Naughty or Nice?
by Jay Eales
“You remember the rules, right?”
“Jawohl, mein Kapitan.” Carol gave a Hitler salute, with a mocking grin.
Rather than the desired effect of lightening the mood, Kristian’s expression grew grave.
“Indulge me.” He looked at Carol seriously, as though he was about to tell her the cat had been run over. Carol sighed, and played the game, rattling through the rules by rote, just as Kristian had relayed them to her: “No smoking. No drinking. No swearing. I thought this was supposed to be fun?”
“It better be. It cost me a packet to ship that crate all the way from Lapland.”
“I’d have been happy with a week at Centerparcs.”
“I can take you to Centerparcs any time of year! Where’s your Christmas spirit?”
“Under lock and key in the drinks cabinet until after Twelfth Night, apparently…”
“If you think my dad will stop smoking those evil Christmas Cuban cigars of his just because of some rules you’ve made up, you don’t know him as well as you should.”
“I didn’t make the rules. Rare Exports Incorporated do. I had to sign a contract before they’d even agree to let me buy one.”
“Might as well have been. I felt they’d charged me a pound of flesh. But, it’ll be worth it. This is gonna be the best Christmas ever, babes. Trust me. It’s all for you. Your dad will understand. Tell him we’re not smoking in the house any more, or something.”
“Careful, tiger! Isn’t lying on that list of rules somewhere too? Can I take a peek at this mysterious crate, at least?”
“Don’t be so impatient! Christmas Eve is just a few hours away. You’ll have to wait.” Kristian seemed to have cheered up a little at least. He’d regained some of his playfulness. It was a relief, as Carol thought he’d had it all knocked out of him with all the extra hours at work. A fat wallet was all well and good, but not if it meant losing the cheeky man-child she’d fallen for. Hadn’t she worked just as hard to keep up with the Joneses; live the dream; a top-flight career and a life?
“Can I at least have a teensy bottle of Grolsch tonight? It’s not Christmas yet. You haven’t even let me trim the tree. You and your family traditions. Look at the poor thing sitting there in the corner all naked and green. By the time you let me decorate it, the needles will have started to drop off. Come on, big boy! Just a beer and a bauble… I won’t tell.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Kristian!” Carol was growing just a little tired of her boyfriend’s inflexibility. What good was Christmas if you couldn’t let your hair down? Eat too much, drink too much and go a little wild. Let the credit card take the strain and repent at leisure when the New Year was safely begun. Kristian took a sharp intake of breath, “Careful… Do you want to be naughty or nice?”
“Oh, I like this game! Naughty, every time! It’s a fair cop, guv! Put the bracelets on. I can’t promise I’ll come quietly, though.” Carol pantomimed the universal invitation to put invisible handcuffs on her wrists, a prelude to a better end to the evening than its beginning, she hoped. Hope that was instantly dashed when she saw the horrified look on Kristian’s face.
“He’ll put you on his list.”
“He can check it as many times as he bloody well likes. The day I’ve had, I’m having a drink. Join me or don’t. And I’m opening the gingerbread packet. Don’t even try stopping me.”
Kristian knew he was on a hiding to nothing. When Carol set her mind to it like this, nothing short of coshing her over the head and dragging her from the house would change how this would turn out. He considered it.
The funny thing was, Carol did get her way and decorated the tree that night. Not in a modern style, though it could be described as ‘traditional’. When both sets of parents arrived for Christmas dinner, punctual as ever, Carol’s father stubbing out his filthy cheroot in the snow outside the house on the instructions of She Who Must Be Obeyed, they could see the tree glistening through the window first of all.
When they finally gained entry, it was the splintered crate they saw next, quite empty. Their calls to Carol and Kristian went unanswered. Confused that they might have missed a phone message cancelling dinner, they wandered about the house, finally arriving in the lounge to finally witness the tree in all its glory. Not a scrap of tinsel on the tree this year. Slippery red ropes strung about the tree, and those were definitely not baubles. Ho. Ho. Ho.
This story is a homage to the film Rare Exports & is not intended to infringe copyright.