Prose

Ho Ho Hold Up!

30 November 2018

Binoculars? Check.

Pepper spray? Check.

Grappling hook? Check.

You better watch out, Big Red.

The night was sweltering, despite all the jingles. Snow was a laughable concept for this part of the globe. A white Christmas even more so. Handcrafted snowflakes in windows were a poor substitute, but this festive season brought out a desperation like no other. Harry made himself comfortable on the roof, keeping his swinging legs from hitting the gutter. It was imperative that his hiding spot wasn’t compromised, for his opponent had been in the game long enough to prove a worthy challenge.

12:07 AM. Should be here any minute now. I’ve got you this time.

A barely discernible ringing had Harry on his feet, binoculars out. And there, in all his jolly glory, was the big man himself. He perched his transport on the adjacent rooftop, unaware of his hidden adversary. Harry had been waiting for this moment for an entire year, so he wasted no time leaping over the narrow gap between the two neighbouring houses and confronting the man in red.

“Santa Claus you’re under arrest.”

Big Red was unperturbed by the hostility in Harry’s voice and greeted him with a warm smile.

“Ah Harry, my boy, so good to see you again! But I must say, I can’t recall committing any crime since the last time I saw you.”

“Really? You can’t recall breaking and entering into billions of homes in one night?”

It was a wonder the benign man’s booming laughter didn’t wake the neighbourhood. His reindeer were getting restless though, and Big Red took that as his cue to get on with his task.

“Going down chimneys is how I deliver joy to the world! Besides, everyone awaits my arrival. I’m hardly trespassing. Honestly Harry, the things you say! Now, while I do enjoy catching up with you, little Erica’s wanted a pink bicycle for so long and I mustn’t disappoint.”

Without further ado, Santa plunged down the narrow chimney, bulging stomach and all.

“Wha—hey! You can’t—I’m arresting you! Get back here!”

But the big man’s feat must have been a Christmas miracle, for Harry found himself stuck when he tried to follow his opponent’s descent. The reindeers snickered at the sight he made—head and shoulders in, everything else out.

How does someone like that fit, but I don’t? I swear to God, if it’s some wishy-washy power of magic, I’m gonna—

“You’ve gotten yourself into quite the pickle there, haven’t you my dear boy?”

In the time it took for Harry to flail about and curse higher beings, Big Red had already delivered the bicycle, eaten sweet offerings, made it out the front door unnoticed, and scaled the building.

“You gonna offer condolences or you gonna do something about it?”

“Hmm, if I help you out, will you cease your pursuit? I only have so many hours in the night to work and you’re somewhat of a hindrance.”

“Hah! You should’ve put that on your wish list then! I’m gonna take you in, Red, no matter what!”

The moonlight chose that moment to be dramatic, putting a twinkle in Santa’s mischievous grin.

“Well, we can’t have that now, can we?”

With that, the jolly man called his stealthy elves–Wow. Is this really the first time I’ve seen them tonight? I don’t care what Red says. My hypothesis still stands. Elves by day, ninjas by night.—back from their gift-delivering at neighbouring houses, had them all board the sleigh, and was off.

And so their game of cat-and-mouse began.

*

Time was of the essence. Santa was inside a Victorian-style house, but Harry didn’t have long. He tiptoed towards the unattended sleigh perched on the roof. If he could just disable the vehicle, Santa wouldn’t get away…

“Eww, oh god! Who just – Prancer? You spit in my eyes? Seriously?”

A well-aimed projectile of saliva was enough to buy Big Red some time.

“I think Prancer’s finally warming up to you, my boy! As for your conundrum, fret not! Cold water should do the trick!”

Harry was still wiping reindeer spit from his face as the twelve deer landed the sleigh at the front door and then sped off with the merry man at its helm. Harry grumbled under his breath—ugh, smells rank. And it’s viscous? Christ—as he typed the next location into his handheld teleporter. He had memorised Santa’s route. Now if the merry man would just stay still long enough to be arrested…

*

Tis the season for surprises.

Harry hid amongst the bushes by the front door of a bungalow, cordoning off Big Red’s only exit point. The jolly man had been in there for quite some time.

How many toys does one boy need?

“Enjoying yourself there, Harry?”

What?

“How did you—but I—“

“Haha! I knew you’d enjoy my new trick! See I told Mrs Claus about how inconvenient it was to go down the chimney but then have no way to get back up, and she—well you know how she is. Has a solution for every one of my problems! Fixed me up this nifty grappling hook! It’s great fun! I was going to tell you about it earlier but then I figured, tis the season for surprises, eh?”

Harry only just managed to muffle his scream.

*

“Ho ho hold up, big guy! I’ve got you know. Just stay right there.”

“Harry, I’d advise you not to advance.”

But the young man wasn’t straying, now when he was so close from target. Two steps in, Santa’s wariness became exasperated amusement. The shift in demeanour gave Harry pause.

“My boy, capture is impossible.”

“Oh? And why is that?”

“Because you’re standing on the light switch.”

“The what now?”

Harry glanced down and without thinking, lifted his foot. At once, the mansion’s façade came to life. Strings of red and green baubles made it their mission to blind any innocent bystander while an inflatable Homer Simpson Santa drunkenly carolled. Big Red left the premises chuckling at Harry’s fumbling to locate the off switch.

*

The inky blackness of the late sky was lightening ever so slightly to a deep navy. Time was up. Elves strapped in snugly and sleigh ready to depart, Santa had one final task. He approached the young man fast asleep on the apartment roof, sitting against an A/C unit. Laying the boy out on the ground, he covered him with a thick blanket, then folded his red coat and positioned it under the youth’s head.

“Once again, you put up a valiant effort, my boy.”

Finally, he placed a wrapped box within sight of the sleeping boy.

“Till next year. Merry Christmas, Harry.”


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