SD took part in the The Hub, Cookstown creative writing competition and won 1st place. You can read the winning piece below.
2020 has been…the year I almost wilfully murdered an elderly man.
Please hear me out before casting judgement. It was one of those gloriously pink sunset evenings during the first lockdown and I was in the front garden admiring the perfectly finished sky blue picket fence and the lawn smooth as any bowling green when a certain gentleman stopped. It was Jimmy McKay- renowned for his surly disposition- who lives farther along our lane.
"A lovely evening" I remarked. He surveyed the garden quite meticulously.
"Who painted your fence?" he enquired.
"I did it myself" was my smug reply as I grinned from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat that had stumbled on a lorry full of cream.
"You'd have been safer paying someone to do it right," he answered "and I suppose you cut the grass yourself?"
“I did" I said with a note of defiance.
"That's what I thought," he kept shaking his head like he was a helpless onlooker at some major global catastrophe.
Now Santa, I had no murderous intention then and was only going to take my leave off him when by happy coincidence my wife opened the front window to say food was ready. I headed for the house but only as I was about to close the door did I realise he was also behind me. He followed me right into the kitchen and my wife locked on in astonishment as he sat down at our table.
"Are you looking something?" She asked.
"Aye I'll take something to eat when I'm here,"
So, she started putting pizza and side salad on a plate.
"Oh, don't give me that" he shouted, "that's not food! If you have ham or meat you can make me a few sandwiches."
I was about to lift the rejected plate but the look my beloved one gave me changed that plan and I retreated to the sofa. She set out some bread and took the butter (well we consider it as butter) from the fridge.
"Excuse me missus" he raised his voice again " don't put that axle grease on my bread."
You could have cut the atmosphere then with the butter knife she fired down on the worktop. "Maybe you would be better eating at home since this house is not up to your kind of standards."
"I think you're right there," he stood up and looked contemptuously around him, "but I need the bathroom before I go."
I decided to show him its whereabouts. I suppose I was briefly putting off the inevitable which began the minute I got back to the kitchen.
"Davy brown, what were you thinking of inviting him in here and now of all times when you had a perfectly good excuse of not being allowed strangers in the house with this virus?"
"Alice please believe me I didn't ask him in, he followed me!"
Thank God she settled a bit.
"Ah well, at least he's going and we can get our tea in peace. He is one horrible man and to think some poor woman was once married to him."
"Yes, no wonder she left him on their honeymoon"
After about 15 minutes it simultaneously dawned on us that he was a long time in the bathroom.
"I'll check and see what's keeping him."
"Aye and make sure he goes," Alice was getting tetchy again.
Well the bathroom door was open and Jimmy was definitely not in it. We concluded he had gone quietly and sat down to enjoy the rest of a peaceful night apart from my dearly beloved fumigating and refumigating the bathroom, the door handles and the chair Jimmy sat on and the table he might have breathed on.
We had facetime with our daughter Zoe and the grandkids and then we were going to bed.
I was checking the funeral times on the phone when I heard Alice running down the stairs. She burst into the living room panting and gasping like she had just run the London marathon twice over.
"You won't believe this. He's in our bed!"
Before I could even say anything- not that I might have said anything being kind of rendered speechless anyway- she dropped the mother of all bombshells.
"He's sleeping in your pyjamas!"
Santa, I went up those stairs and I wasn't just thinking about killing him!!!
He was awake and actually looking even more sour than usual.
"I was in the middle of a good sleep" he snarled, "and it took me a while to get comfortable for that mattress is passed its sell by."
I proceeded to tell him in very unparliamentary language to get out, go home and never come back.
It goes without saying he didn't get the cup of tea he had the audacity to ask for nor did he get time to dress. We threw him and his clothes out through the door.
Next thing he did was change into the said clothes on our front step.
Of course, two women would have to be out for a late evening stroll and I was reported for indecent exposure!!
Well Santa time passed and much more serious things happened and are happening in the world.
Thankfully, none of us contracted Covid although a couple of people we knew passed away from it.
The first lockdown ended and the silent streets were again filled by the endless whoosh of traffic and people as humans came back from their enforced hibernation.
Even the rain returned.
Now we're in the dark days of winter and the virus and another lockdown.
Maybe all this eeriness which burst into our lives affects the brain or mine anyway.
You see Santa, I met Jimmy outside the shop the day before yesterday and I conversed with him instead of running a mile like I should have done.
"Are you all set for Christmas" he said as if nothing had ever happened between us.
"Near enough" I answered, "the wife does the most of it anyway."
"I see you have your muzzle on" he continued "next thing you’ll all be wearing burkas."
I wasn't surprised by his attitude but sorry I hadn't worn a burka as he wouldn't have been so quick to recognize me.
"Are you having many for Christmas?"
"We're having my daughter and her husband and the two grandchildren." I started walking on a bit and just like before he walked behind me.
"You'll have more stuff than you'll ever use then."
"It's better than not having enough " I quickened my step.
"I'll join you all about half twelve. You have plenty of stuff and plenty of room so there's no point me making a dinner when you're just up the road."
I was shell shocked, gobsmacked and speechless all rolled into one as I watched him walk back towards the shop.
I had to tell Alice who spent the night storming and roaring like a force 20 hurricane.
I slept on the sofa for my own protection.
Thankfully, she had softened down the next morning.
Or she was until a lengthy epistle signed by James McKay was dropped through the letterbox outlining what he did and did not want for dinner and afters plus a list of cleaning tasks for Alice based on what he noticed amiss on the previous visit along with a reminder that we needed to change the outdated mattress if we hadn't already done that.
So, dear Santa if you cannot give this man a personality transplant or transport us to a new home many miles away from him please please leave a vat of the strongest whiskey safe for human consumption and a lorry load of maximum dosage Valium that we and him may survive this Christmas.
Yours in desperation beyond belief David Augustus Brown aged 64 in years and another 100 every passing day.
By SD, The Junction, Dungannon
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.