Wind and snow ghosted high above him and huge wet flakes began to swirl down. They spun into his reddening eyes and for a moment the Christmas lights, decorations, the crowd and reflections melted and formed crayon scenes of a massacre. Something bright came around the corner, and as his vision cleared, he recognized the man as Santa.
Sheltered by an alley doorway and a garbage bin, jolly Santa lit a cigar and pulled a bottle of cheap sherry from his sack.
As he frowned at Santa, he remembered his father saying - Santa is a bad man, teaching children to be greedy. Yes, he’s a bad man, he thought as he crept up and swung his metal bar, cracking Santa on the head. Santa, the nasty fella must pay, he said as he hit him again and again, watching some chocolates, cherries and mints rolling in the spattering blood.
Inside in the washroom he washed the blood out of Santa's costume, then put it on and strolled across the tiled floor to the exit. Adjusting his suit, he looked across the mall and focussed on the fake reindeer and Santa's booth. Sticky gumby men, sugarplums and the instruments he’d use in a New Year's torture chamber fell through his mind as he walked to Santa's throne.
He was early, no lineup yet - an adorable little blond girl came out of nowhere and jumped to his lap, and he couldn't spot any parents with her. The only person watching was a nasty looking freckle-faced boy.
Lucky day, I've found a stray already, he thought, as his eyes went to her ghostly pale face.
What’s your name, little girl?
Angela, that's nice. And where are your parents?
Oh, you've run off from your mom. So that's why you’re so pale. Well, well. How about telling Santa what you want for Christmas?
As she spoke, he really felt like Santa, soaring with his sleigh through a shaken bubble of blue and flurries. Cones, needles, wreathes, presents showering down as he flew. But the people below were greedy, their uplifted faces twisted mean, and his good gifts turned to fluttering money and a shower of gold coins. Angered, he swooped down, grinding hooves and runners into the crowd.
Blood showered his dreams, no one was watching, he was about to stuff a sock in the little girl's mouth and thrust her into the bag. Then it would be off to the North Pole and his and his mistletoe.
But the weird little boy was still watching, and in an uncanny way -- the vile urchin had teeth like cat fangs and he grinned like he was hungry for a taste of Santa’s leg.
White Christmas was playing in the mall -- he was somehow picking up on the boy's thoughts, and he shook his head, trying to get rid of the images. But he couldn't, and he saw things through the boy's eyes -- the colorless faces in the crowd, pale reflections in shop windows, eyes full of tinsel and silliness, mouths that were an empty stamp. Then there was Santa - his nose a pink-veined knob, cheeks like rosy wine, a plump bottle of sweetness. Santa brightened Christmas with red firelight. And he longed to sink his teeth into . . . .
A sudden bang and shattering glass startled them, and the girl cut her wish list short. Gunshots, a robbery over at the fur shops. A wounded clerk was falling, his face mashed to cherry pie by a shotgun kick right between the eyes. Two masked crooks flashed their sawed-offs as they fled with some goods.
All eyes were on the armed men. It was Santa's moment - grabbing a sock he moved to stuff it in the little girl's throat. And he was just getting it in when the little boy landed on him.
He howled -- his best Santa yell, but the kid had the strength of a tiger. Fangs penetrated, Santa could choke but he couldn’t shout. His blood flew up like a ribbon as he kicked and slid down in his throne.
Pinned on the floor, he had the feeling of looking up from the bottom of an immense black chimney. The little girl was above him with the Christmas stocking in her hand --- pale and ghostly, she floated straight up to the higher levels. And he heard her singing as the hungry boy growled and sucked his blood.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la.