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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Santa Claws?

This one's just too good to be threw. I entered it in a 500-word short story contest at:

...but you probably want to see it anyway. Here goes...

No one knew where he came from or where he went at night. Everyone in the neighborhood just knew him as the smelliest bum who hit the local pub crawl. Rumor was he had served with the British Army, and he had a certain dignity to him with his upright posture and focused gaze. Only his long white hair and beard earned him the nickname of Santa Claus.
Things were still rough here in Belfast even in the 21st century, a decade and a half since the Good Friday Agreement had been signed. There were still the hardcore Proddies who would have one too many and run their mouths. There were an equal number of Caddies around who would force them to put up or shut up. Here at O’Beirne’s Pub on Lower Ormeau Road, I was the sheriff. I didn’t give a damn what was on anyone’s birth certificate. If you caused a scene, it’s my way or the highway.
It was thundering outside, not something a guy like myself who’s served in Iraq looks forward to. Making it worse was being here in Belfast. You don’t know whether it was a car bomb reminding you of a car bomb. I was getting ready to close down when Santa came in, always at the last minute. He had his left hand stuffed in his raggedy coat, probably from losing another fight. I could smell stale urine as soon as he closed the door behind him.
“Hey, I’m getting ready to close it down.”
“One beer and I’m outta here. Lemme dry off for a minute.”
I pulled him a Harp and set it down. He pulled his sticky change out of his pocket with his good hand and spilled it across the bar. I made a show of shaking my head as I sorted out the cost of the beer.
“I’m not foolin’,” I growled. “Finish this and we’re gone.”
“The peelers are all over the place down the block,” he advised me. “You better watch when you drive home.”
“Yeah, what do you think they’re up to now?”
“Same old crap. Some guy yapping away at another, running him down, calling him names. Happens every time.”
“I’ll tell, you, Santa, that’s no good reason to---“
“There you go. You know my name's Deroy,” he got belligerent. I wasn’t in the mood but I knew he didn’t like the nickname.
“All right, Dee-roy,” I stressed the last syllable. “Where’s the holiday spirit? People should be more forgiving, don’t you think?”
“They should be more giving,” he corrected me. “It’s not about receiving, it’s about giving. You should give people the respect they’re due.”
“Aww, gee,” I snorted. “Okay, let me offer my apology. Now what are you gonna give me this Christmas Eve?”
“Merry Christmas,” he pulled his hand out of his coat. It was black with blood, and he held a human heart that had a ghastly sheen in the dim light. “Ho, ho, ho.”

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