"You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why..."
Great, the Christmas songs are back again. Just another reminder to people to fulfil the bothersome task of scouring for gifts, and make a troublesome trip to meet relatives. Practically every radio station is blasting out these songs at this time of the year, so changing the channel wouldn't help. But he couldn't turn it off, simply because he needed to be able to listen to the traffic and weather reports.
Fortunately he didn't have to endure that much longer, since he had finally just reached his house. No more of that pop drivel assaulting his ears as he waited in a traffic jam! Eagerly he entered the warm toasty building, changed to looser clothes, and just lied down on the couch. The hot bath and cocoa drink would have to wait for a while.
...was that a tapping noise?
He glanced at the clock sitting on the cabinet: 20 minutes had gone by. Did he merely dream of the imaginary sound? He waited and stared at the ceiling...
There it was. Three light taps on the front door. So much for beauty sleep.
"Just a minute!" Now where were those blasted ke– ah, right deep inside the left pocket. Here we go...
"Oh sorry, was I bothering you with something? You look a bit tired! It's okay if you don't want to help me out, I'll just find someone else–"
"Nah, it's okay. I probably need the fresh air anyway. So... what do you need help with?"
The young man pointed to an unfamiliar house some distance away. "I just need someone to help me out with putting up the decorations around the outside of my house. I've got some friends coming over soon, so I need to spruce it up a bit!"
"Uh... sure. Not that big of a deal, I'll be glad to help you out!"
The man smiled. "Thank you so much, mister...?"
"Just call me Roger. And you?"
"I'm Dominic. Nice to meet you! Pardon me, but I only just moved in not too long ago, so I'm not familiar with any of my neighbours."
Funnily enough, Roger himself had been staying here for a few years, and yet didn't know any of his neighbours either. Not that it was especially important to him to be best friends with neighbours anyway. They were more of a nuisance than anything else.
As they marched their way towards Dominic's house, Roger inquired: "What's with the white hair? Halloween's been over for quite some time you know! Unless this is for some Christmas stint...?"
"Oh no, strangely enough it's natural. Been that way ever since I was born!"
"Really? Never heard of a condition like that. Why don't you dye it back to a dark colour then?"
"Well... the people who saw my hair actually found it quite cool. A lot of them said it wasn't like old people's white hair, but a different sort of white... which I frankly don't quite get. Still, it's a unique part of me, and it'd be too troublesome to keep dying it again and again."
Upon arrival, Roger examined the exterior of the house. Looked pretty clean and fresh, so Dominic really did move in recently. It was rather large though, so decorations would probably take a while. One odd thing he did notice was that all the windows were obscured from the inside by dark curtains.
Dominic seemed to read his mind. "Oh don't be alarmed, I'm still in the process of moving stuff, so I don't want outsiders to see the horrendous mess inside! Plus there are quite a few treasures..."
"Fair enough." Roger responded. "Shall we get started?"
Phew! After some fiddling around, the decorations finally fell into place perfectly. The lights and ornaments added life to the house, as though some pixie dust were sprinkled on it and instantly made me more magical.
"Thanks so much, Roger! I really couldn't have done it alone."
"No problem at all. And wow, you really know how to choose your decorations wisely."
"Even with that, it'd be useless without someone to help orientate them correctly. Let me thank you in some way... how about we go have a drink together? I know a really good place."
"Huh? Oh it's okay, I don't deserve that much–"
"Don't be shy! This is the season where you are pretty much allowed to accept gifts and offers from others graciously. It'd also be a way for us to get to know each other better too."
Oh heck, the nap can wait. Dominic wasn't such a horrible fellow, unlike the colleagues that he had to deal with daily. At least he'd have a nice acquaintance to spend time with this Christmas.
The delicious chocolate liquid coursed down his throat, returning some of the healthy red glow back into Roger's face. He couldn't help but extend a grin and close his eyes, savouring the flavour.
"I told you the hot cocoa here was good, right? You really should come here more often. Especially around this season, when they feature live musicians performing Christmas classics!"
"Hmm... I don't think I'm that keen."
"Why not? Part of the Christmas experience is listening to carols and jingles, like the ones they're playing through the speakers now."
"Well... I don't really find too much meaning in them. They almost drive me insane."
Dominic took a sip of his warm milk. "That's kind of a shame. A lot of them are about enjoying the occasion with the ones you love, both in receiving and giving..."
"...which doesn't apply to me. My parents have moved somewhere to live in a completely different country, no doubt eager to leave me as soon as possible. All of my past schoolmates have grown apart. And I can't find anybody to be friends with, at my workplace or the other places where I frequent."
Roger gulped down another mouthful of his drink. "I guess I'm just hard to relate with."
Dominic frowned. "That doesn't mean you can't make friends with anybody else! For a start, we're already having an okay time together. I could be your friend."
He picked up another cookie and munched on it. "Tell you what, Roger, if you're not spending Christmas with anybody else, how about you come over to my place on Christmas night?"
Roger was kind of taken aback, and almost choked on the chocolate. This new neighbour he hardly met suddenly wants to invite him for a Christmas event? His friendliness is almost alien, frankly! Then again, Roger couldn't remember the last time he had been to anybody's Christmas party, and would usually just hibernate at home or loiter around in the streets at night. Might as well have fun this year.
"Sure, why not? Do I have to do anything? Bring gifts or food?"
"Oh don't worry, everything else can be taken care of by myself! But if you think that it'd be better on your conscience to bring presents, go ahead."
Dominic finished his glass of milk to the last drop. "You can help yourself to the remaining cookies. I have to run some errands. It was nice talking to you, Roger!"
Roger smiled and nodded back. The tall slender figure got up and briskly walked off, disappearing into the busy streets. What an interesting man, young with white hair, and with such a positive friendly personality. Maybe it would be nice to get to know him better that night.
"He's making a list, he's checking it twice, he's gonna find out who's naughty or nice..."
"Santa Claus is coming to town..." Roger quietly completed the line, before snacking on the cookies.
Mmm, not bad: chocolate and almond.