Haplessly Ever After

The Ghost of Christmas Presents

December 25, 1982

Willie was sprung the next day by Dr. Hoffman.

"You are on the top of Santa's Naughty List this year," she remarked with what could almost be considered a sense of humor.

"I wanna change my clothes." There was no response. "Do ya mind?"

"Not at all." She folded her arms indifferently.

"Are ya gonna follow me into the bathroom too? 'Cause I gotta take a wicked piss." He caught his reflection in the mirror. "And there's SpaghettiOs in my hair."

"You have exactly five minutes. I will meet you downstairs."

Willie sat in the kitchen as Julia slammed a coffee mug on the table in front of him. It wasn't like her to make her own breakfast. Dr. Hoffman was not the domestic type. The young man could just imagine what she could do to ruin a turkey. Then again, she would probably try to bring it back to life, to harvest its gizzards and generate its own stuffing. A plucked zombie turkey would then be seen terrorizing the countryside, walking around on drumsticks.

"Are you listening to me?" Willie flinched but did not look up when the doctor shook his shoulder. "Where is your common sense? Endangering Barnabas, the experiment, your child and your wife; it could have been a disaster. The only reason you are not in jail right now is because you work for a Collins, and your boss did a lot of fast talking last night."

Julia sat across from him, looking stern and serious.

"This is the deal we made: You are now in our custody; Barnabas and I have assumed complete responsibility for your future actions, so you will follow our orders, and do not leave this house without one of us. Any attempt to bother Maggie Evans or sabotage my project again, and I will slap you in a straightjacket and cart you off to Wyndcliff Sanitarium. Is that perfectly clear?"

"Her name is Loomis, Mrs. Collins." The servant played with the spoon in his coffee. "Only, wait, you two aren't really married, are ya? 'Cause your husband is dead. Couldn't show up at town hall with his birth certificate, could ya?"

"Do not provoke me, young man. I can make your stay here very unpleasant, or—you can do as you're told, help implement a medical breakthrough and, just maybe, after a suitable period, Maggie will forgive you." She continued in a confidential tone, "I may be able to help that along."

"Do you just hypnotize people all the time to get whatever ya want? Is that why Barnabas does everythin' you say?"

Dr. Hoffman stood abruptly. "There are no pickups today, so you may catch up on the cleaning chores you've neglected." She leaned across the table to look him in the eye. "Barnabas and I will have Christmas dinner tonight at Collinwood, with our family, so you will have to be here alone. I don't want any trouble."

Willie shook his head. "No trouble," he whispered. It was Christmas, and his 26th birthday.


The Old House was damp and dark, silent except for wind whistling through the chimney. Back when he was a vampire, Willie could have stood on the roof and seen festive lights in the village, heard strains of caroling, but not anymore.

Christmas was the crappiest day of the year, but it wasn't always that way. When Willie was a kid, his mom's boss always gave him two dollars (one for his birthday, one for Christmas), which purchased half a year's worth of comic books. Later, at St. Jerome's Home for Boys, church groups sent each child his own box containing new toothbrushes and socks, used paperbacks and, very often, a candy cane or chocolate Santa. As a young adult, his partner presented him with an extra round of drinks and a hooker, but those good times were gone. Tonight he would shovel snow on the front portico, without even the hope of a plate of cold leftovers from Mrs. Johnson.

Gripping a single candle, Willie trudged down the basement stairs to the dairy cellar where the shovel was stored. Suddenly a hand burst through the dirt floor and grabbed him by the ankle.

"Shove off, Jason, I'm not in the mood." Willie kicked the forearm away.

"Come now, where's your holiday spirit?" His partner's ghost was now beside him, grinning. "Why, he's right here!"

"I got work to do."

"Not on Christmas! Why aren't you nestled in the bosom of your sweetheart before a toasty fire?"

"Because she hates me. I kinda drugged her and held her prisoner in a cemetery for a few days."

"Ya see now, that vampire and his woman are a bad influence on you. Well, never mind, you'll make it right. Nothin' says I'm sorry like a shiny bauble." The Irishman began to rummage through his old sea chest. "Is there anythin' left ya didn't pawn?"

"I didn't pawn nothin'. Just gave somethin' to my mom, is all."

"Ah, perfect!" The ghost held up two teardrop earrings. "Emerald isles for your red-headed colleen."

"But you stole them from Mrs. Stoddard. What if somebody—?"

"Don't you worry now, 'twas meant to be. Everythin' happens for a reason."

"What if the reason is that you're stupid and make bad decisions?" he replied absentmindedly, smiling at the sparkling jewels as he held them to the candlelight.

But Jason continued to shoo him towards the stairs. "Off you go, lad. Good luck."

"No, stop. I'm not allowed to leave the house."

"Beggin' your pardon, I thought it was a grown man I was speakin' to, not some schoolboy in detention," the spirit scoffed. "The Willie Loomis I knew took guff from no one. Let me know if you find where ya left your balls."

"Fuck you, Jason. If you're so smart, how'd you end up dead?

"There now, don't be like that when I'm only thinkin' o' you." Willie snorted derisively. "And you better think about your priorities. If you want to win back your lass, the time is now or never." He winked at his young friend. "If you hurry there and back, no one's the wiser."


Willie rang the doorbell at the Evans' cottage clutching his presents. Sam swung open the door with the gusto of a celebratory drunk.

"Merry Chris—! Oh, it's you." He started to close the door then gave the guest a second glance, "Is that for me?"

Willie held out the bottle of scotch. "Yessir." His voice was a cocktail of trepidation and hope.

"In that case, don't stand there like a lost dog, come on in." He yanked the young man through the door.

"Pop, what do you think you're doing?" Maggie was curled up on the sofa, covered by a multicolored afghan, and sipping hot chocolate. She glared at the intruder.

"But it's Christmas, sweetheart. I'll punch his face in tomorrow, eh, Loomis?" he laughed loudly as he slapped his son-in-law on the back.

Joe jumped up from his seat, grabbed a box from under the tree and approached the guest.

"We're glad you're here, because Maggie would like to talk to you. But first, happy holidays." He thrust the gift into the young man's hands.

"For m-me?" Willie was flustered. He tore off the wrapping and stared at the polyester-blend Prussian blue necktie nestled in white tissue paper.

Joe was unsure how to interpret the man's reaction, or lack thereof. "I've never seen you wear a tie, so I figured you don't have any, and I thought this might come in handy when you go on job interviews."

"Uh, thank you." Willie bit his lip in embarrassment, regretting now that Joe had been so callously dumped from his list.

"I bet he's going to tell us now that he never got a Christmas present before," Maggie commented sarcastically from the sidelines. "I wish I had gifts to give out this year, but I missed the last few shopping days."

"I'm sorry," her husband whispered. "This is for you." He pulled out a small package wrapped in linen writing paper and sealed with candle wax, and placed it in her lap.

Maggie almost flung the gift into the fire when she felt through the gift wrap the nature of its contents. She opened the package, briefly examined the earrings, then handed them back to Willie.

"You can return these to Mr. Collins. I don't want something you've stolen from your boss."

"But I didn't steal 'em."

Joe discretely guided Mr. Evans into the kitchen. "Come on, Sam, let's make some coffee."

Maggie motioned her husband to sit in the chair nearby. "Willie, let's face it, this isn't working out. I'm sorry, but this marriage—our whole relationship—has been one huge mistake."

Willie wiped his nose on his sleeve and stared at the Christmas tree, watching the twinkling colored lights. There was an angel on top. She turned and smiled at him as if everything was going to be alright.

"You're too unstable, and I don't know how to deal with it anymore," she continued, on the edge of tears. "I'm tired and hurt and angry and scared of you. This has to end."

Maggie waited for him to protest, but there was no response.

"Do you understand what I'm saying? We are getting a divorce, and then I don't want to ever see you again…Willie?" She pushed his shoulder. "Don't you dare zone out on me."

"I hear ya." He could feel his heart beating in his chest. It sent blood coursing through his veins, pulsing in his ears.

"If you don't believe me, I will get a restraining order and have you arrested, or I'll get Pop's rifle; you know I can use it."

"Okay." The young man made an effort to breathe normally.

"You're sick, Willie, and you refuse to get help. At least, go back to Mr. Collins and his wife; they've been very good to you."

Everybody wanted him back at the Old House, on a leash, where he belonged.

"W-what about…?"

"You can't even say the word." Now Maggie was really disgusted. "Well, don't worry! I release you from any paternal obligation, financial or otherwise."

Willie was silent; there was nothing to say. He had everything a man could ever want and then fucked it up as only Willie Loomis could. But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue. He looked up to see her studying him with those big brown eyes.

"Don't cry," the treetop angel advised. "Not in front of them."

"I think you should go now," Maggie said after what seemed to her to be an uncomfortable silence.

As if on cue, Joe and Sam came bustling into the room.

"Did I hear you were leaving?" Joe escorted him to the door and shook his hand. "Take care of yourself; I mean it. And have a good new year."

Willie was on the front steps when Sam beckoned him back.

"Here." The old man begrudgingly handed over the bottle of scotch. "Otherwise she'll yell at me too."

December 25, 1982

Willie was sprung the next day by Dr. Hoffman.

"You are on the top of Santa's Naughty List this year," she remarked with what could almost be considered a sense of humor.

"I wanna change my clothes." There was no response. "Do ya mind?"

"Not at all." She folded her arms indifferently.

"Are ya gonna follow me into the bathroom too? 'Cause I gotta take a wicked piss." He caught his reflection in the mirror. "And there's SpaghettiOs in my hair."

"You have exactly five minutes. I will meet you downstairs."

Willie sat in the kitchen as Julia slammed a coffee mug on the table in front of him. It wasn't like her to make her own breakfast. Dr. Hoffman was not the domestic type. The young man could just imagine what she could do to ruin a turkey. Then again, she would probably try to bring it back to life, to harvest its gizzards and generate its own stuffing. A plucked zombie turkey would then be seen terrorizing the countryside, walking around on drumsticks.

"Are you listening to me?" Willie flinched but did not look up when the doctor shook his shoulder. "Where is your common sense? Endangering Barnabas, the experiment, your child and your wife; it could have been a disaster. The only reason you are not in jail right now is because you work for a Collins, and your boss did a lot of fast talking last night."

Julia sat across from him, looking stern and serious.

"This is the deal we made: You are now in our custody; Barnabas and I have assumed complete responsibility for your future actions, so you will follow our orders, and do not leave this house without one of us. Any attempt to bother Maggie Evans or sabotage my project again, and I will slap you in a straightjacket and cart you off to Wyndcliff Sanitarium. Is that perfectly clear?"

"Her name is Loomis, Mrs. Collins." The servant played with the spoon in his coffee. "Only, wait, you two aren't really married, are ya? 'Cause your husband is dead. Couldn't show up at town hall with his birth certificate, could ya?"

"Do not provoke me, young man. I can make your stay here very unpleasant, or—you can do as you're told, help implement a medical breakthrough and, just maybe, after a suitable period, Maggie will forgive you." She continued in a confidential tone, "I may be able to help that along."

"Do you just hypnotize people all the time to get whatever ya want? Is that why Barnabas does everythin' you say?"

Dr. Hoffman stood abruptly. "There are no pickups today, so you may catch up on the cleaning chores you've neglected." She leaned across the table to look him in the eye. "Barnabas and I will have Christmas dinner tonight at Collinwood, with our family, so you will have to be here alone. I don't want any trouble."

Willie shook his head. "No trouble," he whispered. It was Christmas, and his 26th birthday.


The Old House was damp and dark, silent except for wind whistling through the chimney. Back when he was a vampire, Willie could have stood on the roof and seen festive lights in the village, heard strains of caroling, but not anymore.

Christmas was the crappiest day of the year, but it wasn't always that way. When Willie was a kid, his mom's boss always gave him two dollars (one for his birthday, one for Christmas), which purchased half a year's worth of comic books. Later, at St. Jerome's Home for Boys, church groups sent each child his own box containing new toothbrushes and socks, used paperbacks and, very often, a candy cane or chocolate Santa. As a young adult, his partner presented him with an extra round of drinks and a hooker, but those good times were gone. Tonight he would shovel snow on the front portico, without even the hope of a plate of cold leftovers from Mrs. Johnson.

Gripping a single candle, Willie trudged down the basement stairs to the dairy cellar where the shovel was stored. Suddenly a hand burst through the dirt floor and grabbed him by the ankle.

"Shove off, Jason, I'm not in the mood." Willie kicked the forearm away.

"Come now, where's your holiday spirit?" His partner's ghost was now beside him, grinning. "Why, he's right here!"

"I got work to do."

"Not on Christmas! Why aren't you nestled in the bosom of your sweetheart before a toasty fire?"

"Because she hates me. I kinda drugged her and held her prisoner in a cemetery for a few days."

"Ya see now, that vampire and his woman are a bad influence on you. Well, never mind, you'll make it right. Nothin' says I'm sorry like a shiny bauble." The Irishman began to rummage through his old sea chest. "Is there anythin' left ya didn't pawn?"

"I didn't pawn nothin'. Just gave somethin' to my mom, is all."

"Ah, perfect!" The ghost held up two teardrop earrings. "Emerald isles for your red-headed colleen."

"But you stole them from Mrs. Stoddard. What if somebody—?"

"Don't you worry now, 'twas meant to be. Everythin' happens for a reason."

"What if the reason is that you're stupid and make bad decisions?" he replied absentmindedly, smiling at the sparkling jewels as he held them to the candlelight.

But Jason continued to shoo him towards the stairs. "Off you go, lad. Good luck."

"No, stop. I'm not allowed to leave the house."

"Beggin' your pardon, I thought it was a grown man I was speakin' to, not some schoolboy in detention," the spirit scoffed. "The Willie Loomis I knew took guff from no one. Let me know if you find where ya left your balls."

"Fuck you, Jason. If you're so smart, how'd you end up dead?

"There now, don't be like that when I'm only thinkin' o' you." Willie snorted derisively. "And you better think about your priorities. If you want to win back your lass, the time is now or never." He winked at his young friend. "If you hurry there and back, no one's the wiser."


Willie rang the doorbell at the Evans' cottage clutching his presents. Sam swung open the door with the gusto of a celebratory drunk.

"Merry Chris—! Oh, it's you." He started to close the door then gave the guest a second glance, "Is that for me?"

Willie held out the bottle of scotch. "Yessir." His voice was a cocktail of trepidation and hope.

"In that case, don't stand there like a lost dog, come on in." He yanked the young man through the door.

"Pop, what do you think you're doing?" Maggie was curled up on the sofa, covered by a multicolored afghan, and sipping hot chocolate. She glared at the intruder.

"But it's Christmas, sweetheart. I'll punch his face in tomorrow, eh, Loomis?" he laughed loudly as he slapped his son-in-law on the back.

Joe jumped up from his seat, grabbed a box from under the tree and approached the guest.

"We're glad you're here, because Maggie would like to talk to you. But first, happy holidays." He thrust the gift into the young man's hands.

"For m-me?" Willie was flustered. He tore off the wrapping and stared at the polyester-blend Prussian blue necktie nestled in white tissue paper.

Joe was unsure how to interpret the man's reaction, or lack thereof. "I've never seen you wear a tie, so I figured you don't have any, and I thought this might come in handy when you go on job interviews."

"Uh, thank you." Willie bit his lip in embarrassment, regretting now that Joe had been so callously dumped from his list.

"I bet he's going to tell us now that he never got a Christmas present before," Maggie commented sarcastically from the sidelines. "I wish I had gifts to give out this year, but I missed the last few shopping days."

"I'm sorry," her husband whispered. "This is for you." He pulled out a small package wrapped in linen writing paper and sealed with candle wax, and placed it in her lap.

Maggie almost flung the gift into the fire when she felt through the gift wrap the nature of its contents. She opened the package, briefly examined the earrings, then handed them back to Willie.

"You can return these to Mr. Collins. I don't want something you've stolen from your boss."

"But I didn't steal 'em."

Joe discretely guided Mr. Evans into the kitchen. "Come on, Sam, let's make some coffee."

Maggie motioned her husband to sit in the chair nearby. "Willie, let's face it, this isn't working out. I'm sorry, but this marriage—our whole relationship—has been one huge mistake."

Willie wiped his nose on his sleeve and stared at the Christmas tree, watching the twinkling colored lights. There was an angel on top. She turned and smiled at him as if everything was going to be alright.

"You're too unstable, and I don't know how to deal with it anymore," she continued, on the edge of tears. "I'm tired and hurt and angry and scared of you. This has to end."

Maggie waited for him to protest, but there was no response.

"Do you understand what I'm saying? We are getting a divorce, and then I don't want to ever see you again…Willie?" She pushed his shoulder. "Don't you dare zone out on me."

"I hear ya." He could feel his heart beating in his chest. It sent blood coursing through his veins, pulsing in his ears.

"If you don't believe me, I will get a restraining order and have you arrested, or I'll get Pop's rifle; you know I can use it."

"Okay." The young man made an effort to breathe normally.

"You're sick, Willie, and you refuse to get help. At least, go back to Mr. Collins and his wife; they've been very good to you."

Everybody wanted him back at the Old House, on a leash, where he belonged.

"W-what about…?"

"You can't even say the word." Now Maggie was really disgusted. "Well, don't worry! I release you from any paternal obligation, financial or otherwise."

Willie was silent; there was nothing to say. He had everything a man could ever want and then fucked it up as only Willie Loomis could. But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue. He looked up to see her studying him with those big brown eyes.

"Don't cry," the treetop angel advised. "Not in front of them."

"I think you should go now," Maggie said after what seemed to her to be an uncomfortable silence.

As if on cue, Joe and Sam came bustling into the room.

"Did I hear you were leaving?" Joe escorted him to the door and shook his hand. "Take care of yourself; I mean it. And have a good new year."

Willie was on the front steps when Sam beckoned him back.

"Here." The old man begrudgingly handed over the bottle of scotch. "Otherwise she'll yell at me too."


Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.