Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The prompt this week was to write a story about a character that hates Christmas carols.  Bonus points if we include a character named ‘Carol’.  That made it extra fun!  Please enjoy my story about a fella who just can’t seem to get away from all that holiday cheer.


I’ve never minded being a shoe salesman.  I can’t stand people, but I don’t have to deal with them.  Not really.  I mean, it isn’t like a bartender or a hairdresser that the customers share their life story with.  Nobody tells their shoe salesman their deepest secrets.  I never even look at their faces because then I might have to make some kind of conversation.  I ask them what they’re looking for and most of the time, they shove a shoe from one of the displays in my face and quote a size.  Dealing only with their feet can be a challenge though at times, since there are some who haven’t changed their socks in maybe a month or two, but they’re pretty rare in the store I work at.  Mine is a high-end shop and the cheapest pair runs around $125, so we don’t get too many regular working class slobs coming to browse.

George Farland, the owner, never tries to engage any of his employees in conversation.  He posts the schedule in the break room, and drops our checks through the slot in our lockers.  When I got hired, after I filled out the application, he just nodded here and shook his head there and handed me a schedule with my name written in.  I couldn’t ask for a better boss.  There’s only one thing wrong with the guy and that’s his attitude toward Christmas.

In the 11 years I’ve worked here, we’ve never been open on Christmas Day.  On Christmas Eve though, we open at 6am and stay open until midnight, and for the entire day, Farland pipes those damn carols at full blast throughout the entire store.  Momentary relief from that horrific noise can’t even be found in the men’s room, where the music seems to bounce off every wall.  I even took up smoking so I could step out back every now and then, but my efforts to perfect that nasty habit went unrewarded when I discovered that speakers had been installed on the outside wall of the back entrance.  And I had bought a damn carton too…

Sitting in my flat wearing my earplugs on Christmas Day was the only time I was truly free from all those cutsie tunes all about bells jingling, snow flaking, and all that other crap.  Even going to the corner for a paper was an exercise in futility.  As hard as I tried to run the maze of Santas trying to rob me of my last dollar, there was always one who would step right out in front of me and block my way until I put something in their bucket.  Two years ago, I dropped in a pack of gum.  Last year, I did the same, only I had chewed it all first.  I wonder if they’ll ask me for something this year.

But now, even that last haven of peace and quiet has been stolen from me.  When I came in this morning, there was a note on my locker to come to the office.  When I walked in, there was a woman behind Farland’s desk, and not a hot one either.  She looked like she’d been run over by a semi more times than one could count.  I soon found out that I’d died and gone to hell.  Apparently, Farland had croaked, she was his kid, and was taking over the store.  We were now staying open 365 days a year, and on Christmas Day, we’d have some kids’ chorus in the store singing all day long.  And, if that wasn’t enough of a kick in the gut, she told me I didn’t have to call her Ms. Farland.  I could call her by her first name:  Carol.

Having to spend Christmas Day away from my earplugs was bad enough, but having to listen to a live bunch of runny nosed kiddies tra-la-laing all damn day was the last straw.  I swear, if I don’t get to spend even one day away from ho-ho’s and fa-la’s, I am going to go stark-raving cra…

Wait.  That’s the answer.  What I need to do is go stark-raving crazy before the store closes on Christmas Eve.  I’ll need to check, but I think the max they can lock somebody up against their will is 24 hours.  I’ll just make sure I sane up really fast on the morning of the 26th.  That way, the world will be done with all that damn music, at least for another year.  Right now, I’ve got to come up with a way to make my co-workers and especially, my new boss, believe I’ve got a lot of screws loose, and a nice quiet cell with padded walls and floors is just what I need.

It was much easier than I anticipated.  Three hours before close on Christmas Eve, I engaged in a bit of jumping up and down and a few twirls, talking non-stop to myself, and laughing out loud for no reason.  I soon had my new boss convinced I was so stressed out that maybe a couple days rest at Moorehaven, our local loony bin, was in order.  The orderlies strapped me to a gurney and we headed out.  You could hear a pin drop in my room--it was that quiet.  I slept like I’d never had before, and I looked forward to my Christmas breakfast of mashed potatoes with a tranquilizer mashed up in them.

I was waiting to be fed when Raul, one of my nurses, came in smiling from ear to ear, and got me all wrapped up in a straightjacket and sat me in a wheelchair.

“Mr. Tim, I have a big surprise for you.  On Christmas Day, we don’t keep our patients in their rooms.  They spend Christmas in the Day Room and have all their meals there.  And the best part?  St. Peter’s Choir will be in there singing carols all day long.  Isn’t that wonderful?  Mr. Tim?  Are you crying?”

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