"Phil? Philsey? Come on now, and open up those baby blues."
Phil felt sick to his stomach. What the hell was going on? It was so hard to open his eyes, and frankly, he wasn't certain he wanted to. He managed to get them open to small slits, and as his head began to clear, realized he was on his knees on the roof of a cabin in the woods. That was bad enough, but his hands were restrained behind his back by some type of material that was cutting off the circulation and his fingers were getting numb. He couldn't move his feet either. The same type of cord was holding them together as well. His toes were throbbing and he wondered how long before they became numb and simply dropped off altogether. Breathing wasn't too difficult, but there was a thick, wide, and horrid-tasting tape across his mouth that felt like it was wrapped completely around his head. Something was terribly wrong with this picture--no doubt about it.
"Well, Philsey, glad to have you with us, finally. Wouldn't want you to miss out on any of the fun. Know where you are, bud? You're on the roof of my cabin. Oh, wait a minute. You thought this was Pauline's cabin, didn't you? Well, it's actually mine, just like she is. She's my wife, you see, and here you are, getting all spruced up to come over to my cabin and deliver a big Christmas surprise to my wife. In case you're wondering, by the way, yes, I have all her phones tapped."
Phil remembered the night he met Pauline. Georgie had offered to set up a blind date for him and unfortunately for Phil, he had accepted the gesture. However, on his arrival at Lumen's Bar and Grill, when he checked out the corner stool where his date awaited him, he made the decision to drop Georgie from his list of acquaintances. Zelda, his intended, was a bit hairy for his liking since her mustache was fuller than his own. Phil figured he'd hit Danniger's Lounge up the road for a quick nightcap, then home, alone. A quick stop at the pharmacy to pick up some ointment first though. All of a sudden, he was feeling a bit itchy...
The second he walked into Danniger's, he saw her. The most beautiful creature he had ever seen. When their eyes met and she smiled that smile of hers, he knew she was the one he had been waiting for. Every second they were together over the past few weeks, time had seemed to stand still. He knew she was trying to escape an abusive relationship, but when they were married, he would make sure she never felt afraid again. When he spoke with her this morning, he wished her a Merrry Christmas Eve and told her he would meet her at her cabin at midnight and give her a big Christmas surprise. He'd be paying on that ring set for the next two years or so, but they were worth every penny. The stones were full of light and sparkle, just like Pauline. He remembered being in his apartment and putting on that Santa suit he had rented for the occasion, but, then...?
"See, Philsey, my boy, she's always trying to leave me, but there's no way I can let her do that. What would people think if I let a woman walk out on me? No one else has ever taken her quite as seriously as you though. When she tells them her sob story, they usually just offer a shoulder and a motel room bed and following checkout, she's back at home where she belongs. But, you don't know when to quit, Phil, so I'm going to have to make an example of you.
Pauline's already inside and she's got a nice fire going. Going to lower you down the chimney, Philsey, so you can become her special Santa. Now, it's going to be a bit warm for you when you land. Let me put it this way. Here's a new take on an old tune. (sings to the tune of The Christmas Song): 'Phil's nuts roasting on an open fire, Zippo nipping at your toes...'. Always loved that one; really fills me with Christmas spirit.
Anyhow, this will remedy our situation and get Pauline back with me where she belongs. She'll be upset, I'm sure, but I've got a doctor in the car to hit her with a sedative. I've ordered dinner that should be delivered around 4 tomorrow afternoon, and she should be pretty much awake by then, so we can have a nice and relaxing family type Christmas. I hate to get so heavy-handed with her, but you know, Phil, sometimes you just have to let your woman know where she stands. Pauline will get over this and you, and if it should occur to her to try to leave me again, I sincerely believe she'll think twice about it, don't you?
Well, I'll bet the fire's going strong about now, fella, so me and Jack will ease you down the chimney. This is Jack, by the way, one of my bodyguards. Jack? Phil. Phil? Jack. Phil's going to take this like a man, aren't you, Phil? Let's get him inside the chimney."
Phil tried to tell them that his big surprise was a wedding ring set, and he could still return them to Benson's for a refund and he was sure Del would stay open for him if he just made a quick call, but all he could manage was 'm-m-m, m-m-m, m-m-m....'.
"Okay, Phil, we're going to let go of the rope. You have yourself a Merry Christmas now. No hard feelings, huh? Ho. Ho."
As Phil began his descent, he wondered what a different direction his life would have taken if he had just been able to work his way past Zelda's furry lips...
BIO: J. F. has had a crime fiction novel and a horror short published. Her stories have appeared in the ezines Crooked, A Twist of Noir, and Powder Burn Flash. Her blog is at jfjuzwik.blogspot.com and her website is at jfjuzwik.webs.com