Maison Triste

Santa is drunk. Not a useless, cherub-cheeked man in a silly stupor stumbling on your doorstep, but rather an aggressive maniac wielding a reindeer sinew whip and threatening to slice off your nose.

Ever heard of the angry drunk? If there was a course on how to ruin the Christmas mood, Santa would get top marks.

Sarah doesn’t believe me.

I point towards the double-pane windows overlooking the backyard commons. “He’s outside right now. On the walkway. Can you see him?”

Sarah peers into the darkness. “I see a shadow. Is he—is he peeing on the roses?”

A sudden flare roars into existence, and the roses turn to ashes.

She turns to me. “His pee is flammable?” Suddenly my earlier fears aren’t so silly.

We watch in horror, nay, fascination, as he cackles his way through the deaths of every rose bush in sight. “Oh, no,” Sarah whispers. “Not the Duchess of Portland! I planted that one last year. That bastard!”

Little fire balls dance in Sarah’s own eyes. She grasps the door handle, feels the click. She’s out on the landing before I can stop her.

“Go home, you dirty man!” She screeches into the smokey air. “Leave my roses alone!”

Santa doesn’t hesitate. Doesn’t even tuck himself in. He unties his reindeer sinew whip from his reindeer hide belt and flicks his wrist. Sarah screams, covers her face. I scream and cover my face. Bloody speckles now scatter the path and the stone steps of this house.

“Ho ‘o ‘o!” Santa says. “Tha-a-t’ll teach ‘er to mess wit me.” He glances at his pocket watch. “Oh, I gotta git to dee… dee…” He blinks twice. “Damn, where’d my sled-thingy go?”

Fresh snow dances down from the star-filled sky as Santa takes another swig of his magic sauce. He tosses the bottle; for a drunk, his aim is surprisingly good. It lands near my feet, rolling slightly on the incline. I catch sight of the label. ‘Maison Triste. North Pole Whiskey for the Broken Heart.’

Broken heart? Is there trouble at home?

Santa isn’t on a rampage. He’s lashing out in despair!

I put in a quick call to the sleepy security guard at the post office on Hollyhock Way. “You guys are often in contact with the North Pole this time of year. Find a way to reach Mrs. Claus!”

I run after Santa, my heart racing at the thought of all the damage he might have already caused. Sure enough, a few noses litter the path. Judging from the congealed blood on the road, this was an earlier attack.

My pocket buzzes. Incoming call! “Hello?”

A sweet yet strained voice reaches through the line. “This is Mrs. Claus. Betty. Is something the matter?”

“Thank you for calling me! Your husband is drunk. He’s hurting people.”

“Oh, Nick,” she mutters. “What a fool. How bad is it?”

“It’s bad. My friend. Neighbours. Noses. Roses.”

“Oh, no. Not the roses. Were they the Duchess of Portland variety?”

“Yes… How’d you know?”

“Those are my favourite. Nick can be a spiteful man.”

“I saw the bottle he tossed. I’m sorry about home troubles, but we need you. Please! Come talk to him.”

I hear nothing but silence. “Betty?”

Deep sighs. “All right. Let me use the portal. What are your coordinates?”

Two minutes later I see a puff of smoke in the shop nearby. A plump yet attractive woman tumbles from the door in her night attire, ignoring the fancy lights and festive music. She wraps the housecoat tighter, pulls the kerchief down, and marches towards me.

“Right then,” she says in a huff. “Take me to that man.”


Copyright © 2015 by Emily Clayton
Originally appeared on Ink After Dark:

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