Howl of a Christmas
Seasonal written piece by Dave Brown
"And we'll be back, with 'The Christmas Chair', right after these commercials."
Ralph hurriedly twisted the volume dial down on the radio. He muttered under his breath.
"So, uh..." Tee's light voice pierced the silence, "Detective Howlett-"
"Sorry. Ralph... have you got anything planned for Christmas this year?"
Tee nodded to herself. "It's alright if you don't."
The car was silent save for the running of the engine.
"...I've got my Christmas planned-"
"No!" Ralph snapped. "No... I'm sorry, Hawkins, but I'm getting out there and keeping the streets clean until we get our break. I'm going to crawl up in bed and let this 'big day' pass. Same as every year."
Tee frowned. "You mean you've never celebrated Christmas?"
"Yeah," Ralph scratched at his chin, "my folks tried it when I was a pup, didn't go too well." He scoffed. "It's just some Halloween knockoff that skeleton guy brought over here one year. And then Spooktacular Deals had to go make it into a big deal to get us to spend more money in their stores."
"Ralph, Christmas is a wonderful time! It... it's a bit like Halloween, but with more tinsel, and snow, and a creature in a red suit obsessed with climbing up and down chimneys, and... people arguing with each other, and... puddings that get set on fire!"
Ralph rubbed his eye. "I mean, why, why would you eat something still on fire? I think we had one of those puddings on our Christmas. Put a coin in it for some reason. My uncle Rufus bit into it."
"Oh, no, I hope he didn't hurt his mouth!"
"Uncle Rufus had some properly strong fangs! No, it was the window that came off worst... I tell a lie, Ol' Ms. Miggins happened to be in her garden at the time." Ralph shivered slightly. "Hawkins, let me give you some advice: don't anger anyone with that many tentacles."
Tee's sigh was soft in the gloomy air of the car. "I'm sorry to hear you've had a bad experience with Christmas, Detective- I mean, Ralph. We always had a good Christmas in my home, growing up. And now... I mean, little Neesa can't wait to see what she gets!"
Ralph shrugged. "Hope you and your family enjoy Christmas this year, then."
"Aw, thank you! But... I feel bad that you won't be celebrating it."
Ralph gruffed. "No hair off my back."
"Oh, I'd love to persuade you to get into the Christmas spirit!"
"Won't need persuading to down some."
"Ralph... what if... what if I invited you over for Christmas?"
The car screeched to a halt, Ralph lining it up to be adjacent to the pavement. He turned his head. "You what?"
"Just a suggestion, one work colleague and friend to another."
"Out of the question."
"Neesa can show you how to play that videogame her and her friends are always talking about. I think it has something to do with building up forts. And my husband is getting better at cooking the dinner. A little."
The engine purred back into life, and Ralph and Tee were moving again. She frowned.
"I'm just picturing you alone in your home, no decorations, you trying to cover your ears to drown out the sound of carol singing."
"That's pretty accurate. The little wolflings in my neighbourhood are terrible singers."
"I just... thought you might prefer being merry at this time of year."
Ralph glared at Tee, his eyes sharp as darts. "I'll be merry when I bring down every scumbag this city produces. Starting with this crook using people's chimneys as entry points."
"Sandy Claws... I think that's what he calls himself... he's not a crook, Ralph. I..." Tee's voice filtered away. Ralph glanced with curiosity in her direction, her head drooping. Returning his attention to the road, he saw the police station rolling up on their right. He brought the car gently gliding to a stop directly outside the building before glancing again in Tee's direction. Her head still drooped.
"Alright," Ralph sighed, continuing after he saw Tee look up to face him, "you... if you really wish to instill some sort of festive cheer within me, I'll..." Ralph looked away, "I'll... I'll come visit you and your family. If it's alright by them. I haven't got anything planned anyway."
Tee beamed, and against his wishes Ralph felt something akin to a smile emerging on his face. His mind was clearing, and he was feeling less inclined to bark at everything.
"Oh, shoot," Tee exclaimed, "the play!"
"What... oh, yes!"
Ralph cranked the volume dial on the car radio to full.
"That was 'The Christmas Chair', brought to you in association with Diablo Electronics, 'Made with Brimstone, Hellfire and Commitment to Quality', and Cerberus Pet Foods, 'The only pet food company that puts its heads together.' Coming up next on Radio PKE..."
Ralph switched the radio off.
"...Well, Hawkins, if it's any consolation, from what I was hearing earlier, that play had nothing to do with tinsel, snow, Sandy Claws, arguments or burning puddings."
"Not to worry," Tee's voice was amplified, "we make sure to include all that in our Christmas traditions. Trust me, when you come visit us on the big day... you're going to enjoy it."
Dave Brown is a Scottish based writer with a great style for dramatic storytelling and comic timing. Previously he has been commissioned for addition to the Monthly Monologue Leagues 2020 and is represented by Moriarty Management.