Leaving the police station, a cold breeze strokes the neck, uncovered by the green raincoat. In the streets, no one or rarely someone runs looking for a shelter from the imminent rain or trying to not being late for the appointment in a too-lighted house, with his own family.
Family. It's a word that should bring happiness, a smile. Yet, what the detective can feel is... Nostalgia? Melancholy? Guilt? "Probably I just miss them" he tells himself.
Maybe in fact work has occupied him too much during the year, depriving to Kamila the fatherly attention every child deserves. The little girl however, despite the age, knows his father's job, dangers and the dedication required for conducting every case as best one can. This feature makes the girl smart, inquiring but especially mature.
The father doesn't want to disappoint her in the... merriest? Most colourful? Most joyful day? Even Jowd, extraordinary detective that he is, with an excellent 10-years career and an admired reputation, can't fathom what's so magical in the night between the 24th and the 25th December.
Despite the motive of this festivity not clear to him, he can immediately deduce what's the most suitable gift for the little girl: some months ago, when Jowd was supposed to bring her back from her friend Amelie's party, she couldn't quit staring at the wodden carillon, meticulously decorated by silver and floral drawings.
Oh, there it is, behind the window prepared with great elegance. A ticket says Sales 550$ - 500$. Never. Entering in the shop looking for a cheaper product he finds the Offers and used section. Right there a smaller massive cube, without decorations if not some ruined in bas-relief, is waiting just for being bought at the cheap cost of 36 dollars. Jowd asks the shop assistant if she can make the carillon work and she obeys. The cover opens as the key charges the old creaking engine, a rusted ballerina comes in the view and, not anymore with the greatest grace but with class, she exhibits the acts prescribed by the cogs, ending with a pirouette.
As she's come, she disappears. As it's opened, it closes.
"I buy it." he says with a smile.
Even if not as elegant and expensive as the Amelie's one, Kamila doesn't care of appearance. Her first thought as a curiosity toward machines has become in a real passion: she has started with dismantling watches or ruined domestics engines, maybe for "understanding the machinery language", like she always say. But her interest has been revealed 5 years ago, in the 27th Alma's birthday: she switches on the light, activating the fan, making a ball fall earlier placed on one of the blades, for falling in domino fashion the glass vases, for charging a spring, for activating a lighter, for firing the arrow the cupid carries that rises, the cupid turns and-
Heart pulses are faster, like in that day. He was supposed to come home calmly, and yet he ran in the streets, pushing the unaware passer-by aside. In the moment he entered he protected Alma with his own body.
But from what?
From some party poppers? From the fire running on the invisible wires, taking back order in the room? From a Kamila that jumped out from the sideboard, smiling for her accomplished mission, calling his father a killjoy? From an Alma amazed by the work her 8 years old child invented and built all by herself for her? From a cat that accompanied the young winner?
Since the world began everything was normal, but Jowd can swear to the God's that for an instant he saw an always shorter fuse dangled on the askew frame with the old pistol, ready to fire. "A perfect murder." he repeated himself. But what murder? It was just a birthday surprise made by his daughter!
A gentle touch on the nose wakes him, the head toward where stars should be, a shower of water molecules drop from the corners of the sky, In free fall. Jowd runs for a shelter, covering his hair with the collar of the coat. He focuses again to his memories.
"Yeah, I broke the gift, that time." While protecting his wife, a bag evaded from the pocket, ending under the big man's impact. It was a perfume with a sickening fragrance for him, delicious to lady's noses, at least that's what that shop assistant said 5 years ago. Well, if smelling like rotten eggs is called fashion, good for them. Not that Jowd understands of fashion, as it isn't a knowledge required in the justice servant's exam. As a man he could claim that there isn't a better fragrance than the warm chickens' one: a mouth-watering meal. Funny that even Lynne is of the same opinion.
Anyway, finished the shopping and ready to go back home, he rethinks of a recent conversation started by Kamila, extremely worried (or enraged?) for Sissel.
"Dad, I think I know why Sissy is so sad."
"Really?" even if in theory the detective should detect (ahahah) the motive of the cat's asociality, it's still a mystery even for him.
She nods. "Have you noticed that Santa Klaus forgets him? - she frowns, taking it personally - Could you please remind that poor old man that someone never received a gift?!"
"Calm down, eh. - he laughs for breaking the tension, a bit offended - I mean, he gives represents to all the children in the world, it's normal that he may forgets of som-"
"But not Sissy! He's special! And besides forgetting him for all these years! It doesn't fair! I would be angry as well for never receiving a gift!"
Jowd realizes she's exstremely serious, her pully cheeks for rage and the fingers linked one another wrap the palm, on her sides. A smile grows on its own on his face: children's naïvety and semplicity is so fascinating, too bad it fades with the age. "Don't worry, leave it to me."
Sissel is in the family for 10 years, after Temsik's accident, found unconscious by the young Lynne. As justice paladin and good example, Jowd decided to take him home. Decided, because now he regrets it and not just a little: Alma is constantly worried for his conditions seeing the fact that in the first years he didn't go on hunger for days, aware at night and hidden in the highest furniture, situation completely different now. With her, Kamila tries to talk to him - yes, literally - but looks like this method is pointless. Jowd, if it were for him - would give him to an expert: consulting vet wasn't helping, though.
"Maybe Kamila is even right..."
Despite his non-stop frown, Sissel is still used to bring rodents' corpse hunging from his mouth, giving them to Jowd and Alma, even though the latter witnessed few episodes.
It's time to say stop to mouse's at home!
Luckly he sees a pet shop about to close. He runs toward the entrance.
The assistant watches him, letting him in. They walk in the shelves. "I can't believe to see someone making a gift to his faithful companion."
Jowd smiles to the mistake. "Actually it's for a cat."
Stupor in his eyes. "Really? Who could tell you are a cat person. Anyway - he's serious instantly - do you already know what to buy? You know, the shop closes soon..."
"Right, I'm sorry. I'm looking for a fake rat."
"Sure, this way, please."
The assistant leads him to the game's section, full of hairy balls, platforms, bones to bite, several puppets and ropes resistant to jerks, claws and canines. Right there, a grey rat, not too hairless and not too hairy, normal sized, stays in a plastic box. It's obviously a fake, but it's unrecognizable than a living exemplar for a cat. Probably. Hope...
Going in the counter, the shop assistant points him the Accessory section. "There is a promotion and you can take for free a product from this section that costs less than 10 dollars."
A bit annoyed, Jowd checks the section, finding a... red neckerchief? Instinctively, or for an inexplicable motive, he takes the scarf and brings it on the counter, paying the bill in silence. Put everything in the paper bag and ignoring the guy's greetings, the detective checks the bag, a scarlet fabric took back from the darkness of the bottom. Is he gone mad? Of everything he could take, from collars and personalized nametag, a red neckerchief, pointless and anonymous?
Yet, he knows that tonight he will don that exact foular, or at least should.
"Maybe because it's Christmas themed." He tells himself, laughing at his joke.
Now he can finally go back home, without not noticing the rain' s stopped pouring instantly. The cause is unknown.