‘Tis the night before Christmas and hardware store owner Harry Pettit was all alone in his store with only his accounts and a recording of La Boheme for company. When someone knocks at the shop’s door, Harry is surprised to see a knight in full armour. Thinking it’s a drunken prank or a hold up, Harry is reluctant to let the knight in.
However, upon discovering the knight’s helmet is stuck closed, Harry’s good nature and the fact it’s Christmas has him invite the stranger inside.
Once freed from the helmet, Harry is immediately captivated by the shy man underneath the armour. Seems George White was destined to attend a fancy-dress party with his brother, but when the brother cancels, George, like Harry, finds himself with nothing else to do on Christmas Eve. So why not spend it together?
Can St. Nicholas deliver a happy Christmas and a good night to both men?
Warning: this short, holiday-themed story contains romance, poetry, snow, and a can of WD-40.
“Can you help me? I’m starting to feel claustrophobic in here.”
The man shifted, and Harry immediately thought he was about to keel over. “Here,” he took the knight’s arm, “come and sit down on this chair over here.” Once the man was settled, Harry asked, “Can I get you a glass of water or ...” He realised, too late, the knight wouldn’t be able to drink it through the visor. “Sorry.”
The man must have seen the funny side because he chuckled.
Harry regarded the knight for a moment before trying to lift the visor. There was a little give but not much. He didn’t think a sharp tug would help, and it might hurt the guy.
“Maybe some WD-40?” the armoured man suggested.
Harry smiled. He was reminded of the Hippocratic Oath. “First do no harm.”
“I put my life in your hands, doctor.”
Harry laughed. “Don’t think doctors would use WD-40. But I agree, I’d rather start with something like that that won’t do any harm to the helmet…or you.” He was embarrassed to realise he’d said that last out loud. To cover his slip, he moved away to retrieve a spray bottle of the requested product.
Returning, Harry debated where to stick the spray nozzle. The makers of the helmet had done a great job. It was all smooth lines and curves, no doubt designed to lessen the impact of any blows to the head. He studied the surface till he found what could have been the ends of the visor’s hinge pins. “Ready?”
“Definitely ready to get out of this thing. Wish now Toby hadn’t talked me into it.”
“Uh huh.” Harry assumed Toby was the guy’s boyfriend. Or was that just him wishing the knight were gay? He possessed excellent gaydar but it couldn’t penetrate a suit of armour. He had to smile at that thought. “Probably best take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can so you don’t breathe in the fumes.”
Harry shook his head, and began to squirt.
After a few seconds he stopped and tried to raise the visor again. It remained stubbornly closed.
“I could try the other side?” Harry suggested.
Harry repeated the process on the other side of the helmet, wiggling the nozzle about to help spread the WD-40.
This time, when he tried it, the visor moved a little, although still wouldn’t raise completely.
“I think you’re on the right track,” the guy said.
“Hope so. Okay, deep breath, and this time close your eyes.” Harry gave the can a quick shake and, with the visor lifted as far as It would go, squirted what parts he could reach.
The knight sneezed, the sound echoing in the confines of the helmet.
“Okay, shall we see if the last squirt did the trick?”
The knight sniffed wetly. “Open sesame.”
Whether Harry had just struck lucky with the WD-40 or the knight’s magic words had, uh, worked some magic, Harry didn’t know, but the visor lifted with barely a squeak of protest.