((with thanks to Stargirl Macbain, who writes much faster than me))
Tenk entered the Gangplank as Stargirl doused what was left of the wharf piling he had brought her, wet and dripping, over two weeks ago. He took his hatchet and split the remains into kindling, taking care not to soil the suit and hat he reserved for formal functions and balls.
“Put this somewhere safe,” Tenk said, holding out a charred stick of wood to the bartender, “Don’t let her see where you hide it.”
Ianone nodded and took it from him. Once again the Gangplank was in chaos, but this time the burly-boys were picking up the sticks of kindling that had once been the Yule log. Tenk scooped up the largest piece and held it up and, Ianone later wasn’t quite sure, he may have begun to sing in a soft, reedy voice, that was immediately swallowed up by the more boisterous voices of all the burley-boys save one, Henry, who merely
smiled so largely it was practically a song in itself.
They trooped from the Gangplank, carrying on the refrain as they wended their way toward The Gut:
Kindle the Christmas Brand and then
Till Sunneset let it burne;
When quencht then lay it up agen,
Till Christmas next returne.
Part must be kept where with to tend
The Christmas log next yeare;
And where ’tis safely kept the Fiend,
Can do no mischiefe there.
And soon they were at the other end of Abney Parkway, gazing up at the house with the red painted windows. Behind the glass, unseen, but there without a doubt, stood Mr. Loosestrife.
“Righto, boys,” said Tenk. “Whatever happens, no matter what I might say, you have your orders. Don’t stop singing. Get in and get out as fast as you can.”
The men swarmed inside, singing out and pounding the tune on the walls and floor, stashing the brands beneath loose stones and floorboards. When they were done they left again together, all except one.
Tenk stayed behind for a long moment, looking larger than any person as small as he is has any right to look. He gave the doorframe a kick as he exited the house and slammed the door behind him.
“Ippity Bibbity Boo, you fucking bastard.”