Holiday Short from Gloria Ferris

Inga’s Best Christmas Eve Ever!
“Inga! Inga? Where’s my sandwich?”

Inga came up behind him and, for a delicious moment, considered strangling the old fart with his suspenders. Instead, she said clearly, “If you want a sandwich, get off your lazy ass and make it yourself.”

She spotted four house elves lined up on the sofa, watching a forty year old hockey game on the 52” television. “Or get one of your useless minions to do it.”

Without taking his eyes off the TV, Nicky reached over and patted her hand. “You shouldn’t talk about the children that way, Inga.”

Children! Whoever, or whatever, gave birth to all the pointy-eared freaks running around the compound, it wasn’t her. Although she wouldn’t put it past Nick to have a hand in it. So to speak.

Inga snapped her fingers at the sofa. “All of you! Get out to the kitchen and clean it up. The dishes haven’t been washed in days. Then, take the laundry out of the washer and hang it up.” He had a flat screen TV, but didn’t see the point in a dishwasher, clothes dryer, microwave, electric blanket …

The scurry of tiny feet accompanied a loud burp from Nicky. “Honey, it’s almost time. While you’re in the barn checking the equipment, I’ll make a sandwich or two to tide me over. Then, I’ll suit up.”

Inga didn’t trust herself to respond. She pulled on her Nordstrom storm coat and the new Alexander McQueen boots. Sure, he had plenty of money from endorsements and book royalties, but there was no place to spend it. She didn’t realize when she fell for Nicky’s smooth patter two years ago that he would bring her here to this desolate wasteland. The nearest mall was five thousand miles away. She had to order everything over the Internet, then wait six months for the Royal Mail to find her, if they ever did. As for a Tim Horton’s, forget it. No wonder Nicky’s third wife, Bonnie, had fled this rundown chalet and the loathsome elves. She was tanning her wrinkled hide right this minute on the French Riviera.

Inga struggled across the ice rink Nick had built for the “children”. The Arctic wind threatened to whip her feet from under her. She almost didn’t care if she lost her way and froze to death right here, right now.

She managed to open the barn door just wide enough to slip inside.
Immediately, the chitter of barn elves quickened. She never learned to understand their strange language and it didn’t matter now. “Whatever. Knock it off.” The elves retreated to a corner but she could feel their beady eyes watching her.

They had succeeded in hitching the team up to the sleigh. Inga did a circle check — testing straps, ensuring lights were functioning, and pushing on the magic sack to see if it was stable in the back seat. What do you know? It wasn’t.

With a gentle shove from Inga, the sack rolled out of the sleigh. The elves rushed over, but Inga pointed her finger at them. “Back! Momma’s wearing a brand new pair of elf-kicking boots.”

They twittered in alarm, and one made a move towards the door. “Oh no, you don’t. Get back into that corner. “

Inga stopped in front of the lead reindeer and squeezed his nose. He stomped his right hoof in protest, and dozens of tiny bells jingled on his leather harness. “Keep your antlers on, Sparky. I’m just checking the brightness.  We can’t have you blowing a bulb over the Atlantic.”

Or was it the Pacific? She shrugged, and plugged her destination into the GPS. She reassured herself that the precious piece of paper was zipped into an inside pocket of her coat. With the off-shore bank account numbers she copied from the list in Nicky’s safe, she was so out of here. It served him right for getting her drunk and dragging her into the Elvis chapel in Vegas.

Time was wasting. Nicky would be here any minute, ready for the one night of the year when he actually did any work. She had just one more thing to do.
Inga lunged at the huddle of elves and extracted one at random. She plunked him into the front seat. “I hope you can drive a sleigh. After I land in the Cayman Islands, you’ll need to get this rig back. I’ll set the GPS for you. You’ll be fine.” Maybe he would, maybe he’d end up in Hawaii.

She climbed into the sleigh and wrapped the robe around her legs. Picking up the reins, she called to the elves in the corner. “Open the doors, then get out of my way.”

Without the heavy sack of toys, the sleigh lifted off like a butterfly in a summer breeze. As they cleared the chimney, a red figure emerged from the chalet. An unexpected wave of affection swept over Inga. Vegas had been fun.

Leaning over the side, she called out, “Bye, bye, Nicky. If you’re ever in the Caymans, look me up. I’ll save a margarita for you!

A former technical writer, Gloria’s first mystery, Cheat the Hangman, won the 2012 Bony Blithe Award for best light mystery. Corpse Flower will be released on Dec 14th and she is working on a sequel. She occasionally writes a short story or novella just for the heck of it.

Twitter @GloriaFerris