“Did you hear something?”
“No,” Sam lied. He did, and it shook him up even though Sam was expecting to hear it: the voice of a little girl singing. It was coming from the neighbour’s shed.
It was mid-January. The garage they were in was just a roof stuck to the side of a house. Sam had a portable lamp hung over the open hood of a car and held a wrench in his hand but had no idea what to do with it. This was all just for show.
Jamie wore only a light jacket and had his hands shoved deep into its pockets as he shivered. He was there to tell Sam that he was screwing his wife and that she was leaving him. Sam knew this because Jamie had told everyone and that was because Jamie could never shut the Hell up once to save his life.
Sam had never been to this garage before and the owners of the house were not his friends. But Jamie wouldn’t know that because he never gave a second thought to anything outside the sphere of his personal interests. Getting Jamie here was easy. The next step? Probably even easier.
“Okay,” Jamie said, “you had to hear it this time. I mean, come on!”
Sam heard it –you bet he did– but he simply shook his head slowly and leaned further into the engine as the girl continued to sing her lullaby.
“I’m going to check it out.” Jamie started walking toward the neighbour’s unfenced yard. “Forgot that it’s always up to me. I’ll be right back.”
“You do that,” Sam said to himself. The girl’s voice became louder and Sam had to laugh a little: a girl singing in a shed on a January night and she needs Jamie to go save her.
He had to hand it to the girl though, even while dead she could still really belt out a tune.
Oh, King Jamie, I’ve been waiting for something like this. I’ve swallowed your shit for ten years, and I’ve listened to you go on about your cars and your girls and your money. Oh, and also about how you’re just better than everybody else. You may have managed to even fool my wife, but not me because I know what you truly are and that’s a goddamn virus that needs to get stamped out and now.
Sam smiled as he heard the shed door open and Jamie’s voice calling out with that authoritative command of his: “is there somebody in here?”
Yes, there is indeed, King Jamie. Twenty years ago today a little girl was murdered by her own father on her birthday and left to rot in that shed and since then each year on this special day she needs a little ‘gift’ or else all Hell breaks loose around this whole neighbourhood because she can be a very, very angry little spirit when she doesn’t get her present.
So, because I knew what you needed to talk to me about in person when you called, well, I called up these good people I knew of and asked if we could do each other a favour because that’s how they chose to deal with this predicament instead of having to move everybody out. When you don’t have all the money and influence in the world you have to do what you need to in order to survive and sometimes it’s ugly like this. So, this year you’re going to be her present, King Jamie, and that in itself will be mine.
Jamie’s sudden harrowing scream sent chill’s down Sam’s spine.
Then there was nothing for a while –no screaming or singing, just a hollow shed with its door left banging in the cold wind.
A woman with striking green eyes came out into the garage from a side door of the house and said, “it’s done.”
Sam nodded, put down the wrench, removed the lamp and shut the hood of the car. He gave her a weak smile then turned and started down the driveway.