A Christmas Collection
the house out. It
was set back from the main road. Hidden by two giant redwood trees that grew on
either side. Colin swung the white van, affectionally known as the “meat wagon,”
onto the narrow drive and killed the engine. The house was a single-storey,
wooden structure. Shrouded in darkness of the trees that towered above it. The
garden was overgrown. He could see parts of a pick-up truck scattered amongst
slumped in the
passenger seat. He tapped away at the screen of an iPad that sat in his lap.
Even the collection of the dead had moved with the times. Gone were the
clipboard and forms. All the deceased’s data was now held in a cloud somewhere.
Which amused Colin to no end, as every time he heard this, he had the image of
the recently deceased sat on this cloud, strumming away on a harp while
surrounded by filing cabinets.
they didn’t tell you who
the stiff is we’re here to collect?” said Brian, his face illuminated by the screen
of the iPad.
guessing if he lives here,
he ain’t no A-list celebrity.” Colin replied.
Croft is his name. Or was,
should I say. Quite the celeb round here when I was a kid. I used to live just down
the street from here, on Beech Lane. This fella was the main suspect in some
pretty heavy shit back in the noughties. Me and my buddies watched the police
haul his sorry arse out of this very house. He came out kicking and a hollering
like a stuck pig.”
Colin said, suddenly
interested. “What kind of shit we talking?”
was only the main suspect in
the disappearance of seven local women. “
come he’s not lying dead in
a prison cell, then?”
the passenger door
and jumped from the van. Colin took another look at the house and followed him,
wanting to hear the rest of the story. Brian was already hauling the gurney
from the back of the van, lowering it onto the driveway.
on then,” Colin urged.
the cops had him in
custody. But then they picked up this homeless guy down at the church shelter. He
had one of the women’s purses on him. Reckoned he had found it down some storm
drain. And with no bodies, the cops released our stiff and the homeless dude went
down for life. The cops were under pressure to solve the case, I guess.”
Don’t you just love a
happy ending on Christmas Eve? You haul the gurney and I’ll get the door. If we
get sorted quick enough, we can join the rest of the crew at Reds for a festive
beer or two.”
good to me.”
the police tape off
the door and opened it. He stood back and allowed Brian to pass with the
gurney. The darkness swallowed his partner in one gulp. Even stood here on the
porch, with the door open, Colin could smell the decaying flesh.
the light switch and
lit up the hallway. Colin let the door close behind him. The hallway ran the
length of the house down
into the kitchen. It was empty except for a small table set back against the
wall. A black dial telephone rested on the table. A phone book lay open next to
the gurney into
the living area that opened off to the left.
Colin followed. Brian found the light switch. They both stopped and
looked up at the large Christmas tree that seemed to fill the room. It was so tall;
the tree’s crown was crushed against the ceiling.
that’s what I call a tree,
the fuck did he manage to
get that in here?” Colin asked.
why don’t you ask him”
Brian said, pointing to the frail body that lay slumped in a battered armchair.
Croft, I presume?” said Colin,
laughing at his own joke. “Let’s get him out of here and then we can get to
Red’s for that beer.”
the gurney to the
left of the armchair and began to unfurl the body bag. Colin brushed past the
tree. A large, red bauble began to swing on its branch. He instinctively grabbed
the bauble to steady it. The bauble was the size of a small football. It looked
handmade, the kind of thing a child would bring home from school. The weight of
it surprised him.
admiring the tree, Colin,
and get your arse over here.”
released the bauble
and joined Brian at the gurney. They both pulled on masks and surgical gloves.
or head?” Brain asked.
down and took hold
of the body’s thin legs. Brian took hold of the torso and together they peeled
the body away from the fabric of the armchair and laid it down gently into the
body bag. Brian gave the body a final adjustment, then sealed the bag.
got seepage,” Brian said,
pointing to the dark stains on the cushions of the armchair. “I’ll grab a
couple more bags off the van.”
to the tree. Another
bauble had attracted his attention. This one was green. Similar in size to the
red bauble. Again handmade. But it was the shape of this one that attracted
him. He reached into the tree and removed it. It was heavy. He tapped it with
his finger. Turned it in a couple of times. Then dropped it to the floor.
hit the floor with a satisfying
thud and broke open. Colin reached down and lifted part of it from the floor.
His stomach dropped. He counted another six baubles of similar shape and size
hanging from the tree.
from the van. He
began to pack the stained cushions into a bag with “Surgical Waste” written on
its side. He then noticed Colin, staring back at him from across the room
okay, Colin? You look like
you’ve seen a ghost?”
think I have,” he replied,
holding up the jawbone he had removed from the remnants of the green bauble. He
turned and reached into the tree again. Grasped the red bauble this time and
threw it down onto the floor, already knowing what he would find.
Jon Park lives in the North East of England.
If Charles Addams, Edgar Allan
Poe, and Willy Wonka sired a bastard child it would be the fat asthmatic by the name of Michael D. Davis. He has been called warped by dear friends and a freak by passing
strangers. Michael started drawing cartoons when he was ten, and his skill has improved
with his humor, which isn’t saying much. He is for the most part self-taught, only
ever crediting the help of one great high school art teacher. His art has been shown at
his local library for multiple years only during October due to its macabre nature. If
you want to see more of Michael’s strange, odd, weird, cartoons you can follow him
on Instagram at mad_hatters_mania.