“And a happpeee newww yearrr!”
Finally. They were finished. Dalton exhaled and turned the volume on the TV back down to its normal level.
“I saw three ships come sailing in, come sailing in, I saw three ships come sailing in.”
“Oh you’ve got to be joking me!” cried Dalton, chucking the TV remote across the room in frustration.
“Just go and give them some money,” said Sue sitting next to them. “Then I’m sure they’ll move on to the next house.”
“No. They’re not getting anything, not a penny,” Dalton replied. “I never asked them to come here, I never asked them to sing. They’re not getting anything. They’re like those toe-rags that come and wipe your car windscreen then expect you to just give them money. That’s not how the world works Sue.”
Sue snorted in amusement and carried on watching the TV. Dalton was always like this at Christmas time and you either just to had to laugh at him or go slowly insane at his constant anti-merriment.
Finally the carol singers finished their song. A few moments passed in silence, just long enough for Dalton to relax then they started again. “Away in a Manger” this time.
“Right that’s it,” snapped Dalton, getting to his feet and storming out of the room before Sue could try and stop him. From the hall she could hear him swinging the door open and then unleashing a torrent of rage upon the well-wishing carol singers.
“Be near me Lorrrd Jesus! I ask thee to stay!” The carol singers just kept on singing.
The door slammed shut again.
“Don’t you think that was a bit rude?” asked Sue when her husband finally returned to the sofa, rosy faced.
“No less than they deserve. I ask you this – what if that was kids playing music from one of these ghetto-thingies? Or someone beeping their horn repeatedly? You’d call the police wouldn’t you? Because it’s noise pollution. Causing a nuisance. Just because they’re singing ruddy hymns doesn’t change any of that.”
Abruptly the singing and musical accompaniment died away mid verse. Dalton’s outburst had obviously had some sort of effect, either that or the singers’ toes were starting to freeze and they were going to retreat to the pub. Then the music started again – “Deck the Halls”, only it wasn’t “Deck the Halls” that was being sung.
“You’re a miser-able old bug-ger! Tra li la la, la la la! We hope San-ta brings you co-al! Tra li la la, la la la!”
Sue did all she could to stop from sniggering. Dalton’s face fell.
“All we wanted was a few penn-ies! Tra li la la, la la la! But now you’re going to pay like hell!”
“Hell? Did they just say hell?” asked Sue, now looking less amused.
“Mis-er-able shite, greeeedy old shite!” They had slipped into Silent Night now. “You bouuught this house, for less than you should! You tolddd the previous owners it was riddden with rot. When cleeeaaarrllllyyy it’s not.”
Dalton went to the window. Lights across the street were starting to come on now, neighbours were looking out from their windows.
“Howww’s your bad leg? And your baddd back? We hear you’ve been on beneeefits for quite so-me time. Did that help pay, for your skiiiing holi-day?”
“How do they know all this?” asked Sue, coming to the window as well and looking at the group of figures huddled in the street light. It was hard to make out their faces. “Aren’t they just carol singers?”
Dalton didn’t reply. His throat was feeling very dry all of a sudden.
The music changed again. White Christmas.
“Yooou’ve been workinggg late a lot in the – offff-ice! But does your wife knowww why?”
Dalton bolted for the door.
“That you’ve been banging! Your, sec-ret-ary! And… the girl from market-ing?”
Oblivious that he was just in just in socks out on the frosty pavement, Dalton stood before the carol singers. “What do you want?!” he shouted. “However much you want, I’ll pay it alright? Just leave me alone!”
The carol singers fell silent at last. A series of judging eyes boring into the man before them. He had pulled out his wallet and was now waving a handful of creased notes at the singers.
“Come on, just take it and then leave!” he called. “Please!”
None of the group moved.
“We wish you a merry christmas! We wish you a merry christmas! We wish you a merry christmas and a happppy new year!”
Dalton gave a sigh of relief. Maybe just the willingness to pay up had saved him from further revelations.
“Your wife gets a lot of male of callers! Your wife gets a lot of male callers! Your wife gets a lot of male callers, when you’re not here!”
Dalton turned slowly to look back at the house but his wife had vanished from the window. He felt chills worse than the frost below him or the bitter night air. He started to shake and all the while the carol singers continued to sing.
Title image courtesy clairity