4 min read

#1: An Early Present

#1: An Early Present

You can look it up on YouTube if you don't believe me. But this is the only time anyone, ever, died just to re-gift a Christmas present. You gotta search; I don't know, Christmas present death, or something like that. Look, I don't know who got the footage, but we were all there. I was the only one not filming it because it was my present. Nah, listen and I'll tell you the story.

Rick had to beat my gift from the year before. And I'd outdone myself. You see, I first gave him this bag of licorice way back when we were kids. We didn't like each other much back then, so I bought him something I knew he wouldn't like. And he hated it. Didn't speak to me for the entire year. And we shared a bedroom together. Things got uncomfortable, but I didn't know he was buying his time.

He'd stored the bag some place and when it came time for Christmas, I felt bad and got him a real present, a comic he'd been wanting and he gave me the damn bag of licorice, the same bag and all.

So, the next year, I bought him a used baseball glove, faked a signature of some player. He put his hand in the glove and realised that I'd stuffed the pieces of licorice down each of the fingers. He struggled to keep the smile off his face.

I looked forward to Christmas like never before, and by this time I was too old for the regular Christmas hoo-ha, but I couldn't wait to see how he'd serve up the pieces.

But all I got was a teddy bear that'd been in the wars. It gutted me. I thought it would be an ongoing joke between us. Until one night, months later, I found an unpicker, you know, the thing to unstitch stitching and the bear. I'd forgotten about the bear. But I unstitched it and inside, wrapped in plastic, were the pieces of licorice.

I'll fast forward. The year before, he'd bought me a new car cause his business was doing real well. I knew to look in the console straight away, and there they were. Yeah, sure they'd aged, but so had we.

But last year, I mailed a glass jar with the pieces in it to various places around the world. I asked people to take photos and to print out the photo and pass the box on. I told them the story and only asked that it arrive back to me in late November. People's generosity blew me away. These darn pieces had been up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Sydney Bridge, the pyramids, Grand Canyon, and a few others.

What? No, I didn't worry about customs. There is no way you'd consider fifty-year-old pieces of licorice as food.

And so, we get to the final year. And Rick and his girls come over a bit early, which was fine. You know, there are sons and daughter-in-laws and grandkids and our sister and her tribe are all there. No one noticed Rick wasn't about.

Until I get a phone call saying that we all needed to go down to the beach about half hour away. You know, I was like, come on, Rick, now is not the time to be digging through a sand castle for some old stale lollies. But he was insistent.

We all trundled down, not having a clue. And then someone came up to us and told us to look up. And sure enough we saw the plane and a guy, a lone man jumps out. Well, to me, it looked liked he just fell out, but then he flung his arms and legs out and just floated up there. Oh, he was getting bigger and bigger.

The parachute flops out, and I breathe out. I realised that I'd been holding my breath. He's a sixty-year-old man who'd spent the year learning to parachute.

I sensed the panic in the man who'd pointed out where to look. I could see Rick struggle with something. The man said he's trying to cut himself loose, and I thought why on earth would he want to cut off the very thing preventing him from falling and landing like a pancake.

He was getting bigger and bigger and bigger and those blasted ropes were still tangled, and he was falling faster and faster.

There came a point when he stopped struggling. He reached into a pocket and threw something out.

Its parachute opened, a little tiny thing. I could see the glass glisten in the morning sun.

I watched it float down. I refused to watch the bigger parachute. I watched it wobbled in the wind and I blocked out the gasps of the onlookers and of our family.

Rick smacked into the water too fast to not be killed on impact.

Where is it? What about the glass jar with the lollies? Oh, I buried it with Rick with a card from me saying that this will be his early Christmas present.