General Fiction posted December 23, 2018


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Yes, Sheriff, There is a Santa Claus

by Y. M. Roger

"Hey, Isn't that Santa?" Contest Winner 

"Hey, isn't that Santa?"
 
The question repeated itself over and over as I led my collar to the squad car, helping him gently into the backseat. I reached up to put my hand on the top of his head like I’d done hundreds of times. Of course, this time, I accidentally knocked the stout, old guy’s red Santa-hat to the ground and the questioners’ voices transitioned to jeers of how I was ruining Christmas for all the kids.
 
I noticed our local television station here, too; my own children would get to witness their dad arresting Santa Clause on the nighttime news. Great.
 
Oh, and as icing on the cake, just as I was about to shut the car door, a little girl burst through the police line. She bumped me out of the way as if I weighed nothing, threw herself at the red-suit clad gentleman, and began pleading for him not to go – not to leave without helping her mommy make it home. Ahhh, the dramatic life of a small town sheriff.
 
I tried to gently remove her, but she simply wouldn’t let go, screaming to anyone with a camera phone about the bad man stealing Santa. Yes, you could officially say this was one of those times that I hated my job.
 
Sliding behind the wheel of my patrol car, I simply paused to catch my breath. I had just arrested a jolly old man in a red suit for trying to break into a pharmacy! And the kicker? When I’d asked him for a reason, he’d simply said ‘had to’ – what do you say to that? On Christmas Eve? Shaking my head, I glanced in my rearview mirror. He really hadn’t said much since I took him into custody and, goodness knows, he hadn’t resisted. In fact, he looked a little dazed.
 
“You comfortable back there?”
 
He looked directly at me through the partial-Plexiglas partition, but his eyes looked a bit unfocused. Then he just grinned really big.
 
“Well, young man! Or should I say ‘shhherrfff’, Clayton? What could Santa bring you for Chrissssismaaass?”
 
I frowned at his slight slurring and of his use of my first name, but, then, I just grinned. He was definitely a mental case; they could be fun sometimes.
 
“Always wanted a Santa Fe F-7 train set, Santa.”
 
I chuckled to myself, shaking my head and starting the car. The shouting crowd seemed have grown just in the last few moments. Thank you social media for the way a story spread these days.
 
“Well, I’m shhhhure Santa could handle that requesssss, sherrff,” his focus seemed to fall away again, “but have you sssseeen Alfred?”
 
Alfred? Oh, goodness. Now he thought he was Batman?
 
“Tell you what, I’ll radio Alfred and let him know where to pick you up, yeah?”
 
Once again, his eyes seemed to glaze over and he just stared through me. We began edging forward slowly, and my radio crackled to life. The radio noise definitely snapped him back to attention.
 
“Sheriff, this is Jackson. Uhhh, Sheriff, you there?”
 
Ahhh, yes, Ruby had the week off so, her young teen, Jackson, was sitting the call desk for her. Still inching the car past the not-so-Christmas-spirited crowd, I reached down and retrieved the radio microphone.
 
“Sheriff Conners, here. Go ahead, Jackson.”
 
Just then, my collar chimed in.
 
“Allferrd has stuuuuff, sheerrrff. Fiiiiine Allllfeeerd…”
 
I glanced in my rearview mirror and waved the old guy off; although, to be honest, it seemed like he was becoming more confused.
 
“Not now, Batman, we’ll find Alfred later.”
 
I focused back on the road and on Jackson.
 
“You can’t come to the station, Sheriff. Uhhhmmmm…There’s a crowd starting to gather with protest signs about your arrest of Santa Clause.”
 
He had to be kidding me. This guy had to go to jail; I wasn’t letting him go just because he was dressed like Santa. Can you imagine the copy-catters that would encourage?
 
“I’m not bringing him home with me to Christmas dinner, Jackson. Put Gibson on the phone.”
 
“Uhhmmm…Deputy Gibson is busy trying to calm the folks out front, Sheriff. She contacted Spartanista County next door.  Sheriff Donaldson there says you can bring Santa to his jail to avoid all the trouble here.”
 
I sighed, glanced in my rearview, and then down at the clock on the dashboard. Yep, between the arrest on the evening news and what I knew would be more press at the station just waiting to sensationalize this whole thing, I started to see the election next month not looking pretty. That nasty young upstart, Evan Phillips, was going to use every bit of this fiasco to paint me in an awful light. I tried to chuckle because, really, what else was I going to do?
 
“Call my wife, Jackson, and let her know not to wait up. And tell Gibson to call Donaldson – we’re taking him up on his offer. I should arrive at the Spartanista Jail in just over an hour.”
 
I stopped and looked over my shoulder. The old guy seemed to be slipping into some sort of daydream state.
 
“Hey, Batma-”
 
“No! Not Bassman, Sherrrfy,” he held up a hand that was quite shaky as he lifted the other shaking hand to grab the white-fur-lined sleeve on the first hand, “Seeeee…not cape! Resss sssuit! Alfresss hasssstuuuffff.”
 
“I got it, Santa,” I flipped on the pursuit lights, “you’re not Batman,” I turned onto the highway and accelerated, “but we’ll have to contact Alfred about the stuff when we get to jail, okay?”
 
He looked completed frustrated and began to almost rock in place and rub his arms. I could tell by the motions of his upper body that he was probably shaking both legs. Because I was really beginning to get concerned about him, I sped us along just as fast as I could without being reckless.
 
We’d just entered probably the most deserted stretch of highway across ours and neighboring states, when the old guy knocked erratically on the Plexi and began shouting at me in complete gibberish. His words had become more and more slurred since the arrest, but now, I could not make heads or tails of anything he was saying.
 
I turned quickly to reassure him, but, as soon as my eyes left the road and fell on him, his eyes instantly became like saucers and he pointed forward, shouting.

“Vishen!”
 
Instantly, I reacted and turned around. Good Lord! I slammed on the breaks, and the patrol car skidded to a stop just shy of the largest reindeer I had ever seen. But before I’d taken a recovery breath, my attention was drawn back to my collar; he’d started trying to open his door, his mumbling now dominated with the word ‘vishen’ over and over.
 
“Hey, calm down, Santa, we’ll ge-” I spoke as I turned back to check on the reindeer, but what I saw made the words die on my lips.
 
Standing there in front of the patrol car, beside the largest reindeer ever, was probably the shortest and, yes, smallest man…yes, you guessed it, ever. And, since the old guy’s Santa suit had not been enough to make my Christmas Eve complete, this man’s suit was about what a real life Peter Pan should wear. As we stared at each other, not even blinking, I realized that my collar had gone completely still in the back seat. Then, in the shocked silence, I heard the ‘thunk’ of something against a window.
 
Tearing my eyes from my staring contest with Peter, I turned to see that the old guy’s focus had completely blanked and his head was resting against the side window. I banged on the Plexi but got no response. Forgetting about Peter and his giant pet out front, I jumped out of the car and gently opened the back door, supporting the old man’s weight so he wouldn’t fall on the ground.
 
Before I could do anything further, Peter ran around and helped me sit him back up in the seat. As I stood – still facing the car with Peter between me and it – I watched Peter completely take over. I felt warm, soaking reindeer breath wash over the back of my head and through my hair.
 
Peter patted the old guy’s cheek, “Hey, Bossman, it’s Alfred.” So, Peter was Alfred. I wondered if this Alfred had the stuff… “Look at me, Bossman,” his voice was gentle yet firm as he pulled a syringe and accompanying vile from the pouch strapped around his waist.
 
Was I really gonna let this little guy give the old guy a fix right in front of me? Before I could move to answer myself or to say anything to Pet – I mean, Alfred, I felt a large, rough tongue drag across my neck and then those large reindeer teeth grabbed a firm hold of my neck. The animal grunted a very clear warning. Frozen in surprise, I made to slowly reach for my gun as Alfred, who’d obviously done this before, drew liquid into the syringe. He continued talking to the old guy the whole time.
 
“Got what you need but you gotta roll up your sleeve for me, Bossman.” The old guy, with extremely shaky hands, complied.
 
My hand reached my service revolver about the time my attention was drawn to just beyond the back of the car. And my hand simply fell away from my body in shock. When had that thing gotten there?
 
Just about twenty feet back – parked behind me as if it belonged there – was a magnificent sleigh and seven additional huge reindeer harnessed up, with an empty harness hanging slack one space back from the front.
 
“This cannot be happening,” I said more to myself than to anyone else.
 
As he sank the needle into the old guy’s upper arm, Albert actually responded to me.
 
“Our thoughts exactly, Clayton.” He wiped the injection spot and Santa pulled his sleeve back down. I could tell that, even in those few moments, his lucidity was beginning to return. Alfred stood, putting him about waist-high to me. The reindeer leaned over my shoulder toward Alfred for a nose-petting, giving me a face-full of antler.
 
“Thanks, Vixen. Back on, big guy.” Alfred motioned Vixen to the sleigh.
 
A sleigh with eight reindeer was right here! Which meant…
 
I rubbed my forehead as I glanced down at my col– I mean, Santa, and sighed.  Alfred reached out to shake my hand.
 
“Thank you.”
 
That was it as he then busied himself with harnessing Vixen.
 
Santa stood and engulfed me in a huge bear hug.
 
“Thank you, Clayton,” he released me and stepped back, “Missy packed my granola bars and my tablets tonight, and I forgot them.” He continued talking as he walked to the sleigh and began rummaging through it, “You know, this diabetes really makes things interesting, but we do fine.”
 
At that comment, Alfred gave not just an eye roll, but a full-bodied eye roll. I almost laughed through the spell of awe I was under as Santa walked back to me – big present in hand. He gave it to me.
 
“You always were a good boy, Clayton,” he smiled, mounting the sleigh like a young man, “You take good care of these folks for me, Sheriff.”
 
I wanted to say that my losing my prisoner with the excuse that he was the Santa Clause did not bode well for my re-election. But, as the team passed by me, picking up speed and rising into the air, Santa shouted back, “And don’t worry about the election, Clayton; Evan was a very naughty boy this year!”
 
I shook my head again as I watched them disappear over the tree tops. Before climbing back into the car, I ripped open my gift. It was my Santa Fe F-7 train set – the Election Celebration edition.
 
Guess it was going to be a good year after all.

 



"Hey, Isn't that Santa?"
Contest Winner


'collar' or 'the collar' or 'my collar' is police slang for the person arrested.

image from 'Santa Claus Jail Royalty Free Stock' at Shutterstock [www.shutterstock.com]
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