The knock on my door was mildly insistent. Each knock loud enough to be heard, and quickly repeated, but not hard enough to be urgent. I staggered towards the door in my pajamas, barely having any presence of mind because the sun hadn’t even come up.
I had the presence of mind to look through the peephole and stare into darkness. Then I flipped on the front light and saw Nikki out there, parasol folded, but ready to deploy to shield her from the sun on the off-chance the earth would suddenly speed up its rotation. It was raining, as usual, but Nikki would never risk her parasol in the rain.
I threw open the door. “Nikki?” I wanted to say something biting or witty, but that part of my brain was still asleep.
“Happy Boxing Day, Matthew.”
“Wha?” I managed. “You want me to go shopping?”
She gave me a slight shake of her head and amused smile as she pushed past me. The consecration on the house was still gone from last night. She sat on the couch and patted the cushion next to her while I stood like an idiot with the door open.
I shut the door and joined her, yawning into the back of my hand.
She pushed a small box at me.
I looked at her questioningly, and then popped off the lid of the box to see a stack of bills staring back at me.
My questioning look deepened.
“The old custom was to give a small amount of money to those who perform services for us.”
“This isn’t a small amount of money. It’s gotta be at least two Gs.”
She smiled and gave a toss of her hand. “A pittance, really. But if it helps to think about it as a down payment for services you are about to perform.”
“I know you have more stories about how you got that hat.”
I sighed. “You know, it’s not like Nick gave me a list of the ones that made his decision.”
“Nonetheless, I believe you have something more in-depth than what you have let on.”
“I can’t think without coffee.”
“I can wait.”
I sighed again.