Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 Dolly Parton “9 To 5”
 Britney Spears “Womanizer”
 Ella Fitzgerald “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair”
 Was (Not Was) “Spy In The House Of Love”
 Cliff Richard “Devil Woman”
 Queen “Killer Queen”
 Sinead O’Connor “Silent Night”
Tis the night before christmas and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. You wanna know why that is? It’s because I’m stuck at fucking work that’s why. Just so we’re clear, it’s approaching 10pm and every other bugger clocked off hours ago but my boss, in his infinite wisdom, decided that I didn’t deserve the same privilege as my colleagues. Of course, he didn’t say it that way and I believe his exact words were “the board will look favorably on your dedication come the January reviews”. So a nice fat pay increase is on the cards then? Is it fuck, he fed me the same line last year and it didn’t make a blind bit of difference. It seems I’m something of an easy touch, the one mug gullible enough to be smooth-talked into doing something they’re not comfortable with, and I’ve just about had it up to here with being this bastard’s doormat. So here’s the thing, Santa Claus may wish to bypass my house when delivering the goodies this christmas, as I plan to be a very, very bad girl indeed before the night is out.
In life there are two different types of person – those with a kind nature and those who take advantage of anyone with a kind nature – and this cretin happens to be the latter. He may run a tight ship here but what he isn’t so hot on is giving credit where it’s due and rewarding loyalty with anything other than utter contempt. I’ve gone above and beyond to please him and never once received a solitary token of gratitude. Instead, it has just become expected of me, and he doesn’t seem to think I have anything better to do on Christmas Eve than the menial tasks he feels are beneath him. I wouldn’t mind but he knows I’m a single mother and receive little to no support from anyone around this time of year. I say that when he actually didn’t care enough to log this data into his decidedly selective memory. I may as well be a chimp for all the interest he takes in my personal affairs and it’s just another reason to detest his very bones. However, I’m just getting started with this ignorant piece of shit as his misdemeanors stretch way further than a little workplace negligence.
He’s been married for fifteen years and makes no secret of the fact that his nuptials hold little precious interest to him any more. To be fair, I’ve met his wife and the nicest thing I could say about her is that she smelt nice. Other than that, she was pretty risible, borderline obnoxious, and it actually makes sense why they hooked up in the first place. That said, nobody deserves to be treated the way that he treats her, regardless of how irredeemable she may appear. To my knowledge, he is currently knocking off three younger women, and I just know that his Tuesday visits to the massage parlor culminate in a happy ending. He has even tried it on with me a few times in such a way that I would be left under no illusion as to what was going through that seedy little mind of his but a tribunal would deem inconclusive. After all, he is highly respected and has been with Jackson & Pearce since practically its conception. On the other hand, I’m fully expendable and in no position whatsoever to go throwing accusations around so he’s got me by the scruff of my tits.
Thus I just suck it up like a thirsty aardvark, overlook any minor indiscretions, and play good little work horse just to keep a roof over the head of both me and my five-year-old girl, Molly. I think that’s what destroys my soul over anything else, the fact that there’s not a damn thing I can do to better my situation. Granted, I could resign, but work is particularly hard to come by at this time of year and my résumé is woefully outdated. Every time I consider sprucing it up, he buries me under yet another pile of paperwork and keeps me detained until the wee hours. The bottom line is that I need this job and the security it brings which I’m sure he plays on as he continues to make my existence as miserable as possible seemingly for his own twisted amusement. I would lay money on him getting bullied as a kid and know only too well the kind of long-term damage this can have on a young mind. However, that doesn’t excuse him perpetuating the cycle when he should know far better. At some point you need to take responsibility for your own actions and, when you’re pulling in close to a six-figured annual salary for such nominal endeavor, I’d say it’s the least you can do.
One of the first rules of business is to surround yourself with a sturdy workforce who can make you look good when you’re otherwise pre-disposed. He comes and goes as he pleases, does virtually nothing when he is here, and is always the first person out of the office at close of play. That’s hardly leading by example now is it? The reason why our department excels is the well-oiled machinery that keeps shit ticking over and the fact that we achieve this with a critical bolt missing is testament to our collective competence and has nothing in the slightest to do with his performance. Yet he is exalted amongst his associates and the board are practically eating out of his hand after our profits rose over 30% in the last quarter alone. I would imagine he’s looking at a tidy little bonus in his Christmas wage packet right about now while none of that ever filters through his team. I got a bottle of Bollinger for my exertion this year and not an expensive one either. It’s at times like these that you really suss out how undervalued you are as he’s had around 100 unpaid hours out of me in 2016 and that’s not to mention all the babysitting fees entailed. For what? A cut-priced bottle of champagne. I don’t even fucking like champagne.
Okay so by now I think it’s fair to say that we’ve ascertained the extent of my grievance. But what do I plan to do about it? I mean, it’s one thing spouting off all this hot air, but where are the results and how is this evening’s plan actually going to benefit me personally? Well I’ve deliberated long and hard over this and may appear off my rocker for what I’m about to propose as it is guaranteed to lose me my job and any chance of a reference to boot. While fully mindful of how contradicting I’m sounding for a woman so reliant on income preparing to throw it all away in a heartbeat, but this bottle of cheap Bollinger should be shouldering a large portion of the blame right now. I don’t have to like it to guzzle this tepid paint-thinner back when feeling at a loose end on Christmas of all Eves. I always was a cheap date and pretty much anything I do from this point forward will be deeply regrettable by morning so I may as well push the boat out. I should be at home wrapping presents and embracing the yuletide spirit, not stuck here crunching numbers while he sits around in his underpants getting wasted on egg nog and calling his wife a whore. Whaddaya reckon? Bottoms up right?
Anyway here’s the master plan before I’m too pissed to make it intelligible. I know exactly where this cretin lives and can make it over there in a five-minute cab ride. On arrival at his less than humble abode, I shall request that my driver keep the meter running, stroll right up to his front door, wait for his long-suffering spouse to answer, and inform her that he owes me sixty dollars for a blow job. Shouldn’t be too hard to make myself appear slutty and I’m actually looking reasonably bedraggled already after a skinful of budget liquor. Then I plan to turn around, let her mull over the intelligence for a few seconds, then drive away while he attempts to dig himself out of the kind of almighty hole that only a qualified street-walker on your porch at the dead of night can fashion. I believe the term is “booyah!” and it would also be fair to assume that this callous prick will have been well and truly served. Indeed, if I perform my duties diligently enough, he won’t even know it was me. All I need to do is place the cat amongst the pigeons, I’ll let his wife’s razor-sharp claws do the rest in his own time.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall when she eventually explodes. If there’s one thing I know about Marcie Cunningham, then it’s that she has one helluva temper on her. In some respects, I can see why he feels the need to play away, as she’s a bitch on heat that one and cut from the very same cloth that he is. It actually makes this all the easier as, had she been a sweetheart, then perhaps I’d think twice about showing up uninvited and dropping the heftiest of all bomb shells on the night before Christmas. She’s already made it abundantly clear that there’s no love loss on between us from her side as, while she trusts her husband implicitly, she has less faith in the hired help, particularly when they’re twenty-six-year old leggy blondes with a rack that most men in their right minds would die for. No amount of cunning underwiring can disguise the fact that her breasts likely resemble a dachshund’s ears once they’re freed from captivity for date night. She may have my number but I’m banking on her not putting two and two together as I’ve really gone to town on the mascara and barely recognize myself tonight. Fuck it, if all goes well, I’ll offer the cabbie head and earn myself a quick fifty on the way home while I’m on a roll. He made it crystal that he’s simply gagging for it.
At any rate, the moment of truth is now upon us and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to get this shit over with and get back to being an ordinary decent citizen like the other 364 days of the year. Molly’s going to love what I’ve got her as I know how much she has been dying for a Nintendo 3DS and I managed to pick one up on the cheap. Mommy may be a little hung over in the morning so I’d appreciate if she let me sleep in until around nine at least. Whatever happens, I’ll make sure this year is special for my pride and joy, as things haven’t exactly been easy for her since her sperm donor bolted without so much as a pitiful excuse. This will get things moving promptly in the right direction and I’m seconds away from seeing Marcie’s priceless expression when I drop her beloved Andrew straight in the sin bin. Here goes nothing, time to stick it to the man as he’s had it coming for way too long already. While I’m in the area, I wonder if she’d mind me pinching a mince-pie from her doorstep. They do look rather scrumptious.
Slight change of plan. The front door is wide open and I’m getting no sign of movement inside from where I’m positioned. The very last thing I need is him answering the doorbell as success hinges on getting to her before he gains an inkling. Now what am I going to do? I’m guessing the neighbors won’t take kindly to me loitering about with intent for too long so I’d better get my head down and see if I can find myself a clearer vantage. God knows what the cabbie is thinking right now but he’s on my clock and not paid to have an opinion the way I see it. This is like being a naughty little school girl again and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t missed that feeling. It’s hard to remember the last time I let my hair down but I reckon I’d have to go further back than a calendar year for the last time I felt so invigorated and the lion’s share of blame falls on this fucker’s doorstep. Right then, the troops are feeling pretty rallied, I’d say it’s time I take a closer look-see. Who would’ve thought I’d turn out to be such a shameless voyeur?
I have a positive on Marcie and she appears reasonably flustered but no sign of him as yet so I’d better hang fire for the time being until all pawns are firmly in place. There’s a conversation going on as far as I can see but at present it is looking particularly one-sided and I need more to go on before making my move. Actually I retract what I said about her appearing flustered as Marcie is the picture of calm as we speak. That’s not to say she’s not passionate about something, but not to the extent where she’s wasting time ranting and raving. If there’s one thing unmistakable about Andrew Cunningham then it’s his voice and the fact that he likes the way it sounds. If he were present, then I’m reasonably assured he’d be weighing in around now, but there seems no formal response from the other party present and I think I’ll need to find a fresh vantage to get a better idea of what’s going down here. This is getting dicey as a house like theirs is invariably going to have effective outside lighting and I don’t fancy getting trapped in search lights because I trigger home security. Fuck it, I’ve come too far now not to see this through, it’s all or nothing and that leaves nothing but all in my book.
I believe I’d be well within my rights if the next words that vacated my pretty little rosebud lips were “HOLY FUCKING SHIT!” Okay so I can now confirm that my hard target is very much present and correct but it’s his current predicament I’m struggling to comprehend. If my eyes are to believed, and I’m having a hard time trusting them at present, then it would appear that things aren’t necessarily all that rosy in the Cunningham household. Perhaps that is not putting a fine enough point on it, things are evidently FUBAR in the Cunningham household and I’m suddenly feeling somewhat surplus to requirements. It was my goal to make his Christmas Eve as uncomfortable as possible, but his wife’s intentions mimic my own and far more literally than I was anticipating. In short, she has him bound and gagged in his armchair, looking like he’s already taken a considerable beating, and approaching the part where he begs for his sorry little life. Quite how he is supposed to achieve this with an eight ball stuffed in his mouth I’m not certain but something tells me that any attempts on his part are about to fall on the deafest of ears. I almost feel sorry for him you know, almost.
I can only make out some of what she’s saying but, from what I can make out, I think his infidelity has finally landed him in the dock after all. This is a glorious turn of events as I get to play spectator as he suffers and still have a job come Monday morning. That said, he really has been put through the ringer. Make absolutely no mistake, I dislike him so intensely that my blood boils just looking at his disgusting face. But I’m not altogether sure I wish this kind of foul on him. I mean, he’s barely even conscious and things don’t look like improving for him anytime soon either. Currently Marcie is rooting through the kitchen drawer with a blank look of utter contempt in her narrow eyes and God only knows what she’s searching for in there. I may be inebriated but I’ll need a stronger numbing agent if she produces what I fear she will from this salvage mission. You wanna know the worst thing about fear? It’s that undesirable moment of utter confirmation. How does a serrated kitchen knife grab you? I’m hazarding a guess that she’s not about to chop onions either.
Nary have I been so desperate to be proved wrong or felt less smug over being 100% accurate in my estimations. If he was already in fairly shabby state before this, then he’s headed for the scrap heap now for damn sure. Being stabbed four times in the gut in swift succession will do that to a man and he’s now starting to slump over in his seat as the inevitable bleed out approaches. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that he ain’t walking away from this one and I’ve just unwittingly observed something way beyond mere domestic dispute. I’m not about to shed a tear on his behalf as he was a real piece of shit and it would be fruitless to suggest that he didn’t have something monumental coming. But cold-blooded murder? Not quite what I had in mind. Just by standing here now, I’m making myself an accessory to the crime, and would be smart to get the hell out of dodge before the penny drops that Marcie has an unwanted houseguest. Then why am I practically rooted to the spot and unable to prise my eyes away from this atrocity for a second? More to the point, why is it beginning to get me off?
“Are you going to stand out there all night or are you coming in from the cold dear?”
Oh shit. I’ve been rumbled. It’s hard remaining incognito with a litre of cheap champagne swishing around in your tummy and it looks like my days as a secret agent are now firmly in my slipstream. With a little luck, she won’t have recognized me and I can make a quick dash for it.
“You work at my husband’s office. It’s Lucinda isn’t it? I never forget a face”
That’s a negative. Looks like I wasn’t quite as inconspicuous as I thought. Al those wasted hours watching Secret Squirrel and for what?
“I didn’t see anything if that’s what you’re wondering”
“No need to look so worried. I don’t really care if you did if I’m honest. Come on in, I think we need to talk don’t you?”
Talk about instantaneous sobriety. I’m swiftly regretting my decision to pay the Cunninghams an unnanounced Christmas visit and have a sneaking suspicion that this isn’t about to end at all favorably.
“So tell me young lady, what brings you to our happy home this fine evening? Get lost did you?”
“I…erm…yeah, something like that”
“Well you’re here now so mi casa es tu casa as they say. Come closer, let me get a proper look at you”
“I’m really sorry for the intrusion. Look, I can be out of your hair in a second and I promise you my lips are sealed okay?”
“I’d say you surrendered the right to be trusted the moment you started snooping into affairs that clearly don’t concern you. Wouldn’t you agree Lucinda?””
“Listen, your business is your business. I give you my word that I won’t speak about this with anyone”
“Why the big rush to get going? I mean, you’ve come out of your way to pay us a visit so the least you can do is stay for a drink right?”
Right now, all I can think of is that I’ll never drink again so, while the offer is a kind one, I wonder if she’ll mind terribly if I take a rain check.
“I really have to be going”
“No you don’t. You really have to be staying right there so we can get better acquainted”
“You do. It’s so rare nowadays that we have company and the least I can do is to make you feel at home”
Yeah good luck with that. I’d say that’s rather optimistic given that I just watched you plunge a blade into your husband’s belly repeatedly. Of all the things that the Cunningham household is feeling right now, homely sure as shit ain’t one of them.
“Take a seat”
“I’d really rather just stand thanks”
“Oh I’m sorry, did I give you the impression that was a request?”
“He’s dead isn’t he?”
“Not quite but I’d say he’s well on his way. So here’s where it gets interesting”
“What do you mean?”
“You didn’t like my husband much did you Lucinda?”
“I didn’t really know him that well”
“How long have you been at Jackson & Pearce? It’s around three years if I recall”
“Something like that”
“And you didn’t form an opinion in all that time?”
“I just keep my head down”
“You hated him. Admit it and save us both the time”
“Okay he wasn’t exactly my favorite person”
I can’t believe I’m speaking about him in the past tense when he’s right here in front of us, albeit somewhat the worse for wear.
“That comes as no great surprise to me. You see, I’ve lived with him for over half my adult life and can safely say I’ve never met anyone so utterly hateful. It’s funny how your worst enemy often turns out to be the person you marry don’t you think?”
“Things were pretty bad then I take it?”
“He’s a lousy piece of shit dear. Surely you don’t need me to point that one out. Were you aware that he has been having an affair? Several actually”
Probably not the best time for me to mention that he attempted to cop a feel in the stationary cupboard only last month.
Grounds for divorce unquestionably. Murder, on the other hand, perhaps a dash extreme.
“That’s up to you and far be it from me to say”
“Silly deluded girl, you’re still dead set that this doesn’t concern you aren’t you? I’d say your opinion holds rather a lot of weight right now given the situation we find ourselves in wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah it’s pretty unforgivable”
“Were you aware that I can’t ever have children?”
“Of course not, why would a skivvy like you know something like that? It’s true, I’m physically incapable. Hasn’t always been the way though. You see, I was desperate to have kids and fell pregnant six months after we met”
“So what happened?”
“He happened. Becoming a father didn’t fit in with his grand plans so he insisted that I terminate the pregnancy. I was twenty-one when I had the abortion but something went wrong and I was left infertile”
“Do I need to be knowing this?”
“Well I haven’t told a solitary soul in almost twenty years so now seems like the right time and company to lay it all out on the table”
It’s funny, I was actually thinking the exact opposite. Aren’t there helplines for this shit? Better yet, I’m sure the jury would be only too happy to hear your hard luck story while you explain to them why you murdered your life partner in cold blood.
“It is isn’t it? I’m so glad you agree, was starting to feel like I may have been a little rash just now”
“Like I said, I’m not here to pass judgement”
“Of course yes. You’re here to stick your nose in where it’s not wanted aren’t you?”
“I swear I won’t speak about this to anyone”
“That’s not really an issue to me. Unlike my beloved husband, I’m prepared to take responsibility for my actions and will take a life sentence over the one I was already serving. So you see, you can relax”
Relax? Now there’s a unique way of thinking about it. I’ve just witnessed a bloody murder and hadn’t given any consideration to simply chilling out and taking things all in my stride.
“What happens now?”
“Now? Well I plan to call this incident in soon enough but thought we could have a little fun first if you’re game”
“You despised him, admit it. You’re forgetting that women have a keen sense for picking up on stuff like this and I’ve seen the way you looked at him when his back was turned”
“He’s not my favorite person admittedly”
“Then here’s your chance to get even. Nobody will ever know, I’ll be admitting to everything, it’s actually something of a win-win when you think about it”
“I’m not like you”
“Of course not young lady. I have class and you…well you have a nice pair of tits I suppose”
“What have you got in mind?”
Dare I ask?
“Here. Take this knife and stick him with it. Time is running out and I reckon he’ll be stone cold in a matter of minutes so this could be your golden opportunity”
When I think of golden opportunities, other things spring to mind before this to be honest. I’ve always wanted to travel but gave up on that pipe dream when I had Molly. Running butt naked around the Dodger’s stadium always appealed for some strange reason. Meanwhile, if Robert Downey Jr. turned up on my doorstep and proposed a night of no-strings passion then I’d be powerless to resist. Stabbing my boss to death not so much so, regardless of how much of a shit he’s been.
“Just so we’re on the same page here, it’s not a request”
“What if I decline?”
“Then you walk Lucinda. It’s as simple as that. But I may not be as willing to protect you if you do, that’s all I’m saying”
“But I’ve done nothing wrong”
“Things should work out just fine for you then. You could even go straight to the police and spill your guts if that’s how you’re feeling. If I’m feeling generous, then maybe I’ll refrain from informing them that we planned this out together months in advance. By the way, your driver must be growing restless by now. Invicta Cabs unless I’m mistaken. Hardly the best kind of alibi is it?”
“What sort of sick pleasure are you getting from this?”
“That’s my concern not yours. Now please, TAKE THE FUCKING KNIFE AND STICK HIM!”
I’ve entertained some crazy shit in my time. When I was thirteen, I accepted ten bucks to flash my tits in church and that bought me a fair few Hail Marys. I’m also not sure how many women my age can attest to having had a threesome with a midget and a hooker. Funnily enough, alcohol played a prize role in that one too. But I’ve always been woeful under pressure and this appears my best shot at getting out of this madhouse so I guess I should just pucker up and get this done. Besides, I can’t shake this nagging feeling of empowerment right now. God I’m a sicker puppy than I thought.
“Okay I’ll do it. Give me that thing before I change my mind”
“Atta girl. One quick jab to his heart should do it”
Oh fuck, what am I about to do? Hold on, it appears as though that the accused has something to impart before I perform my duties. They’ll be your last words bucko so make ’em count.
“Lucinda? Lucinda? Wake up”
What the hell? It’s him alright although he no longer appears to be on the brink of death and, unless I’ve totally lost my marbles, I’m back at my office desk.
“What’s going on?”
“You tell me. It’s gone midnight you know. If I hadn’t come back you probably would have slept right through til morning”
I dreamt this? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. But it felt so real.
“Listen while I’ve got you here, there’s something I wanted to say”
“I know I may not always tell you this but I do appreciate everything you do around here you know. It might seem like I don’t notice or don’t care but I do and, the truth is, the only reason I give you so much to do is that you’re the only one here that I can truly count on. I may not be the perfect boss…”
You reckon? Whatever led you to that assumption?
“…but it’s Christmas and I just wanted you to know that your dedication is valued. Wait there a second will you? I just want to grab something”
A pile of fresh paperwork most likely. This is most uncharacteristic behavior and, if I didn’t know better, I’d think that was just a blatant butter up act before he makes my Christmas even more miserable.
“It’s not much but should make your Christmas a little more comfortable”
A cheque. Does anyone even use those anymore? Wow. I’m seldom speechless but right now…Oh my God! Get a load of this shit. PAY TO – Lucina Barnwell AMOUNT – Two Hundred Dollars. Granted, that doesn’t quite account for all the additional legwork I put in around here but still, a freaking bonus?
“Merry Christmas. Don’t forget to lock up”
“Just have a good one and I hope Molly enjoys herself. See you on the 27th”
He remembers her name too? Did someone spike my Bollinger? There are a wave of different emotions washing over me right now and the chief one appears to be embarrassment. I can’t even blame the alcohol as I hated his guts before I drank it. The thing is, now I hate his guts a lot less. It has been literally years since anyone did anything for me like that. I wonder if he’d have been so charitable if he knew why my sleep was so restful. For the record, I hate his wife even more now. But as for the man I was so desperate to destroy, well I guess there’s always next year to stick it to him.