The thing about snorting reindeer dust is that you get so high that it takes you almost a full year to come down. So you can imagine how bad off old Kris Kringle was after having spent the last six months on an extravagant freebasing bender in Tangiers.
Now he sat in a puddle of filth (really a god-knows-what dirty little soaker), twitching involuntarily in a textbook bowery back alley. He wasn’t sure exactly where he was, but passersby were speaking English. He also knew with the holidays fast approaching thanks to the simulacrum charity Santa in a raggedy red suit ringing his bell on the corner.
The siren call of Christmas goodwill. Why, that bastard was mocking him. This would not stand.
“Vicious doppelgängers!” Kris yelled as he shook his fists. “I would like to defile every last one of them. Look at him, standing there, a shallow parody of my legend.”
Christmas commercialization had finally reached critical mass for the previously jolly old elf. Over the years, it had been slowly wearing away at him, eating little bites of his soul. When he had begun the operation, not many thought about the holidays before December. But as each season passed, the decorations and sales started a bit earlier. This creeping death of innocence had inched backward until he began receive letters from greedy children in early July.
It was too much for the big man. He could no longer rely on emotional constitution and somewhat his magical, spiritual foundation. In desperation to get back to a place that no longer existed, he sought to fill that hole through external means, abusing eggnog and reindeer dust to the point of impotence. When they say they make “toys” at the North Pole, it’s important to know that the word “toys” can mean many things. Mrs. Claus has become grateful for that fact.
Impotence was but a side result of Santa’s downward spiral. While he stewed his gacked-out stupor, he pondered the scars that disfigured his recent history…
1999 – Very fuzzy. The Y2K scare had led to an “End of the World” party. A small group of computer programmers from China had begged him to let them wait out the apocalypse at the North Pole. As they arrived with a pallet of Golden Triangle party favors and hookers, he couldn’t say no.
2003 – Spent half the night with an overfriendly Belladonna. Half of the deliveries were made on Boxing Day. He was sore and the kids were disappointed.
2007 – Major arterial collapse caused him to skip the coal for the naughty bullshit. This resulted in a full year of compounded naughty behavior from those that felt their poor choices had actually been rewarded.
2008 – The beginning of the serious skids. The American bank collapse led to a shortage of coal. There wasn’t enough to go around. Naughty kids were given hand grenades instead. This was followed by that whole Easter Bunny candy-for-sex scandal and the elves unionized. What else would ease the pain but magically enhanced narcotics? However, those owning stock in companies that produced prosthetics for children had a banner year for dividends. So there was that.
2010 – The poor world economy led to multiple “distribution” runs throughout the summer in order to avoid bankruptcy. His disgust with mass marketing reached dangerous levels. He began to make midnight phone calls, issuing death threats to Midwest shopping mall Santas. As his caller ID referred to “The North Pole,” he feared little reprisal. Who would ever believe that shit?
2012 – Couldn’t remember a damn thing. The whole year was a bottomless pit of sleaze and excess – something one might want to remember. Sounds kind of fun, really.
Here he was – drunk, wacked out – a wide spectrum of chemical enhancement cruising through his veins at mach 5. He was suffering from visual and auditory hallucinations. His despair was choking his will to continue living. If he died, would anyone really notice?
He was sitting in a half-frozen puddle in a dark alley on the wrong side of town. How far down the rabbit hole had he fallen?
“I should have made that deal with Hanukkah Harry,” he muttered. “That way, after Halloween, fucking paper mache dreidels would go up at every shopping center and people would get their pictures taken with Rabbis. Huh. Crabble dabble.”
A voice broke through his hazy ramble. “Kris? Is that you?”
He raised his head slowly, trying to focus on the figure that was standing over him. He did not recognize him at first, but then a long dead memory rose up from the deep recesses of his reptile brain.
Best to exercise caution. “Herbie? No. Hermey?”
“Yes! A thousand times yes!” the elf who-wanted-to-be-a-dentist said. “What are you doing here in skid row?
“Hating life. Wasting away. Just leave me be.”
“Never. Never never.” Hermey frowned. “Why are you so sad? What happened?”
There was a flash of clarity in Kringle’s eyes. “I have to snort a gram of reindeer dust just to keep from snapping people’s necks in their sleep while I put poorly made, imported plastic crap under their flame retardant bullshit artificial trees. I just can’t stomach it anymore. Hermey, I have come to the conclusion that I harbor a deep and growing hatred for the human race.”
The elf recoiled. “I can’t believe I am hearing you say this! It can’t be that bad.”
Kris snorted a laugh. “The level of individual greed has gone beyond the measurable point of perception. The media inspired desire to consume has turned people into a predatory blur of uncontrolled impulse.”
“Well, that was an incredibly sober and cogent statement. Honestly, I’m not sure how you pulled that off. But Santa, what about the children?”
“Fuck the children. They are all, ‘I wanna, I wanna.’ Their letters, emails, and texts read like terrorist demands. It doesn’t matter what you give them, they just bitch about it on Twitter the next day. “ He took a deep sigh. “Ah, I’m a lost cause. Forget about me. Tell me something good. How are things with you?”
“I’m a dentist, just like I always wanted and I just do my thing.”
“Nice. What the hell are you doing here?”
“I just delivered nitrous to a blind pig that serves balloons of it and I –“
Something stirred deep within the old fat man, and for once it wasn’t his impacted bowels.
“Wait. Did you say nitrous? Can you get me some?”
“Uh, I suppose. Why?”
“Because where there’s nitrous, there’s hope, son. THERE JUST MIGHT BE A CHRISTMAS AFTER ALL!” boomed Santa, jumping to his feet. “We must hurry, there isn’t much time.”
“I’m not sure how nitrous works to create hope, but anything for you, Santa.”
After talking to a few unsavory types down at the docks, he was able to secure a truck that allowed him to transport 1000 tanks of happy gas through Canada and straight to the North Pole. Although anxious about crossing the border, the excitement was enough to distract the poorly articulated puppet that was Hermey to keep from pissing his red felt pants. Although dentistry had been a satisfying career (with minimal thoughts of suicide), the days of making toys had been sorely missed. The band was back together!
The next few days were a blur, but of not of the chemically created variety. The elves worked three shifts to complete the year’s quota, although the overtime costs were sure to bury them in the long run. Santa displayed an energy that had been long dormant and although he routinely huffed the nitrous from a respirator, Mrs. Claus was convinced that most of the now-returned joviality was intrinsic in nature. She ultimately didn’t care, as her chubby hubby was giving her the big candy cane on a nightly basis.
And somehow, with all the odds stacked against them, they were ready for Christmas.
Hermey and Santa strapped several nitrous tanks to the famous sleigh, waved goodbye to Mrs. Claus and the house elves, and whipped the living shit out of the reindeer team. They were flying high — literally, figuratively, and chemically.
By using carefully measured amounts of the gas, Santa was able to finally get a handle on his dust habit. By trading one vice for another, he was able to make all of the children of the world happy in spite of his terrible addictions. What would turn out to be a three month hangover was the price for making the world safe for yet another year of insatiable consumer appetites, crowded parking lots, and insurmountable credit card bills.
Across the globe little people danced, animals were slaughtered for feasts, assault rifles were fired in celebration, strippers danced for free, cable TV rates went down 1%, value meal menus expanded, meteors that were going to destroy the Earth deviated from their deadly trajectories, and for one brief moment the world smiled in unison.
Christmas had been saved.
So when you are unwrapping your presents be sure to thank your dentist the next time you are scheduled for a cleaning, gum scaling or root canal. Unless that dentist is a possessed wooden doll – in that case you should probably get the fuck out of there.