Lucky walks in to find an angry answering machine. It leers out at him from the darkness. A red three hovering above the table. Like an omen. Reflecting off the shitty, cancer-ridden looking tinsel hacked into the wall above it makes the small table seem like a shrine to evil Christmas.
Which you know, isn’t far from how Lucky feels about the holiday.
He flicks his mobile on and sure enough it spasms with the promise of multiple missed calls.
Some from his brothers. The ones that call.
Two from an unknown number.
And one from Dad.
He turns back to the answering machine on the table, still glaring at him for allowing so many messages to build up unchecked.
His finger hovers over the delete button. An instant reaction. Something at the last minute changes his mind and instead a robot fills the empty hall followed by….
His brother Michael: “He must be still driving that stupid bus. Lucky, you driving that stupid bus still? Are you coming tonight? Nah he’s still driving that bus.”
His brother Raz: “Hey man. Everyone would like…well…I would like to and you know it wouldn’t be the same without you. Dad really wants you to…Please come.”
And then his father’s voice booms out in the hall and Lucky moves like a rocket to slam it quiet but still the first few syllables are left to roam out into the hallway.
“Lucifer I’m disappointed that you-”
Lucky walks into the kitchen and pulls a beer from the fridge. He takes a long suck and lets it swell into his limbs, releasing the stress of a day of bus driving dickheads around float away. It’s a shitty job. He has a the oldest bus and possibly the worst route, but someone has to right?
And hasn’t that been his problem this whole time? That someone has to.
A text from Raz breaks the thoughts: you know if u come u dont have to see him for another year.
And somehow, although not altogether surprisingly, Lucky finds himself being once again dragged towards his father’s house out in the suburbs, stapled onto the back of the Fish & Chip shop his dad decided to open after the career switch.
A bottle of wine plucked at the last minute from the cupboard to give the old fucker. Nothing for the new kid. No way. He’s not committing that hard to this bullshit charade.
It’s not even really his birthday. They pinched it from someone else but that didn’t seem to really bother anybody.
Lucky thinks back to a few years ago, when the ‘new’ son, the favourite step-shithead, didn’t even bother to fork out for a decent bottle of red for the old man’s birthday. Just showed up with a two dollar bottle of water, and oh wow look it’s wine now.
What a fucker.
And that’s why he doesn’t get a present today, even though they ‘share’ a birthday. His old man and the new golden boy. Lucky’s only just getting into giving his father a present.
He doesn’t drive. Doesn’t have a car. Just the bus. And if he rocked up in the bus. No. Besides the walk will do him good, allow those thoughts to simmer and blister in the back of his head. The ones where he’s punching his dad over and over and over.
No. Push that down. Be civil. In and out. Give the bottle, ignore the snark, ignore the she-bitch in the corner. Mum 2.0. Just go, do the bit and then go home.
Why do they do that? He finds himself wondering again as he crosses the maze of avenues named after seasons and playwrights and seasons fused with playwrights.
The new Missus. The newer model. His dad’s not the only one to do it. That Greek bloke was worse. Banged his way through history. It must come with the omniscience.
Whatever the reason, she hates Lucky. Never quite forgiven him for that stuff in the desert when the step-douche was a younger. But could you blame him? I mean here was the shiny new toy, the only one of them who’d been given the opportunity to call himself son.
Isn’t there statistics about little kids pinching their new siblings when they arrive home, a jealousy gene? Something Freudian?
Surely she could get over it by now. But no. Apparently not.
And Lucky just knows when he walks in there will be this hornet buzz of suppressed hatred spitting towards him. A cacophony of unsaid resentment. Except for Raz. And maybe Zeke.
God why is he doing this?
But that’s just it. That’s why he’s doing it.
As he gets closer to the street, walking past happier families sitting out in their front yards wearing crepe hats and watching kids play on new scooters, he tries to see himself in that picture. With a family that sits down and talks like that. With a father who isn’t a know it all windbag. A father who loves him for being him and doesn’t punish him for being exactly who he was made to be. Who his father made him to be.
The bottle explodes in his hands, glass, wine and blood running through his fingers.
Shit. He didn’t mean to lose it. The train of thought had just gotten away from him.
And now he’s here. The sounds people enjoying themselves echoes out onto the street where Lucky’s standing with the smashed bottle and all of that built up rage and resentment.
But he swallows that for the five-hundredth time this century and begins to make his way up the steps to sit down for Christmas dinner.
Because even he, The Prince of Darkness, The Morningstar, The Fallen One, The King of Hell, even he is not immune to shitty parents fucking him up.
The door opens and there’s the step-shithead standing there smiling at him.
“Merry Christmas Lucky.”
“Merry Christmas to you too J. And…happy birthday.”