Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Jamaica is beautiful in January.

The fat man was enjoying his hard-earned vacation, lounging in the tropical sun and feeling the fine sand between his toes. He was drinking one of those deceptively strong fruity drinks that was designed to get you drunk with the minimum of fuss. Sometimes the little umbrella got stuck in his long white beard, but that was an easy price to pay.

A lonely figure in a trench-coat came trudging across the beach carrying a large burlap sack. He was overdressed for the delightful weather and seemed somewhat pained. In addition to his duster he had on a wide brimmed hat and a pair of dark sunglasses. He made hoofprints in the sand.

“Ruprecht”, the fat man yelled, “I’m glad you finally made it.”

“Yeah, I’m here”, the new figure grunted. He sat down on a chair next to his companion and peeled off his coat, flinging his hat to the ground below. His skin was dark and ruddy, and covered with harsh bristles, like the hair on a boar or pot-bellied pig. His face, seen in close up, was hideously distended into gruesome, almost devilish features.

“How was your trip?” the fat man asked.

“Shitty. The movie was some Sandra Bullock piece of shit that just made me want to gouge out my fucking eyeballs with a spoon.”

“You always complain. Why can’t you be happy? It’s over, we don’t have to do anything for months.”

“Ugh.” Ruprecht grunted as he pulled his legs onto the chair and tried to relax. A waiter came over for his drink order and he asked for a scotch and soda.

“The hard stuff already? You just got here.”

Ruprecht pretended not to hear his friend. “It just gets harder every year. I swear I lost all feeling in my elbow somewhere around Cincinatti this year.”

“Don’t you have an appointment with that orthopedist in Spain? I gave you his card --”

“Yeah, I made the appointment. But I know he’s just going to tell me to lay off work. But what can I do? I can’t exactly hire a substitute to beat the children of the world with switches every Christmas. I’ll just have to lay off tennis this spring . . .”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I know you were looking forward to playing in the Easter Bunny’s invitational this year.”

“Oh well, shit happens.”

They sat for a moment in silence, enjoying the cool tropical breeze wafting across the foamy waters. After a moment, the fat man began to notice that his friend’s sack was moving, and there were muffled whimpers coming from within it.

“Who’s in the sack this year?” he asked absentmindedly.

“Who do you think? Comic book editors. Same as every year.”

“You would think they would learn,” the fat man said. “How do they run their companies like that?”

“I dunno. But it’s pitiful, I tell you. I come every year, you’d think they would remember me . . . they know they’ve been bad but no-one has a special folk dance for me or anything. No-one even fucking remembers who I am.”

“Well, it does give you the element of surprise.”

“Element of surprise my ass. Everybody knows who fucking Santa Claus is, but I pop up in their living room and they think I’m a burglar. You would think people would get the hint when half the children in their neighborhood get kidnapped and replaced with Halflings every damn year.”

“So, what are you going to do with these editors?”

“I dunno. I’m running out of room at my place. You know, I’m sick and tired of this whole shtick. This year, whenever I took an editor, I just left large sacks of rocks in their place. I’m not wasting any more Halflings on these bastards.”

“Do you think anyone will notice this year?”

“Are you kidding?” Ruprecht said with a chortle. “Have you read these comics lately? I think the rocks will represent a marked improvement.”

The waiter brought his drink and the Krampus proceeded to get very drunk. Christmas was still 362 blissful days away.

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