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Working Nights - a Christmas Eve story


Nicko pulled up in his six horsepower Daihoo GTX and examined the luminous computer pull-out of Datchett’s Estate, Burston, Area 312, Zone 12. There were, it told him, two living areas left to do - one with a six year old boy (no. 037840761285) into Space Invader cards and Internet Gameboy Series 10, the other, twin girls aged seven (nos. 037840761286/7). Their list was as long as your arm including matching Madonna purple wigs, stick on tattoos, and body piercing kits. The main order was for facial and nose job vouchers from Alvarez Enhancement Clinique – as most girls wanted this year.

He sighed as he punched in the digital order sheet sort codes located on the dashboard. Only a Series 9 Gameboy left, no Series 10, and just one purple Madonna wig and one crimson came up – well, they’d have to do. Atleast there were loads of tattoos and piercing kits left and a whole set of Space Invader cards. All the rage this year were the plastic surgery vouchers; they’d been ready for that.

Checking again the address he nosed the car up the road and his headlights picked out the sensory plaques on the buildings. All quiet. Lights off except for the obligatory electric porch globes next to each front door illuminating home delivery grills waiting to be filled. He swiftly coded in numbers and emptied a required order of toys and vouchers into the delivery shutes. He attached a brief note to each: “Enjoy. Nicko.”

Returning to the Daihoo, he sighed with relief and stroked his beard. Another year’s assignment over. Back to his condo in Florida Keys and a bit of a break: maybe a trip with Ang to see the Northern Lights – he’d always had a yearning to go to the Pole and this could be the year. Providing of course work targets and customer guestimates had maximised to overall output expectation. He’d have to keep his fingers crossed.

He was about to exit the road when suddenly the Daihoo’s dark interior lit up with a fierce light. The silver lapels on Nick’s red satin tuxedo shimmered as across the night sky a strange apparition came arcing over the rooftops.

Nicko gawped through the perspex windscreen as what seemed like a huge wooden sledge, yes, festooned with ribbons and bells and pulled by six prancing animals streaked across the night sky. Sitting on board Nicko could just make out an old man hunched up in red robes clutching a toy train and teddy bear to his chest.

As the sledge flew soundlessly overhead, Nicko could swear the old fellow was crying. Then the spectre disappeared as fast and as silently as it had come leaving the sky dark again. Nicko sat up, rubbed and scratched, shook his head. Hello! Had he been hallucinating? He WAS tired.

Sighing, he recalled dimly the story Gramps told him as a boy about an old guy from the Artic who rode on a toboggan led by reindeer and came down chimneys with sacks of toys and sweets. CRAZEEE! The kids today would never believe that junk! He MUST have been dreaming! Reassured, he started up the Daihoo and headed for Al’s All-Nite Diner, glad that this chore was over for another year and a big fat cheque for his trouble would soon be in the mail.
© 2001; Jenny Harrow

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