So Santa Prez hopped into his armoured Humvee and was away like a flash! He whipped up the horses and he spun the wheels in a whirly way and the wind whistled through the longhorns strapped on the hood. And he chanted, “Here comes Santa Prez, Here comes Santa Prez, Bringing you Santa Prez pain.” And in howtime he was in How Town where Someone and No One and Everyone ran about clinking and chinging and swishing.
Oh what a NOISE! What a NOISE! The kids they were caroling and the bells they were chiming and the snow chains were jingling. And the chestnuts were roasting and people’s toeses were toasting and the snow it was glistening, so glistening it was hard on the ears.
And the policemen were smiling and the merchants were chuckling and the lovers were laughing, and Santa Prez hated them. He just HATED them! For in his 58 years he had managed a snicker, and he had now and then squeezed out a snigger, and had once forced out a chortle, but the height of his mirth was a smirk.
Now, he had spent his years wisely, for at Yale he had learned to pick locks, and at Harvard business he had studied to pick pockets, and in his first months in office he had perfected the art of picking his nose.
So Santa Prez ran through the malls and he snatched up the purses, and he emptied out cash boxes, and he cut up the credit cards. He was on the point of stuffing the last ATM into his Humvee when a small voice spoke to him, but when he whirled about there was No One. There was only an Old Man, begging a penny for his hat, and good King Wenceslas, with faggots for the fire slipping through frozen fingers, and a Mary and a Joseph looking for lodging. So he was right – there was No One.
Then Someone spoke. It was little Sally Ann, in her pretty blue bonnet that she got from the margarine company for sending in three boxtops. And in her hair were scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair, woven from the breadman’s twist-ties.
“Please, Santa,” said Sally Ann. “Please, Santa,” she said, “you forgot these.” And she tipped the few coppers from her kettle into his loot sack.
“I’ll send you a receipt,” said Santa Prez. But he lied. For that was the third thing he was good at. And as he lied, he scooped the penny from the Old Man’s hat, and he kicked the faggots off the sidewalk, and he directed the lodge-seekers to the Holiday Inn, because he knew it was full.
Oh he was a scraping, scroogey, covetous old sinner, was Smirk, and hard and cold as flint. The cold within him froze his heart and nipped his humanitarian impulses and shriveled his magnanimity. No warmth could warm him, no words could move him, no laughter heal him.
But, enough flattery. He had finished the job. He had extracted all the Cheer from Christmas, the Joy from dish soap, and the last Glad from garbage bags.
He had pulled the plug on happiness.
And after he had visited all the other how towns, he looked upon his Creation, and he saw that it was real good.
And silent night came down on How Town, and the sleep of heavenly peace.
[Continued in Chapter 3]
From the author’s latest book, The Annals of Goshen