The delivery guy from Arturo’s Italian Restaurant had a sixth finger. It waved about like a little pink antenna. Horace always gave him a big tip and tried not to stare at it. They would link eyes and smile at each other. There was a tacit agreement not to stare at the unusual little digit —and to tip big…and move on. Every time that Horace ordered from Arturo’s he forgot about the delivery guy. The chicken parmesan was so outstanding that the gross-out factor at the door was but a minor inconvenience.
“Your face looks ugly when you’re thinking, Haverson, so knock that shit off.” Flo eyed him as she angled and exhumed a Hell Energy from the small fridge, then she and her implied neglect left the finished basement, climbing the carpeted stairs with such pomp that the two men looked away and shook their heads.
Joel Haverson leaned over Flo’s handcrafted bar and whispered to Earl, “She’s going through some things.”
We paint smiley faces on the balloons so he knows we love him and everything’s okay. We tie the strings in bowline knots so they won’t get loose and mess everything up. We wheel him out of the room, and we think he smiles when the morning light falls on his face, and that makes us all smile, too.
We had a day out last Saturday. Well, when I say a day out, I mean we spent a lot of time going from one flea market to another. There are plenty of them in this town, let me tell you. Don’t get me wrong, I like flea markets, but then I don’t mind where I am just as long as it’s with Sandra. Not that she asked me to come along, just took it for granted really, but it doesn’t matter since she always thinks I shouldn’t be let out on my own.
“…you can actually taste the friction Dimitri.”
Stu shook his head and stared, unnoticed at his iPad surfing wife. “Did you hear that Jen? They can actually taste the friction.”
“Hmm…that’s nice love.”
“I suppose they’d know that sort of thing what with it being a cooking show and all, but actually tasting friction? I can’t even begin to contemplate what friction would taste like. OK that’s not true, I imagine it tastes pretty similar to sticking one of those nine volt Duracells on your tongue when you were nine and stupid but that isn’t the point.”
“I expect so love.”
“You’re not even listening to me are you? I could say whatever I wanted right now and you wouldn’t hear a word of…come to think of it it’s probably more like sucking on wet wool.”
We love Christmas, Sandra and me. We love all its traditions, like mince pies, and getting presents, and stuff like that. The best bit as far as I’m concerned is the swilling down the booze so I can’t remember what happened the morning after, but Sandra says that’s not very healthy and I have to ease up a bit this year.
‘Twas the night before Christmas
And in the alehouse below
A creature was stirring
A miserable old crow…
“Stirring’s a bit strong a word for it to be fair Nug, but I admire your cheery optimism.”
Nugget shook his lumpy, misshapen and somewhat yellow head. “You know me Bresst. Ever cheery.”
“Been meaning to ask you something though, Nug. What’s this Christmas thing you keep singing about?”
“That? The celebration of Christopher Thomas?”
“Christopher Thomas? You’ve heard the tale of Old Chris surely?” Nugget laughed goldenly as Bresst shook his head. “In that case I propose the same again to lubricate the tale. And,” he continued, poking the form slumped over the table beneath a black feathered cloak, “We’d better get another ale into him if we’ve got any chance of him functioning. Now where’s my favourite…ah! There she is! Menna! Three ales please darlin’. And a couple of those otters on a stick if you’d be so kind.”