Kevin Smith lived alone in his rather large house, and wouldn’t have it any other way at the moment. But sometimes he got lonely, it had been 8 months but he had not wiped it from the front of his mind.
He was living in a set routine. He woke up, watched the news, walked the dog, went to the shop for the morning paper and a small pint of milk, came home and spent an hour reading the paper, then he ate dinner, goes to the pub for a quick drink with a friend, watch more television, eat tea, and fall asleep on his couch.
Each and every day, with the occasional varied different activity, but generally the same. And sometimes it could get repetitive.
But Kevin was a happy man, he enjoyed life, and people, never had a bad word to say about anyone, nor had he. But one evening his patience was finally worn thin.
He was falling asleep in his chair, it was just gone 8pm, usual time for him, and then suddenly there was a loud knock on his front door. Frustrated and tired, he rose to go answer it, but nobody was there.
‘Damn prank callers.’
He returned to his seat, slightly more awake now, which annoyed him more so than the prank callers, and he started stroking his dog.
‘I love you JR, I hope you know that.’
JR was his dog, a Jack Russell Terrier, JR obviously standing for Jack Russell, names were not his strong point in life. It was a calm and docile dog, who had seemed to lose its own appetite for life somewhat too, lately.
Christmas songs were playing on the television in the background, he had a little sing-along to one of his favourites, Mistletoe & Wine.
‘Christmas time, mistletoe & wine, children singing in Christian rhyme.’
Stroking JR with the beat of the song. But he was awake now, so he made himself some toast. Kevin loved toast, he had a particular setting to make it lightly toasted, and his favourite butter just melts on it, upon connection. His favourite evening meal.
After eating he left his plate to his side and lowered the volume of the television, and was slowly falling asleep again with JR sat comfortable on his lap.
Then the knocking again.
‘Not again!’ he walked up to the door and answered it. ‘Who’s there? This isn’t funny!’
Nobody again. Whoever is knocking is fast on their feet.
‘Why aren’t you barking boy?’
Little JR was known to have a loud bark, even when people so much as walk past the window, so for it to miss these knocks was somewhat strange. But Kevin returned back to his chair, calling JR up and carried on stroking him. ‘Damn kids scaring us.’
He heard JR crying shortly afterwards. A depressed cry. Strange from a dog, it was a sound he’d only heard once before. But he looked down and said, ‘What’s wrong boy? Don’t worry, they’re gone now. Merry Christmas. We’ll go for a good walk tomorrow morning.’
He had planned a routine that involved walking past the lake running through the town, it was a lovely and peaceful routine. And JR loved running into the stream and getting as wet and dirty as possible, loving every second. Kevin didn’t even mind cleaning the mess, it gave him a fresh challenge of the day. That’s where he’d planned to take JR in the morning.
Then the knocking again.
‘For God’s sake!’
He stormed to the door and yet again nobody was there. Just the December darkness facing back at him, with its chilly companion it brings with it. No people. No sounds of people.
‘Please leave me alone!’
His voice was mixed between anger and sadness. He was alone, and wanted to fall asleep. Sleeping seemed to be his favourite part of the day and to have this ruined annoyed him.
Again he sat down, and tried to calm JR down who was still crying. Crying, not barking.
Five minutes later and the door knocked again. Loud thuds. ‘Knock! Knock! Knock!’
He stormed up, fuming now, and threw the door open. He was thrown back though when he saw who was there. It was his wife.
‘But this is impossible.’
Kevin’s wife, Andrea, had died in May, of a heart attack, and Kevin had been struggling to cope without her. They had been high school sweethearts and had recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary before she passed away. Some could argue it was a fitting time, right after such a milestone, but Kevin didn’t see it that way. There was no fitting time to go.
‘What are you doing here? Am I dreaming?’
‘Yes you are my love.’
‘Well I always dream of you. I long to spend a day with you again.’
‘You will my love. Soon. For you are dying. And Heaven has been knocking for you.’
‘Is that the knocking?’
‘Yes. JR has noticed it too. That’s why he’s crying, just like when he found my body. All you have to do is walk to the couch and we will be together. Forever in Heaven.’
Kevin had no hesitation in doing so. He welcomed death if it meant being back with his wife again, even if it was a dream-fantasy creation. He had been feeling ill and weaker this past week anyway, so death doesn’t seem like a surprising fate.
He returned to his chair and looked back at Andrea.
‘I’m doing this for you my love. I would die for you. Over and over again.’
Back in reality, JR had noticed Kevin had died, and lay on his lap, crying into Kevin’s hand. Kevin had died stroking JR, and now JR was alone.
He cried all Christmas night for his owners.