The Two Santas

Here’s one I wrote a few weeks ago, then forgot about. There’s a smidgen of swearing by the way, just to warn you if you happen to be bothered by that sort of thing.

Nine-year-old Sammi Sanderson flushed the toilet, washed her hands and wandered blearily out of the bathroom onto the landing, where she stumbled into a stranger who clamped his hand around her mouth and pulled her into her bedroom.

The stranger pushed her gently onto the bed, keeping his hand over her mouth. ‘Don’t scream,’ he said.

Sammi looked the man up and down. He was clad in a red suit with a furry white trim, and a hat to match. He wore big black boots. It couldn’t be, could it? It was Christmas Eve night, after all. But he didn’t have a beard, and he didn’t have a big belly.

‘Don’t scream,’ said the man again. Sammi nodded. The man took his hand away and looked around, as if unsure what to do now.

‘Are you a burglar?’ asked Sammi.

‘Ho ho ho,’ said the stranger. ‘Of course not, little girl.’

‘Or a murderer?’

‘No, I’m Santa!’

‘Then where’s your beard? And why are you so thin?’

‘I’ve been ill,’ said Santa, cagily.

‘Yeah, right, whatever, MUUUUM—‘

Santa clasped his hand around Sammi’s mouth again. ‘Look kid,’ he hissed. ‘You promised you wouldn’t scream. I really am Santa, all right? I’ve got alopecia – severe hair loss. Do you have any idea how old I am?’

Sammi shook her head.

‘Thousands of years old, that’s how old. So many I stopped counting roundabout the time of the plague. Hah, my workload got lighter for a while back then, I can tell you. But now I’m really old, and my body’s letting me down. Hence the hair loss.

Sammi managed to wriggle free.

‘Look, I only came upstairs to have a wee,’ he said.

‘Scuse me?’ said Sammi.

‘A wee. I don’t have a toilet on my sleigh, do I? Sometimes I go over the side into the sea, but that’s really only a last resort.’

‘What about poos?’ said Sammi.

‘How old are you, kid? Yes, of course poos sometime as well. Usually I have to stop off at a couple of houses on my rounds every year and do a great big steaming dump in their toilet. Is that what you want to hear?’

‘Gross,’ said Sammi. ‘Now, you’ve explained the hair loss. Why are you so thin?’

‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ said Santa.

‘Tell me!’ said Sammi.

‘No!’ said Santa, beginning to lose his rag.

‘Tell me or I’ll blow your head off!’ hissed Sammi, flipping over her pillow and grabbing a revolver, pointing it at Santa’s head.

‘Jesus, kid!’ said Santa. ‘What the hell!’

‘Tell me or I’ll shoot. I don’t believe you’re really Santa.’

‘What’s a kid like you doing with one of those?’

‘This is a bad neighbourhood,’ said Sammi. ‘I’d have thought you of all people would know that, being Santa and all. You’ve seen all our houses, how we live. My dad gave me this last Christmas, to protect myself if a burglar or a murderer creeps into the house at night, just before he ran off to live with his probation officer.’

Santa thought of asking about that, but decided it was best not to.

‘NOW TELL ME WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!’

‘No!’

Sammi cocked the revolver. The moonlight suddenly flicked in through a crack in the curtains, glinting on the gun barrel and illuminating Sammi’s long blonde hair ‘NOW!’

‘I got food poisoning… badly… from deer.’

‘Deer…’ said Sammi. ‘You mean reindeer?’

Silence.

‘You eat your own reindeer?!

‘Not the famous ones!’ protested Santa. ‘I’ve got others. Of course I do, I mean Rudolph and Dancer got randy one day, then suddenly I’ve got loads of blimmin’ deer. So I sold some, and some I kept for breeding.’

‘And eating.’

‘They’re delicious, OK?’ he said, defensively. ‘Just don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. But yeah, a few weeks ago it tasted a bit funny. Underdone. I knew it was dodgy. That’s what I get for letting the elves cook. I was running to the toilet every half an hour for days. Lost loads of weight, and I still feel really weak. But it’s Christmas, so I’ve just got to get on with it.’

Just then a second Santa walked into Sammi’s bedroom.

 


 

‘What the fuck?’ said the new Santa.

‘What the fuck?’ said the first Santa.

‘What the fuck?’ said Sammi, swinging her pistol in the direction of the second Santa. This one looked more like the real deal, large of belly and larger of beard.

‘Ho ho ho?’ he said. ‘Merry Christmas? May I use your toilet, kid?’

‘Who are you?’ said Sammi.

‘Who do I look like, littl’un? I’m Santa!’

‘No,’ said Sammi. ‘He’s Santa!’

Santa Two looked at Santa One. ‘No, littl’un. Look at him. Where’s his big belly? Where’s his beard?’

‘I’ve been sick,’ mumbled Santa One.

‘Oh, please,’ said Santa Two. ‘I think you’ve fallen for a ruse. This man is an imposter. Probably a burglar or a murderer. I’m Santa.’

‘No you’re not, I am!’ said Santa One, wiping his eyes and standing up straight. ‘You’re the imposter.’

‘Well now,’ said Sammi. ‘Here’s the thing. I’m going to have to shoot one of you, because one of you must be a burglar.’

‘Or a murderer,’ said Santa Two, helpfully.

‘Yes, or a murderer,’ said Sammi. ‘So… which of you is the real Santa?’

‘He is!’ said both Santas simultaneously, pointing at each other.

Sammi sighed. ‘It’s going to be like this, is it? I hope this isn’t going to take ages. I thought you both needed the toilet?’

‘We do!’ said the Santas.

‘Then let’s get this over with before one of you widdles on my rug. Now, which of you is the real Santa?’

‘I am,’ said Santa One.

‘Kid,’ said Santa Two. ‘He obviously isn’t the real Santa. Look at him. He’s wasting away. He’s got no beard. How could he lug bags of presents up and down chimneys? He can barely stand.’

Sammi eyed the two Santas.

‘Here’s what we’re going to do,’ she said eventually, standing up and walking over to her desk while making sure to keep her pistol trained on both Santas. She picked up two pencils and two pieces of paper, and passed them to the men. ‘I want you both to write down the names of your reindeer. The ones,’ she turned to Santa One, ‘that you haven’t eaten.’

‘Eh?’ said Santa Two.

‘If one of you makes a mistake, I’ll know that one isn’t the real Santa. And that one dies,’ she said, almost happily. ‘And no peeking at each other’s lists.’

The Santas looked at each other.

‘Well, what are you waiting for?’ snapped Sammi. ‘Get started!’

Both Santas looked at her, then each other, and began to write. A minute later, they both shakily handed their papers over.

Sammi glanced at one, and then the other, and – bang! – shot Santa Two in the face. His body crumpled to the ground.

Dixon?’ she snorted to the corpse. ‘It’s Vixen, you idiot.’

Santa One’s legs buckled and he collapsed to the floor in relief. ‘Thank God, thank God,’ he said. ‘But little girl, what will you do with—‘ he nodded at the still twitching body of Santa Two – ‘him?’

‘It’s no problem,’ she said. ‘My mum will get my Uncle Ron round tomorrow. Him and his boys will take care of it. It’ll be like nothing happened.’

‘Oh,’ said Santa One. ‘Right.’ He dragged himself to his feet. ‘OK.’

‘You’d better use the loo then,’ said Sammi.

‘Yes.’

‘And then get yourself gone. There’s boys and girls waiting for their presents. I hope they’ve all been nice.’

‘Yes,’ said Santa One. ‘Right.’ He shuffled towards the bedroom door.

‘Oh, one more thing?’ said Sammi. Santa One turned back towards her, and she shot him in the face too.

‘I don’t believe in Santa,’ she said as his body hit the floor.

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