(Missed a Chapter? Click on ‘Elf On The Shelf’ on the top menu to find your place and catch up!)
Nobody was really watching the TV, which was cheerfully counting down the Top 100 Christmas Songs Of The Last 25 Years, whilst they ate fish and chips off their laps with their fingers. There were three professional cleaners attacking their kitchen, trying to make it look and smell less like a rubbish dump. They’d been in there all day, and it was nearly 6pm now.
Dad had called the police yesterday and they’d been and looked around, taken statements and told them to call again if anything else happened.
James was fairly sure they thought it was one of his friends or something, they had asked an awful lot of questions about who was in his class and if he’d recently fallen out with anyone. They hadn’t looked convinced when he said he hadn’t had chance to fall out with anyone because he’d been grounded for half the month because of things the elf had done.
In fact, the way they had looked at each other made him feel distinctly like they thought he was losing the plot. Or else a crazy liar.
James didn’t know what had happened to the elf. He hadn’t seen it since yesterday evening and nobody had mentioned it. He hoped Mum and Dad had made the police take it away, although he couldn’t imagine how they’d have persuaded them. Convincing police officers to arrest a toy elf was not something James imagined to be particularly easy.
All the same, nothing terrible had happened today, unless you counted the house smelling like rotten food and not being able to just go in the kitchen to grab a drink or anything like that. When Lola had wanted to go outside because it was trying to snow, they’d had to go out of the front door and walk around the side of the house because they couldn’t get to the back door.
The TV reached the final stages of its countdown – just one ad-break to go and then it was the TOP THREE! The presenters were very excited about it and Mum and Dad were guessing what they were going to be, encouraging James and Lola to join in using voices that were so forcedly cheerful even Lola was looking at them strangely.
“Come on, Lola! What do you think it’s going to be at the top?” asked Dad, waving a mostly-cold chip at the TV.
“Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin flew away! Uncle Bil-”
“That’s enough of that version, Lola Ann!” Mum warned, glaring at James who had to hide a guilty smirk. He had taught it to Lola when he’d been grounded and Mum was not amused in the slightest.
“I bet it’s that charity one that they always play on the radio,” said James, trying to avoid a lecture.
The programme came back on and they all turned to watch as two fully grown adults in snowman suits skipped around the screen shouting ‘HERE WE GO!’ and throwing snowballs at each other and the camera.
Just as the number three song was about to start playing there was a knock at the front door. James got sent to answer it, grumbling all the way about missing the big announcement.
On the doorstep was a policeman, he looked cold and grumpy and kept glancing back at his colleague who was sat in their panda car by the kerb and appeared to be struggling to keep a straight face.
“Evening. James, isn’t it?”
“I’ve just come to return this. We found it in one of the cars that had been to visit you yesterday. It was sat on the dashboard this morning, and the car was dead. Someone forgot to turn the lights off we think. Anyway, they remembered it being in the kitchen at your house and asked someone to drop it back.” The policeman pulled Damien out of his pocket and held him out.
James didn’t move. “How did he get in the car?”
The policeman shrugged. “Beats me. Everyone claims they had nothing to do with it and last they’d seen of it was in your kitchen. Said you weren’t right keen on him, mind.”
James didn’t miss the amused look on the officer’s face and frowned in response. “I’m not. You can keep him. We don’t want him back. He’s called Damien and he’s nothing but trouble. We tried throwing him away and you heard what happened next. He didn’t like it in the bin. You’re lucky he just flattened your car battery and didn’t blow it up or something.” James stepped back. “Thanks for coming round though. Merry Christmas!”
He shut the door firmly before the policeman could reply and made it back to the front room just as the adverts started again. He’d missed the whole thing.
“Who was it?” asked Mum as he sat back down.
“Just some bloke collecting money for charity. I gave him 50p and he went next door. What came top then?”