Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The prompt this week was to choose a line from the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and use that as our starter sentence. The genre was open, and I went a bit wild with this one, but that's what makes these challenges so much fun. The sentence I chose was "He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot." Please enjoy.


"He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and he was wearing one of the Santa suits from the Mission. I know it was one of theirs because I’ve been doing the Santa thing for years--you get a hot meal and a bed every night from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day. All you have to do is ring the bell when people walk by and hope they put money into the pot. At the end of the night, you turn the money in to the ladies there.”

Lyle Richmond, Detective with the Pleasant River PD for about three years, was losing any patience he had when this began. Why do the holidays bring out the crazies? He tried to keep this moving. It was already half an hour past his shift’s end when this weirdo ran in raving about someone being eaten. Yes. Eaten.

“Mr…uh…, so you saw somebody out there bothering your friend?” Lyle checked his watch again.

“Yes. Well, no. I mean, we weren’t friends. It’s just that I do the Santa thing every year so I can get a meal and a bed and so does he and in between, sometimes we run into each other. They have lunches at the Mission, but on the holidays, they find stuff for us to do so we can have a place to sleep. It’s warm in there…”

Lyle was getting ready to dump this old geezer on one of the patrolmen in the stationhouse who were standing around trying desperately not to laugh out loud.

“Focus here. Tell me what happened tonight.”

The man in the shabby Santa suit took a sip of the coffee provided for him, and continued.

“Oh, okay. I had my pot on the corner of Fifth and Broad. You know, down the street from Maisey’s Coffee Shop? This other guy, the one who got eaten, I think his name was James. Anyway, he was across the street on the corner. Well, he wasn’t exactly on the corner. He had his pot set up in front of the alley. You know, the one between the old movie theatre that’s been closed for years now, and that nudie shop you boys shut down a few weeks ago. You know.”

Lyle nodded. Today, old man. Today.

“Anyway, there weren’t too many cars out tonight, since it’s cold and snowy, so we were yelling back and forth to each other about stuff to pass the time. Not too much longer and we could take our pots to the Mission and get something hot to drink and some cookies and then a bed for the night. So, we’re yelling back and forth about how we both decided we weren’t going to help ourselves to any of the money, when I saw this--uh--thing, come out of the alley. He--it, was dressed in the Santa suit and it was so big. It had claws on its hands and was furry all over, and it had really big teeth, and growled and then grabbed James from behind and bit his neck. Looked like it just bit his throat out, and then it pulled him into the alley and started eating him, and that’s when I ran here to tell you about it so you could catch him--uh, it.”

The detective closed his eyes and silently counted to ten.

“Okay, then, thanks for reporting that and we’ll get over there. You’d better get over to the Mission now so you don’t miss out on the cocoa, cookies and bed. Can we reach you there if we need more info? Great. We’ll be in touch. You be careful out there now.”

He managed to get the old man back out onto the street and closed the stationhouse door. Alright. Not too late. Still plenty of time to head over to Jimbo’s for a couple of beers before he went home. Maybe Sarah from Hale’s Department Store would be there having a quick one. Running into her would be a nice way to finish up Christmas Eve. He’d be spending Christmas Day at his brother’s house with him and his family, but tonight he was on his own. Sure be great if he could spend some of it with that pretty lady. As he rounded the corner into the parking lot, the old man in the Santa suit grabbed his arm.

“Don’t ever do that,” he released the grip on his gun. “I almost fucking shot you. What is your problem, old man? You want this to be your last Christmas?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Detective, sir, I didn’t mean to startle you, but I remembered something that I thought you might need to know about James that might explain why this happened to him.”

Oh God, the detective thought, will this never end?

“Great,” he said, trying to appear calm, even though his hand still rested lightly on his gun. “Tell me what you remembered that will probably solve this case.”

“Okay,” the man said quietly. “I had asked him where he got those gloves he was wearing, and he said he had grabbed them out of a bag a lady had when she walked by. She was hollering at her kids and put the bag down to swat one of them, and he grabbed the gloves out of the bag. Then when she was done swatting the kid, she picked up the bag and went on and didn’t notice the gloves were gone.”

Detective Richmond vowed to request some leave as soon as the holidays were over--a lot of leave.

“And” he asked, “what does that have to do with why he was kil…, eaten?”

“Oh,” the man said, “he took what didn’t belong to him. He was naughty on Christmas Eve. The furry Santa with the big teeth was probably real mad about that.”

The old man in the Santa suit gave the detective a knowing look, a small salute and went on his way toward downtown. Oh yeah, he thought, it’s time for a few drinks and the company of anybody who’s sane. His partner, Detective Danser, certainly didn’t qualify. After the old man had been removed to the street, he had actually asked Lyle if he wanted him to check the alley out and then get on the phone to see if there were similar cases in any of the surrounding towns. After all, there were documented cases of lycanthropy and there were people with a particular medical condition… Maybe this guy dresses up like Santa and stands on corners at night so he can find victims. Who’s going to pay attention to a guy in a Santa suit at Christmas? But, Danser wondered aloud, I wonder what he does the rest of the year? Definitely, Richmond had told him, you do just that. Then I want you to put an APB out on Santa aka Werewolf Claus. And next spring, we’ll put one out on the Easter Bunny. I’ll bet he can deliver a helluva bite too. He told Danser to go home to his wife and kids and have a Merry Christmas. This ‘case’ was closed. They’re all nuts, he said aloud. All. Nuts.

The man didn’t see anyone on either side of the street and his and James’ pots were still there. I’ll just empty his into mine, he decided. That way, maybe I’ll get an extra helping of cookies. He crossed the street, wishing a stream of cars would come by. But the area was totally deserted. He put the change from James’ pot in his pockets and peeked into the alley. It had begun to sleet and the old man thought it so odd that there was no trace left of the man he had been speaking to a couple of hours before. Nothing but one of his gloves. The growl from the back of the alley startled him. Before it even dawned on him to scream, the furry thing in the Santa suit jumped out and was on him, biting and tearing. All he could think before it all went dark was how he really shouldn’t have bumped into that man and taken his wallet. Shouldn’t have been naughty on Christmas Eve…

* * * * *

A couple of days into the new year, when Richmond got the report that one ice-covered glove and one of his cards with blood mixed with saliva all over them had been found in an alley on the other side of town, he felt a chill. Both empty collection pots were returned to the Mission, and nothing about that night was ever mentioned again. He kept the file containing one sheet of paper that contained the old man’s narration in the middle drawer of his desk as a reminder to listen next time. Really listen. And if he came upon a corner Santa at Christmastime, he’d cross the street before he got to him. You just never know…


  1. This one raised the hairs on the back of my neck!
    A great story that will have me avoiding street corner Santas.

  2. That was great, Joyce. You may have just created Santa Claws!!! Well done.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  3. Ooo, this really opens our Christmas apetites! Now, I'm wondering who that "Santa" was? Is he - or she - coming back?

  4. Thanks, Beach, Glad you enjoyed it and that it creeped you out too. That's the best kind of story and the best type of compliment! I'm not sure why, but I always avoid street corner Santas. THEY creep me out!

  5. David, Thanks for your comment and glad you enjoyed my story. I just love 'Santa Claws'. Happy New Year to you and your family too. Have a blessed and safe celebration.

  6. Hi Ingrid, Makes you wonder, doesn't it, who (or maybe what) my Santa actually was. Is he or she coming back? Hmmm. 'Hungry' for more? Now, you've got me thinking...

  7. Great storytelling. I love it.
    :) Heather

  8. Thanks so much, Heather, for stopping by and commenting. Glad you enjoyed my Christmas craziness.

  9. Brilliant Joyce. This is tight, delivered in a classic style, entertaining and with a great ending.

  10. Joyce- little late to the game, but I really enjoyed that. I especially like Richmond's thoughts / asides that were sprinkled throughout.

  11. Richard, Glad you enjoyed this one. I tried to leave the ending kind of open-ended. I may go further with this--maybe...

  12. Sean, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you enjoyed it. I really enjoyed writing this character, and I may bring him back at some point. Who knows?