II. Arnold Kickinbottom let the living room curtain fall back. What was the local hillbilly trampling around in the snow for? A mysterious death right outside his windows was not good for his indigestion. Mildred would babble about too many samples of the schnapps and sweets, but Arnold knew his tummy was easily upset when something unpleasant and dramatic happened right under his nose.
“Mildred, where is my porridge?” He checked his watch. Already five minutes past seven. His wife was getting so slovenly, and it wasn´t even Christmas yet. He drummed his fingers on the table. The oilcloth had lost most of its vivid colours in front of him though it could hardly be more than ten or fifteen years old.
“Mildred!” He enjoyed seeing her scuttle in with his bowl and glass, but his heart was not really in it. Why wouldn´t the old fuddy-duddy listen? Arnold had told him to stay away from them so many times. This was a respectable home, and Christmas with Mildred´s catty old aunts around the house was already more than most human beings could bear. You couldn´t fart without their smelling it. He shuddered at the idea of several days with this petticoat regime. But Arnold Kickinbottom refused to surrender to their pins and needles.
He raised his spoon and his weak chin like a modern-day Churchill, until he remembered another of Mildred´s insane relatives. Trying to enter a modern house via the chimney. Talk about embarrassment. A fat, middle-aged man trying to get into a house with central heating through the chimney! So he was Mildred´s half-demented old uncle, but why couldn´t he ring the bell like any decent visitor? Arnold had had to take the whole system to pieces, before they could tug him out of a heating pipe in the boiler room together with his huge sack of silly presents. Arnold´s spoon trembled when he thought of those presents. How could anyone know …?
“Arnold, dear, are you okay? It seems as if your eyes are bulging.”
To be continued tomorrow.