“Dan, I need your help,” Becky asked. “I know you’re always doing things for me but this time it’s really important.”
She said some variation of that every time. We both knew I would help so I grabbed a coat, put my gloves on, and pulled my hat down over my ears. Becky waited patiently but as soon as I stepped onto the porch she grabbed my hand and half dragged me next door to her house.
Her garage door was open but she went around the side of the house toward the backyard. She let go of my hand to open the gate and stood back to let me enter first. Her expression was my first hint of something strange going on. I walked into the yard and waited while she closed the gate. She took her time making sure it was locked.
She didn’t take my hand this time but led me to the small shed on the back of the property. As we walked, oddly without much haste after the mad dash to get here.
I glanced around and saw the snow was disturbed, but only in the middle of the yard. In fact, there was a trail of footsteps and something else, maybe something being dragged, from the house to the shed. Well, whatever she needed me to do, it wasn’t the heavy lifting.
We reached the shed and she stopped and stared at me. “You know I would never try to hurt anyone right?”
“Yes, of course. What is going on here Becky?” I asked with a sinking feeling. What was she about to involve me in? Had she finally knocked off her sorry husband?
She pulled open the wide door. Of all the things I thought she could have shown me, what I saw wouldn’t have made the list.
“What the hell? Becky, are you crazy?”
“Once I show him to everyone, no one will think I’m crazy ever again.”
I rushed over the man lying on the ground. He wasn’t dead, only unconscious. His face was covered in scratches and bruises.
“Why the hell is this man in your shed?”
“He tried to break into the house.”
“Why didn’t you call the police?”
“I tried that last time and while I was on the phone he got away. I wasn’t taking any chances.”
“How did he get all jacked up?”
“I caught him by surprise. I heard him making noise downstairs and was able to sneak up on him. I hit him with my frying pan, punched him a few times and tied him up, then I dragged him out here. I didn’t want to scare the kids.”
I shook my head. Guilt hit me as I remembered how I hadn’t believed her, no one had. Still, this was ridiculous.
“You can’t just keep a man tied up in your shed, Becky. Is that why you brought me here? I can take him to the police station.”
“Like hell you can! He’s staying right there. I need you to watch him while I get everyone else here. I’m not risking him getting away again.”
“Yeah, all the people who didn’t believe me before.”
I groaned. It would take her to gather that many people. “Becky. Stop this. You can’t keep him here. You can’t break the law just to prove a point. Just take a picture and we’ll let him go. If you’re lucky he won’t press charges.”
Her face brightened with a huge smile. “Photographs, yes! I hadn’t thought of that. Watch him while I go get my camera.” She ran off.
As soon as she was gone I untied the man. When he opened his eyes I asked if he was okay. He assured me he was.
“You weren’t knocked out at all were you?”
“Why did you let her do this to you?”
“Because she needed to catch me.”
Huh. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s her Christmas present this year.”
“To catch you, tie you up, and beat you?” I asked, surprised.
He chuckled. “Well, I didn’t expect her to assault me, but yes, to finally get her proof.”
“Will this put her on the naughty list for next year?”
He nodded. “Definitely.”
“Good.” It was the strangest conversation of my life.
A moment later Becky returned with her camera. She screamed when she saw Santa untied but calmed down when I assured her he wouldn’t leave until she got her photos. He even smiled in a few of them. He wisely refused when she asked if he would let her tie him up again so show off what she did.
“What now?” she asked when she was done.
“You go on back to bed. I’ll make sure he gets back to work.”
She strutted back to her house happily. I led Santa back to the house and helped him load the presents dropped when Becky attacked him. We went up on the roof and he introduced me to his reindeer. Before he left I explained UPS and FedEx to him, then I went home and went to bed.
If not for Becky’s pictures, which she showed off regularly, I would have thought it was all a dream. Oh and Santa must have listened because the next year Becky’s gift was on her porch instead of under her tree. It was a lump of coal. She also shows it off all the time.
This was born of a writing prompt from Today’s Author:
For 20 years he helped his neighbor whenever she called, but this time she was asking for too much.
I was supposed to be editing but it wasn’t going very well so I started looking up prompts. I found this one and my first thought was the prompt seemed to call for a body. So of course I didn’t do that, but I wanted to. So I went with a live person instead of a dead one and out came this ridiculous piece of fiction. It has Santa and snow, therefore, we’re going to call it a Christmas story.
Also, I thought it would be much shorter but I didn’t know the ending when I started so I shouldn’t be surprised.
Rough draft: 900 words