By E.D. Wivens, December 2005
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.
The company's business had been curtailed at lunchtime to allow a festive lunch to be served in the canteen below our vantage point. This had in turn provided the kit and myself with a seasonal collection of leftovers. So much so that I felt a need to bring forward my afternoon nap.
I was just settling down when the so called workforce, many still wearing their paper hats, staggered across the yard to the main entrance hall in preparation for the highlight of the afternoon. This was not, as he liked to believe, the summary of the year the Boss always gave from the top of the stairs, nor was it watching the head of Public Relations being thrown out again for abusive heckling. No. The highlight of the afternoon was the alcohol fuelled buffet on the mezzanine floor which got started as soon as the Boss shut up, turned round and cracked open the first bottle of bubbly.
By the time I awoke the party was nearly over. Accounts has finally worked out that there is a direct link between the budget for Christmas drinks and the amount spent on repairs to the photocopiers. Bearing this in mind they had limited the budget to a level that even Ebenezer Scrooge would have described as stingy, and the oasis was pretty well dry by half past four.
Seeing that the party was breaking up, we climbed off the roof and crossed the yard. By now most of the revellers had left the building and we were delayed only by the Editor who, still clutching a bottle of whisky in one hand and a plastic snowman in the other, had insisted on tickling both of us under the chin, before pouring himself into a waiting taxi.
Now I've attended many of these gatherings over the years and so I made a beeline for the cold meat table where, as usual, a certain amount of spillage had taken place. Having cleared this away and collected an occasional fallen sausage in passing, I duly arrived at the cream cakes.
The kit being more overpowered by the occasion, played with the decorations and patted the odd discarded bottle around the floor. The tree baubles were a great hit, as were the champagne corks. His stalking of an errant balloon also proceeded splendidly right up to the moment he pounced on it.
"Tell me", he said trotting over with the remains in his mouth. "Where's this alcohol they were all going on about?"
"Going by past years there won't be any left. Anyway it's dangerous stuff alcohol, you want to keep away from it. I mean look what happened to the Health and Safety guy last year."
"Which one's he then? I've not met all of our feeders yet."
"Well he's not about much. In fact he's off work with 'flu at present. He's the one Ms Savage can hardly bring herself to speak to."
"That doesn't really help very much."
I paused. The kit did have a point.
"He was hobbling around with a stick last week. He's a short guy with only three fingers on his left hand. Nasty scar above his right eye. Smells of cough sweets and oil of wintergreen."
The kit looked about to comment so I pressed on before he could speak.
"Anyway the point is that he'd had a lot of alcohol and thought it would be a good idea to go over and kiss Ms Savage who, unknown to herself, was standing beneath some mistletoe at the time."
"That seems very unwise", muttered the kit dragging part of a turkey carcase from inside a discarded briefcase.
"That's one of the dangers of alcohol; you don't realise how stupid you're being until it's far too late. Unfortunately at that moment Ms Savage was clutching a plate full of sausages on sticks and sipping suspiciously at a glass of brandy, so she didn't see him approaching until it was far too late. Before she could get out of his path he tripped over the wire of the Christmas tree lights and neatly head-butted her over the banisters."
"Sounds grim", said the kit, disembowelling a squashed bacon roll.
"Well, by the time the lights came back on, Health and Safety had struggled from beneath the remains of the tree, and extracted most of the sausage sticks from his forehead. Meanwhile Ms Savage lay in the entrance hall plants, still clutching the broken stem of the brandy glass. Grasping the initiative, but letting go of his reasoning in the process, the Boss leapt forward to give her the kiss of life. At this point Ms Savage sat up and floored him with a left hook."
The kit looked up from his slice of pizza. "I bet he was surprised."
"Not as surprised as the three part-timers who were singing 'Hey ho! The witch is dead' at that moment."
The kit looked up from his plate of fish paste sandwiches. "Did she fire them?"
I shook my head. "Oh no nothing so humane, she took them on full time..."
The kit shuddered.
"...and assigned them to Human Resources where she could keep an eye on them."
The kit stared open mouthed but, before he could comment, there was a peal of drunken laughter and the sound of a dustbin erratically climbing the entrance steps.
"Quick! Grab what you can!", I said, eyeing some chicken legs, "The cleaners are here and it sounds like their directional skill with the vacuum cleaner will be even worse than usual."
The kit responded quickly. Wrapping more leftovers in a couple of napkins, we carried our kill past the cracked photocopier. As we descended the back stairs deeper into the building, I paused and turned to the kit.
"I believe, with all due respect to the poet, there is a mouse stirring..."The author and owner of this work is E.D. Wivens. See http://www.katzphur.co.uk/ for more details.