The Last Christmas Carol

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Forgive my pessimism but I have always felt a little selfish at Christmas. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think about it for too long and I soon open my cracker put my party hat on and dig in to my turkey, but every year I feel a little guilty and take a few moments to think about the many people around the globe who won’t be eating and living comfortably at this time of year. This is the inspiration for this short story about one man’s struggle to stay alive at what should be a happy time of year.

Submitted: January 02, 2012

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Submitted: January 02, 2012

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The Last Christmas Carol

Keith tried blowing the end of his fingers to warm them up, he found it a strange sensation although; his hands were bitterly cold they almost felt like they were burning.  The gloves he had found in a skip had done him proud but that had been almost a year ago and his fingers now protruded from the end as they were holed and worn.

 He could feel the cold wind sinking into his bones and was very appreciative of a young man who stopped and gave him a Starbucks coffee. The smell of the coffee sent Keith into a daydream, he reminisced of a time when he had a warm roof over his head and his mother sat at the kitchen table coffee in hand phone glued to her ear gossiping to one of her friends.

 “Come on son you can’t stay here move it along”

 Keith’s heart sunk as the Police officers voice broke his dream. Keith had nothing but admiration for the police in all the time had been living on the streets he had always been treated fairly by them. Gathering his belongings didn’t take long he threw the sleeping bag he had obtained from a wheelie bin on a housing estate over his shoulder and started to move on.

 It was Christmas Eve and Keith had mixed emotions he felt a tad fortunate that a man who had purchased a new pair of boots had gave him his old boots on leaving a shop a couple days earlier. They were two sizes too big but kept his feet warm none the less. However his optimism soon dwindled when he thought of the night ahead in the cold, he tried to take his mind of it by remembering being a child and waking up on Christmas morning but that just made it worse. At least he wasn’t hungry he thought, he had managed to get some soup and a couple roll’s at one of the local homeless shelter’s earlier in the day but they didn’t have the room for him to stay overnight. He cursed himself for making the decision earlier in the day to stay out begging rather than find somewhere to spend the night. Keith had figured people would have been a little more generous and that he might have made enough money begging to buy some hot food for the night ahead.

Who was he kidding though if anything people were more reluctant to be kind to him at this time of year. They needed their money to buy gifts for their loved ones not waste it on a pathetic scruffy looking beggar like himself. Keith new people were stereotypical of him but he didn’t blame them, he could tell by the way people looked at him they automatically perceived him as an alcoholic or a junky.

 Desperation was starting to sink into Keith he knew turning up at any of the homeless shelters would be a waste of time as their quotas would already be filled. The thought of spending Christmas Eve huddled in a doorway or under a bridge brought a new sensation to him. This is the last time he thought,” I’m not spending another Christmas, like this”.  

Keith headed through a large park sheltered by the surrounding trees. The cold was oozing through his body, he wondered if it was possible for his blood to freeze. Keith was beginning to walk aimlessly; he knew not where he was going or what he was going to do when suddenly a woman passed him going in the opposite direction.

 Keith turned and grabbed the woman. “Give me your purse.”

The woman was petrified she pulled out her purse it dropped on the floor coins scattered all over.  Keith quickly dropped to his knees pocketed the coins and emptied the rest of the purse. There was a ten pound note and a twenty all in all he had stolen around forty pounds from the woman.  The woman that he had not even noticed running off as he dropped to the ground. Keith quickly got to his feet and started to run. He ran and, ran his head started to spin as he processed what, he had just done.  He stopped at a shelter at the very edge of the park where, he slumped on to a wooden bench and started to vomit; he wiped his mouth and started to cry. “What have I done” he said aloud. He looked around the shelter it was an old wooden building in serious need of a bit paint, the beams above his head had the remains of old bird’s nest’s and were covered in bird shit.  The Shelter would be as good a place as any to bunk down for the night but Keith knew the police may be on the way to the park to find him. He thought of the woman he had mugged, he couldn’t believe he was capable. The look of terror on her face would haunt his conscience forever.

The sound of a familiar Christmas carol soon had Keith’s attention he remembered there was a church nearby. Without giving it any thought, he was soon on the move again. Keith found himself walking towards the sound of the organs music. At the edge of the park he opened a large iron gate the cold from the metal gate sunk into his fingers almost feeling like a poison spreading around his body. He walked the hundred yards to the church doors and quietly opened them. The warmth immediately rose through him and he stood at the back of the service careful to make sure no one noticed him. Keith closed his eyes and absorbed the carols being sung, he had never been religious in anyway but found himself apologising to god for what he had done.

The music and singing was enough to warm Keith’s body but his heart now felt cold and tears started to well in his eyes as he thought about his crime again. He didn’t ask for forgiveness all he asked was that the woman would bear no mental scars from the experience. It was time to leave and Keith decided he had a promise to fulfil. On leaving the church he put the money he had stolen into the church collection box.

Steven loved his dog ben but walking him was a complete nuisance sometimes. He would give ben a proper walk later, for now he would have to make do with a quick walk around the park. Steven wanted home to watch his children opening there presents, after all it was Christmas day and besides Ben had a chewy toy wrapped up waiting to be opened. Once they were past the church and into the park Steven let Ben of the lead, he quickly scampered off, nose to the ground hunting out something to eat as usual.  Ben was a well natured dog so Steven was surprised to see him stop and Bark as he approached one of the parks shelters. Steven’s brisk walk soon turned into a run as Ben was ignoring his calls. Pulling the lead out Steven quickly connected it back up to ben’s collar. Curious to see what had caught Ben’s attention Steven walked towards the shelter.

Steven’s heart began to pound faster as he got closer, making him breathe more furiously the mist off his breath hung in the cold air like a miniature cloud. As he entered the shelter he noticed something in the corner. It was dark and Steven had poor eyesight. His early days spent boxing had been a blast but two detached retinas later he was starting to regret it.  He moved closer and the furious rhythm of his heart stopped and quickly turned into a desperate sinking emotion. Hanging from a rafter was the body of a male, a plastic Starbucks coffee cup protruded from one of the dead man’s pockets and he had unusual looking feet it was almost as if his boots were far too big for him. Steven didn’t have a mobile phone so he would have to run back to the house to alert the emergency services, he almost tripped over an old looking sleeping bag as he raced out the shelter.

 

THE END


© Copyright 2017 DarrenForster. All rights reserved.

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