In which our intrepid hero receives a visitor.

Picture this: it’s a bit after 5am. This creepy, old, fat guy with a beard turns up on the doorstep, disheveled, sweaty and reeking of cheap airport scotch. He wears fur, and lots of red; I could tell he was trouble just by looking at him.

“Sorry I’m late,” he grunts. “You wouldn’t believe the layovers at LAX this year.”

He tells me his name is Nick, and that he has a package for me. “Keep it in your pants, mate, ” I reply.

He huffs and smiles. No one is that cheery at 5am. He must be on drugs or something. He fixes my gaze with his beady, bloodshot eyes as he reaches into his sack. I ball my hands into fists, and growl: “Keep your mitts where I can see them, jolly-boy.”

He hands me a couple of parcels, which I set down. I’m going to have to check these for powder and bomb residue, I think.

Then he grabs his belly, hooking his thumbs under his widearse fetish belt, and makes a noise like Haw! Haw! Haw!—like he’s straining against piles. Who knows what this old perv gets up to in his spare time.

“Merry Christmas!” he cries, waking up the dog, who starts yelping and growling at the visitor. With that, he disappears, pausing only to mutter something about watching children. Sicko freak.

I look the packages over; one is addressed to my sister, the other to her husband. Both are from me, apparently. That fat guy knew where to find me, and he’s giving stuff to my relatives, pretending to be me. I’ll have to make some calls around lunchtime, find out who this Nick character is, get someone to break his kneecaps. And maybe get him put on a pedophile watchlist for good measure.

Turns out that the parcel for my sister is a copy of Hunters of Dune; my brother-in-law’s contains a couple of packs of Rocky Road. Not too bad, I guess. They loved their gifts.

That fat guy knows far too much about me and my family. He’s watching our paper trail, learning what we like. He knows when we’re sleeping. He knows when we’re awake. He knows when we’ve been bad or good—


Let’s see you bounce children on your knee when your legs are broken in six places, you twisted old fart…