CHRISTMAS IN NEBRASKA
Copyright, 2019 by E.C. McMullen Jr.
Once upon a dark Christmas night, as Santa flew across a cold Nebraska sky, he looked down and recognized a person he’d known ever since that man was a child.
Santa never liked Tony as a kid. No real reason, ‘You can’t like everyone,’ Santa thought.
“Little League Tony,” Santa called him. Hard working Kid with a great pitching arm and a bright future who never got a break.
Any college recruiter would have loved to get the teen Tony on a scholarship, if they’d only knew he existed. But his Mother was a mouse and his father an itinerant drunk, never letting the family stay long enough anywhere to build on anything.
Opportunity avoided adult Tony like the plague. Santa never understood it, but he accepted the nature of the world. His sympathy for such children long ago turned to pity and finally, as they grew into adults, antipathy.
Santa always felt that such “cursed” children didn’t deserve any breaks. Bad Karma is earned and all that. Santa certainly wasn’t about to help someone whose odds were always against them.
Santa’s long life taught cruel lessons and gave him a hard-nosed view of the world that broke his wife’s heart. Regarding Tony down there, who was blind to the fact that he was walking away from civilization instead of toward it, reinforced Santa’s views. To Santa, there was no point in helping such a person.
‘Never step into the path of someone’s misfortune,’ Santa sagely told himself.
So you can imagine the satisfying sense of schadenfreude that Santa, while flying over a wintry Nebraska below, felt upon seeing a grown Tony walking lost and alone in the snow, far from a broken down car and away from help.
‘You’ve been “Little League” your whole life,’ Santa thought.
He felt only contempt for Tony at witnessing yet another in the endless series of the man’s “plights”. So many children lead such interesting, fascinating lives, even if they never know it. But boring old hard luck Tony was the least entertaining kid Santa ever endured.
Head down, Tony shuddered from the piercing cold of a deep Nebraska winter wind.
‘He won’t need any presents where he’s going,’ Santa chuckled to himself.
Tony, his brain methodically shutting off blood to various parts of his body, in order to conserve heat to the vitals, registered Santa’s sleigh flying overhead.
Tony looked up in time to see Santa approach and joyfully wave to Tony with his middle finger.
‘Yeah, fuck you too, prick.’ Tony thought as his foot crunched against a snow covered stone.
Tony stumbled, then fell.
Santa, seeing this, felt merrily amused. He pulled the reins on his corsairs so he could do an aerial victory lap to celebrate Tony’s upcoming demise.
In angry frustration, Tony grabbed the rock that tripped him. He hefted it to get a sense of its weight. Forcing his eyes to sharpen on his prey, Tony tracked Santa’s circle, the old man’s, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” reaching Tony’s muffled ears.
With the only talent he ever had, Tony threw the stone, watching it sail high and arc far in front of Santa, and Santa’s reindeer and sleigh pulling the happy old man face first into the flying rock.
The merry old elf fell out of his sleigh, down through the arid sky, his body hitting ice and snow with a bone breaking thud.
Tony, feeling his fortunes had somewhat changed for the better, approached the stunned and disoriented man. Such bright and wonderfully warm clothes.
A little ways off, the reindeer touched down to wait for their master.
‘Merry Christmas to me.’ Tony thought as he stripped the dying elf. His heart felt as if it would glow with happiness.
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