Maybe it was coincidence that a Christmas week story reminded me of an O. Henry story. In “The Gift of the Magi,” a couple each give up what is most valuable to them in order to give something to the other.
Roy and Gary give each other their loyalty. Having both been driven to desperation, they hurt each other. In two scenes Wednesday, each takes the blame for what happened. They do so in ways true to their character: Roy tells the complete truth, Gary lies. Their end purpose is the same, to absolve the other of wrongdoing.
The young hooligans are harassing Roy again. They brag about looking through the things in his apartment. They disparage Hayley, their worst sin in his eyes.
Gary’s family is treating him like a pariah, for becoming involved with Ayla rather than returning to Izzy as they had hoped, for having lost his job due to his involvement with Ayla, for having borrowed money from Faye to buy his son a Christmas gift and then having the bad luck to buy something his mother had already bought. Gary’s bad luck is compounded by accidentally breaking “Faye’s one big Christmas present we all clubbed together to get her”.
Gary uses Anna’s keys to go into the café to rob it. He does not know what has been happening with Roy, nor how on edge he is. Roy hears noise, grabs his cricket bat, goes downstairs and wallops the young man in the hoodie with his hands in the till. But he doesn’t stop there. On the street, he continues hitting him.
Sinead sees and is horrified by Roy’s violence. She is gentle like Roy, and seeing him out of control terrifies her more, perhaps, than it would any one else.
Roy is arrested and he tells exactly what happened and refuses to press charges against Gary. For Roy, his own actions outweigh what Gary was trying to do. In the hospital, when questioned, Gary says Roy only hit him once and that his extensive injuries came from him falling. “I must bruise easily,” he says.
When Roy comes home, he sees the young louts have scrawled “wierdo” on the café window. Roy’s only comment is, “they spelled it wrong.”