Eric held the present in his large hands, surprised at its weight. Not a scarf then, he thought. He picked at the edge of the sellotape with his right index finger. As he did so, fragments of dried grime were dislodged from under his fingernail.
“Oh give it here.” Margaret grabbed the present. Eric noticed a trail of spittle dribbling down the side of her mouth. As he leant forward to wipe it away he involuntarily wrinkled his nose at the smell emanating from her. She flayed her arms about, hitting the side of his cheek and yelled “Stop fussing.” The present fell to the floor dropping out its contents with a thud.
“See, it’s an all-purpose gadget.”
Eric picked up the hard stainless steel object and began to fondle it as if it were a pet.
Eric took his present and a mug of tea up to his shed. He sat on the swivel stool he’d made at last year’s advanced woodwork class and slowly turned round to survey his world. A jumble of every conceivable tool crammed into the small space. The all-purpose gadget lay on the workbench next to an ornate musical box. He was repairing it for Joe next door. A fiddly job, but Eric didn’t mind. He imagined returning the restored treasure, he would put on a clean ironed shirt. Joe always smelt of Sandalwood.
Eric walked back along the path and down the slope he’d built for Margaret’s wheelchair. At the back door he took off his outdoor shoes.
“Did you find somewhere to put your present” Margaret yelled, “put the kettle on, I want a cup of tea.”
In his stocking feet he walked silently up behind his wife’s wheelchair and in one swift movement passed the penknife blade from the all-purpose gadget across her throat. He looked down at the crimson stain on the stainless steel blade. He wiped the blade clean on the back of Margaret’s grey cardigan and snapped the blade back. He’d ask Joe round for a cup of tea, they’d have it in his shed. On his way to the kitchen, Eric dropped the new all-purpose gadget back into its box and into the charity carrier bag under the stairs.