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Junkie Bells 

 The winds were playing hell with the sleigh tonight, and Santa was pulling up hard on the reins… trying to bring this flying shit-bucket down to the slightly inclined and snow covered urban street below. To make matters worse, most of the streetlights drooped with darkened impotence, standing as mute witnesses to the harsh realities of inner-city blight and municipal neglect. Santa really couldn't see if the left-side lane was completely clear, and considered briefly going around once more… to try and come in at another spot with hopefully better lighting. As if sensing this uncertainty, the reindeer began to balk; up front and in the lead position, Rudolph looked to be actually about to abort the attempt without discussion.

  Fuck it, Santa decided. We're going in, and pulled up on the reins with real authority, quashing the burgeoning mutiny before it could gain any steam.

  The steel runners hit the hard-packed snow and bounced hard three times, scattering packages and boxes into the night air like buckshot. One runner finally gained purchase as the team and sleigh flew hell-for-breakfast down the dirty street, while the other now leaned up and out like a dog pissing at a fire hydrant.

  Shit, Volkswagon!  His mind screamed at him as the evidence of his eyes hit the grey matter behind them. There it sat in the darkened left lane; up on blocks and with that curved hood looking back at him like an insipid grin. Leaning hard to the right with his substantial bulk, the right runner too finally came down… allowing just enough time to avoid an outright head-on collision. Santa felt the impact as the sleigh caught the edge of the front bumper while going past, and he could clearly hear the sound of the old pine-lined left panel cracking and splintering. Could'a been a lot worse he thought as his ride finally ground itself to a halt.

  Santa leaned back on the little bench, his cheeks puffing as he blew out a sigh of relief.

  He looked and saw Rudolph peering back at him abashedly over his shoulder.

  "Try that crap again," he said evenly, "and I might just get me a hankerin' for venison… get my drift chief?"

  Rudolph dropped his gaze and shuffled his hooves nervously.

  Santa reached beneath his dark red coat and fished out a small flask. Tilting it up to his eager lips, he took three long swallows before replacing the cap and hiding it away again.

 "WHEW!" he wheezed, taking a moment to let it warm his blood a little. Back in the day, there was always warm eggnog in the flask he kept hidden under his coat; just recently, however, it mostly carried Jack Daniel's.

  All right, he thought with resignation. Let's get this circus over with.

  As he reached for the handrail to lift himself from the bench to the ground below, an obvious tremor ran through his large and somewhat wizened hand. He sat motionless again for a few moments, staring at the trembling member with disdain.

  Christ… here it comes, he thought. This is gonna go from bad to worse in a big-ass hurry too. He briefly considered the flask again before dismissing it wholesale. It really didn't help much, and was like fighting a forest fire with a squirt-gun.

  Santa has a bad habit, and Santa is hurting.

  It's funny how this sort of thing can just sneak up on you; a pinch here, a snort there… just a little something to take the edge off of things. You know how it is. The world speeds up, the world changes, and everyone who remembered how it once was are now deep into Dirtnap City. Not a lot of focus and support for an old and nearly-forgotten mythical creature like himself. The shine and even wonder of such things are long gone, and nothing seems to really sparkle anymore.

  So sure, you tell yourself this is just to get you over a rough patch… you're gonna quit this shit just as soon as you get things back on track a bit. It's not like you're using all the time or anything.

  But once he started fixing, the veil of rationalization was lifted from his old eyes. Santa was hooked through the bag, and no longer jerked himself off with any thoughts of alternatives. Santa needed to get well, and pretty damned soon too. Santa needed to find a fix.

  He has already had his "moment of clarity" as the disciples of NA refer to it in their religion of powerlessness, and knows well that some things simply remain beyond repair; straight, sober, or flat bombed out of his hairy white gourd, his time was ending… and ending badly. Anybody wants to point fingers, you just go right on ahead, he thought with bitter disdain. You made me what I was in the beginning, and you sure as hell made me what I am now.

  Mrs. Claus too has departed, having apparently decided to exchange an eternity of this sort for blessed oblivion. Soon after, the elves walked… and the whole kit-and-shitting-kaboodle was left for him to manage alone. Who could really blame him for needing a little help? Here he was all alone at the Pole with nothing but a handful of mangy fleabag reindeer, which he of course had to feed and tend to daily. Another year like this, he mused darkly, and even Rudolph might start looking good to me. Santa needs to find himself a ho ho HO.

  He caught himself scratching at his arm and made himself stop. Pulling up his long coat sleeve, he studied his arm with a clinical detachment; dark lines were running from the crook of his elbow and upwards like gangbusters. Immortal or no, I should likely do something about that soon, he thought, and pulled the red sleeve back down over his golden arm.

  His old black boots crunched in the snow as he heaved himself up and out of the sleigh and to the ground. He took a look up and down the dark street, assessing the situation and getting his bearings. Apparently he was alone out here, and began to relax a bit. Sure I am… nobody else stupid enough to be out at 3 a.m. on a night like this, and in this neighborhood, he thought to himself.

  He started scanning the porches of the old and somewhat run-down buildings, his gaze passing and then quickly returning to a small brownstone off to the left. The numbers were supposed to read 666, but the last digit had come unhinged and was hanging askew, nearly upside down. 666 Nicholas Street, he said to himself. This is the place all right.  

  Santa knew (in that way that Santa magically knows just about everything) that a little girl named Cicelia lived here… Cicie to her friends. He also knew that her mother was a pretty good woman, who struggled endlessly to simply feed her child and keep her clothed. Problem was, the girl's father was pretty much your run-of-the-mill dirt-bag; in and out of jail with regular frequency and on perpetual parole. Another one of those guys who simply feel like they're somehow entitled to anything they want, and in any way they can get it. When he was around, there wasn't a lot of resources left for little Cicie. If it came down to a pack of smokes for him or a school lunch for her, Cicie invariably went hungry.

  Santa started rifling through his pile of bags, picking out a few brightly colored, ribbon-bound boxes to take in and leave for Cicie. They contained a doll, a little tea-set, and of course some nice and new warm clothes for her; Santa intended her to return to school after the holiday break looking pretty darn spiffy, and ease her embarrassment over her well-patched but old wardrobe. Shit-for-brains is not likely going to want to try and sell this stuff, Santa knew.

  He tucked them all in his delivery bag and proceeded to the porch. Dim light slithered out of a small window next to the door, and he peered in to see what to expect.

  There he was, bigger than life and twice as ugly. The dirt-bag was laid out as comfy as you please on the living-room couch, not much unlike a dog turd laying out in the yard… an unwelcome sight and stinking up the place to boot. Unencumbered by employment, he was of course wide awake in the middle of the night and watching a stolen little television set on the coffee table before him. He balanced a tall 40 zone of beer on his substantial belly, which was only partially obscured by the dirty tee-shirt struggling unsuccessfully to cover it. The sound of "The Price is Right" drifted lazily to Santa's ears as he watched the dirt-bag scratch at his crotch.

  Warm and cozy on the couch, Spencer T. Jefferson (T-Rock on the streets) nodded in and out on a very comfortable high, thank you very much. He was onto some pretty dope smack, and had managed to finagle himself a substantial little supply. One little problem had presented itself, which he quickly resolved with the back of his hand. That bitch he was married to had tried to hold out on him! Got herself a big, fat ol' juicy check from the church relief fund from down-street… almost $2000. Tried to hide all those dead presidents, and when he found them (he made a regular habit of rifling her purse for change, and saw the wad stuffed into a little corner on the bottom) she then had the unmitigated temerity to tell him how the finances went in his own house. How that stupid little rug-monkey cunt needed to see a dentist, for fuck's sake. Said it was her house, and that she scrubbed toilets all day to keep this roof over their heads. Started screaming at him like a crazy bitch. No one would put up with that shit, and he put her down fast as was his sovereign right and responsibility.

  With all things set straight in the world again, such were the lofty thoughts of T-Rock when the front door exploded inwards like the arrival of a S.W.A.T. team. It bounced harshly back from the wall and rained broken glass everywhere, making T-Rock jump and drop his foaming beer to the floor. A large darkened figure filled the doorway entirely, and T-Rock's hand quickly slipped under the cushion to bring out his gat.

  "Eat this, mother-FUCKER!" he screamed as he leveled the .45 Colt automatic at the intruder. T-Rock always carried a .45; those bloods who favored the 9mm have just seen too many damned videos. A .45 was a BIG slug from a big gun, and always knocked a mother-fucker flat. Don't ever give 'em the chance to fire back, that was T-Rock's policy. He knew how to survive on the streets.

  This stupid fuck was sure making it easy, but T-Rock smiled… knowing this sort of thing would still add to his creds on the streets. The heavy automatic jumped in his hand as he repeatedly pulled the trigger nearly point-blank at the figure rapidly approaching his little nest of repose. It was amazingly loud in this small space, and the room instantly filled with the acrid smell of cordite.

  Problem was, the mother-fucker was still coming. The pictures which hung on the wall behind the guy jumped and exploded, but the dude himself not only pointedly did not go flat, but just kept advancing evenly towards the couch. The slide on his gat sat locked open now, signaling the end of what the clip had to give the situation. He looked at it stupidly with his mouth hanging open, and the guy reached forward casually and plucked it, still smoking, right out of his hand… sticking it in and under the big black belt around his waist like they sometimes did in old cowboy movies. Frozen in place and gape-jawed, he saw the fist coming but was nonetheless powerless to do anything about it. It seemed as big as a Cornish hen, and caught him flush under the jaw with enough inertia to send him back into the couch again, bouncing his head against the wall it was pressed to and re-bounding him to sprawl flat on the large coffee table. His head and shoulders finally came to rest on the wood surface, and two teeth leapt from his still-open mouth to rattle bloodily across the table. Things began to swim for a few moments, and he simply laid there like a sack of grain.

  After a bit things come back into focus, and he brings his head up to scan the room; the freak is still right there in the place, walking about from room to room as if looking for something. Coming back into the living room, he drops the big sack he's toting and stands over T-rock, surveying him.

  "No tree?" the freak asks.

  T-Rock is not so sure he heard that right. "What?" he asks.

  "You didn't even bother getting her a tree, did you Tinkerbell?" the freak asks, obviously a rhetorical question.

  T-Rock is getting his senses back, and tries to re-gain some control over the situation.

  "Lissen up, you ol' white-bread mayonnaise mother-fucker," he says, getting to his feet and spraying blood from his mouth with every syllable. "I don't know who the fuck you are or what you might be about, but you just bought yourself a stone my man. I am gonna fuck you up something righteous!"

  T-Rock shoved the table to one side, sending the little television bouncing noisily across the hardwood floor, and reached up to grab a big handful of mother-fucker. T-Rock was a big man, and as such was fully accustomed to having his way in most physical confrontations. Mostly people just plain didn't want to fuck with him, and on those few occasions when someone did, he took an almost sensual pleasure in busting them up with practiced ease.

  This crazy mother-fucker was big too, kind of John Wayne big… a real burly old fuck with a belly the size of a keg. T-Rock had no intention of taking any chances with this loony-tunes bastard, and was going to bring it all hard and fast… and then stomp him mercilessly when he lay on the floor crying.

  The freak, however, simply lays a single hand flat against T-Rock's substantial chest and shoves him back casually… in fact shoves him so hard and easily, it's as if he were no more than a small child. Between the time he actually leaves his feet and the time he is slammed against the wall a good 6 feet back, T-Rock has adjusted his appraisal… deciding wisely to abandon this approach. He drops as if boneless to the dirty linoleum, and then the guy is standing over him again.

  "Where's the kid?" the freak asks.

  "Who the fuck are you?" T-Rock responds with genuine interest.

  Crack! With uncanny speed, the freak has pulled the Colt from his belt and brought it across T-Rock's gleaming skull. He is being pistol-whipped like a bitch, and with his own gun. It is again placed in the belt casually.

  "I asked you a question Spence, and I want an answer. I want it fast, and I want it without your simpering lip."

  "Don't you call me that, my name's T-Ro…"

  Crack Crack! 

  "AHHHHH!! T-Rock mewls, his beefy arms now cradling his bleeding head.

  The gun is again replaced in the belt.

  "You're a slow learner, but I can do this all night Spence… I'll never get tired of it. And I know your name; Spencer T. Jefferson, the "T" standing for Theodore. Your mother named you after Teddy Roosevelt, and isn't that just a laugh riot? I mean, seeing how you've so obviously spent your whole life living up to your namesake… I'll just bet you make old Mom just beam with pride."

  Spencer 'T-Rock' Jefferson peered at him cautiously from the protective tangle of limbs wrapped around his head. "How you know my name? I know you ain't the Po-Po."

  "No, Spence… I'm not the "Po-Po", or your parole officer, or even your conscience. The name is Santa Claus… Nick to my friends."

  "Yeah, sure man, whatever you say," T-Rock says. This guy didn't look like no Santa he ever heard of. Maybe Biker Claus. Okay, sure… the suit looks like it might have been red in some decade long past; it was hard to tell, as it was pretty damned tattered and had more stains than a two dollar whore's mattress. The pants too were in a similar state of deterioration, and were ripped out at the crotch… exposing rags which may have once been undergarments. And you really couldn't call that beard white either; it was an unkempt, tangled, and nicotine-tinged yellow mess, with what appeared to be food particles distributed generously throughout. Peeking out of the mess was at least one dead tooth in a row of many determined to follow its lead. And his breath smelled like a dead rat marinated in whisky. "Except, like… it's the 28th of December, dig? Christmas is over."

  "I got a late start. Where's the kid Spence? I know she was here just a little while ago"

  "Marcie'n me had us a little static, aint no big thang. She took Cecie to her Momma's down-street for a bit," T-Rock says, slowly lowering his arms as the tone of the conversation calmed a little. Just some old street crazy, he thought to himself. Pretty soon he'll start hearin' voices outside or somethin' and totter the fuck out of here. Just play it cool man. 

  The old crazy fuck leveled his gaze at him, saying "You're just gonna keep on coming back, aren't you Spence? Gonna keep on slapping her down every time she tries to make something work for this family, and you'll keep showing up every time you think there might be a nickel in her purse… right? Hurting and taking, that's what you know, isn't it? You're just never going to go away on your own, are you?"

  Spence was getting ready to lip off again, and pointed his finger. 'Hey, this is my house, and…"

  Santa didn't really hear the rest. His undivided attention was now focused exclusively on T-Rock's extended arm. Track marks. Fresh.

  Santa's eyes narrowed like the slits of a Nazi machine-gun turret.

  "Where's the stash, Spence old buddy?" Santa asked smiling, sweet as butter and honey but still with those laser-intent eye slits.

  T-Rock looked stricken. 'Stash? Aint no stash, crazy mother-fucker. Don't know what you talkin' 'bout."

  Santa considered. "It's under the cushion, isn't it? Where the gun was too," he decided, turning and walking back towards the couch. Lifting the cushions, he of course found it instantly… right where it had to be.

  T-Rock was instantly up and scrambling across the cold linoleum floor. He reached the beer bottle lying at the foot of the couch, and lifting it high smashed it against the table edge. Brandishing the jagged neck before him, he advanced with murder burning in his remorseless eyes.

  "You a DEAD MAN, mother-FUCKER! He screamed in an ecstasy of fury. "NOBODY takes my shit… NOBODY!"

  Santa turned to meet him with almost a sigh of regret. "You have to have it your way, don't you?"

  Santa pulled the door closed behind him as best he could; it was quite a mess, but she would get it fixed up soon enough. He shouldered his sack with effort and began the short walk back to the sleigh. It was quite a bit heavier than when he went in. And it was dripping.

  He rolled it off his shoulders and into the back of the sleigh, where it settled with a few complaining creaks from the pine floor paneling. Take a little something, leave a little something, Santa thought to himself. He had heard that somewhere or other, and it sounded like a pretty good policy.

  Along with the full ounce of high-grade China White, he had discovered a nice little wad of cash under the couch cushions… way more than the $2000 Spencer had taken from his woman. Apparently he had been into something profitable, although almost certainly at the expense of some unlucky other or others. On the Naughty or Nice List, Spence had hardly been what you could call a climber. No matter; it made a tidy little Christmas bundle for Marcie, and he had left it where she was sure to discover it… wrapped in a nice red bow of course. Cecie would get to see that dentist this year after all, and perhaps they could also move out of this shit-hole neighborhood. Santa knew that things often worked out if you just kept your best hopes in front of you and your spirits sunny and bright. He whistled "Jingle bells" as he climbed back up onto his bench seat.

  He drew in a great breath, and began calling out "On Donder, on…" but broke into a harsh and extended fit of coughing. Waiting to catch his breath he nearly nodded right off, but caught himself and suddenly sat bolt upright… shaking his old head with a chuckle.

 "I guess there's no need to stand on ceremony boys, let's just roll"

  And with that, the sleigh began to roll, gaining speed quickly and lifting from the snowy ground below. Santa was feeling decidedly like his old self again, and before the night sky swallowed them completely his voice rang out once more strong and true;


                             "Merry Christmas to all,

                              and to all a good night!"


 This story is submitted by Phoenix Michaels.

He is a musician, composer, writer, father and visionary.

His literary works include:

Requiem of a Mid Life Crisis,

What's Wrong with Bill?


Who am I?


requiem for a mindlife crisis



brent fletcher




most people talk bullshit

































































































































































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