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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
you call me that, my name's T-Ro…"
T-Rock mewls, his beefy arms now cradling his
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
"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."
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
"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'
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…
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
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
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;
Christmas to all,
and to all a good
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
What's Wrong with Bill?
Who am I?