"What if somebody sees us?" I asked, buttoning my pants.
"Nobody's going to see us," he replied, pushing the board against the side of the glass, opening the door to the right, and stepping into the snow slush that had accumulated outside.
I followed closely behind him, feeling myself enveloped by the cool chill of the night. The wind felt good against my bare skin. I looked around furtively, reassuring myself with the sight of the darkened apartments that surrounded me. "Well, as long as you're sure."
I could see the grin on his face, which was illuminated by the moonlight's glow. "Pretty sure. But even so, we could get in trouble for this." We looked at each other one more time, both of us smiling, and then he bent down
to pick up the base of the Christmas tree.
We had picked midnight as the hour for disposal, rather than the broad daylight for a simple reason: it was against the rules in our apartment complex to have a live Christmas tree. That's right, we had been in a rebel holiday mood, and had brazenly challenged the laws of the land. We just hadn't felt like buying a fake one, partly because of financial considerations, so about two weeks before Christmas, we had taken the kids to a lot, and been sold a small pine from a chubby man in his fifties with a perpetual bubble of snot dribbling out of his nose.
About a week ago, of course, the pine needles started falling, and Corb, who is a worse cleaning Nazi than Josie (and has the German descent to back it up, too), had started to freak out, and had thrown the tree on to our balcony. This had resulted in a visit from our cranky next door neighbor.
"That your tree out there?" he had asked.
"Um...yes," Corb had replied, trying to keep the door open only a crack so that the neighbor couldn't get a glimpse of our other little policy violation, Thumbkin.
"Better get rid of it soon," the neighbor had replied, gruffly. "If maintenance sees that, they'll visit your apartment. And don't drag it through the hallways, either. That'll leave a trail to your door. Just dump it over the balcony and hide it in the woods."
So there we were, that night, in the act of disposing of our contraband yuletide vegetation. I walked over to the edge of the balcony and looked over the railing, and shivered, as I always did, when I looked down at the distance. "So you just want to lift this up and toss it over?" I asked, wrinkling my nose.
"But what happens if someone walks out of the door at the exact time we're tossing it over?"
"It'd make for an interesting coroner's report. Cause of death: attacked by Christmas spirit."
Corb sighed, shook his head, and wrinkled his beautiful blue eyes. "Seriously, I highly doubt that anyone's going to be walking out of the apartment building at midnight, and will just happen to walk through the snow and move to the exact spot where the tree's going to land. And even if they did, I think we'd hear them before we threw it overboard. Okay?"
"Okay..." I timidly walked over and lifted up the other end of the tree. "Ugh! Sap's everywhere..."
"Ready," I replied, securing a tight hold.
"Okay. On the count of thre. You do the honors."
"One...two...here we go...I glanced over the edge, one last time, just to make certain no small children had crawled onto our target area. "Okay..three..."
But Corb didn't move in tandem with me, so I stopped. "What's going on?" I asked.
"Sorry. I got distracted," he chuckled. "You look so funny, with that tree stump in your hand. I'm ready now."
And together, we lifted the tree, moved a few steps to the side of the balcony, and dropped it of. The tree entered into free fall and made a soft whispering "sploosh" as it it hit the snow underneath.
"Okay, our job's done!" I said, trying to wipe of the sap from my hands. "We can just go to bed now, and make with the bumpety bump."
"Hardly," said Corb, trying not to sound amused. "Now let's go downstairs and and carry it into the woods."
So we grabbed our jackets and made our way down three flights of stairs, as quietly as possible. We paused at the outside door to zip up, and then pushed it open, to gather our evidence and bury the remains in the small patch of woods located by the dumpster on the other side of the building.
One thing that we hadn't taken into consideration became evident as we opened the front door. The tree had fallen right in front of apartment three, which had a large picture window looking out onto the pond. The apartment was fully lit, and the curtains were wide open, and there was a nice-looking middle aged couple, sitting in front of their television, which just happened to face our direction.
"I hope that Letterman has some good guests on tonight," I whispered to Corb.
"What should we do?" he asked.
"Only one thing to do," I replied. "Grab the tree and act as if it's the most natural thing in the world, for us to be up at midnight tossing trees of our balcony."
"Ted, we can't do this!" whispered Corb. "They're going to see us."
"So what are we going to do, wait until three in the morning and then sneak it away? If they heard it falling, then they may grab it and keep is as evidence."
Corb tried not to laugh out loud. "Why would they want to keep a dead Christmas tree as evidence?"
"Don't argue with me. Let's go!"
And as quickly as possible, we made our way to the tree and grabbed a hold of it, and then dashed through the snow to get around to the other side of the building. Double time, we moved the tree over to the dumpster and started to push it through the woods. I felt burrs connect with my hand and lifted the tree a bit up further, allowing the sap to come into contact with my suede jacket.
It was at that point that I heard a loud siren, and turned around to see the flashing of police lights behind me. Corb gasped and dropped the tree to the ground, and we stood there, frozen like statues, as a burly police officer, holding a flashlight, started to move forward.
"Let's make a run for it!" I called out to Corb, and both of us started to race through the woods.