Because of his severe stutter, Atticus never fulfills his childhood wish to make a joyful noise onstage at Christmastime. Now going by AC, the same problem isolates him with only his cat Spud for company as he forgoes the holiday season and personal, meaningful relationships altogether.
On their way to pass the yuletide in Mexico, AC and Spud encounter a stranded band who call themselves The 12 Drummers Drumming. Though AC tries to resist the urge to help, he’s somehow convinced to drive them back up north in his van to ensure they make their Christmas Eve gig.
AC immediately rates each guy, figuring on a one in twelve chance to at least score a holiday hookup. As he spends time with each, he sees them in less superficial terms. Sparks ignite, and by the time Christmas Eve arrives, AC has a whole new reason to believe in Christmas magic and romance.
"I considered having someone else play Santa. I was going to give up my time up front altogether," Murphy said. "Someone back there is ... smitten. His word. Is there a more modern one that fits, I wonder." He shrugged the notion away, then didn't say anything else until they got all the way by an eighteen-wheeler to their right. "He might have enjoyed another two hours with you."
Murphy wasn't smiling, like he usually did. "See, several guys were talking about stripping you naked and passing you around -- with your permission, of course. If you'd be into that. Would you be into that?"
Thirty-six hours ago, AC would have jumped at the opportunity. Now, he didn't know, and said so.
"There's nothing wrong with a nice one-time hookup. It can be hot, right?"
The way a giant air-blown Santa in someone's front yard along the road had partially collapsed on top of a snowman, it looked like they were hooking up when the breeze made them shimmy. It provided a visual for the conversation that would have been hilarious, were AC not in the hot seat and feeling so shitty. "Yeah."
Murphy ignored it. "We've had a dalliance here and there. The bus has been a-rockin' more than once a winter as we crossed the US. Of course, not everyone was so taken with you."
"That's just how things, go, right, AC? It can be instant dislike. Bada-bing."
"Maybe that's not the right word." Murphy thought up another way to say it. "Lack of a sexual attraction might be better, a 'let's be friends' thing after a first date or a long conversation. We all get that."
"That's human nature, I guess. The problem arises when someone's feelings get hurt, because a guy blows them off after some five second superficial appraisal. Everybody loses. Rejecting a guy just for a physical trait or some other sort of affectation is really kind of shitty. Kind of shallow. You know what I mean, AC?"
"I think I'd be hurt if I found out someone shut me down immediately because of, I don't know, because of what?"
"I would imagine spending a couple of hours with a person can change someone's impression, if they give a guy a chance." Murphy looked over. "I am a mama bear when it comes to my guys."
"Fuck." AC stared straight ahead.
"N-nothing." He'd been regretting putting the fucking pen to paper almost since the minute he'd done it and knew he was an asshole. Now, it was time to sit there and take his licks, since Murphy had evidently found the notebook the night before, when he'd slept up in the cab.
"We're marginalized all the time by others, like that JJ guy back in Texas. Why in fuck do we do it to ourselves?"
"I d-don't kn-know."
"I haven't been here the longest, but they let me coddle them. I like that. I hope I'm not smothering anyone."
"N-no. I d-d-d-don't think th-th-that, now that I g-g-got to kn-kno-know ev-ev -- all of you."
"I've also been lucky enough to witness the start of a couple of promising romances over the years. So, when this one feller spoke up, suggesting something like that, we kind of put the orgy notion on hold."
"A day ago, I'd have rushed right up to you, all smiles and giggles to reveal…" Murphy trailed off. "I wasn't nosing through your glove compartment. I was looking for paper, ironically. I had something in mind up here." He tapped his forehead. "I could have written it in my phone, but when I'm creating, I'm a pen and paper kind of guy. You should see the inside of my murse."
"I l-like your b-b-bag. I c-c-c-can ex-exp-explain," AC claimed.
"I don't mean to upset you. It's obvious I am. My earring is my mother's. She has Alzheimer's. She remembers the earring, but not always me. She remembers how to crochet, but not always me. We do it together. Yoshi's haircut? He let one of his patients go at it, some little boy who had half of his shaved for a procedure."
"I'm gonna try not to lecture like a mama bear. I'll just say, everybody has something they consider a flaw, an imperfection, a deal breaker. Are those the words you used at one point?"
"R-Rohan's tooth. I f-f-fucked up."
"Bada-bing. The end," Murphy promised. "Except I'll also say this. I love my guys. And this; I think deep down you're a pretty decent guy. And also; I tossed the notebook in the trash back in Ohio, because of that. If the guy that thinks he's into you comes forward, it's up to you what you do. Come clean. Don't. If you end up hurting him, though, you'll have eleven other guys lookin' to put a hurt on you. Now, I'm really done."