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Stalking Santa
By Tamara Becher

Then one day lady luck tripped over my drunken, crumpled body. I was 25, about two Carpenters songs away from killing myself, and sipping Manischewitz from a paper sack in an alley when I saw a little man walk by.

"Fucking Santa," he muttered angrily.

This foul-mouthed half-pint turned out to be one of Santa's disgruntled elves. He told me his name was Vinnie C., but he needed no introduction. I was quite familiar with his work in the yuletide classic Merry XXXmas. In exchange for the rest of my wine, a carton of smokes, and a naughty foot message, Vinnie gave me a list of all the houses Santa would visit this year. As I scanned down the list, a name from my past jumped out: Gwen Williams. She once gave me a gift that I would never forget. Herpes. Further down the list yet another name from my past grabbed my attention: Billy Johnson. This was almost too perfect. Ever since the Homeowner's Association caught Billy's dad corn-holing the Baby Jesus on their front lawn nativity scene, the family had been spending the holidays visiting him at the "rest home." I knew exactly what I needed to do without even thinking about it. I never thought I would sink so low, but I no longer had my dignity. I had already traded it for a pair of socks and some back issues of US Weekly.

I was going to kidnap Santa Claus.

On Christmas Eve I broke into the Johnsons' house, set up a trap, then waited anxiously in the shadows. Around eleven I got bored and flipped on the tube. That classic Christmas film Cocoon was on. Before Wilfred Brimley could describe the first boner he'd had in almost twenty years, I was fast asleep. At three a.m. I was awakened by the telltale sounds of jingle bells. My left eye began to twitch with anticipation. Or possibly the bottle of Robitussin I drank. Then there was the sound of hooves landing effortlessly on the roof. A puff of soot shot from the fireplace, and in a flash Santa was standing right there, mocking me with his large sack of presents. I waited until he was in the perfect position, then WHAM! I dropped the net on him. I ran over and hogged tied him faster than you could say shalom aleichem. If you could say it at all, that is. I flipped on the lights, giddy with triumph. Santa took one good look at me and said, "Ho, ho -- holy shit!"

"Zip it tubby," I commanded, "I'll be doing all the talking, see. Now make with the presents or Rudolph gets it where his nose don't shine!"

"Oh little boy, why would you want to do such a terrible to thing to Santa?"

"I'm not a little boy! I'm a Jew, I'm angry, and I want answers!"

Santa sat himself up. "Why would you be so upset with me? I only spread joy and good cheer to all the children of the world."

"What about Jewish kids?"

A panicked look sprang onto Santa's face. This was it. I was finally going to hear it from the fat fuck himself.

"Yes it's true. I don't bring presents to little Jewish boys and girls."

"Aha!" I shouted, as I performed the sacred Polish jig of righteousness.

"I can't because I must honor the wishes and traditions of their parents. But for those Jewish boys and girls who choose to believe in me, I bring them a different sort of present. The kind that cannot be placed in a box with a bow on it."

It looked like bullshit and it sure stank like the stuff, but I decided to hear the old man out.

"Do you remember that fateful Christmas morning you found your Uncle Morrie eating lox in the living room?" he asked, like he was asking a three-year-old if they remembered to flush.

"Christ, who could forget that unsavory image. That was the same year my father had an aneurysm after I tried to build a chimney in the living room and knocked down a wall with his Buick. Boy, I'll never hear the end of that one."

"Do you remember what else happened that day?"

"Sure. Uncle Morrie got a rare strain of botulism and died."

"That's right," he said. "What you don't know is that your mother was planning on serving you that lox for breakfast. If you had eaten it, you yourself wouldn't be standing here today."

"You really did that? You caused my Uncle Morrie to have an early morning smoked salmon craving, which in turn saved my life?"

"You bet your bad breath I did. But you were so wrapped up in the gifts you didn't receive, you couldn't appreciate the one precious one you did."

I fell back into the rocking chair, completely in awe of the lesson Santa just taught me. I felt sorry for all the years I wasted searching for fool's gold. Suddenly I heard a siren. Blue and red flashing lights filled the room. I grabbed Santa threateningly by the coat and said, "What gives?"

"I've got an STD."

I let go of him immediately.

"Santa anti-Tamper Device. Automatically alerts the police in the event that someone tries to F with my S."

The rest of the evening is kind of a blur. I was cuffed and read my rights. As they walked me towards the squad car, Santa came over to get in one last lick. I gave him a good kick in the chestnuts before he could open his jolly pie hole.

Although the official charge was kidnapping, with intent to ruin a national holiday, I maintain that my only real crime was seeking the truth. The trial was long and bitter. My lawyer said my fate was sealed when Mrs. Claus gave a tearful testimony about how Santa could no longer perform his "husbandly duties" after the assault. The newspapers called me every unoriginal name in the book from "Scrooge" to "Grinch" to "Christ-killing whore of Sodom." But it didn't bother me too much. In fact, it was kinda cool to become a new chapter in the Santa Claus story, though I never imagined my life would become a cautionary tale to others.

So now here I am in prison and I'm learning lots of new things everyday, like cornrows aren't as fun as they look, and "shiv" is not a Yiddish word. But of all the things I've learned, thanks to Santa, I take time each day to appreciate the small miracles. When the trial was over, reporters asked me if I thought Santa would ever forgive me. At the time I said I didn't think so. But year after year, on Christmas Day, I know that he does. Whether I find an extra slice of turkey on my tray, another smoke in the pack I thought was empty, or my latest herpes outbreak suddenly clears up, I know he forgives me.


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