by Dave White
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the jeweler said as he stared down the barrel of Santa Claus’s gun.
Santa—AKA Shaun Lacey—wrapped his finger around the trigger and shook his head. The Santa Claus costume he’d had in his attic for three years still fit, but it smelled like mothballs. It hung on his frame awkwardly, leaving room in the stomach area for a pillow. The beard scratched the bottom of his nose.
“I’m not,” he said. “I want the necklace. The diamond pendant one.”
Lacey held out his sack with his left hand. The gun felt heavy in his right. He’d never shot one before. In fact, before three weeks ago, he’d never thought he’d be doing any of this.
“I don’t think this is how it works,” the jeweler said. “You should be out—”
“Shut up! I want the pendant.” He wished the gun had a hammer to snap back for effect.
The jeweler nodded and crouched behind the counter. Through the mirrored glass, Lacey saw him reach for the pendant. His hand flinched for a moment before clutching the pendant.
The jeweler stood, reached across the counter, and dropped the pendant in the sack. Lacey imagined what Jill’s face would have looked like if she’d opened that Christmas morning. If he’d held on to his job long enough to convince her to stay. That they’d make it.
Behind him, on 8th Ave, Lacey could hear the chanting. They were coming.
“How long do I have?” he asked.
The jeweler tilted his head.
“Until the police get here? You tripped the alarm, didn’t you?”
The jeweler didn’t say anything. Lacey raised the gun a little higher. It now pointed at the jeweler’s nose, not his stomach. The man shuddered, and his eyebrows twitched. If Lacey pulled the trigger at that moment, it would be over. There’d be no more job interviews, no more trying to win Jill back.
If he got what he could and got down to the pawn shop, he could pay rent for another month and keep trying to start over. New York City wasn’t an easy town to live in, but it wasn’t complicated either.
“Five minutes,” the jeweler said. “The cops’ll be here in five minutes.”
The chanting outside was really loud now. Christmas songs with new lyrics. People yelling and screaming. Spreading the holiday spirit.
“Put some more stuff in the bag,” Lacey said. “Diamonds. Earrings and rings.”
The jeweler complied. The pieces jingled in the bag like bells. Lacey took the sack and slung it over his shoulder. He smiled through the white beard.
“Ho ho ho,” he said and lowered the gun.
“The police will be here any minute. How far do you expect to get? They’ll know exactly who to look for.” The jeweler sighed. “Give yourself up.”
Shaun Lacey shook his head. “Maybe every other day of the year. But definitely not today.”
As Lacey backed out on to 8th Ave, he watched the jewelers face. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.
“But really, what are the police going to do? Interrogate every drunk Santa in New York?”
The jeweler’s cheeks went red. He started to shout something, but Lacey didn’t wait any longer. He slipped outside into the cold wind.
SantaCon was in full swing. Hundreds of drunks dressed as Santas, elves, and reindeer filed down the street. They were filtering into the three Irish bars on the block.
Yeah, Shaun Lacey thought. I’ve got time for a beer. And all these bar crawls offer great deals.
He stumbled into line, chanting along with the rest of the crowd. Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho!
Just as he was about to step into the bar, he took one last look over his shoulder. The jeweler was standing outside trying to explain to the cops what’d happened.
Both of the officers were laughing.
SantaCon is a real pub crawl. Every year--during the heart of the Christmas season--in major cities, people dress up like Santas or other Christmas characters. They march through the cities chanting, drinking, and carousing. I've been a part of the New York one twice, and both have been a blast. The first year was cool, hitting Times Square at lunch. The second year we marched through Macy's handing out Candy Canes and singing Christmas Carols with .... rewritten lyrics.