The Christmas CarolDavid E. Gates / Fantasy / Horror
The Christmas Carol
Copyright © 2016, David E. Gates
Cover Artwork Copyright: © David E. Gates
Published by Shelley Show Productions
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted by any means - whether auditory, graphic, mechanical, or electronic - without written permission of both publisher and author.
Unauthorised reproduction of any part of this work is illegal and is punishable by law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Also available from David E. Gates
Access Denied – A True Story
The Roots of Evil
The Ghost of Clothes
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The Christmas Carol
The Christmas Carol
'Another day, another car boot sale to trudge around.' Joe thought, as he rolled over in the bed he shared with his wife to press 'Dismiss' on his mobile phone, sat on the bedside table, which was emitting a shrill sound for his alarm call.
He sat up and sighed as he saw it was still dark outside. He didn't like these early starts. Getting up in the dark seemed to play havoc with his biorhythms, he thought.
His wife stirred as he raised himself off the bed and shuffled towards the en-suite bathroom. He turned the light on and allowed the bright white glare from the bulb to flood the bedroom and highlight his wife's features. She closed her eyes tightly as the light fell upon her closed lids and moved herself under the covers to retain her shelter from the piercing rays.
Inside the en-suite, Joe smeared a generous amount of toothpaste onto a toothbrush and ran the head of it under the cold tap. As he started to brush, he pushed his pyjama trousers down and sat upon the toilet seat.
He brushed his teeth vigorously as he sat urinating into the bowl. Once finished, he stood, stretched as he leant backwards and flushed the toilet, then spat the bubbled toothpaste from his mouth into the sink before running the toothbrush under the water from the tap and rinsing his mouth with it repeatedly until the last vestige of froth was gone.
Kicking off the pyjama bottoms that were now ensconced around his ankles, as he re-entered the bedroom, he felt the goose bumps on the front of his thighs prickle with the relatively cold air which permeated the sleeping chamber.
He started to get dressed, grabbing underpants and socks from a drawer on the opposite side of the room to where the bed, his wife still in situ, was positioned.
"Come on. It's you that wanted to get there early." He said to her. She grunted beneath the bed sheets but made no effort to move.
"Carole!" He voiced, louder.
"Alright," She responded. "I'm coming."
Joe finished getting dressed as his wife dragged herself out of the bed and into the bathroom. Despite having been married for more than a quarter of a century, since being teenage sweethearts, she still closed the door and allowed herself her ablutions in private.
"You want tea?" Joe asked her through the closed portal.
"Yes, please." She said through a yawn from the other side.
Joe made his way downstairs. In the kitchen, he stood looking out of the window into the garden for any signs of wildlife that might have been moving in the orange glow of the streetlight before he switched on the kitchen’s fluorescent tubes. Nothing stirred. He wasn't surprised. As winter came forth so the animals fled the chill of the environment and made good upon their hibernations.
He boiled the kettle and made two cups of tea whilst waiting for his wife to join him.
"Can you bring my phone down?" He shouted up to her. He couldn't be sure she'd heard him, as it was likely she was still in the bathroom given he'd not heard the door to it open since she entered.
He stood, enjoying the silence and imagining he was the only man alive on this still, damp morning. He looked at the clock on the cooker.
"Five past bloody six." He said to himself and sighed.
He knew it would take them around thirty minutes to get to the car boot sale. It would still be dark by the time they arrived, even if they left within the next thirty minutes. Thankfully, being a Sunday, it would likely be quieter on the roads. He hated driving at the best of times but particularly when it was busy with commuters. Though he knew the return journey, as people tried to take advantage of the last weekend before Christmas for their final shopping trips for presents and food, would be fraught as people jostled in their cars for an advantage of a few seconds to get to their destinations.
He sipped his tea and waited patiently. 'The calm before the storm.' He thought to himself.
Carole, now dressed, joined him in the kitchen, rubbing her eyes as she collected her tea from the work-surface.
"Do you bring my phone down?" Joe asked.
"What? No. Why didn't you bring it down?" Carole queried.
"Never mind." Joe said. He wasn't going to start the day with an argument. He knew how ratty his wife could be when she was tired. "I'll grab it. You need anything from upstairs?"
"No, I'm fine." She said, drinking her tea and flicking the switch to boil the kettle again. "You want another?" She gestured her cup towards him.
"No, I'm good thanks. Don't want to have to use the loos there if I can avoid it. Pretty sure something had died in them when I last had to." Joe recalled.
"I'm no good..." Carole started.
"‘til my second cup." Joe finished her sentence for her. He smiled, gave her a kiss on the cheek and went back upstairs to retrieve his phone.
Carole smiled as she dropped a tea-bag and poured the hot water into the cup to make a fresh brew.
Joe returned. He sat on one of the chairs surrounding the dining table and started to pull on his boots.
"Gonna be muddy there today. Very damp out." He informed Carole. Carole nodded.
"It’s so warm.” She said. “Less than a week until Christmas and the temperature is still in double-figures."
Carole drained her cup and grabbed her Wellington boots from the mat by the back door. She stepped into each one and then pulled a coat on. Joe reached for his coat too.
"You wearing your B.M.C?" Carole asked. "Won't you be too warm in that?"
"Better I have my big man coat if it rains. That other jacket is okay but gets wet pretty quickly." He told her.
They left the house and started the drive towards the car boot sale location.
"Can you believe there's this many cars on the road already?" Joe moaned. Carole ignored his observation. "Where are they all going?" He asked.
"Car boot sales probably." Carole said ironically.
"Oh Christ. I hope not."
They arrived at the field utilised for the car boot sale and joined the queue for non-stall holders.
"Half-full already!" Joe commented as they reached the entrance and handed over the entry fee to a bedraggled teenager in fluorescent clothing that was several sizes too big for them.
"Over there." The disgruntled teenager said, pointing in an indistinct direction. Joe pushed the car into gear and followed the path of the preceding attendees.
"All those shops we can go to, for free, yet we pay to come and look at people's junk!" Joe moaned again.
"Will you quit it?" Carole said. "You know you love it once you get around and find something of worth."
"I wonder whose idea it was to open this thing at six-thirty in the morning?" Joe asked. Carole ignored his question. No matter what answer she gave it wouldn't satisfy him and stop him from having his rant.
They parked the car and, after ensuring it was locked, began filing towards the area where the owners of cars that had arrived first had set up their "stalls." Some had full tables and racks of clothing. Others had tarpaulins laid out on the ground at the rear of the vehicle with their goods spread across them as they utilised the space as best they could. The noise of generators that provided power for the lighting that towered over the field filled the air.
Joe and Carole strolled slowly along the lanes of proffered delights from all walks of life and all ages. Most tables or groundsheets contained a mixture of unwanted items. CDs and DVDs sitting next to fine bone China and porcelain dolls. Cuddly toys sitting atop board games from an age long-gone it seemed. Clothes were strewn here and there and boxes of books that had seen better days seemed to be a regular staple of all but a few sellers.
They stuck to one side of each lane first, to ensure everything that could be seen was seen. The sky was starting to lighten as they reached the end of the first lane though the powered lights were still needed to be able to see what was on the tables and groundsheets effectively. They turned back to repeat the process of checking each stall as they wandered purposely along the