Secret Santa #4
Nick looked into the bottom of the whisky glass. The whisky glass looked back.
“Do you think you’ve had one too many?”
“Whisky,” came the voice from the glass. “Do you not think you’ve had one too many whisky?”
“No,” said Nick. “I think I’ve had one too few.”
He drained the glass. The last of the liquid caught in the white fuzz of his moustache and his tobacco-furred tongue swept it hungrily into his mouth. He put the glass back on the table and stared at it, half expecting it to taunt him.
“Come on,” he jeered back. “What are you waiting for?” But the glass was silent.
When the noise came, it was from behind. Nick jumped. It came again. Rap, tap, tap.
Rap, tap, tap.
He stared at the glass.
Nick rose from his seat and went to the door, casting one more glance over his shoulder as he did so. He growled through his moustache and opened the door.
“Good evening, sir.” The man took off his trilby and slick, black hair glistened in the wedge of light coming from inside.
Nick felt the blood drain away. His cheeks were cold. The man smiled back. Nick knew the man could see his face go as white as his hair, and that was all he needed to know.
“Will you not let me in?”
“What do you want?” But Nick knew what he wanted.
The man smiled. “There have been some.” The man ran a hand through his shiny black hair. “There have been some complaints. From parents in the area.”
“Complaints? What kind of complaints?” Nick knew exactly what kind of complaints.
Nick watched the man shift his weight, search for words. Just say it, all right.
“That’s all, Sir. It’s Christmas. We just want you to know. Well, we’ll have to come back in the New Year. You understand?”
For God’s sake, if you’re going to take me away, take me now.
Nick half held out a hand.
Come on, then. Come on. Take me.
The man took Nick’s hand and squeezed.
“Goodnight, Sir,” he repeated.
“Goodnight,” mumbled Nick.
Nick watched the man leave. His pale overcoat merged with the snow. Nick felt the ice forming in his moustache. He closed the door, turned, and paced slowly back to his seat.
He stared at the glass. The glass didn’t move. In one movement nick took the bottle, drained five fingers into the glass, picked the glass up and emptied it down his throat.
“One too many?” he bellowed. “One too fucking many? I haven’t fucking started.”
His eyes bored into the side of the glass.
“Well what are you waiting for? Come on. Say something!”
Rap, tap, tap.
Rap, tap, tap.
He got up and went to the door.
So you’ve come back for me.
He opened the door, but there was nothing there. Nick stared into the snow, trying to make out a figure, an outline. Trying to make out something.
Nick stepped out of the porch and onto the path.
“Have you come for me?” He shouted into the emptiness.
He turned. The door was closed behind him. Nick tried the handle. It was locked. He shook the door but it wouldn’t budge.
He felt ice forming in his moustache.
The ice crept into his beard. It began to find its way into the thick white hairs on his chest. He pulled his arms around himself.
The night was silent. Nick scoured the house with his eyes for an open window. He walked around it, his footsteps getting slower and heavier. His breath began to form a ball of ice that burned his lips. He found himself back at the door having found nothing.
I’ll have to smash a window.
He went to move his feet to hunt for a rock under the snow. But his feet wouldn’t move. He felt the alcohol and the cold thicken his blood. He could no longer feel his limbs. He could no longer feel the ice in his hair or on his lips. He could no longer open his mouth to shout into the emptiness. His mind was hazy, as foggy and cold as the night.
Nick stared at the door.
The voice came from behind it: “Do you not think you’ve had one too many?”