MICHAEL was born with a deformity which prevented him from being a proficient handyman.
It was not a particularly visible deformity.
In fact, the midwife who delivered him had not even noticed his deficiency. He seemed to have all the bits and pieces he would need in life — two legs, two arms, 10 fingers and 10 toes. His breathing was fine, his heartbeat was strong. He seemed normal.
But there was something wrong … something that did not become apparent until he started learning about handyman skills in grade seven of school. He was hopeless at both woodwork and metalwork.
Some males claim to be missing a gene that gives them the instinctive skill to make items out of wood or weld metal together to make fabulous constructions. That’s what Michael thought at first, too, when he was one of 26 boys who made a cement trowel from the same pattern in grade seven woodwork. Twenty-five of them looked exactly the same. His looked considerably different.
He was no better at metalwork. Thirty years later, his metalwork teacher is still trying to work out how Michael managed to accidentally weld the school’s football team’s trophy to a wooden workbench.
No, it was more than a missing gene.
Deep down he knew that, even though it took him some years to work out his problem.
The penny dropped for him one night. Michael woke up in a sweat and just knew.
He found it difficult to come to grips with this affliction he had just put his finger on, but he coped and by the time he married Lisa, he was 29 and had accepted his fate. He knew he should have told his wife before they married, but he waited until their wedding night. She came very close to going home to her mother in tears.
But she stood by her man.
Nobody expected him to father children, least of all Michael. For the first time in his life though he managed to get Part A to match with Part B. Lisa had a bouncing baby boy, perfect in every way. The day of the birth was the happiest day of Michael’s life.
It was also the last really happy day of his life.
You see, one of the big responsibilities of being the father of a boy is to teach the young whipper-snapper how to be a handyman. You start by buying him some rudimentary plastic tools when he is two: a little hammer, a little saw, a little screwdriver and a few plastic bolts. Then you show him how to fix things. You nail some picture hooks into the wall. You fix some dodgy doorknobs. You unstick some stuck windows. And all the time, the little tacker is close to you, with his little plastic toolbox, asking ‘Daddy, can I help?’
By the time he is in his mid-teens you work up to some big-ticket items. You build your wife that pergola she has always wanted. You add a parents’ retreat and en suite to the back of the house.
You and your son transplant the big oak tree in the front yard two feet to the left so the sun shines more brightly into the sunroom each afternoon at 3 o’clock.
But Michael did not experience those types of joys.
And he knew that one day his son would want to know why.
The awful moment came the day the boy turned 16.
‘Well, son, it’s like this.’ Michael’s voice was trembling. ‘You know how you always see carpenters and plumbers and builders and electricians with pencils behind their ears?’
‘Yes, dad,’ The boy hung on every traumatic word.
‘Well, son, I can’t do that. I was born with ears that stick out too far from my head. I’m deformed.’
THIS IS ONE OF THE FLASH FICTION STORIES IN THIS BOOK. BUY THE EBOOK
Santa says he’s had enough. In this letter (which is the title piece in this funny flash fiction collection), he says Mrs Claus has had enough, too. “Rudolph the red-nose reindeer and all the other reindeers have also had enough (in fact, they’re the most angry. They wanted to do one more Christmas Eve run just so they could poop down everyone’s chimney.)”