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Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Christmas Story

I am trying to learn how to write an entertaining story, I present my latest hammock induced day dream, a continuation of an earlier post, Before the Holiday Season Starts, please forgive the poor editing.

A Christmas Story
It is a beautiful day. Forty degrees below zero with a light wind, snow piled in drifts, some twenty feet high. An exquisite crystal clean white on white as far as the eye could see, with the muted sound that only snow can create. Santa loved days like this, pleasant days before the bitter cold of the perpetual midnight to come. He turned to his senior Elf manager and asked. “Is everyone back from summer vacation?”
“Yes sir, tan and rested.” Answered Hitphen Icicle.
Santa took another long look around. The North Pole ice was becoming thinner and increasingly unstable. A few more years and he would have to abandon this toy factory. Fortunately he had started off-shoring the work some years pass. Now he had a substantial presence at the South Pole with more in the Russian Tundra, his favorite the well hidden toy factory in a Norwegian fjord.
The work force had been another problem. The elf population had not kept up with the world’s growing population of children. Finding the leprechauns had been pure luck and then that young lady with her seven dwarfs. Strange name that one, Sleeping Beauty. Mixing elves, leprechauns and dwarfs created one problem after another, and those princes following Sleeping Beauty around created even more problems. He couldn’t find anything they knew how to do, handsome young men with no useful skills. Things just keep changing for Santa and it was all he could do keeping abreast. He thought about what that young lady from Wonder Land had told him yesterday.
“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you'd generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing.”
It was all becoming so complicated. The young ladies had taken to Mrs. Claus, and now the three were always together. Any disagreement with Mrs. Claus and he would be running to save his skin. With a sigh he headed to the primary military defense line.
Setting up military defensive positions had been an endless waste of time and resources. First the elves kept turning the guard towers into doll houses and rocking horses, and those princes prancing around the parapets got in everyone's way. The unexpected solution came when the leprechauns had found out that the gold paint in the warehouse contained real gold. The leprechauns had assumed full responsibility for security, becoming ferocious sentries. All this useless effort because some politician claimed Santa had cost him an election. As he approached the concertina wire Patty McLuckleaf popped out of nowhere and saluted. “All secured, Mr. Claus.”
Santa frowned. “Any problems this evening, Patty.”
“None,” Patty replied. “Most the enemy be dancing for cameras and the rest be shooting each other. There be no danger from junior bush leaguers, Mr. Claus.”
“How are the sentries?” Santa asked.
Patty smiled. “Most be sober, Mr. Claus, enough to keep the gold safe.”
“Patty,” Santa sighed, “We must protect everything.”
Patty snapped another salute. “That what I did mean, Mr. Claus.”
Santa started back to the administration building. He needed to hire more seasonal workers and was interviewing Arabic Genies and Japanese Avatars this afternoon.
Then he had to make his list and check it twice.

The Toy Factory reaches full production.

The toy factory was it full production now. Santa beamed with pride looking over his multicultural work force. Elves, Leprechauns, Dwarfs, Fairies, Gremlins, Genies and Avatars all rushing about and creating an endless stream of toys, with a great cacophony of sounds and magic. The reindeer out back running track getting in shape for the big night. Oh, Santa did love his vocation. He had the world’s best job. Taking a deep breath he laughed from his giant heart. “Ho,ho,ho, and a Merry Christmas to all.” There were still new problems with every turn of the clock, the unrelenting countdown to Christmas Eve. With perseverance and hard work each new challenge fell in turn. Santa was dealing successfully with the implacable change being forced on him, this year, as every year before; the children of the world would be made happy. Santa would not fail. No, he would not fail.
After he hired the Arabian Genies a Predator Drone had zoomed out of the sky, launching missiles. The gremlins clapped with joy upon seeing these aerial war machines. One cackle of laughter and an eye blink later each missile and the drone had a gremlin riding it. The drone preformed beautiful aerial acrobatics perfectly matched by the missiles, a fantastic display which stopped all work with everyone cheering, finally the aerial craft synchronized in a upward spiral, twisting about each, while trailing colored smoke making a giant sky painting of DNA, gracefully arcing over from great height and plunging earthward, to level out and converge, with millisecond timing to the exact midpoint, this collision creating an enormous ball of flame and sparklers drifting to earth. The Elves, Leprechauns, Dwarfs, Fairies, Genies and Avatars danced and laughed, some holding up score cards denoting top ratings for the Gremlins, Snow White and Alice clapped and swirled, weaving to their own music. One of the princes did trip over his sheathed sword and turn his knee. Normally Santa did not have to worry about humans at his secret North Pole workshop, but he had anticipated this change, Santa had imagined a small medical infirmary and the Toy Factory would grow anything Santa could imagine. In short order the young prince was healed and once again getting in everyone’s way.
While back at the military control center, the Predator Drone performance graded as an unmitigated catastrophe. Still more great entertainment followed for Santa with the feckless politician shouting into news cameras, demanding who knew what, when. All in all, a satisfying work rest for the Toy factory, the morale for the Gremlins and Leprechauns had greatly improved. Santa suspected that, for these two groups, work was not a particularly enjoyable pass time.
The whole idea of A War on Christmas flustered Santa. What kind of fool started a war with leprechauns and gremlins? Now the Japanese Avatars were training Kung Fu reindeer! Foolishness! Absurdity! Folly! Preposterous silly tommyrot! But he did admit to himself it was quite entertaining. Change could be good, or bad, depending on your attitude.
Next to visit, the politician’s lawyers with their “cease and desist” order, demanding he stop giving away free stuff. They would be surprised Christmas morning when they found sacks of coal under their tree, each sack with a separate page from that “cease and desist” order. That would be lot of sacks of coal. He’d need an extra sleigh to carry all those sacks of coal. Maybe he’d let the Leprechauns and Gremlins make that delivery. Then Santa shook his head, his heart told him that wasn’t the true spirit of Christmas. Instead he would find the excellent perfect gift for each and every lawyer, and then personally place it under their tree. The “cease and desist” order, well, Santa would think of something. Being magical did have advantages.
One more reason to close this facility, Santa thought, the North Pole being the worst kept secret workshop ever, even the CIA had found this secret toy factory.
Then Santa heard sleigh bells ringing and impetuously began singing “Tis the season to be jolly – Fa La La La La – La La La La – Deck the halls with boughs of holly.” His face creasing into a smile from ear to ear, Santa was not so easily turned from his beloved task. He did have the world’s best job, and loved every second.
Meanwhile, the ex-governor had relocated to one of his palaces, the one in the Cayman Islands. He liked being near his money.  As an only child he had learned to keep his own council. Now he paced back and forth, his stalking and grumbling interrupted occasionally with a growl. He had to stop this communist Santa Claus from giving away free stuff to poor people. A fat old man in a red suit, what greater proof that this Santa was a communist than that bright red suit, for some small comfort he pulled out the map showing his safe, solid red states, populations that enthusiastically supported him. That sooth his ego some, but he needed more. He crossed the room, tripped the biometric switch opening his private elevator, then rode deep underground to his secret alcove. His special place, platinum trimmed mirrors with the floor tiled in silver dollars. Ceiling embedded with rubies, pearls and diamonds all shaped to represent the major currency symbols. In the center of the room his special sofa, made with gold frame and stuffed with hundred dollar bills. He lay back in his overstuffed sofa and relaxed, sinking into the comfortable soft money matting. He loved money and money loved him. He started to relax; now he could think clearly about the problem. He would crush this Santa Claus.

Christmas and his birthday, both December 25th, he always felt cheated with only one set of gifts. The other children had separate birthdays with parties and gifts, their own personal day. He had to share his birthday with every other child in the world, nothing special, and nothing just for him. Then when he was twelve years old his parents had died in a freak car accident, on Christmas Eve.
His uncle had awakened him on Christmas morning with news too terrible for a twelve year old. After fifty years the memory still seared his soul. His bachelor uncle had become his legal guardian. The rest of his teen years spent in private boarding schools and on foreign study trips. His few friends leaving for a family Christmas vacation while he stayed behind at the exclusive boarding schools. His uncle did not return any of his calls, never wrote any letter. His Christmas presents delivered by some employee, or arriving in a crate, expensive things he never asked for, ponies and fast cars, Rolex watches and custom camping equipment, all things he gave away to some of his few friends, often they would just give away his gifts to someone else. He remembered an ugly gold laced ping pong table he had hated, and gave away, passed around until someone he hardly knew gave it back to him, and of course the large monthly checks he received for “necessities”.
Oh, he did hate Christmas.

As he grew and learned, he came to think that his uncle was using his parents company to make himself rich, rich and important. At 18 he had taken his legal rights as willed by his parents. The first person he every fired was his uncle, and he sacked him on Christmas Eve. This first employee termination was a wonderful cherished memory. Over the years he had become very, very good at terminating employees before Christmas. He even liked the word, Termination, it sounded good. He had made billions of dollars with his simple business plan. Buy a solid well run company, bleed it dry then file bankruptcy. The part where he took the employee’s pension fund for his own uses was especially delightful. He always timed the final blow for Christmas. A plan so simple and so easy, take all the money and then burn the rest. The best Christmas present he could image.
Becoming the governor of a state had been pure joy. He had spent the state’s funds on useless projects, building power and influence with government favors and contracts. Political considerations had prevented him from firing state workers before Christmas, and he had to console himself with mass layoffs at the start of each year to “balance the budget”, something the public always supported. He had left that political position behind to reach for higher possibilities. Eventually, he had all in place for his next political promotion, and then the Santa story had been gone public. His heart felt belief that free stuff destroyed the moral fiber of children, turning them into adult sloths, expecting undeserved redistribution of the wealth from him and his fellow elites. Bah, hum bug. Christmas was destroying America, indeed, destroying the whole world, but the masses of lazy bloodsuckers failed to understand this, somehow, the population had changed, and he lost his election to higher office, all of this was Santa’s fault.

He put aside his cherished memories of terminations, ruined by memories of Christmas and Santa, and turned his attention back to here and now. It was time for military fury, direct coercion, the martial application of money to control and destroy. Once he destroyed Santa he would return to politics and change everything back to its proper order.
The military plan was simple, destroy Santa’s sleigh and kidnap the reindeer. The budget lavish, cash and credit unlimited, used to recruit the top free market mercenaries money could buy. Former members of professionally trained national forces, American navy seals, CIA, FBI and NSA, Bulgarian SOBT, Canadian 427 Special Ops, Chinese Snow Leopard Commandos, Cuban Black Wasp, Danish SSR, French FKSOD special ops, German Kommando Spezialkrafte, Indian Garud Commandos, Israeli Shayetet, Mexican Fuerzas Especiales, Norwegian Spesialkommando, Russian Spetsnaz, Swedish Operationsgruppen, Swiss Spezialkrafte, Turkish Jandarma, and some British Coast Guard, blended with the toughest civilian professionals available, Samurai, Knights, Mongols, Shaolin monks, and  a few old female college English professors.
Language and communications had been a problem until all started using hand signals, with the English professors brutally correcting finger placement. The ex-governor beamed with the pride of what money could do, he had hired the world’s best retired generals to plan this operation. Greed never changed, it was always solid and predictable, the one constant since he had fired his uncle.
The attack would begin with sunrise. If he had hired a weatherman he’d have known that was about March 19th 2013. But he had not hired any climate scientist; he had banned any mention of climate science from his organization, for obvious and necessary political reasons, and was unaware of the gaping hole in his grand plan.
The sergeants had spotted this fatal flaw at their first briefing, now they looked forward to a long, high paid and safe, duty assignment. Three of the sergeants had concocted a scheme that used marksmanship training. One scheduled target practice and a platoon, then cases of ammunition was issued for the training exercise, another of the sergeants marched the soldiers around before returning them to the barracks, then the sergeant took the unused ammunition and resold it back to the supply sergeant. The three noncoms met at a local bar, split the money then toasted a beer to the ex-governor’s largess. Now they had an extra three months of additional income. Life was good. The sergeants huddled in the back of the bar, planning their own plans, if the idiot in charge every got close to a real fight, they would have their platoons on the other side of the planet.
“The ex-governor can’t be serious about this, only an idiot would attack Gremlins and Leprechauns.” The Training sergeant commented.
“Never underestimate the ego, conceit and stupidity of a politician.” The supply sergeant replied.

On base, at the command post, the ex-governor felt good, everything was moving to perfection. He was checking every detail himself, satisfied that his money was well spent. He reviewed the training records; the troops had spent a staggering amount of time and money on target practice. He smiled to himself, enjoying the warm feeling of creating that razor sharp spear he wanted, even needed, for this Santa Claus.
He was on a roll and would now tidy up one more nagging issue. He was an only child and the explanations from his uncle had never added up, he was going to get the truth this time.
“Why did my parents never have more children?” He demanded.
“Your mother was barren. She couldn’t have children.” His uncle responded.
 “She couldn’t have children? Huh- what? -How? – Where did I come from?”
“You were adopted. Once the doctor verified that your mother couldn’t have children, -well, - she cried herself to sleep every night for months. Your father gave her all kinds of gifts. Nothing could console her.”
“He bought her a child born on Christmas as gift?” The ex-governor whispered.
“No. I don’t know when, or where, you were born. We found you under the Christmas tree.”
The ex governor sat frozen and still, shocked with his mind fogged. He was the child of Father Christmas? His world shifted and he was lost. WHO, WHAT WAS HE!

Meanwhile, back at Santa’s workshop, the Genies had completed all the calculations, with the world’s vast population Santa would need an assistant to ride with him, for the first time ever, he needed help, even magic has limits against the constant changes confronting Santa. The Genies had originally invented numbers, replacing those silly Roman numerals, there was no chance they were wrong. He needed help; he needed someone that believed completely in the Christmas spirit. There need be a second sleight this Christmas, there were not enough reindeer, but he knew some unicorns looking for a little excitement, change did create many wondrous opportunities. He had no answer for now, other than work hard and believe, he returned to making his list of all the good little boys and girls, then checking it twice.

The ex-governor had his personal jet readied to fly back to the forward assault camp at the North Pole. His head spinning with the story his uncle had told him, his knees almost buckled as he climbed the ramp into his jet. He took his regular custom-made seat, so distracted he never noticed that he was alone. He bowed his head into his hands and moaned. He did not feel the plane taxi to take off, align with the runway, then the acceleration to flight, climbing to 60,000 feet. He finally looked up, the entire passenger area empty, “Where are my Generals!” he shouted.
“They are coming with the troop ships, just before dawn.” The intercom answered.
He sat in silence, tears blurring his vision, teeth clenched, stomach knotted, his face like stone, flying north alone.
It hardly registered that he had arrived, sometime during the flight he had split in two, he felt as a spectator, like he was outside his own body watching someone else pretending to be him. He managed to get out of the jet and walked to the main compound. Behind him the jet returned to the runway and blasted skyward. All was dark and quiet, empty of soldiers, even the machinery was still. He entered the ready area and found one person, a Colonel, fastening snow shoes to his feet, a heavy pack next to him.
 “What - happened?” Ask the ex-governor.
“The Leprechauns and Gremlins hit us”, the Colonel answered, “Every atom of gold gone, all the electronics useless, nothing works. We didn’t lose a single soldier and the battle lasted only seconds. Most of the troops got out on transports; the rest packed and started a long march south. I’m the last.”
“You can’t abandon the mission! I paid good money for all of you! Get back to your post! Get everyone back!”
“You can always fire me, Sir. If not, I quit.” The Colonel said, then shouldered his pack and left.
The ex-governor sank to his knees. He felt the cold. He felt the loneliness. He now knew the troop ships would never arrive. The dark closed on him. Then he passed out. The elves found him huddled in a ball. Moaning and groaning softly, shoulders shaking. They feared he was dying. They took him to the North Pole toy factory. Santa would know what to do, Santa always knew what to do.
Santa watched as the Elves brought in the ex-governor, he remembered placing him under the Christmas tree after finding him abandoned in front of a fire station.  He had believed he had found the perfect gift for that beautiful, loving young woman. As a child he had barely made the good little boy list, usually his mother’s firm hand had pushed him onto the good little boy list, then with the tragic Christmas Eve accident, he had changed. Santa's disappointment grew with each following year, the ex-governor had never made his good little boy list again.
As Mrs. Claus examined the ex-governor she could see that his problem was not physical, instead, his soul was small, crumpled, dark and fast evaporating. Pixy dust would be no help here. She had him taken to the infirmary and went to consult Santa. Between them they formed a plan; the ex-governor would have to heal himself, all they could do it provide the setting.
The ex-governor started to waken, slowly, painfully, parts of his mind closed to him, something he could not remember, something he did not want to remember. He realized he was warm, comfortable and nothing actually hurt, but something inside, deep inside, did hurt. He opened one eye, a ceiling, a simple ceiling with model aircraft hanging on strings. He opened both eyes and visually swept the room. He was lying in a bed, modeled after a vintage car, an old model T ford, and the walls a blended colorful explosion with stripes and contrasting base board. A small tidy room, small but big enough, the perfect size, he thought. Next to the bed a toy box shaped like a giant frog, the lid slightly open, as if bulging with contents. He pushed back the bedding covers and sat upright, swinging his legs over the side. He was dressed in simple white cotton pajamas, darks vertical strips and no pockets. A small bedside table with a glass of brown liquid and a plate of cookies, he took the glass and sipped, warm chocolate milk, the milk and cookie surprisingly filling.
He stood legs still a little shaky and walked to the toy box, knelt and opened the lid. All the toys he had really wanted as a teenager. All the things he had always secretly wanted, but dared not tell anyone, simple things, games to play with others, letters by his mother, pictures of him and his parents – well his step parents really –, he grasp toys and tried to keep them, but he had no pockets, he fell down and started to cry. Slowly he changed, slowly he understood, it is not the gift, it is the memory that brings lasting joy.
The future emerges seamlessly from the past, and we occupy that small moment in between the past and the future, the immutable pass with the future a fluid unknowable ball of tangled string. This constant change created by our movement from the past to the future requires contextualization and rationalization to maintain sanity, thus we call it our destiny. Each of us have a destiny, for good or evil; with this realization he accepted his destiny and changed. Fairy tales make reality bearable. In the end we have to save ourselves.
As his strength returned he wandered about the complex, a hand full of moderate sized buildings, without any tangible connection to reality, the interior of the buildings seemed limitless, he would enter one building and upon exiting find he was at a completely different building, he could understand no possibility of  how this was so.
Santa let him use one of the small sleights pulled by a single reindeer, and had Patty McLuckleaf ride with him so he wouldn’t get lost. They went to his old forward military base camp and found nothing. The barracks, the vast hangers, the comm. Center and the command building all gone, no sign they had ever been, Patty explained everything had been recycled into toys. A single transport plane could be converted to toys for a million children. He looked around the area, no oil stains or debris, not even ruts to indicate previous roads, all pure white snow in natural banks marching out to the end of his vision. All the battlements and fortification that had surrounded Santa’s toy factory complex also completely gone. All his efforts to destroy Santa, every sign of his war on Christmas gone, sometimes he wondered if any of it had really happened, there was no physical proof  but his memories remained, and his memories confirmed his foolishness, his folly, his life without any meaningful purpose. It was on one of these sleigh rides that Patty told him of Santa’s problem.
So it came to be that he rode with Santa on Christmas Eve across the whole of the world, secretly placing gifts under Christmas trees for all the good little boys and girls.

1 comment:

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