The last leg was always the toughest, he thought to himself as he dropped down a chimney. He left these houses for last intentionally. Their spirit was always the lowest of all the others he visited. They never bothered to write, but worse, they never left out cookies and milk. To say he loathed these visits would be an understatement.
"Everyone always expects a 'Ho Ho Ho' and jingling bells..." He grumbled as he shoved presents under the tree. His duty momentarily sated, he walked over to the pantry looking for some snacks; even going so far as to pop open the fridge. As he suspected, there was nothing that tempted his appetite. Numbly, he let the fridge slowly close on its own.
There were no words to express how he felt; he could only stand in place staring into the middle distance. He was not sure when he had begun losing his spirit, only that he no longer felt jolly; in that moment he was no longer Santa Claus. The once jovial man looked towards the counter, a rack of knives calling to him. As he reached for one of them, he imagined the next day's news snippet.
A family of five was brutally slain last night. Witnesses claim hearing jingling bells and a "Ho Ho Ho" at the time of the murders. Police found a note at the scene of the crime, 'All I wanted was some fucking cookies.' There are no suspects at this time.
"I think I'll call you Juliet." It was his best line, which he accentuated by sliding his business card towards the blonde bombshell Hollywood bars were known to attract. Romeo M, the name at the bottom read, his cell phone number strategically scrawled on the back before the start of the night.
The girl's only response was a cursory glance in his direction, a cockeyed expression painted on her face, and a return to her order. He didn't dare push the matter; she was out of his league anyway, most likely going back to a table occupied by B-List actors and professional atheletes. The thought was comforting.
She walked away so Romeo recycled his business card. He hadn't paid much for the few he had printed out, but it seemed like such a waste to let the card soak in spilled tequila and imported beer. He turned back to his glass and realized it was empty so he pulled out his wallet to grab some more cash, but only found a week old receipt.
Unable to leave a tip, he slipped out of his chair and crept out of the bar. Outside he spotted the bombshell, drink in hand, approaching a pasty faced youth with wildly tousled hair and eyes like the dead. Romeo was best lover the world had ever seen and he was doomed to spend the night alone, his left hand the only witness to the quality of his love.
They met in a parking lot, by a nondescript green sedan. As Pierre approached, his superior held out an envelope; his assignment. He took a moment to scan its contents and was dismayed by what he read. "You don't seriously expect me to do this, do you?" He asked as tears gathered at the corners of his eyes, the memory of his recent loss returning to him. His superior's audacity spurred his anger, the last fortification he held against his grief.
"We have known for some time now that you have been visiting her, Pierre. We have reason to believe you have been indoctrinated by the thing you swore to fight. What exists in that shop is a pale shadow of your wife. This is the only way you will be able to let her go."
"I can't lose her, not again Virginia." His anger faltered, his superior's words were too infallible to refute. He had to let her go though, and the only way to do it would be to reave her ghost as he had been assigned.
"By allowing her to haunt, you condemn her to purgatory. Help her find her way to peace, Pierre."
His resolve broke; the tears began to fall like the soldiers of his anger, tossed from the ramparts to meet their death, the final bastion overrun by the warriors of his grief. His superior wrapped her motherly arms around him and spoke into his ear. "You couldn't be there for her when she was killed Pierre. As a Reaver, this is your purpose, you can help guide her soul to its resting place and bring closure to the wound in your heart. This is your chance to be there for her."
What she said was true. It did not however, stop the tears.