The front door crashed open and its big brass handle punched yet another dent in the hallway wall. Tiny bits of plaster fell onto the carpet. The temperature plummeted 20% as the north facing entrance sucked in the freezing January air; it was so cold even brass monkeys weren’t coming out.
Jackie stood there, quivering in either cold or annoyance.
“Mum, can you help me get Chris into the house? He’s drunk too much again and passed out. I can’t manage him on my own, he’s too heavy.”
She pointed to her car parked outside, the chugging engine puffing out clouds of white smoke into the frozen air. Through the misted window I could just make out a figure slumped against the passenger door.
They’d gone out earlier to the local pub for an Anniversary celebration drink. I hadn’t asked exactly what the special occasion was they were celebrating, but I didn’t think it was to toast the first time they had met at college.
I found my thickest coat and put it on. This was definitely going to be a two woman job. Chris just couldn’t hold his drink; after a few cans of strong lager, he just went out like a light and nothing could get him into a sober state for hours. From past experience, when we’d had to cope with him sprawled on my front lawn talking to the snowdrops, I knew we had got a challenge.
“Try waking him up,” I suggested. Silly, really, I knew that wouldn’t work, but Jackie tapped on the passenger window, yelling, “Chris, wake up, come on, we’re home. Chris, Chris, wake up.” Nothing.
I turned the engine off. The car snorted, shuddered and then there was silence.
“Come on,” I said, “It’s far too cold to mess about. We’ll have to get him indoors as best we can.”
Jackie opened the passenger door and Chris toppled out. As gravity took over, there was a nasty cracking noise when his skull hit the frozen tarmac. He lay there, face down, not moving, either still out for the count or now in a coma.
“Quick, we’ve got to do something,” cried Jackie.
“Moving him out of the middle of the road might be a good idea,” I suggested as we looked down on this seemingly lifeless figure.
So we turned him over, grabbed a leg each and pulled, but so cold was the road that Chris’s windcheater had begun to fuse into the ice. As we tugged, it slowly began to peel off, so we abandoned it, leaving it spread eagled on the tarmac. The skating-rink surface allowed us to slide Chris’s body along, although now with only a T shirt covering his torso, bits of flesh were starting to part company with his elbows.
His head clonked against the kerbstone as we relentlessly hauled him along, eagerly heading for the front door and the warmth of the house. The garden path was a trickier obstacle, being uphill and in a rough state, but we’d both got the bit between out collective teeth and we didn’t dare stop now. The loss of even more flesh from Chris’s arms resulting in spots of blood on the rubble, made me wonder if he might be in urgent need of plastic surgery.
There was the minor obstacle of two big concrete steps leading up to a high plastic strip along the base of the double-glazed door. It seemed cruel to drag Chris feet first up the steps, so we spun his body around on a thick patch of ice and grabbed an arm each. It would have been easier to have got a heavy and unyielding bag of compost into the house. We couldn’t move him.
“You take his legs instead,” suggested Jackie, “I’ll pull, you push.”
We were now both becoming weakened from our amateur efforts at body removal and the biting cold. A few gentle slaps around Chris’s face and an encouraging, “Come on, get up,” failed to produce any results. Neither did a hard shove and “Will you f*** well wake up,” when panic began to set in.
Having found our second wind we managed to drag Chris partly up the steps, so his head, at least, was now laid on the softness of the hallway carpet, although his lower half was still outside. I climbed over him and we both grabbed the thick belt of his jeans and gave another almighty pull. He slithered inwards a few further inches. But we hadn’t quite thought things through. Our hallway is tiny with an inward opening door; two adults and a body laid out on the floor presented us with a situation which could be best described as overcrowded. His long legs were still hanging over the doorstep, one foot now minus a trainer that had been scraped off in the last upwards heave.
We needed to swing Chris’s body 45 degrees, enabling us to shove him into the front room; a body that was now either stiffening up from the freezing conditions or succumbing to rigor mortis. Then we found out that the hallway carpet seemed to have developed amazingly adhesive qualities, Chris wasn’t moving anywhere. The inside temperature was now sub-zero and sinking fast, flakes of snow were starting to blow in, spattering damp patches on his jeans.
“Oh, God, we’ve got to get this door shut, or we’ll all freeze to death,” I cried.
There was only one answer; we grabbed his legs, folded them up onto his torso, so his feet were under his nose, and roughly bundled him into the front room. There he gently thawed in the heat of the fire as we put his limbs back into their right places.
“Oh, this is nice,” he said, snuggled into a more comfortable position and then started snoring so loudly the china ornaments on the mantelpiece rattled.
Jackie put a cushion under his head, threw a duvet over him, and said, “I think we’ll leave him there until morning. I’m not even going to try to get him up those thirteen steps to our bedroom.”