GRETA FOR THE HOLIDAYS - CHRISTOPHER GRANT
The most wonderful time of the year?
Greta hated this time of the year.
False promises and people lying to each other’s faces.
Merry Christmas? There was no such thing.
When Greta was ten and Trish, her sister, was four, Trish’s father got lucky and Christmas fell on a weekend. A court-appointed weekend, meaning there was nothing Carol, Greta and Trish’s mother, could do about it. Nothing except pack up her little princess and hand her over to Bill. As soon as the golden child was out the door, Carol turned on Greta, slapped her across the face and grabbed herself a bottle of some rotgut or another. She called up one of her usual lays.
A half hour later, he showed up at the door.
“Get that, Greta,” Carol called from the bedroom. Greta knew what would happen if she didn’t and let him in.
His name was Cal and he was one of the nicer ones.
Occasionally, the nicer ones would leave extra cash and a Christmas present or two would show up the next morning on top of the kitchen table, in lieu of a tree. Carol didn’t believe in having a tree, real or otherwise. Takes up too much space, was her excuse.
The entire weekend would be filled with the sounds and smells of sex, drinking, weed and vomiting, all coming from behind the bedroom door. Greta was left to fend for herself during that forty-eight hour period.
The door is white. There's a tree in the picture window, decorated and all lit up. The guy’s name is Eric Washington.
Eric Washington has a wife, has two kids, a boy and a girl.
Eric Washington was on the verge of losing it all. His business and his house and probably his wife and kids.
Until Charlie stepped in. Ever-helpful Charlie. All of Eric Washington’s problems were solved. As long as he paid the right amount at the right time.
Eric Washington is into Charlie for a cool hundred thousand.
Eric Washington is ten weeks late on his payment.
When she was twelve and Trish was six, Trish got to see her father for Christmas again. Even though it wasn’t a court-appointed weekend. Trish talked about how it was going to be so great and that Greta wouldn't have any presents. It was typical Trish. All she needed to do was stick her tongue out.
That’s what did it.
Greta grabbed her sister’s wrist and bent it backward. She figured the little princess wouldn’t be able to enjoy Christmas with a broken wrist.
The beating she took from Carol, sick as it sounds, was worth it. Greta finally had her mother’s full and undivided attention.
“Break his fingers,” Charlie said. “Both hands.”
Greta watches Eric Washington and his kids and his wife through her car window.
It’s Christmas Eve and they’re exchanging presents. They are smiling and kissing and hugging and the kids are playing with the toys they’ve unwrapped.
“Fuck it,” Greta says and gets out of the car.
Ten years ago, when Carol was diagnosed with cirrhosis, Trish called and sobbed about how Mom didn’t have a whole lot of time left. She told Greta that they needed a donor and Trish had been tested and wasn’t compatible. She wanted Greta to come in and get tested. So they could hack a piece of her liver off and give it to Carol? Greta told Trish that she wouldn’t piss on Carol if she were on fire and hung up.
When she read Carol’s obit a few months later, Greta allowed herself to finally take that deep breath of true freedom.
Greta returns to the car and pulls out her cell phone.
“It’s done,” she tells Charlie. “And so am I.”
She hangs up, takes a deep breath and drives away.
BIO: Check out all of my fiction in the CRIMES COMMITTED BY YOURS TRULY section of this very website.
Farewell to the Whistler
2 hours ago