Excerpt from Chapter Four: According to the Bus Driver

Bill strode past the pool area, around a few night owls tying one on at the outdoor bar that jutted from the dining hall, through the cafeteria, between Christmas trees and into the lobby. He stopped short of the queue area. Lurking there, at the other end of the lobby, stood Christmas Tree Head talking with the concierge. Bill noticed a difference in the big man’s demeanor, a gravitas he hadn’t noticed at the Nescafé dispenser that morning. The concierge, noticing Bill, gestured toward him. Christmas Tree Head turned.  Upon spotting Bill, he transformed into the same buffoonish character Bill had met earlier. He waved wildly, motioning for Bill to come over.  Hesitating, Bill wondered if he could pretend to have not seen the man, but his own good manners betrayed him.  Reflexively, he raised his right hand and sort of half-waved back. Now he was committed. Bill hung his head and shuffled over.

“Mr. Coffee!” Christmas Tree Head bellowed. He jutted a meaty paw forward, grasping Bill’s hand before Bill could even respond. Bill hated being “dog-pawed,” as he called it, where the other person grabs and squeezes your hand before you can execute a proper grip, leaving your hand deformed and limp and about as much a participant in the exchange as a dog’s paw rising to a shake command.

All he could think was, “I have opposable thumbs; let me use them! It’s the only thing I’ve got over the dolphins!” What he said, however, was, “Ha! Coffee.” Sometimes Bill lamented that he was even given the power of speech.

Christmas Tree Head turned Bill’s hand over, inspecting his long, slender fingers. “Got some dexterous digits, there.”  Bill was uncomfortable. Yet, he let the man study his hand for reasons he himself couldn’t even understand.

“Pianist’s hands, my mother always called them.” Bill sighed, “Probably broke her heart that I quit my lessons to play in a rock band.”

“No…” Christmas Tree Head protested. “Around here, these are Imagineer’s hands — quick, nimble, steady, precise. Yes sir.” He released Bill’s hands and stared into his eyes. Bill saw a spark of mischief there, one that belied an unexpected wisdom. Clearly, he had judged the big man too hastily. “Some say you can learn a lot about a man by looking into his eyes. The eyes may very well be the window to the soul, but the
hands… They reveal the intellect.”

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