bet!" Ike replied excitedly.
"You know that lesson that's been shoved down our throats by a bunch of sad stories?" Cassandra asked, "Y'know, where your loved-ones aren't truly gone, even when they die?"
"Yeah." Ike replied.
"Well how 'bout we take that life lesson and put it in reverse?" Russell chimed in, "Just because your family's still alive doesn't mean they're gone."
"Yeah, I... I guess you're right. Thanks, everyone." Ike said, now in a much cheerier mood.
"Fruitcake for breakfast, anyone?!" Cassandra suddenly asked.
"Yeeeaaahhhh..." Everyone else replied unenthusiastically.
With that being said, everyone in the house took a break from opening presents and entered the kitchen for their holiday breakfast, all in very high spirits as they enjoyed their togetherness and the spirit of Christmas itself.
Meanwhile, Todd and Eli were hanging out on the snow-blanketed lawn, peering into the slightly frosted living room window, before they both looked at each other and smiled.
"Boy, that was quite the adventure." Eli commented, following a content sigh.
"Sure hope it's not over yet. I wouldn't mind having a little more fun next year." Todd replied.
"I know, right? Seriously, just imagine how many more episodes they could make using the same seven characters and two locations!" Eli said, "The sky's the limit, am I right?"
"Damn straight, Eli." Todd replied, "Hmm, maybe I should go start an online petition. Y'know, just to be safe."
~ ~ ~ End of Season ~ ~ ~