A Christmas Tale


A Fictionalized, Non-Historically Linear, Birmingham-Based Nativity Story     

By Max Rykov

A long, long time ago, in the up-and-coming industrial town of Birmingham, in the County of Jefferson, in the State of Alabama, there lived an honest working woman named Lou Wooster. Madam Wooster was a bit of a folk hero in Birmingham. During a deadly cholera epidemic, she stayed in town to take care of the sick and feed the hungry. When the epidemic passed, and the local men regained their wealth and virility, Madam Wooster’s career took off, and she was handsomely compensated for her services.

On one of her nights off, Madam Wooster went to The Bottletree for an avant-garde jazz performance where she met a whimsical fellow named Sun Ra. She found his nonsensical ramblings about cosmic journeys endearing, and a perfect complement to her terrestrial inclinations. Not long after they started their courtship, Sun Ra got the gig of a lifetime, a 10-month-long residency on the planet Saturn! Madam Wooster was supportive, but had to stay behind to run the operations of her brothels. The two were falling in love, and promised to wait for each other, to remain pure and true until Sun Ra returned from his trip.

One day during Sun Ra’s absence, Madam Wooster got a most curious visitor, an angel named Willie Perry-iel who arrived in a “rescueship” with a message for her from the heavens! After rummaging through a pile of jumper cables and gas cans and spare tires, he found the message rolled up in a bottle of Grapico.

Madam Wooster nearly fainted when she heard the communication. She had been chosen to give birth to the Son of Jupiter, the future King of Red Mountain, the Eternal Source of Civic Pride, sweet baby Vulcan!

A couple months later, it became clear to Madam Wooster that she was indeed with child. All this was well and good, but she knew it would be difficult to convince Sun Ra that she had remained faithful to him.

Fortunately, it didn’t actually take much convincing for Sun Ra to believe his girlfriend. After all, she fell for his “going to the planet Saturn for 10 months” story. They decided to not dwell on the “how” and focused on raising money to build a tower from which Vulcan could shine his light.

News of an impending messianic birth troubled the Public Safety Commissioner, Bull Connor, who ordered his cronies to kill Baby Vulcan. Such a decree was simply a breach of authority, and a Mayor-Council form of government was quickly established to diminish Connor’s power.

Madam Wooster and Sun Ra set off to St. Vincent’s Hospital to give birth to the baby. After waiting for over an hour for a bus to arrive, the couple became impatient and hopped on a peddle bus powered by a brigade of drunken bachelorettes. They stopped to drop off the party at the Redmont Hotel, but were told Hank Williams had booked the last room. Tired, annoyed, and very pregnant, Madam Wooster and Sun Ra could peddle no farther, and sought refuge at a pop-up gourmet donut shop in a repurposed shipping container. 

That fateful night, a glorious, majestic, 56 foot tall cast iron baby was born. News of Vulcan’s birth quickly spread across Jones Valley. A trio of Wise Men—Larry Langford, Fred Shuttlesworth, and James Spann—came to visit baby Vulcan bearing gifts. They brought Visionland, a Legacy of Civil Rights activism, and a Light Dusting of Frankincense.

Eventually, Vulcan was moved from the repurposed shipping container, and placed atop Red Mountain to herald traffic fatalities and fireworks displays. Schoolchildren from the entire metropolitan came to visit him, and learn about the colorful, tragic, and ever-changing history of Birmingham.

This holiday season, let’s take time to truly honor Birmingham’s past, consider our role in its present, and toast to the ceaseless potential of its future. Our story is still being written. Our “religion” still being formed. Let’s celebrate each other with love, humor, and tolerance. Forever and ever. Amen.

Leave a Reply