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Making Spirits Bright

On the ninth Daze of Christmas,

Beau Johnson gives to us. . .

Making Spirits Bright by Beau Johnson

By the time he starts in on the second cake, I can’t help but be impressed. His footwear erases this: black boots, not dirty sneakers. The finishing touch to every Santa suit the world over.

“Remember what I said, though, take them as you find them: pubes, piss, and all. You keep that in mind, you just might get outta here alive.” 

He looks up at me from his position on the tiled floor, blue pieces of crust caught and holding in his not-so-jolly beard. He grumbles something. A thank you, I think. Then his hands dip into the middle urinal, the one which holds most of his blood.

Six days late with his second payment, he deserves more than the beating he’d already taken. It was Christmas, though, and this time of year has always held a special place in my heart. Might bring me some heat, not doing Lionel as I should. Let’s be honest, I’d probably be taking care of him before this time next week. Santa costume or no, things remain as I like them: this time of year bringing out nothing but the best in me.

“That’s it, m’man, keep it going. Like I said: you do all five cakes, I let you walk. Do not confuse this with a free pass, though. You’re still gonna owe.” 

Would he pay? Does Trump have big hands? He’d tell himself he’d pay, sure, as this is what men like Lionel did. What most of his kind failed to realize is there’s really no need for men like Marcus to employ men like me. It doesn’t bother me, not as you’d think, as I believe consequence for the engine that it is.

Some would disagree with my thought process here, but seeing as I once stopped a man who used intestine for tinsel, I’ll stick with my way of thinking, thank you very much.

“You’re not slowin’ down on me here are you, partner? Be quite a shame you start doin’ such a thing, seein’ as far in as you are.” The fat man shakes his head, doubles down, but a little bit of making room for seconds has gone and entered the equation.

The guy using innards as ornaments was a disgruntled employee from back in the day. The piece of garbage deciding Marcus’s son was the one and only way to go about voicing his displeasure. What we ended up doing to that man as a response, (think man-puree but chunkier), is the reason I do what I do now. We all need hope this time of year. We all need spirit. Otherwise, we become savages.

“Maybe think of it this way: imagine how fresh your breath is bound to be come New Year’s. You start concentrating on that, pretty sure you’ll be able to go and get that last one down.” 

Pulling himself down the line of urinals, he reaches in and grabs the last puck. It’s full and brand-new. The look it creates on his face runs counter to the one spreading across mine. Done, he fails to void, and I’m amazed at the turn of events. I was sure of the addendum about to come. Instead, I slip from my position between the sinks and offer him my hand. He’s wary, of course, and I can understand why.

I tell him not to worry, not for the immediate future anyway. He has done what I have asked. The pair of us committing to the season and all I believe it holds.

I unlock the door and open it. The mall’s version of Jingle Bells long gone and replaced by what I assume is Little Drummer Boy. We regard each other in the archway as he takes his Santa hat from my hand and I pat him on his way. He cringes at my touch but I understand the reasoning behind this type of reaction as well. 

It allows me to shove instinct aside and block the due diligence struggling to rise. How feeding Lionel porcelain until the hand dryers held portions of his teeth remains in the realm of hypotheticals and what still may be. Some would judge this as being weak and perhaps this is the case. I don’t see things that way, though. Not since I was paid to turn a man to soup.

All told, it means there might be hope for me yet.

All told, it’s why I love this time of year.

In Canada, with his wife and three boys, Beau Johnson lives, writes, and breathes. He has been published before, on the darker side of town. Such places might include Underground Voices, the Molotov Cocktail, and Shotgun Honey. He would like it to be known that it is an honor to be here, down in the Gutter. A collection of Beau's shorts is due out 2017 from Down & Out Books.