Read an Exerpt of Bad Timing

Some things never changed. He slammed the empty glass down on the polished bar top harder than he had intended and the bartender took it as a signal for another refill, but Ezra shook his head and got up from the barstool. Drinking alone in an airport lounge on Christmas Eve was not part of any agenda he had in mind. If he wanted to drink alone he could just as easily do it in his apartment.

The bartender sketched a quick salute in acknowledgment of the generous tip: "Merry Christmas!"

Ezra quickly turned and left. Yeah. Merry Christmas.

He left the BMW in the car park. In his experience anger, alcohol and driving a car were an unhealthy combination, and with two strikes already against him he had no intention of inviting strike three. There were enough idiots out on the roads without him adding to their number. He opted instead for a cab. He gave his Harborside address and sat back as the yellow cab eased away from the kerb suddenly glad that he could relax as a passenger. Let the driver stress over the holiday traffic.

The cab driver talked in the way of cab drivers the world over. Ezra listened, while a separate part of his mind dwelled on the fact that he was heading home to an empty apartment when he should have been heading north to the snowfields and the prospect of good food, good company and the closest thing to a seasonal family gathering that he was ever likely to get.

The cab driver was heading home too. Ezra was his last fare. He was going home to his wife and kids. Sure I lose out on the extra money. I mean it's Christmas and all and everyone wants a cab, you know what I mean? But what the hell, I wouldn't miss being with my kids at Christmas for a million bucks. He laughed; a bright and joyous sound. A happy man. Well, maybe for a million but not for a few lousy bucks of overtime.

Ezra ended the ride a few blocks from his apartment. The cabby had unknowingly struck a nerve with his endlessly cheerful talk of family and home, and suddenly it seemed preferable to walk the rest of the way and there was a 7-Eleven just around the corner. He gave the cab driver a hundred for a ten dollar fare. Go home to your kids.

He walked away from the kerb, hunching deeper into his overcoat as the chill wind bit into exposed skin and his breath clouded in the frosty air. He felt better for having at least spread a little goodwill of his own; but hell, what was a c-note to him? Money he had, but it was cold comfort right now. Suspecting that he still had a lot more in common with Ebenezer Scrooge than Bob Cratchit, he headed for the convenience store and made a mental note to make that at least a quart of sour mash.