by Zoltan James
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house the only creature stirring was my spouse. And, me, after she woke me up!
She said, “You better watch out!”
“Huh?” I said.
“I hear sleigh bells in the snow,” she said.
Not a man of many words, I said, “Oh.”
She dashed to the window and threw up the sash —
Frankly, I didn’t know her stomach was upset.
–and screamed in delight, “I hear bells on bob tail ring.”
She turned and gave me one of those looks that can fry your eyeballs. “Are you listening?”
“Look outside. The snow is glistening. It’s a beautiful sight. We’re happy tonight.”
I rubbed my eyes and scratched my leg. “We are?”
“In the meadow we can build a snowman,” she said. Her eyes glistening like the snow.
“Are you nuts?” I said. “It’s midnight and it’s colder than a brass monkey sitting on the front porch at the North Pole out there. Close that window.”
Finally, she pulled the window down and took my hand. “C’mon, let’s conspire by the fire.”
I resisted. “I think we should go to bed and let sugarplums fill our heads.”
She pulled me down in front of the hearth and switched on the gas fireplace. She took my hands in hers and looked dreamily into my eyes. “Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore,” she said.
“Why are you talking so weird?”
“Oh darling, let your heart be light. From now on our troubles will be out of sight.”
I placed my palm on her forehead. “Are you okay? How many rum eggnogs did you have?”
She ignored me and smiled sweetly as if I had just been released from a mental hold. “Oh the fire is so delightful and since we’ve got no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let is snow.”
It concerned me that she was repeating herself.
And, then to my surprise, a big pair of black boots landed in our fireplace with such a thud, I shuddered thinking we were having an earthquake. “Ooh. Ooh. Ow, ooh, ouch, grzfruph” a disembodied voice echoed from the chimney. And then with a clatter, this jolly old elf of a man rolled into our living room. “Holy cow!” I said as I jumped to my feet. “He’s dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes are all tarnished with ashes and soot.”
My wife gave me the raised eyebrow. “Why are you talking so strange?”
I heard myself stammer. “I b-better get the g-gun.”
She grabbed my hand. “Relax. It’s Santa Claus. See his eyes how they twinkle.”
The little old man wobbled to his feet, shook his clothes around, and straightened a furry red cap.
“Twinkle? He’s on meth. Or crack. Or something illegal. And, he’s got a bag. He’s here to steal us blind.” I wrenched my hand free and dashed to the bedroom to find my Glock. “Santa Claus, my aardvark. No bag man dressed like that in red and white fur was going to steal my prized collection of Carpenter’s albums.
I raced back down the hall and skidded to a stop in the living room. Our Christmas tree was lit up…well, like a Christmas tree… and around its base were a pile of wrapped presents that were not there before. My wife had removed her robe and was lying seductively on large pillows by the fireplace. Her hair flowed freely around her bare shoulders. Her scanty Santy teddy glowed a dozen shades of red capturing sparks of light shooting from the tree and the fire.
She was messing with my head. I shook off the scene and remembered why I was holding a gun. “Where’s the little thief. I want to give him something to cheer about.” I chambered a round. The chunk of metal on metal sounded reassuring. I took a three-point stance and scanned the room with my gun held out, two-handed, like the detectives do on TV. But the old guy was nowhere to be seen. “Where’s the freaking perp?”
“He’s gone,” she cooed. “He left us goodies, layed his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!”
I lowered my gun and gave her a stare. “You’re talking nonsense, again.”
“Come here, baby,” she said as she curled a finger and winked. She held up two glasses of wine, a white for her and a red for me. “Come be my Santa tonight and jingle my bells.”
I made a note to myself never to buy that brand of eggnog again. It was definitely messing with her brain. But, since I figured our home was safe and sound, and now that I was wide awake, I might as well relax. Maybe the wine would help me get back to sleep. I sat next to her. Her body was warm against my chest. The fire felt warm against my back and the soft glow from the tree began to soothe out the wrinkles in my mind. Before long we got to mistletoeing, I felt my heart glowing, and it was the most wonderful time of the year.
When I awoke, she was in her kerchief and I in my cap. She raised up on her elbows and said, “That was a strange nap.”
“You, too?” I said. “I had the weirdest dream.”
“Honey,” she said.
“Do you believe in Santa Claus?”
“Used to. Why?”
“I dunno. It’s just. . .odd. I had the strange sensation he was really here,” she said while shaking her head as if it might loosen some cobwebs.
“Okay. No more eggnog for you before bedtime. I think we got a bad batch.”
She laughed and threw her arms around my neck. She pulled off my cap and her kerchief. Her long hair flowed across her bare shoulders and onto my chest. She cooed in my ear. “I’m your elf slave, Santa. Merry Christmas.” She kissed me hard on the lips and pushed me down onto my pillow. “Ouch!” she said.
She put her warm hands down by my leg and with two fingers gingerly pulled my gun out from under the sheets. “What is this doing here?”
I felt my face turn red and gave her my best sheepish grin. “I’m happy to see you?”
Her smile turned upside down.
“Well, you know what they say?” I said, searching for some way to redeem myself.
“What’s that?” She gave me the raised eyebrow look that can stop a speeding freight train dead in its tracks.
“They say you should never have sex in bed without protection.”
She crinkled her nose and laughed and playfully pushed on my nose. My eyes immediately watered. Anyway, I put the gun away and before long we got to mistletoeing, our hearts started glowing, and it was the most wonderful time of the year.
# # #
With sincere apologies to the talented lyricists who’ve given us such delight over the years with popular Christmas songs we’ll always remember. And, a big apology to Clement Clarke Moore, the author of the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” written in 1822. It was first published in The New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823.
Remember. Make every hour your happy hour. Merry Christmas to All. Ho. Ho. Ho. And, to all a wonderful time of the year!