© 2014 Jess Mercer

Boxing Day

Hank crawled out of his 'cave', stretched, unwrapped the two burgers and fries he'd salvaged the moment the clerk had dropped them in the rubbish bin upon closing the doors of the shop. Christmas business had been slow, but the manager had been stubborn and opened for a few hours anyway. Now the tossed away unsold merchandise carried greater value than sales amounted to, save to Hank who luxuriated in a seldom enjoyed hot dinner.

Christmas may be for good kids, but Boxing Day was not for the likes of him, he knew. The glow of light from shop windows may have meant shopping hours to others, but the extinguished glow signaled Hank's own shopping hours. Boxing Day, especially, with its returns, slightly damaged goods, perfectly new items accidentally dropped into trash bins at the end of the day by harried clerks awaited his expert evaluation - perhaps even a decent jacket to replace the one he wore, rents and all. Shoes? Not likely, but needed.

He pulled his knitted cap over his ears and set forth along the alley to the area offering grades of merchandise of higher price and quality, 'dumper diving' the first likely bin. Nothing of use. 'Oh, well,' he thought, 'what did I expect?'

From the bin behind an exclusive mens clothiers he pulled a navy blue jacket just a mite large. His smile grew larger as he examined it for damage. A small tear in the inner lining, easily repairable had one cared, was all. Hank slipped the safari style jacket on feeling the warmth surround him. He fumbled in a bulky pocket finding gloves carelessly crammed in. His frigid fingers rejoiced in warmth as well. Now feeling Santa had actually left him his own personal Christmas, Hank almost turned back to his cave, but one last bin lid hanging ajar beckoned. Hank tossed empty shoe boxes carelessly, weight bringing his hands to a sudden stop. A pair of heavy winter-weight trainers in just his size, discarded because of a slight discolouration between them. Just below them a heavy pair of woolen 'trial' socks.

Unbelieving, Hank completed dressing, feeling caressed by unfamiliar warmth. 'It's been the best Christmas ever,' he said to himself, stepping into the street to cross to the gaily lighted town square.

The motorman of the last holiday trolley running drooled slightly at the thought of slipping his slipper shod feet under his dining table laden with turkey, traditional ham, and more good things his loving wife and daughter had prepared. A resounding thump brought his attention to the heap of blue lying across the cowcatcher of the trolley.

Damn! No Christmas reindeer that.


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