Santa’s Helper by Bill Baber.

Bill Baber, Christmas, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine

It was a job and a shitty one at that. Wasn’t going to do much more than pay the rent for the month and make a small dent in a growing mountain of bills. It sure as hell wasn’t going to buy presents for her two kids- it might not leave enough for a goddamn tree and lord knows her rotten prick of an ex wasn’t going to contribute anything.

She had hoped she might have landed a job at the cosmetics counter at Goodall’s Department Store. Or, if not that, maybe in lingerie. Even fitting fat woman with bras and helping horny husbands and boyfriends pick out red satin and white fir trimmed nighties to dress their women in on Christmas Eve would have been better than this.

It started with the outfit. A scratchy, too short green felt dress. A goofy red hat, red tights to match and some stupid looking things she wore on her feet that curled up at the ends. On top of that, they expected her to paint two bright red dots the size of a silver dollar on her cheeks.

She was supposed to be an elf, Santa’s helper. Santa was half in the bag most of the time and smelled like the crapper at O’Malley’s pub. On top of that, the fat bastard – she knew for a fact that he didn’t use any extra padding- goosed her every chance he got. She took the wee ones from their mothers and loaded them on the old goat’s lap. Then tried to coax a smile out of the poor things while some bored looking junkie took pictures.

It was a week before Christmas and, it was payday. The idea hit her like a lump of coal. Santa was especially frisky that evening. He had lewdly lunged at her breasts and slapped her rump twice.

The assistant manager handed them each an envelope at closing time-his obviously fatter than hers.

“So Santa, what do you say we grab a drink and then have a little fun?”

He fixed his pig eyes on her and grinned wickedly.

“Ho Ho Ho, let’s go!” he replied.

They stood at the bar at O’ Malley’s and the cheap bastard didn’t even buy her a drink. Instead, he kept trying to reach under her skirt. She wasn’t sure if she could go through with her plan. But it would mean a tree and the Nintendo game little Jake wanted and the Barbie Ferrari for Julie underneath it.

The lecherous sot was downing shots like water. She sipped a beer. After a while he said,

“Let’s go to my place.”

He got a pint of Black Bush to go.

His room was just a block or two away and looked like something out of a 40’s movie; single, un-shaded light bulb, a stained mattress with a couple of dirty old blankets and a hot plate. A yellowed blind was pulled down over the window, trash strewn around and a stink permeated the small room like meat gone bad.

As soon as he closed the door, he forcefully threw her on the bed and started groping. Her purse flew across the room. Put his mouth close to hers and tried to kiss her. His breath was like reindeer poop.

“Wait, wait Santa!” she pleaded, “I gotta pee and put my diaphragm in.”

With a grunt, he rolled off of her. Started peeling off his Santa costume. He had started to sweat and the stench was overpowering. She thought she would be sick.

She retrieved her purse and as Santa was tugging his black boots off she pulled a .38 revolver from her purse and shot him twice in the side of the head.

Grabbing the envelope with his pay and the unopened bottle of whiskey, she fled the apartment.

She stopped at Wal Mart and brought presents for her kids and two boxes of cheap ornaments along with a string of lights and some wrapping paper. After taking them home, she went back out and at a lot three blocks away bought the cheapest tree they had. When she returned, she poured a stiff drink from Santa’s bottle, wrapped the presents and decorated the tree. The look on the kids face the next morning made it almost worthwhile. She found it ironic that she had killed Santa Claus to provide Christmas for her children. But a girl had to do what a girl has to do sometimes. After a while, she was okay with what had happened.

No one was too surprised when Santa didn’t show up for work the next day. When the cops found him, they discovered he was an ex- felon who among other things had done time for rape. They wouldn’t spend much time on this case. They figured someone had done them a favor.

He was replaced by a kindly old gent who called her “dear” and always seemed to have a seasonally appropriate twinkle in his eye.

On Christmas night, after the kids had gone to bed exhausted and happy, she sat at the kitchen table, looking at the sparsely decorated tree. She poured the last of the dead man’s whiskey and smiled to herself. In the end, old St. Nick had come through, just as she had promised her kids he would.