It was going to be a white Christmas this time. The snowman stared back at Jamie with a twinkle in his eyes. Jamie shared a wicked grin with his lone companion of the night; peering at his handiwork through his bedroom window sill. The pathway was brightly lit with Christmas fairy-lights. Yet, he didn’t see anyone enter.
Maybe he had dozed off, when the noise of someone sneezing startled him awake. Had mom and dad returned? He waited for someone to come up and check on him. The clock ticked on; while he observed the shadow play of the curtains on the wall. After fifteen minutes or so, Jamie could no longer contain his eagerness.
He walked downstairs wondering if he had imagined the whole thing. It could have been Lora ,their feline friend. But Lora was a deep sleeper and she slept in the kitchen. Before he could step into the living room, a voice boomed; freezing him to the spot.
“Hi there, Kiddo. No one’s at home, eh?” A bulky man in red pullover was sitting on the sofa near the Christmas tree. He had Lora on his lap who was purring to his gentle strokes.
“Hi” Jamie meekly muttered, wondering if he should have come armed with his baseball bat. “Aa..are you a thief?” His thoughts verbalised before he could stop them from escaping.
A bold laugh echoed around the room. The man’s belly did a jiggle and his eyes cringed into tiny slits. “I could be.” He smiled back with mischief.
“Okay.” Jamie declared “You can take whatever you want except my baseball kit. I could actually help you pack.” He volunteered.
“Why, thank you for such a grand gesture." The man replied loudly. “But may I know why are you left alone at home on a Christmas Eve?”
“It’s a long story” Jamie walked towards him plopping himself into the opposite couch. “I am grounded for a week. No Christmas or New year celebrations for me this year.” He lamented.
Lora leaped up onto Jamie’s lap and he continued stroking her to sleep. “She doesn’t make friends easily.” Jamie remarked; studying the man more carefully now. He was older than his dad, the eyes had crow feet and he had a French beard which was all white. The hoodie didn’t reveal whether he had any hair on his head. But he could see a glint reflected from his ear stud.
“I make friends easily” The man beamed. “If I may ask out of curiosity, what did you do to get grounded?”
“Do you play baseball?” Jamie realized that a man as bulky as him would never be into any sports. “Never mind” he uttered losing interest in this small talk.
“I used to.” The man wistfully declared “Now, I watch it on T.V”
“Oh! Great!” Jamie perked up. “Well, you know I just tried a brushback pitch today while practising; I read about it and was dying to try it out.”
“Oh! My! My!” The man exclaimed “I didn’t know boys this young were allowed to try those. In our time….” Jamie interrupted him before he could finish “Nope. We aren’t supposed to.”
“ I…erm…I mean ….the ball hit the batter in his eye.” Jamie confessed.
“Oui..Tut Tut” The man disapproved. Jamie sighed “I know. I am sorry okay. But it wasn’t really all my fault. I wanted to try out new things. If I can’t; how would I learn?”
“Well, my boy. You should have taken your coach into confidence, trying anything without anyone’s knowledge is always dangerous.”
“I guess, you are right. I’ll keep that in mind.” Jamie smiled. The doorbell interrupted their conversation. Lora meowed at the door when Jamie got up in panic, “Oh! Shit. I think mom and dad are back from the midnight mass. Where are you going to hide?”
The man smirked picking up his huge backpack which Jamie hadn’t noticed earlier, “Given my structure, I think it will be impossible for me to hide.” And before Jamie could retort, he walked across the room to open the door.
“Hello Rudolf” he acknowledged the thin guy whose nose had turned red due to the severe chill outside.
"Mr.Nicholas, the range rover has been repaired. If we may…” Rudolf ushered pointing towards the white SUV.
“Sure” The man bellowed and turned to wave at Jamie “Catch ya later kid. Got to go. Be nice.” Jamie was too awestruck to respond. The slamming of the door broke his reverie.
He turned around to find Lora on the recently vacated sofa scratching a box. Jamie picked it up to read the tag hanging from it 'To Jamie' He looked at Lora who was looking as curious as himself. He knelt down and opened it for Lora to peep in. A collection of books were nicely bound with a shrink wrap. Jamie went through the titles; ‘The Art of Pitching’, ‘Odd ball’, ‘Super Slugger’, ‘Baseball Great’ ,‘Derek Jeter: The contract’ ,‘Here comes the strikeout’. Before he could unwrap it; he heard the jingling of the keys and saw the door open up.
“Merry Christmas, Jamie!” Mom and dad shouted in unison. Jamie rushed to hug them. The snowman smiled with a twinkle in his eyes.
(Feedbacks welcomed. )