“He went north to the Pole. Seasonal help with the fat man.”
“No shit. With Santa?”
“His third year. He makes enough money to last the rest of the year. In fact in five years he’ll be able to retire.”
“I shit you not.”
I was sitting in the booth next to a couple of Werewolves, nursing my coffee until Steve showed up. I pride myself on the number of conversations I’m able to overhear everyday. Then again, I’m always listening. It is my nature to listen and know everything that everybody is saying and feeling. It has nothing to do with being naughty or nice and everything to do with being a Vampire.
Steve slid into the booth and faced me. I mouthed the words, “Werewolves behind me.”
He smiled then took my hand. “You look sexy tonight.”
If I’d had enough blood in my veins I would have blushed.
After coffee and cherry pie we walked the streets, in and out of art galleries and glancing into bars and restaurants. Christmas lights twinkled in some of the windows. Other windows were painted with holly and Christmas tree designs.
Outside of a trendy club we saw a couple of Vampires we knew talking to a group of attractive young women. They nodded at us. We nodded at them.
I kept thinking about the Werewolves in the cafe. “Steve, do you believe in Santa Claus?”
“Why are you asking?”
“One of the Werewolves was saying a small friend of theirs was going up to the North Pole to work for Santa Claus.”
“I didn’t believe in Vampires until, you know, until I became one.”
He had a point there.
We ducked into a bar full of happy people, all talking and catching up on the last Saturday of the Thanksgiving break. It was warm and collars became undone and scarves were loosened. It was a beautiful sight for a couple of Vampires.
After a moment in a dark corner in a dark corner with a sweet young man named Kyle I glanced up to see the Werewolves at the bar.
For the next half hour I’d be warm so I knew they might not suspect I was different from the rest of the bar patrons. I sat on the bar stool next to them. The large one glanced over at me.
“You were in the diner. You’re a Vampire.”
“Busted,” I said. “Hey, I don’t mean to be rude but while I was waiting for my friend I overheard you talking about your friend going to the North Pole.”
“Sure, no problem. Seriously I love the dude, we’ve been friends forever, but I’m worried he’ll end up being part of some sled team or eaten by bears on the way up.”
“Is there really a Santa Claus?”
He smiled. “We’re here aren’t we? I mean, it isn’t so much as him making toys and all. It is more of a fairy dust sort of thing if you know what I mean.”
I never thought I’d hear a Werewolf talking about fairy dust and Santa, but I’ve come not to be too surprised by anything. It was sort of nice.
A warm hand slid into mine. Steve was next to me, also warm for a short time. We spent the rest of the evening talking with the Werewolves about living like Santa Claus. You know, living in a world where everyone says they believe in you but you know they don’t.
As we went back out into the street I saw a couple walking a tan and white Corgi dog. I looked up into the sky and saw a shining star above the light of the city. Maybe Brad made it to the North Pole. You have to believe. After all, it is beginning to look like Christmas. You gotta believe.
A Tale of Mystery, Love and Hope from Juliette Kings
The night was falling on the travelers, Daniel and his son Tad and daughter Ada. They had to stop before the dark of night and freezing snowfalls. The father and his children were finally going home, from the broken dreams of gold to the city where Daniel had found a job in his profession of typesetter and reporter. When his wife had passed on he followed his dream to the California gold fields taking his teenage children with him. For good or bad they’d made the new state their home.
As the snow began to fall they came upon a cabin, the door boarded up from the outside, the windows shuttered. It looked deserted and like shelter for the night. Dan and his son pried the nails off of the boards, which secured the door and went into the two-room structure. Inside was a cozy room with a fireplace, comfortable chairs and a wall full of books. Dan sent Tad out to bring in firewood.
Ada went to the bedroom and called her father. On the bed was a man, still as the night, cold and pale as the snow. In his arms, wrapped in blanket was a tiny girl in a red velvet hat, a scarf covered up most of her small face. She was also still and pale.
Ada’s heart sank. The poor souls in the bed looked to have passed on. But why were they trapped in the cabin? Had they been sick? Why were they not buried with a prayer and the proper respect? The man’s coat was obviously expensive and of the finest materials. His boots were of the most beautiful leather and style. His face was handsome and refined. Ada took off her glove and touched the back of her hand to the man’s face. He was indeed cold as ice and still as death. She called in her father.
“I know this man.” He said. “A fine man. A poet. I heard him read when I was in San Francisco. What a tragic pity to find him here with his child.”
The looked upon the bodies of the father and child when they saw the slightest movement and the man opened his eyes.
“My daughter, please help her,” whispered the man on the bed.
Ada took the girl in her arms. She weighed almost nothing. The child let out a sigh. Ada brought the girl into the other room and sat in a rocking chair by the fire Tad had built. The girl started to move and put her face against Ada’s warm neck. Ada soon fell asleep with dreams of flowers and all things good.
In the morning the poet and child were gone.
The travelers found box covered with red paper. In the box was a golden heart and a note to Ada.
This heart belonged to my dear wife who was murdered by villains of the vilest kind. Please wear it knowing that you will always be loved and you will always be a part of us.
On the table in the front room was a bounty of food. Where had it come from? There were fresh baked goods, milk and juice, exotic fruits, sausages and chocolates. Under small quilted cozies were pots with fragrant tea and coffee. Another note was slipped under the teapot.
Daniel read the note aloud to his children.
My heart thanks you for your generosity.
You saved our lives.
You never questioned who had trapped us or hurt us.
You never judged us.
You never feared us.
The love between parent and his children is burned into your heart like the fires that burn in the heavenly stars.
My daughter and I will never forget you.
Your children and their children and their children will always be safe and watched over and kept from the harm of wicked men. I owe and promise you that.
Never fear the night or the darkness for we will always be watching your back.
Wishing you a Happy Christmas.
~ Thomas Kent
As the travelers ate they talked of the sweet dreams they’d had the night before, along with stiff necks they had that morning. Daniel and his children spoke of Mr. Kent and his precious daughter and wondered why they’d been trapped in the cabin.
Many many years later after a long and wonderful life full of romance and adventure, Ada fingered the heart, which she still wore. As she took her last breath she said, “I have never known fear, only love”.
An ocean away Thomas Kent felt an icy wind, then hope and gratitude in his cold Vampire heart.
The voice on the phone whispered, “are you coming over today?”
Why Tellias always whispers on the phone I will never know.
“I’m on my way,” I said. “I’m stuck in the never-ending construction, but I’m on my way.”
“Good,” he said in a papery thin voice. “I have a lot to tell you.” Then he hung up.
A 2054 year old Vampire can have a lot to say, so I picked up a case of Poet’s Blood at Dave’s Bottle Shop.
When I arrived at the Queen Ann style farmhouse Tellias and Eleora were waiting for me on the front porch. Tellias was wearing tuxedo pants, a slate blue workshirt with the name Jose stitched on the pocket, and yellow flip flops. His pale blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Elena was wearing white Go Go boots, a red mini skirt, a black fake fur vest, and an orange and pink polyester double knit blouse with bell sleeves. She also had a Santa hat on her head, with masses of reddish brown curls falling down her back. They look like a couple of teenagers who’ve been shopping at the local vintage flea markets, but they’re ancient. They’re old people.
They both danced around me, giving me kisses and singing Christmas songs. On the door was a giant wreath covered with holly, red apples, and black spiders Eleora had made years ago from ribbons and pipe cleaners.
They took my hands and brought me into the house. We sat by the window with a view of the orchards draped in fog.
Eleora busied herself with making Christmas animals out of ribbons and pipe cleaners, while Tellias told me a curious tale I’d never heard before.
“Juliette, when I was young, you know I grew up without parents of my own. I’ve never been sure of where I was from. The Roman’s took me in. I grew up in a temple, treated like a magical demigod. I’ve been called the child of Jupiter, or Mercury, or Apollo. Usually Apollo. It doesn’t matter now. When I grew older I went along with the military because I could heal, and they didn’t think I could die, and I was a magical being, at least according to them. Life was good. Lap of luxury.
I went to Britain and met Eleora, as she stood on the edge of a cliff dancing by herself and singing. But I had to go back. It was a difficult time. A difficult time for me. Interesting too.
That time, all I could think about was her. She wasn’t the first of my kind I’d met. The other Vampires weren’t like me. They were dark without joy. Eleora was nothing but joy. I met other beings too. Not Roman gods, but others… demons, angels, werewolves, others.
I had to go back to Rome. I’ve told you I saw the star. You know the one they call the Christmas star. I was traveling with my freeman Felix, and a couple of slaves. We couldn’t find a place to stay. I could have but I wanted to keep my people with me.
There was a barn where there appeared to be a party. Inside were a couple of boys with their sheep. A young couple with a baby were huddled in a corner. Three rich guys in garish clothing were hanging out with their servants. All of the animals, from my horses, to camels, to dogs, and sheep. A few others were there as well. It was cold that night. In the 40’s I think. I greeted the others, and got a lot of stares. Here I was, pale and blonde, with a white and gold fur lined cape. Even my people were dressed better than anyone else.
We settled in next to the young couple. The child was only a day or two old. The girl, the mother, who was only fifteen, was ill. You see, it was a horrible time to be a woman, evenmore horrible than when you were a girl Juliette. She was full of fever and infection. I put my hand on her forehead and took the illness away from her. It took me an hour to recover. The rich party guys gave me wine thinking it might help. The girl smiled and thanked me, as did her teenage husband.
I took off my cape and put it around her shoulders. From my packs I took other blankets and warm furs and gave them to the husband and baby, then gave some to the Shepard boys.
It was like it had been so many times and would be so many times in the future. Help was needed and I needed to help.
I heard a noise on the roof, then looked to the doorway where another person had just arrived. He was tall and muscular with a face almost as handsome as mine. I knew him. He’d checked in on me since I was a child, but not always as a friend.
“Why’d you help them?” He asked me that without so much as a greeting.
“I didn’t have parents and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about it,” I said.
“You lived in luxury. You have everything you wanted.”
“I was a pet.”
“They think you’re a demigod,” he said with a laugh at the end of his words.
“I am not a demigod. I see this family, this tiny young family…” I suddenly didn’t want to talk about it. “Gabe, you can go away now. I’m done with you. You can’t tell me what to do or how to feel. You can’t take my soul because it is mine. You could kill me if you wanted to, but I know you won’t.
I am not like them, but I am not like you. I am not like a demon. I am… I am of this place, of this Earth, and only now do I feel I am of someplace. I am in love, something so rare in this world. I see this young couple and their child, so in love. It isn’t arranged. It wasn’t make by someone else…”
“It was made by someone else Tellias,” said Gabe. “It was something beyond either one of us.”
“I don’t believe in the Roman Gods,” I said.
“I’m aware of that. It wasn’t some guy who turns himself into a swan to get laid,” he said getting a little bit testy.
“I don’t care Gabe.” I told him, “The girl is going to live and raise her son with his father. They will grow old in their love. They will thrive in this stinking, horrible, loveless world.”
“We’ll see,” he said.
“Yes, we will. I have to get some food. Unlike you I’m not make of some sort of etherial dust. I’ll be back here in an hour,” I told him. I half expected him to follow but he hung out on the roof of the barn making sure nobody would bother the occupants. Everything with Gabe is always vague.
When I got back, my belly full of blood, and my arms full of food for the others, and I mean everyone who was there that night, Gabe was waiting for me.
“Tellias you know you aren’t like the others. You weren’t created by…”
“What moulded from mud or dust, or out of a random body part like all of your bedtime stories? No Gabe, I’m of this Earth. Yes, THIS EARTH. I don’t fit into your mold because I’m not like them. I’m not like you either. I’m not an angel or a demon, or a warmblooded human. I don’t follow your rules. I’m not motivated by vengeance or power.”
“What are you motivated by Tellias?”
I didn’t answer him. Once inside I passed out the food. I held the tiny infant while his parents ate.
“Fill the world with love and wisdom. Understand the value of peace and of life,” I whispered to him as he wrapped his tiny finger around my thumb. Then I whispered, “An angel is on the roof watching over you. I don’t know what that means, but don’t let him down. He’s a son of a bitch you don’t want to mess with. But on the other hand he’ll have your back. And kid, be good for your parents. You can’t even imagine how much they love you.”
Gabe put his hand on my shoulder. “I’ll watch over them now.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” I told him.
The next day I left with my man Felix, and my two slaves. I gave a few coins to the shepard boys, and gave my contact information with the rich guys who were keeping us laughing with their puns and trivia games.
For the young couple with the baby I hugged them and told them that their child was special. I told them to keep tight, and to hold onto love, no matter what anyone told them. The World was a changing place and I told them their generation would be right in the center of it. I told you the same thing when you were young Juliette. I told it to your children. God knows, it is changing for your kids.”
Then he leaned back in the chair and rubbed his eyes, and said nothing for a while.
I kissed his cheek then helped Eleora hang the funny Christmas animals on the Christmas tree.
After a while Tellias came over and put his arms around Eleora and me. “Dear Juliette, will you be here for Christmas Eve? I invited Gabe.”
Eleora took my face in her hands and kissed my cheeks. “You all must come! Especially your wonderful children.” And she danced around the room humming a long lost Christmas song.
Wishing you all peace and love, no matter who or what you are. And in small ways of kindness and caring we can make the world, or at least our own small corners of the world, as bright as a star in the ancient sky.
Raven sighed. “I am unsure why I must be the one to explain this, but very well. A microphone is a device that amplifies the human voice to make it carry further than it normally can travel. In this case, however, we are using it to amplify Ambrose’s voice so…
“This is the deal with bad children. Bad kids are either spoiled and have total control of their adoring parents, or they are abused and neglected by their parents, or there is something wrong with their genetic make-up and they are bound for a life of failure.
I spent a career scaring kids straight, but I never bagged one up. Not once. A few bad adults maybe, or abusive parents, but never the children. Alright, there have been a few children who were truly the spawn of our old friend Satan, so to speak, but not many. In the end they will be their own worst enemies. Well, at least most of them. The rest of them go into politics. So what shall I do with you Max?”
Over the decades Max had encountered Demons, Werewolves, Fallen Angels, Goblins, Vampire Hunters, Banshees, Ghosts, and all sorts of unsavory creatures, including warm blooded humans, but this was his first encounter with Krampus.
Max looked hard at the hairy horned man creature, with a voice like gravel and too many cigarettes, who sat on the closed toilet of his downstairs bathroom.
“Why are you in my bathroom Krampus?”
“Cause the world is full of shit so I feel more comfortable here,” said St. Nick’s Demon. Krampus rolled out his long tongue and opened the window across the bathroom.
“Stop it,” said Max. “Close the window, put your tongue back in your mouth.”
“What’s the matter Vampire man? Afraid I’ll leave coal in your stocking, or better yet drag you down to Hell?”
“I’m afraid you’ll never get out of my bathroom,” said Max.
Krampus stood up and stomped around stretching is knobby legs. “Do Vampires pee? Seriously man, do you ever take a shit like normal people?”
“Why’s your tongue so long?”
“Oh that. When I was a kid, just a small hairy thing with tiny horns, kids made fun of me. You know, other Demon kids. Some asshole said I was saying shit about him so he and his friends tried to pull my tongue out. Rather than rip out of my head, my tongue stretched, and stretched, and stretched, and when they were just about to give up I wrapped my tongue around them and choked them out until they turned to a puddle of green gray slime.
About that time St. Nick, only he wasn’t a saint yet, came strolling by. I could see the light bulb going off in his head. There weren’t light bulbs back then, but he had a great idea. He asked me if I wanted to help him with bad kids. And the rest is Christmas history. So what about you? Have you always been a Vampire?”
“I was born a Vampire. What are you doing here, in my house, bugging me?”
“You’re a Vampire. Look at you all handsome and healthy looking. You should look dead,” said Krampus said he flopped down in a black vintage Eames chair. “Do you have any coffee?”
Max was about to say something when he looked up and saw his girlfriend, sometimes girlfriend, friends with benefits, Mehitabel coming down the stairs in a fuzzy pink robe. She was also a Vampire, and so many other things that Max could never explain or even understand.
“Krampus,” she said as she saw the Demon sitting in Max’s favorite chair. “I didn’t know you and Max knew each other.”
“We don’t but I was passing through town, you know, and I was overwhelmed with the emotion of this time of year, and I didn’t want to be alone. St. Nick doesn’t want anything to do with me outside of Christmas and the big birthday party his wife throws for him every year. Everyone else fears me. The other Demons are assholes. I needed a place to chill and rest my tongue,” said Krampus.
“Poor baby, nobody should be alone this time of year.” said Mehitabel. Then she walked over to Max and gave him a kiss. “I’ll make some coffee.” Her hand went around and over his butt, then she slipped into the kitchen.
“Nice gig you have here Max. Beautiful home, beautiful woman, nothing for me to be mad about. Mind if I just hang for a few hours. You know, the girls don’t like me much, even with my amazing tongue. Now Mehitabel there, she is one fine piece of…”
“Stop right there. Where do you know her from? You and she haven’t…”
“No, no, no. We’ve crossed paths a few times in the past. No hanky panky. Aside from your amazing body and great head of hair, what the Hell is she doing with you?”
Max turned without answering and went into the kitchen. Mehitabel was sipping a mug of warmed blood with a shake of cinnamon. “Hey Max,” she said, kissing him lightly on the lips.
“What should I do with him?”
“Give him some coffee and he’ll be on his way. You’ve shown charity and compassion. That is all he wants. That is all anyone wants.”
Krampus came into the kitchen and laughed. “You’re so sweet. Well, I’m going to leave you two love birds alone. Be good to her Max or I’ll come back for you, and not in a good way. Thanks for letting me chill here for a bit.”
Then he put his clawed hand into his pocket and pulled out two lumps of coal and set them on the table. “If you squeeze these tight enough they’ll turn into diamonds. OK now, enough of sentimental shit, I have to go kick some bad kid ass. See you next year.”
Then he turned an went out the front door with the slight smell of sulphur and nutmeg.
Max and Mehitabel looked at each other and smiled. They each picked up a piece of coal and squeezed as hard as they could.
Mehitabel opened her hands and found a playing card. It was the Queen of Diamonds.
Max opened his hands and found a baby diamond back rattle snake. He threw the snake out the window. Right as he did that a hawk flew by, grabbed the snake, and flew away.
“Not the kind of diamonds we expected,” said Max. “Let’s go upstairs.” Then he took her hand and led her to his bedroom.
Later, after they’d made love, as they watched the setting sun from his bedroom window, Max kissed Mehitabel again and reached into the drawer of his nightstand.
“I have something for you,” he said, and then slipped a diamond ring on her hand. “I love you. Marry me.”
“OK,” she said, her eyes tearing up. “I love you too.”
Somewhere in the city Krampus walked down an alley looking for trouble. He stopped and laughed. “Good boy Max,” he said. “Good boy Max.”
This is one of my absolute favorite Christmas stories EVER – of ALL TIME. For a 6th year, I am honored to share a Christmas Story from my friend David. Prepare yourself for a real Christmas treat with this Holiday Classic! David’s work is featured in the WPaD anthologies. ~ Juliette
Chuck the Elf
By David X. Hunter
I was born in the Bronx way back in 1902.
St. Anne’s orphanage was the only home I ever knew till I went north years later. The place was crazy; a lotta little midgets running around makin’ a lotta noise. I guess I was one of ‘em, except I was no midget – I was an elf. I stayed in that place for 30 years until they figured out I wasn’t no kid! So I packed my shit up and hit the road. I joined the army for a while, got into some action at Omaha Beach even. After dat, I never trucked with the military much.
I joined the circus for a while – but the bearded lady and I didn’t get along. The fact was, I couldn’t stand life on the road livin’ wit all them freaks – I was longing for a fambly, if you get my meanin’.
One night, Christmas Eve if you gotta know – I was on the roof of my tenement building because my landlady didn’t like my cigar smoke. She always whiffed it through the vents and complained so I went up on the roof. I was feeling lonesome as hell too, wit the snow fallin’ and all streets quiet and empty. To be honest, I crawled out on the ledge. I was thinkin’ of just ending it. I was just a lowly Elf, livin’ off racetrack bets and scroungin’ for handouts.
I was a Bronx kid, though. I couldn’t do it. Plus, that street looked like it could hurt a guy real bad falling from dat height.
I went back on the roof and finished my stogie, lookin’ up at the twinklin’ snowy sky. It was damned cold. I never felt so bad in my whole life.
I saw sumpin’ then, over the East River. Looked like plane or some kinda flying object. I tracked it for a while and realized it was comin’ right towards me! I ran back and ducked behind a ventilator shaft.
I heard bells, and some guy yelling. I heard da soft thump of somethin’ landing.
Now don’t get me wrong – I ain’t no pansy or nuthin’ – but this was strange. I can deal with stormin’ a beachhead and all, but the unknown always unnerves me, y’know?
I peeked around the corner an I saw animals or somthin’, shakin’ snow off themselves. Everytime they did that, bells would jingle. There was some fat shmoe sittin’ in a red sled too. All of a sudden I hear my name!
“Charles! Charles! Come out from behind there!”
There was a silence as I was trying to figure out what to do.
“Who wants ta know?” I said after a while.
I peeked over my hiding spot and saw the lard-ass comin’ towards me. He was big – triple my size – but I figured if I bit his knee caps the odds would be evened out.
He stuck his head around the vent, and stared right at me.
“Charles! I found you!” he said. He had dis soppy smile on his face, what you could see of it anyway with that friggin’ large white beard.
“Listen Mack …” I started to say.
“Charles! You must come with me! You don’t belong here. You belong up at the North Pole with the others!”
I looked at dis guy and thought he was nuts. “You shittin’ me?”
He straightened up and crinkled his nose.
“I’m afraid I’m not! You are an Elf, of the elfus smallicus genus. All my staff up at the North Pole is comprised of Elves. You see, you were given up for adoption by mistake.”
I looked up at the guy, and I could see he was tellin’ da truth. Others like me? Elves? For true?
Dat was the one and only time I cried – at least since that time I pooped my pants back at the Orphanage and the sister swatted me a good one.
“Come! You can help me give out presents tonight, then we can take you home,” he said. He wedged his large ass back into the sled, and I followed. There wasn’t much space between his girth and all them sacks’a toys for me to sit, but I managed.
He tole me about his toy making racket and all the right-offs he got for it. Pretty slick, I had to agree. We shot up inna sky and I was dubious about them moose things haulin’ us up into the stratosphere and all, but they maintained a good speed, except for the turbulence which I didn’t care for.
All night long we delivered them friggin toys, all over the damned world, Australia, England, and places I never hoid of, like ‘Canada’. I was so tired by the end, I thought I’d collapse. But this guy, Santa, he had a mini bar in his sled and I had a few shots of whiskey. We delivered our last toy to some kid in Montana – a train set. We went down the chimney (I still couldn’t get over goin’ down them tings!). I was placin’ it under the tree when I heard a noise. I look over and see the kid peeking around the corner at me.
“Ain’t polite to stare, kid,” I said. “Murry Christmas.”
Da kid scampered off.
Not even ten minutes into our journey north I was out like a light.
So, I went to the North Pole. I met my mom! Saw all the udder elves like me. It was a happy homecoming, I gotta say. Still, I miss New York sometimes, even though I visit occasionally. I miss the smell of the Hudson, the rude people, the street vendors selling junk, Coney Island hot dogs, the racetrack, all of it. But it ain’t so bad up here; got lotsa snow, plenty of fresh air, and the pay is good. Made foreman a few years ago; I’m in charge of making them iPad thingies. Big responsibility. The uniforms could use some revamping, but y’can’t have everything, am I right?