Merry Christmas? You’re new around these parts, aren’t ya?
Everywhere you go this time of year you’d think it’s all tidings of comfort and joy and deck the halls with buckets of bliss. Buckets of booze, more like, and his hands weren’t nowhere near comforting, nor merry neither.
I know what you’re going to say about respect fer my elders, so just shut it before you even start. I’m not some kid no more, I’ve been around.
The old bastard used to club me round the ears for nothing before I got too fast for him. One of those big heavy fists, all calluses and scars, a right good swing could lay me out in a second. He was used to slingin’ carcasses around—I was just another limp body.
He used to work in the butchers, you know. Come home all bloody and smelling of flesh. Gross.
Don’t look now, but that’s Mrs. Guthrie walking by, dragging that little hellion of hers by the ear. Man, that kid can scream louder than a stuck pig. I’d as soon as throw myself off a cliff if I had to mother one like that. He’s an odd-looking brat too, looks nothing like his parents, pulling faces and crossing those brown eyes at me over the church pew when his ma’s not looking. Not gonna have kids, myself. Not worth the hassle.
I bet you’ve got a half-dozen of your own at home? No? Funny, you look the type.
My old man didn’t want kids neither. Got stuck with me anyways, so the joke’s on him. After my own Ma died, when he weren’t right sloshed, he used to teach me cards at night. We’d sit up so late I’d get heck for dozing off in class the next day, but he’d just wink one of his big brown eyes at my teacher Mrs. Fletcher when she called him in, and that’d be the end of it. He quit when I got so good I’d win all his drinkin’ money off him.
You shouldn’t judge, man. Gambling’s the least of all the evils I learnt off him, so get over it.
Mr. Guthrie, that’s the boss man over there at the butchers, he’s the one who sacked him. Somethin’ to do with skiving off work for two hours at lunch most days and coming back smellin’ of cheap whiskey. Of course rumour has it there was somethin’ a little more personal behind it. Don’t bother asking me how I know that, I’ve got eyes and ears, don’t I?
Anyways, I’ve gotta hit the road. Some people might have all day to stand around and chew the fat, not me. If I don’t get the supper on myself I’ll go to bed hungry. Not that I’ll sleep even with my belly full, neither. What I wouldn’t give for a silent holy night without that snoring in the next room rattlin’ the window panes.