The Great Storm of '11, A Fat Guy in A Red Suit, A Bunch a'Frickin ...

By Mary Stephens,2014-09-10 18:51
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The Great Storm of '11, A Fat Guy in A Red Suit, A Bunch a'Frickin ...The

The Great Storm of ’11, A Fat Guy in A Red Suit, A Bunch

    a’Frickin’ Reindeer and the Day Fast Eddie McKnight

    finally broke the sound Barrier-

    A Fractured Santa Fantasy

By Pete “The Elfman” D’Alessio

    Stupid fuckin‟ reindeer! Ga‟dammit, Comet, I said the Black‟s house, not the

    back house!” Eddie had come up on an impact sight with old Chris right in the middle of the rubble field. There were parts of what had been an old fashioned sled, parts of the outhouse, and miscellaneous reindeer strewn about the neglected barnyard. “Now

    what the hell are we gonna do?! This wouldn„t have happened if Prancer was here!” The old guy was ranting at the reindeer as if it could really understand him. He was cussin‟ up a blue streak and looking ridiculous in the red Santa suit he was wearing.

    “Chris? Is that you?”

    The old boy look away from the reindeer and right at the cop peeking over the fairing of the bike at him. “Of course it‟s me, ya damned fool cop! It‟s too friggin‟ cold for the Easter Bunny! Look at this mess. Serves me right for trusting that crazy reindeer!” From the lead deer, a sound that was highly reminiscent of grumbling

    emitted, and Eddie thought he heard it say “bullshit” under its breath. He shook it off. Eddie was helping the old guy up from the two-foot drift he had settled in. “Damned

    reindeer. Occupational hazard, ya know?”

    The deer were having no part of it and were starting to walk away… except for

    the two that took a flying leap (and kept on flying) towards the town. Eddie just gawked at them. “Jesus, Chris. Where do you find reindeer like that?”


    The old boy was digging through the crushed remains of what had once been his sled. He glanced over his shoulder at McKnight. “It depends on where I leave them.”

    “I mean… what do they have that other animals don‟t?”

    “Baby reindeer? Look. Eddie. I got a real problem here, boy. I got less than twenty-four hours to either put my sleigh back together or get another…ach. Here it is, thank God!” Pushing aside some debris, he pulled out a large empty red velvet bag. “Hey, is the shop still set up for business?”

    The cop looked at his friend. “It depends. Can you work on a couple of


    “Well, originally, that was plan „A.‟ But I need a favor from you. I think I‟m gonna need to borrow the Christmas gift me and the elves tinkered together for you. I‟ll take good—”


    “You mean to tell me you ain‟t figgered out who I am yet?”

    “Well, yeah, but…”

    “But yer ass! Look. Eddie. I like you and your little community. There are some really good folk here, and they get into the spirit of things. I even got some ties here, the family of a… a… an old… a…”

    “Girlfriend? Before or after Mrs. Claus?”

    “Hell, after 1,371 years, ya know how tired a man gets with same damned piece of—”

    “A chippy! Santa‟s got a chippy in Podunksville!”

    “Yeah, yeah, yeah, since 1773. Now can we go to someplace warm, I‟m freezin‟ 23


my jingle bells off!”

    With a night to go before Christmas Eve, things were starting to really get out of hand. It was a blizzard of the first degree, folk were still trying to get to the safety of the grand old houses, and chaos was reigning supreme over the little town of Podunksville. Over at the Moneysunk Inn, two reindeers actually did walk into a bar!

    The Inn was packed with all the invited quests escaping the frozen weather and high fuel prices that crippled their abilities to feed and care for their families. They were finding sleeping places and warm punch and making the expressions of the season that old friends who hadn‟t seen each other in a while make. While the joint

    was packed, the bar was empty and quiet, few people with money in their pockets for the night before The Night Before Christmas. So when two reindeer walked in and leaned on the bar, the only person stunned was the bartender Ollie, who had just taken four quarters out of the till to kill some time at the pinball machine. And he was trying really hard not to show his surprise. They ordered two beers, and the bigger deer offered the bartender a hoof with a twenty dollar bill in it. Without batting an eye, the bartender poured a couple of cold ones and set them in front of the reindeer. As he was still rather stunned, Ollie absent-mindedly handed the reindeer the coins he was still holding and said, "You know, you're the first reindeer I've ever seen in here." The reindeer looked hard at the hoofful of change Ollie had placed there and said, "Hmmmpf. Let me tell you something, buddy. At nineteen dollars for two stinkin‟ tap

    beers, we‟re the last reindeers you'll see in here!"

    Besides being a superb closet drunk, Ollie was a consummate bartender. 24


    Realizing his faux pas, he gathered the correct change, apologized, gave the next round on him, and started telling jokes. What do the female reindeer do when Santa takes

    you guys out on Christmas Eve? They go into town and blow a few bucks!” That

    opened the door. All three fell into the cheer of the season and the chauvinistic joys males of all species get into when they know their wives aren‟t around.

    “Hey, I thought there were eight of you?” Ollie asked.

    “Naw, we‟re down to seven. Prancer took up with a hairdresser and moved to

    San Francisco! Ha! What did Mildred the Doe say when she stepped out of the woods… that‟s the last time I do that for three bucks!”

    Meanwhile, on the back of Eddie‟s Harley, Chris was raising high holly hell: about the weather, the reindeer (who were keeping pace with Eddie‟s bike), the people

    he knew, and particularly about Mrs. Clauswho seemed to have cut old Santa off in

    the bedroom about eighty years ago (which was more than McKnight really needed to know!). But Chris kept talking. He had instructed Eddie to take him to Goodbanger‟s

    house and proceeded to blow out his head gasket when they arrived at the dark dwelling. “Where the hell is that idiot, I told him I‟d be here today!” The poor trapped cop, who was starting to freeze, just shook his head. “Chris, this is the worst blizzard

    in a century, in what‟s shaping up as the worst winter in two centuries! The Rev‟s as

    broke as the rest of the town, so he‟s probably over at the Moneysunk…”

    “The Moneysunk? What about the daycare kids who…”

    “There is no daycare, Chris. Most of the folk who had their kids in Goodbanger‟s care lost their jobs. They had to pull their kids out. Daycare had to 25


shut down. And the medical center too, the new healthcare laws…”

    “Well I know one American President who‟s gettin‟ up tomorrow to find coal in his stocking!”

    “Santa‟s a Republican?”

    “Santa ain‟t jack-shit! I died fifteen hun‟red years ago, think I give a damn about a political party? Democrat, Republican… they‟re all nuts to meand lately, they do

    more harm than good! They don‟t even know these kids! Right out into the blizzard they throw‟d them! What the hell are the little bastards gonna do for Christmas?”

    “Go to Mrs. Quims‟. She opened up the Christmas Cathouse Bar an—”

    “Quims? Quims took ‟em in?”

    “Yeah! The old girl never batted an eye, just threw open the house to—”

    “Quims, ya say? Well, let‟s go see my old friend Quims, shall we?”

    “You? Know Mrs. Quims?”

    “Santa knows ALL the naughty girls… and where they live! Why d‟ya think he‟s always so jolly! I keep a special Naughty AND Nice list for private use.”

    “Mrs. Q! There‟s a fat guy in a red suit, a bunch a‟ frickin‟ reindeer, and the

    Police Chief knockin‟ on the door! Ya want I should let ‟em in?” Mrs. Quims‟ bouncer

    hadn‟t quite made the adjustment to his boss‟s Christmas spirit. Under more normal situations, he would have been more likely to let the reindeer in before the cop. You

    can take a man out of Chicago, but you can‟t take Chicago out of the man, and that‟s what Quims liked about himbut not tonight! She had her cooks preparing all kinds of foods for kids tomorrow, her bouncers stoking wood fires and the girlswhen she



couldn‟t keep them under control—were being both naughty and nice! She‟d had

    gangs of children roaming about, all lit up by sugary treats and the lights of the season before their parents got them to sleep. Choirs of moms questioned the morality of being there, and more than one dad had accidentally walked into the wrong bedroom at an invitation to get a special X-mas gift… for a slight shipping and handling charge!

    So far she‟d kept the lid on the whole bloody thing, but it was two in the morning and it was wearing her down. Her normal place at the end of the bar where she sat when she had the blues, right by the smoking section, was her crutch against sadness. It was where, for years, she‟d idled away the slow nights, as the insignificant corner was lit by the tiny specks of fire illuminating the darkness and patrons cigarettes. But

    tonight there was only an abandoned crutch by the fire place! “Don‟t touch that door,

    Barrack, I‟ll be right there!”

    When she peeked through the little viewing port in the door all she saw was a big patch of red and the glare from the Star of Bethlehem, nailed to the highest balcony from the Master Bedroom, shining off the Policeman‟s badge. “Oh God,” she thought, “what now?!” Prepared for a fight, she threw open the door.

    “I know when you‟ve been bad or good—so let's skip the small talk, sister! And I

    see you when you're sleepingand you don't wear any underwear anymore, do you?

    I like that! Big improvement.”

    “Chris??? Chris!!!” Eddie almost got knocked over as Mrs. Quims jumped

    Santa‟s bones. Eddie never noticed how really petite the Madame was. She leapt at Chris as if she could fly. “Whoa, Miranda! Get… get off of me, dam‟mit!” There was a chorus of the sound “Miranda” that blew through the house like a north wind. As



Chris was battling the Madame off him, Eddie realized he had never known Mrs. Quims‟

    first name; judging by the expressions on the faces of her work forces in the foyer, they hadn‟t either. He also realized he couldn‟t tell if Quims was a younger women with old features or vice versa.

    Then the nostalgia wore off the greetings. “Damn you, Chris, where‟ve you

    been for the last four decades! What happened… the wife finally learn to kiss the

    South Pole? Or did you find yourself short one „ho‟!”

    “Now Miranda…”

    “Miranda my ass, you fat red bastard, I haven‟t seen you in forty years, come to


    YOU DIDN‟T, YOU…” Quims broke down in a river of tears and it was making the cheap Santa suit‟s color run. “There, there, old girl.” Chris patted her back. “Look! I got some work to do and need someplace to „hole up.‟”

    “Nice way to put it, that‟ll make her feel better!” Eddie interjected absently,

    which kind of centered Quims. She just looked at the cop. “No. „Hole up‟ is the right

    phrase. He‟s been the charter member of the Mile High club for the seven hundred

    years I‟ve known him. The Ripe-Jolly-Old fart has left more female elves high and dry than global warming. There‟s just something about a fat man with a whip and a flying sleigh!” She let go a deep sigh. “Besides, he got a nasty deal on this Saint thing.”

    She looked at Eddie. “The Big Guy couldn‟t let it go at makin‟ him the patron saint of

    sailorswhich should explain where he got his moralsno! The Boss had to hang

    him with giving out gifts!” She turn back to Chris with a stern look. “Okay, fatso, I‟ll

    help ya, but it‟ll cost you. You promised Goodbanger you‟d be back for his childcare 28


    kids. Well, they‟re here, and a few more. You‟ll take care of them and leave the girls alone! So what‟d you need?”

    The crack about leaving the girls alone didn‟t seem to thrill him, but she had him

    right by the Christmas tree ornaments. The storm had dropped another three inches of snow in the time it took to walk inside. “Ya got me! I‟m gonna need a place to sleep,

    and I gotta find a way to get to the old deserted Black‟s farmhouse.” He looked at the

    cop. “You better call your wife, Eddie. If you try to make it home, you‟ll get killed, and

    I need your help!” Eddie shook his head (the idea of telling his wife he was spending the night at Mrs. Quims‟ was NOT a good idea). “Chris, I‟ve been on these roads


    “Yo! Dumb cop! There‟s a drunk trucker with a semi slidin‟ down a highway! If you leave now, you can just be at the spot he‟s gonna fly off the road sideways into some trees dragging you with him.”

    “It‟s that Saint thing!” Quims interjected. “Barrack, please escort the officer to the phone in the dining hall. Fat boy here gets his usual ham sandwich and milk. What‟s John Law having?”

    “Ah, burger and fries… and a Coke?”

    “I don‟t suppose you want dessert with that?”

    “No ma‟am.”

    “I figured.”

    The snow fell and fell. It was four feet deep and falling harder when Eddie and Chris, after a few hours of sleep, set out on foot to get to the General Store/Mayor‟s 29


    Office/ Courthouse at the other end of town. Goodbanger and his wife saw them off at the door, the Rev passing on a blessing for their safety. As the couple stepped back inside, Goodbanger said to his wife he had never seen snow like this before. The statement was overheard by Mrs. Q‟s head bouncer, Rudolph. He had come from

    Russia as a soon as the Soviet Union had fallen. He had been a committed member of the Communist Party and was suspected of being KGB. “Snow? No. Is rain!” Goodbanger, a natural born debater, begged to differ, to which Rudolph just shook his still-Russian-Communist-Party-head and stated, “Is no snow! Is rain! In Moscow is

    rain!” Goodbanger was getting crazy and before he keeled from a stroke, his wife settled the issue. “Now calm down, Reverend. It possibly isn‟t snow. Im

    certain—Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”

    It took Chris and Eddie nearly an hour to walk through the snow to get to the shed. The county plows pushed through the snow in an attempt to clear the main drags but to little avail. The wind had joined the winter festival and was blowing drifts as tall as a man in some spots, and refilling the cleared streets almost immediately. They made it to the shed wherein rested all the bikes Chris had refurbished (except for the one Eddie had ridden last nightthat one was buried in the drifts behind Mrs.

    Quims‟ and wasn‟t coming out until Spring). Eddie had expected to find the shed frozen solid, but when they pushed the door open, they found that someone had turned the space heater on. There was a freshly brewed pot of 50-weight coffee on a burner and the place smelled like a pine forest. The poured out a couple of cups and drank them by the heater in an attempt to defrost. They sat in silence for a while. Then Eddie spoke up.



    “Do I need to know who made the coffee and turned on the heat?“


    “Ya know, that Mrs. Quims is an alright lady.”

    “Yeah, well, you never slept with her!” Chris paused thoughtfully. “No, you‟re right. It was a real nice thing to do, opening up the Cathouse for local folks.”

    Did you know she had turned to hooking?”

    “Back in the day she was workin‟ as a gift wrapper up in the shop. I suspected something was gonna happen. She always had a bad case of low elf-esteem! I remember…” The old boy broke off mid-sentence, then craned his head as if was listening to a distant conversation. “For Chris‟sake, McKnight, does that idiot cop go

    into over-drive at Christmas time… uh! I take that back. It‟s not Smitty, it‟s the other one!” At that exact second, through the shed window, the lights in the courthouse could be seen to snap on. “You‟d better get in there and see what‟s up. I don‟t think that old judge‟ll be in a good mood!” The idea of walking into the snow even just across the yard didn‟t thrill McKnight, but he had to agree.

     But to the Police Chief‟s surprise, the Judge was in a happy mood, very much in the holiday spirit. Mac led his collar in, looking more like Nanook of the North than a cop, and it was obvious hed been up and out for hours. The Judge asked the prisoner standing in front of him, “What are you charged with, son?”

    The prisoner replied, “Doing my Christmas shopping too early, sir.''

    “That's no crime,” said the magistrate, looking at Mac. “Just how early were you

    doing this shopping?”

     “Before the shop opened, your Honor!” Mac offered.


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