Story by Big M
Foodge had managed to lay low over the Christmas period. He avoided all of his social engagements by telling everyone that he was going to Bali for a fortnight, but instead had laid low at home, living on frozen pies, and long necks of Wretched Pilsener. The fact was Foodge hated Christmas. He hated Christmas carols, he hated Santa, he hated tinsel, and he hated Christmas trees. ‘Ah, well’ He thought to himself. “It’s all over for another year.’ As he settled his plump derriere into an aging Chesterfield, in preparation for a post-prandial nap.
No sooner had bum met leather that Foodge started snoring. His initial sleep phase was complicated by the most mundane dreams. Dreams of heating frozen pies, and mixing ‘Deb’ mashed potato mix, and running out of sauce, then making instant coffee. All of a sudden his dreams were invaded by the most onerous character…Santa Claus. “What are you doing here, Santa?”
“Well, son, I’m not really here, you’re dreaming, or, rather, I’m manipulating your dream.” Replied the jolly, fat man, as he chewed on the end of a cigar.
“So, you’re the real Santa?” Foodge enquired hopefully.
“No, not really…sort of…” Santa took a sip from a silver hip flask. “I’m Santa’s brother, but I help out at Christmas, Easter, stock takes, and so on.”
“So your name isn’t Santa?” Foodge was struggling with the core concept.
“No, mate, it’s Darrel, Darrel Claus, but you can call me Daz.”
“Oh.” Foodge had already started to worry about tomato sauce’s absence from the fridge, and whether Aldos would have any in stock.
Daz snapped his fingers. “We haven’t got all day, I’ve been sent to show you where you’re goin’ wrong…with Christmas, not with everything else.” Daz patted a layer of dust from the sleave of his red suit.
“Where I’m going wrong, I’m living the dream.”
“Some dream, livin’ on frozen pies, and beer that tastes like cat’s piss, just so that you can pretend you’re in Bali. Bugger this. I’m gunna show you, Mr Scrooge, I mean, Foodge!”
Foodge found himself transported to the back seat of a Zephyr station wagon, the smell of salt water stinging his nostrils, and grains of wet sand creeping up his butt crack. He recognised the picnic basket on the back seat, his mum’s blond hair, and dad’s hair slicked back with Brylcream. He realised that he was reliving his last Christmas Eve with Mum and Dad. “I’ll just pull in here and get a couple of pounds of prawns.” Just like his dad said when he was little. They headed home, showered, and then sat at the dinner table in the little holiday house they rented every year. Mum always had prawns for entree, which they peeled straight from the paper wrapping, then cold chicken, salad with mango and avocado, and then little, home made plum puddings for dessert.
Foodge remembered the feeling of tiredness, coupled with anticipation. He would be allowed to open his presents that evening. This was the year he got the train set, with a steam engine with real smoke, and lights in the carriages. He realised that he had tears in his eyes. “It was the best, wasn’t it, mate?” Daz was fascinated by the automated level crossing.
“It was the last Christmas, Daz, then Mum and Dad died”
“I know, Foodge, and I can’t change the fact that your parents died, but it didn’t need to be your last Christmas.” Daz skulled half a glass of dad’s best cognac, that sat on the little table next to Dad’s Big Armchair.
“You’re wrong, it was!!” Foodge was defiant.
“It need not have been.” Daz scratched his head through a rather dirty red hat. “Your best mate, Darcy invited you for Christmas every year.”
“Well, he just wanted to rub it in that I was just an orphan!” Foodge reached for the cognac, and realised that Daz had already skulled the second half.
That’s bullshit, Foodge, every year Darcy’s mum set a place for you, and every year you pretended to be away somewhere important.”
“What about your mates at he pub, they always seem to have fun at Christmas?” Daz had done the Santa run to the Pig’s Arms this year, and had witnessed the goings on first hand.
“Merv’s got Janet, Granny’s got Fernando, O’Hoo’s got Vinh…I’m the fifth wheel”
“Well, let’s have a look at last Christmas Eve at the pub.” Daz waved a hand. “Sorry, me wand’s busted.”
They were suddenly at the Gentlemen’s Bar at the Pig’s. The place was packed, not the least because the tree took up so much room. Beryl was banging out carols on the old piano; Hedgie was passing around plates of ham and turkey. Merv was handing out free pints, and Granny had just brought out her trademark Christmas pudding. Merv called for silence. “Granny’s about to cut her famous pudding, but, I’d like us all to remember one who, due to the demands of his private detectin’, is overseas….Foodge. Raise your glasses to good old Foodge…”
Foodge was gobsmacked. “I thought they’d be pleased to see the back of me.”
“No, mate, you’re a pain in the arse, but they all like you, anyhoo, my work here is done, besides, I’ve got a date with hot, elf twins.” Daz just seemed to melt away.
“No, come back Daz, or Santa…” Foodge could feel a rough, calloused hand shaking his shoulder.
“Wake up, Foodge, sorry I barged in, but the door was unlocked.” Granny sat on the edge of the lounge, with a huge basket containing red wine, beer, port, home made mince pies, and puddings. “This is from all of your mates, how was your chrissie?”
Foodge glanced at the dusty replica of the Flying Scotsman, sitting on the bookshelf. A tear welled in his eye. “ Best ever, Granny, best ever.”