Home > Christmas Grump

Christmas Grump
Author: MINK

 


1

 

 

Sebastian

 

 

Reindeer Valley. A perfect Christmas town. The main street is lit up with green and red, a huge Christmas tree is alight in the town square, and a friendly, fluffy snow shower falls from the sky.

It’s like a beautiful hand-painted Christmas card has come to life.

It’s beautiful.

I fucking hate it.

My bitter coffee sticks in my throat as I look across the street at the town bakery, an old woman inside filling orders with a pleasant smile on her face. She’s happy. Too happy. Everyone here is. But not for long.

I smile and finish my cup. This coffee shop sells swill with a smile, which I loathe, but I had to come into town for the day. Interviewing candidates to work for me isn’t an easy task. So many fools looking for good pay and benefits. If that’s what they want, they never should’ve answered my ad. I made it clear I needed a ‘detail-oriented hard worker and self-starter’ which everyone knows means I’m going to run this employee ragged while throwing peanuts at them and expecting a thank you from them for my magnanimity at the end of each day. It says it right there in the ad.

Honestly, it’s so hard to find good help these days.

Still, I wait for the next applicant. Her name is already laughable. ‘Merry’? What nincompoop lives in this picture-perfect Christmas town and then has the audacity to name their child Merry? That’s fucked up.

I tap my fingers on the table as the slow barista finally brings me a fresh cup of garbage brew. I give her a stern glare, and she retreats quickly behind the bar. Good. I don’t want any questions or small talk with anyone in this town. In fact, I want nothing more than its absolute destruction. But I suppose I need to start small.

So the first step is to get an assistant to help me with all the legwork. After all, I’m the brains of the operation; I certainly don’t intend to get my hands dirty.

I wait until the interviewee is five minutes late, then ten, then fifteen. My ire grows with each passing moment until I take her paltry resume and rip it to shreds, leaving it in a nice pile on the table.

Right as I stand, the door opens, and a wide-eyed beauty rushes in, her cheeks pink from the wintery wind.

“Mr. Franklin?” She hurries over to me, and I catch the scent of apple spice and perhaps cinnamon. “I’m so sorry. I was really trying to get here on time, but you see there was this cookie accident at the bakery, and I was helping to, um, clean it up—Oh!”

I wipe a smudge of red icing from the corner of her mouth with my thumb.

She swallows hard and stares up at me.

“You were saying?” I press the tip of my thumb in my mouth and taste the sweetness this little thing has just brought into my life.

“I, um—” She wipes her mouth. “I was at the bakery …”

“Mmhmm.” I like the way she’s breathless and blinking as if I’m somehow hard for her to look at for too long. Sweet, like I said. But I don’t need sweetness. Not for this job. No, I need someone who can do my dirty deeds without the slightest shred of guilt. Not this angelic little woman with the innocent eyes. “Well, it would seem you’ve missed your appointment. I’m a very busy man. Excuse me.” I move to step past her.

“Wait.” She holds up her hands, and they’re only inches from my chest. I wonder what it would feel like if she touched me. Just pressed her palms to me. Am I suffering some sort of brain malady? I must be, because a thought like that has never crossed my mind.

“I know I’m late and that makes a bad impression, but I promise I’m a hard worker and I can do whatever you need me to do to get this job.”

Such innocent words from those sweet pink lips. I can think of plenty of things she could do for me. Damn, my mind is racing with images of her on her knees or bent over one of these trendy, godforsaken tables. Yes, I must be having some sort of a stroke, because all of these thoughts have no place here. My mind is centered on destruction, not bending this little darling over a coffee-stained table while I fill her with my whipped cream.

“I’m good at lots of stuff. You know, jack of all trades, master of none.” She gives me a winning smile.

“I’m sure you are, but you seem to be failing mightily at being on time. That’s important to me, Ms. Harper.” I clear my throat, but I don’t try to leave again. In fact, my feet are firmly planted on this kitschy wooden plank floor.

“Okay, I won’t be late again. If I am, you can fire me.”

“But I haven’t hired you,” I point out.

“Give me a try, Mr. Franklin.” She shows me that lovely smile again.

I step closer to her, bearing down on her as Christmas music tinkles along in the background and the barista nervously froths a drink at the bar. “Are you certain you’re up for the tasks I have in mind? This isn’t for the faint of heart. I have requirements. All of them must be met. Every. Single. One.”

“I can do it. Just give me a chance.” She kicks her chin up with confidence.

“Are you certain you want to work for me, Ms. Harper? The pay is tolerable, no benefits, and the work isn’t steady. You must be available when I call at all times, and you must be prepared to do everything I say.” I bet she tastes sweet, and not just from the icing I already licked. She’s a confection all on her own.

She lets another small smile breakthrough. “It’s Merry. And yes. Just tell me what you need me to do.”

I consider her for a few more minutes, then take my place at the table again and gesture for her to sit across from me. Maybe this sweet little morsel will make the perfect helper.

After all, the morons in this town will never see me coming if I have her doing my dirty work.

“First assignment.” I motion her to lean closer across the table, then whisper my instructions in her ear.

When I’m done, her eyes are wide, but she gives me a firm nod.

Good. This is going to work out perfectly.

Merry Christmas, Reindeer Valley. I hope you’re ready for your fucking reckoning.

 

 

2

 

 

Merry

 

 

This has to be some kind of test. Why else would he want me to steal Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from the Christmas display in the center of town? It makes no sense. He’s by far all the little kids' favorites. Everyone takes pictures with him. It’s said if you whisper into his ear what you want for Christmas he’ll make sure that Santa gets the message. I think a lot of little kids are going to be heartbroken at his sudden disappearance.

“Are you sure that’s what you want me to do?” I ask, leaning back to stare up at Sebastian.

He stands out in this place and not because of the fancy suit he’s wearing or how handsome he is. He’s a rather large man. I’m not sure why I answered his ad to begin with, but something about it called to me, and I’ve always believed in signs. I’ve followed them my whole life, and they’ve yet to steer me in the wrong direction. Not to mention I could use some quick cash for holiday shopping.

“I don’t say things I don’t mean, and I also don’t care to repeat myself.” His eyes drop to my mouth.

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