Like most married couples, Allie and Tony have had their hard times. But when they are eventually forced to move from their house because of Tony's mistakes, things suddenly begin to change. Mark, their son, becomes convinced that their new next door neighbour, a grumpy old man called Jeremy, is none other than Santa Claus. But it's when he starts writing his letters to 'Santa' asking for his family to be happy and detailing his rather miserable school life, that events take a rather complicated turn . . . Love, romance and finding unexpected friends...the Wish List is all this and more...
Allie could pinpoint the exact
moment her life with Tony changed. It was
heralded by a ring on the doorbell at five o’clock on a mild Thursday afternoon
in May. Tony was work and Mark and Owen,
their two sons were playing football out the back garden. Owen stood in the
goalmouth, sucking his thumb as Mark kicked the ball at him. Owen made no
attempt to save the ball much to Mark’s delight.
“He’s only a baby,” Allie had
called as the ball whizzed dangerously close to Owen’s face, “will you give him a chance, Mark.”
“I am giving him a chance,” Mark
called back cheerily, “he’s just not making an effort.”
Alllie laughed and then the door
A well dressed man in a grey suit and shiny
shoes stood on her doorstep. His hair was cut military short so it was
impossible to say what colour it was. His face was pale and lean, his eyes were
blue. An ordinary face and instantly forgettable. Allie wondered idily what he was selling.
“Hi,” he said, his blue eyes
meeting hers, “I’m looking for Tony?”
“Tony?” She was puzzled. “He’s in
“Oh,” the man casually put his foot
just inside the door, “can you give him a message from Larry?”
Looking at his shiny shoe,
positioned so that she couldn’t slam the door on him, Allie’s legs grew suddenly
weak. It was at that moment that she knew that everything she’d tried to keep a
lid on was going to blow up in her face. All the stuff she’d tried to ignore
was coming to her doorstep at last.
“Larry?” she stammered, “we don’t
know a Larry.”
“Tony does,” the man said, smiling
at her which made things worse.
Allie swallowed and didn’t respond.
She knew if she spoke her voice would shake. She was afraid too that she might
say the wrong thing.
“So,” the man said, “can you give
him a message from Larry?”
“Tell him that unless he pays Larry
what he owes by next week, he’ll be minus a limb, OK?”
It took a moment before Allie
digested the threat.She swallowed hard.
“What do you mean?” her voice trembled.
“Mammy,” Mark yelled, “I hit Owen
in the face with the ball.”
Owen could be heard howling from
out the back garden.
“Look after him, Mark,” Allie
called back without taking her eyes from the man in the suit. “I’ll be there in
Mark appeared in the hall. “I don’t
know what to do, his nose is bleeding.”
“Go back outside,” Allie snapped.
“Go back outside and don’t come in until I tell you, right.”
“But Owen –
She knew he jumped but she could
sense him leaving.
“Cute kid,” the man said. “You’ve
two, is it?”
“That’s not your business,” Allie
said fiercely, forgetting her momentary terror. “My children are not your
The man gave a shrug. “Everything
is my business until I get paid.”
“What does he owe you?” Her voice
was stronger, firmer. She had to know, to find out how bad things were. To sort
this mess out and keep her family safe.
“Has he not told you?” The man
raised an eyebrow. To the casual observer, he’d look as if he found something
“You tell me how much he owes or
you leave right now,” Allie said.
The man’s eyes narrowed and
suddenly he didn’t look so ordinary. “Oooh,” he said, “I won’t be going
anywhere until I get my money.” He smiled.
Allie recoiled as the smile only
served to emphasise the coldness in his eyes. “How much does he owe you?” Despite
her best efforts, her voice trembled.
“Fifty thousand and I’ll want it by
Allie felt the world begin to spin.
She knew this man calling to the house was no accident. It was done to frighten
them. If he knew Tony like he said, then he knew Tony had got work after losing
his last few jobs. This was to show that he knew where Tony lived. That he
could get to him if he wanted. “You’ll get it,” she said. “I promise.”
“Good,” the man nodded. “Next
Allie watched him walk away, his
hands casually tucked into the pockets of his suit. He hopped into a car and
She closed the door, her whole body
shaking. Then she made two phone calls, speaking calmly into the receiver, before
slumping to the floor of the hall where her two kids found her ten minutes