The fire crackled in front of the old bastard as he sat and supped on the third brandy he’d had since dinner. The rest of the family looked on, polite conversation having run out sometime between the first and second brandy. Every night, this Christmas had descended into this silent wait, with no one willing to go against the old man, because cruelly, they all wanted the inheritance when he eventually fell off his decrepit perch.

“Father, don’t you think it is time to go to bed?” Charles, the eldest son spoke up.

The old man grunted, then quietly said “Charles, come here.”

Charles stood and went to kneel next to his father, he hadn’t been this close to the old man for more than a decade. His father beckoned him to move closer, Charles slowly becoming aware of how the man smelt, sort of part dusty book, part rubbing alcohol and urine. A heady combination. He was so close now, that all he could really see was a small patch of the side of his father’s face, crinkled and thin like an old piece of lace. His father shifted slightly, turning his head towards his son.

“Do fuck off.”

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