On the seventh Daze of Christmas,
Nicola Hardy gives to us . . .
Nicola Hardy gives to us . . .
Ho! Ho! Bloody Ho! by Nicola Hardy
For once, Christmas was going to be good for George.
Never mind that he’d lost his job – again - and that after he’d paid for rent and food he had just £30 left in the world.
This year would be the best because Freddie was staying with him for the Christmas week, after six months of pleading and begging with Marianne. She had threatened him with a slow and painful death if he fucked it up, so he had swallowed his pride and agreed to her demands. No pizza. No scary films. Anything to see his boy.
“Hey, do you wanna meet Santa?” They were wandering round the department store where children could meet the man himself, one-on-one, for £5.
“Can I? Yes please!”
Santa’s Grotto was guarded by a surly elf, standing six feet tall in green tights and Doc Martins. “Five minutes,” he grunted, waving Freddie through a set of velvet curtains.
George nipped outside for a quick cigarette.
George finished his smoke and turned around to find Freddie already waiting for him. “Did you tell Santa what you wanted for Christmas?”
“Mm.” He wouldn’t meet his father’s eye.
“You could sound a bit more excited about it, son.” George thought about the wasted fiver. Shite.
“Fancy a pizza?”
George sighed. Pizza Bucket it was, then.
“So what did Santa say?” George said.
They sat side by side on a banquette. His son stayed silent, just nodding, when George suggested getting a Hawaiian pizza to share. Suddenly, to his horror, Freddie started crying.
“Shit, son, what’s wrong? What happened?”
“I can’t tell,” he sobbed. “He said that if I tell, someone will get Mum.”
George wrapped his arms around Freddie and pulled him in close. A waitress arrived with the pizza and raised her eyebrows.
“Missing his mum,” George mouthed.
The waitress shrugged.
“Listen. No one’s going to get your mum, he was just saying that to scare you.”
Freddie looked up. “Promise?”
Freddie stopped crying and wiped his eyes. He stared hard at the pizza. “He. . . he got his willy out and he started playing with it. He said he was going to make it stand to attention, then he made it sneeze into a tissue.”
“Did he do anything else?”
“He made me touch it,” Freddie whispered. “Then he took a picture with his phone and laughed.”
George swallowed hard. “Did he hurt you?”
A shake of the head. “Daddy?” Freddie looked up. “Your willy doesn’t do that, does it?”
Not since your mother ripped my bollocks off during the divorce, George thought.
George took Freddie back to his flat, and sat him down in front of the TV.
“Won’t be long, son,” he said. “Just some grown up stuff I need to do.”
He ran back to the store and loitered outside Santa’s Grotto.
Santa popped his head out between the curtains. “You can fuck off now, Dave,” he told the elf. “I’ll get changed then meet you down the Rose and Crown.”
George waited till Dave had fucked off before slipping into the Grotto.
Santa was peeling off his beard when George coughed.
“Dave, I thought I said—”
George smeared Santa’s nose across his face with a right hook, kneed him in the balls, and watched as he sank to the tinsel-covered ground.
“You sick fuck,” George said mildly, rummaging through Santa’s pockets until he found what he was looking for. He took a couple of twenties for good measure and left whistling Silent Night.
On the way back home, George paid the local police station a visit.
“Found this outside,” he said, handing a mobile phone to the copper behind the desk. “You may want to check it, see if you can find out who it belongs to. And no, I don’t want a reward.”
Later that night, George and Freddie sat by the window and watched as the snow started falling.
“Happy Christmas, son,” George said, ruffling Freddie’s hair.
“Happy Christmas, Dad,” Freddie said. “I know that bad man wasn’t really Santa.”