“Christmas Shoes”

(c) Katie Mattiuz 2015

(c) Katie Mattiuz 2015

Jeremy looked at the table strewn with Q-tips, ear muffs, tampons, and small nerf gun bullets. There was also his sandwich board leaning by the front door. This year would be a success. It had taken him ten days to get it all ready, but this year he would not hear his dreaded Christmas carol, nor any carol for that matter.

Jeremy’s aversion to carols and “Christmas Shoes” in particular began, not when he wrote it and sold it for a pittance, but when it became one of the most played Christmas carols of the season. Why people love the most depressing song in the history of sound, was one query that would haunt him forever.

The story was true for the most part. His mother was sick and dying, but he wasn’t a child. He was in his early twenties and trying to make it as a musician. Money was very tight and the idea struck him. He wrote the song for himself and he would play it at the various open mics he would attend throughout the city. At one in particular the song caught the ear of an agent that offered to buy the publishing rights for more money than Jeremy had ever thought he would have at one time. It turned out that if he negotiated for a percentage as opposed to a flat rate, he would have almost infinite more than he initially got and it would make having to listen to the song every year a tad easier.

But that’s not what happened and this year he felt his plan was rock solid. He had the necessary implements for his ears. If the Q-tips or ear muffs didn’t work, the tampons most certainly would. He considered just starting with them. When people saw someone walking around wearing a sandwich board that read, “X-mas carols cause death!”, with tampons sticking out of their ears, they would be inclined to go along with his wishes.

He hoped this would work. Over the years, he had some run-ins where things didn’t go as he planned. Though to be fair, he hadn’t planned anything until this year. He did want to avoid the violence, incarceration, and general feeling of insanity that occurred in the past. He just couldn’t help himself though.

The worst time was when he was waiting in a line for tickets to some “show on ice” for his niece. He could have purchased them online, but gigs hadn’t been coming with regularity and was living a cash-centric existence, trying to avoid any and all credit card debt.

The music was soft in the lobby of the venue. Jeremy wasn’t even paying attention to it really. His mind was focused on the seating chart on the wall and wondering if his niece was even the right age for something like this. Then, that familiar opening he had written so many years before started. It had an effect on him no other sound could produce. It shot past his lobe and straight to his brain and sent him into a white flash of rage. If he had been experimenting with gamma rays like Bruce Banner, he would no doubt flash green and wreak havoc to the immediate area and beyond. When Jeremy awoke at the police station later that day, his stomach dropped as he could not remember what he did to arrive there, only that it had to do with his song.

“This year will be different,” he said picking up his sandwich board and placing over his shoulders. “I wonder if anyone else has to prepare this much to go buy groceries?”

Jeremy stepped outside of his house and took in the street. It was a quiet afternoon. He adjusted the board and made sure it was centered on his shoulders. He looked at the tampons in his hand and just as he was raising his arms to place them in his ears, he heard the rev of an engine and a few notes from that dreaded tune. He rushed to shove the plugs in, but he was just a few seconds too late.

“Damn,” he said.

The last thing he remembered was that white flash.

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About jtkwriting

Writer living in Toronto. "Sneak out of your window darling, let's live like outlaws honey." View all posts by jtkwriting

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