Hearing the musical doorbell tones, Beth rushed downstairs just in time to see a late-model black SUV speeding out of her short but slippery driveway. Peeking through the side glass panel next to her front door, her eyes fell on a plain brown shopping bag leaning against a partially rusted metal rail. Slowly opening the door, she immediately felt light snow rushing towards her bare feet. Using the full reach of her slender body she managed to snare the bag and pull it inside the toasty room all without her feet ever touching the cold brick porch. This smooth gymnastic move proved that her early morning workout classes were well worth the 5 a.m. start time.
“Do not open ’til Christmas,” she read aloud. How silly is that, she thought. Who opens Christmas presents before Christmas? As she pushed the green and white tissue paper aside, she saw a small box encased in velvet wrapping and red trimmed ribbon. She gently took it out of the bag and placed it on the kitchen table,
With a knowing smile, Beth allowed herself to remember her last conversation Calvin. He made it crystal clear that they would not be able to talk until he finished his secret military mission. Could it be that he was back and they would be allowed to see each other on Christmas Day? Knowing Calvin as she did, she couldn’t help but consider that this could very well be his idea of a practical joke, however. For all she knew, the pretty red box with all its beauty just might only contain a small silver bell, or the box could be stuffed with bubble wrap, but surely it was a gift of significance. She would just have to wait until morning.just as the note read.
Just as she was heading back upstairs to resume her evening with Netflix, her cell phone jangled in her night robe pocket. So much for a quiet Christmas Eve.
“Hello. Hello. Hello. Is anybody there? ”
“Beth,” the voice on the other end said.
“Yes. Who is this?”
“I know you saw the truck. I know you picked up the package and I know you will wait until Christmas to open the red box, right?”
“Who is this?”
Just then the phone went dead.
“I know that voice, but I can’t place it.” she whispered.
Beth was not the type to frighten easily but with the arrival of the unexpected gift and now the crazy phone call she wondered if this Christmas was laden with problems. She just wanted a relaxed holiday. She just wanted to take time away from deadlines, traveling and managing projects. She had made plans to relax and enjoy a day of back-to-back Godfather type movies.
Going back to the kitchen Beth decided to call her next door neighbor, Dusty. He was retired, but he typically stayed in a ready police mode. After explaining her unusual evening events to Dusty she agreed with him that she should call the city police and perhaps stay with him at least til morning. But it’s Christmas Eve, she thought.
After drinking about 2 cups of Dusty’s strong black coffee, Beth gave in to her need to go to the bathroom and her phobia of using a single man’s bathroom. She feared that although Dusty was a good man, maybe he needed a little help with house cleaning from time-to-time. Her fear subsided the minute she made her way down the hallway. Everything was cleaner than she had hoped for but just as she was about to open the bathroom door, she couldn’t help but notice a roll of red Christmas wrapping paper next to a small pile of red and gold ribbon. All of it, just like the gift that she pulled out the package that had been delivered to her front door earlier that day.
Just as she was about to turn around and run out of the house, she heard blaring sirens outside. “Dusty, she yelled. The cops will be looking for me. Meet me outside in the front,” she said just as she dashed out the rear kitchen door.”
“Ma’am don’t move.” She heard a cop yell. “Put your hands in the air.”
“Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, she pleaded.”