"Whacking Santa Claus- A Christmas Story"
By William Hrdina
The entire block emanated the spirit of a Norman Rockwell painting- if you listened closely, you could hear Christmas carols even though no one was actually singing.
Fresh snow was falling in that steady, non-threatening way that brings Frank Capra to mind, covering everything in a serene fluffy whiteness. Not a creature was stirring- or so they say.
Each identical tract home on Maple street had an SUV in the driveway, obnoxiously mocking the snow with their sheer mass and bad gas mileage.
In the house at 42 Maple was a man named Bobby Nattoli. He was on the couch, sleeping off the minor drunk he'd put on after his three little girls went to bed.
Bobby loved Christmas as much as his children did, maybe more. His house was lit up inside and out with thousands of lights, a giant tree stood in the living room, already buried in presents. There was a giant inflatable Homer Simpson on the lawn and a blow up Santa straddling the chimney on the roof. The small electricity regulator on the side of the house spun merrily around, making someone, somewhere, a very happy Christmas gift.
Except there was one thing out of place. The Santa was no longer straddling the chimney. Instead he was folded neatly in a heap. Oh, and there was also a sleigh with several bored reindeer standing on the roof.
Inside the house a noise in the kitchen brought Bobby wearily back to consciousness. The television set was still on, the day's normal programming over. George Foreman was on instead, hocking grills.
In a rush, Bobby fumbled around in a futile attempt to find the remote so he could turn down the volume on the TV. He rose blearily from the coach and made a swerving beeline to the box on top shelf of the bookcase where he kept the antique pistol known in his family as "Pappy's gun."
Bobby yanked the top off of the box, grabbed the gun, and swung himself around in the direction of the kitchen. His head was throbbing and his glasses were still sitting on the floor- but he clearly heard another sound coming from the kitchen- a ball of fear started to roil around in his gut.
Because his three daughters spent most of their time living with their mother, the thought that one of the girls could be in the kitchen didn't immediately occur to Bobby. When it did, he muttered, "That better not be you Abigail." But not loud enough that anyone could hear. His voice literally died as he said the words, because he suddenly caught sight of the source of the noise.
It wasn't one of his daughters- unless they'd gained a few hundred pounds and grew two feet since bedtime.
"Hey you, don't move!" Bobby yelled, trying to keep the quaver of fear he was feeling from leaking out. He lifted the gun to chest height, the barrel shook.
Bobby startled the man in the kitchen who had been munching on a plate of cookies left on the kitchen counter with the sprawl of Ashlyn's handwriting on a note that read, "For Santa." With the ‘F' written backwards.
The intruder spun his jolly old self around to face the frightened homeowner but before he could get out a word there was a crack and a flash from Pappy's gun that surprised Bobby so badly he let out an involuntary yelp.