Santa Lays His Eyes On A Little Grassy Knoll.

by Serge Bielanko

It took a fucking while but I got it in the end. Twelve bucks. That's what I paid. For the Santa suit, for my daughter. I tried buying one last year before she was even born but that dashing waving Sweet Idea was assassinated in that front quadrant of the Babies-R-Us down in Sandy by Lee Harvey Monica. That was one miserable dude left standing there in all that proverbial Dream Blood, too. Flecks of Dream Scalp on my sweatshirt sleeves. Dream Brain hunks in my hair. Fighting back curse words if not tiny tears. Her words/her rifle's report hunk in the air around my face like summer cigar.

"You don't need that yet, Serge. Christ, the kid's not even born yet."

So? need to be "born" to have a goddamn cute-ass tiny Santa Claus suit bought for you in a future-safe size?

"It's on sale/LOOK!," I held out the price tag, meekly. I knew I was steering this little convertible toward her book depository. But this made sense to me. I'd been waiting all my life really.

"Put it back," she sighed. Bitch. She wasn't even looking at me anymore. She wasn't even thinking about the Dream. To her: the whole thing at been a chewed-up gob of Big Red she ran over in the Honda. No bump. Impossible to even notice.

"No," I garbled. I knew I wasn't getting it. And I knew I couldn't argue my case in any sane court. There was no such thing. Pregnant Lee Harvey Monica was a cornucopia of emotional winds, rational thought spread thinly over whole-grain fucking crazy. To push my case would be to dangle bacon by the cave entrance. To stare hard into a darkness that would sooner or later expunge a saber toothed beatdown on me: on my lack of money/my lack of family protection planning/my insatiable foolhardy need to buy costumes for the Unborn. I closed my eyes.

The shot boomed through my bones, though I knew it was coming. I kept my eyes closed and let the fat ropes of sweet death smoke curl up my nostrils. I didn't need to see the Assassin escape across distant streets/aisles. I knew she was going before she'd even goddamn gone. Before that hollow point Holiday Spoiler rammed home into the skull of my working man's vision. Sure enough, when I forced my eyes to take in the carnage, Lee Harvey Monica was gone. And the Santa suit in my clammy fist was limp and sagged and more dead than all the people in all the grave holes in all the world.

I hung it back on the rack and started looking at mini Chuck Taylors.


Saturday at WalMart, I put one in the cart. The suit. It was the last one in Violet's size and I wasn't taking any chances. Though, truth be told, there are probably people fucking making them out of the back of every single WalMart there is huh? Just sitting there listening to classic rock or Mariachi radio, sippin' Mountain Dews, making little Santa suits: Dollar-A-Mile felt and white flimsy cotton whirled at breakneck speed; fingers like lighters flicking; the snipping snapping immolated hummingbirds of industry.

Whatever. I wasn't taking any chances. I put it in the cart.

I was decked out in six suits of armor too, in case you're wondering. Six iron skins of Assassin-proof reasons why I needed to purchase the suit that day. I didn't need them though. I just used my oldest trick: Original Sticker Shock Denial. When Lee Harvey Monica appeared at the end of the aisle, something ominous poking from her long Columbine coat, I held up the suit with a weak-ass grin, feigning only partial interest.

"How much," she asked, warily, her words cooly sliding down the aisle past the feet pajamas and the discounted Halloween onesies, like bb's down tilted sheet metal.

"Thirty-six dollars," I whispered dejectedly.

"HOW much?," again.

"THIRTY SIX BUCKS," I said, louder. But still with hints of hopelessness.

She whipped out the rifle from under the coat, like Jesse James, aimed it over top our Violet sitting in the cart, and fired without blinking a lash. The shot rained deaf down on everything from purses to beer.

I stood my ground, the suit injured but undead.

I smiled.

"Psyche. Its just twelve bucks!"

I could see this, this very own bullet of mine, this peaceable nugget of undeniable information, as it waddled through the air, a fat duck drunk on confidence.

I watched as it whizzed around Lee Harvey Monica's bubbling mind, making laps around her denial. I saw her financial guard stick his handsome hot little fucking face out of her ear. And I watched my return bullet take his head off next to a rack of small mittens.

She looked away.

"Git it." She mumbled, the ice water in her veins rushing out of her eyes and nose, running down onto the filthy cheap tiles in raging rivers of lost reasoning, rising to our ankles/to our knees/ripping away the Assassin's rifle and ruining it with Holiday Flood. We were all three swept up and tossed about on the waves of a new wild storm. We managed to hold onto one another as we blasted past the frozen foods and the fake silk scarves and the huge cardboard forts of avocados, out through the automatic doors, over SUVs and pimped out Mazdas and work trucks, under the shadow of the parking garage roof we were swept over the once frozen land, now thawed by a melted heart hurricane of Christmas Spirit!

We somehow, miraculously, washed up on the roof of our own Honda. Sort of stunned.

Violet looking around/chewing on her jacket sleeve.

Me, holding the Santa Suit high above my head, screaming, screeching, through gumdrop tears," I'M THE KING OF THE WOOOOOOOOOOOORLD!!!!!!!!!!"

And Monica, wild haired and naked, wrapped around my muscular thigh, her bugging eyes picking apart that raging torrent, watching ever so closely for her lost gun.