Tag Archives: Christmas Fiction

Apologies And Some Exciting News…

Ok, we’ve been here before but this time it’s different. Why? Well, I started a new job, a lot of the work I’m doing was new to me and getting my head around stuff was time consuming. I’m getting there now so things aren’t on top so much.

Anyway, enough of that. “What’s the exciting news?” I hear you say. Well, I’ve been in discussions with someone regarding the magazine and I’ve convinced them that getting involved with TKnC is the way forward. The person in question is a fantastic writer, an excellent editor (he won an award a few years ago – he told me to say) and has been a friend of mine most of my life.

So, it is with great pleasure that I announce Col Bury as co-editor of Thrills, Kills ‘n’ Chaos. *loud cheers and clapping*

Col B

 

Down to the finer details. There are stories in the inbox and everyone will get a response as to the availability of their story. We will be publishing fortnightly so there will be a wait before your story is published. There will be a different format when stories are published so the mag will take a different look. Comments will be open so please do leave some feedback if you read a story. Writers are sensitive souls and feedback/reviews are great medicine.

We’re hoping to start publishing stories within the next couple of weeks so keep an eye out. If you’re not already following us on Facebook and Twitter please do. Links are top left under “Follow Us”.

We will also be looking into doing a short story collection later in the year. This will include longer stories and will be an “open” submission. Details of this are in the “heavy petting” stage so more information will follow.

That’s it. Thanks for all your continued support.

Submissions are still open…

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Information

Christmas Card From A Hooker In Newton Abbot by Tom Leins

Gritty Santa.112Christmastime Madigan was born on the 14th of July 1979. The unusual first name was chosen by her mother, Maureen, who thought that her baby’s eyes were the colour of slush-covered December pavements. We played in the same streets when we were young. When we were fourteen Christmastime taught me how to fuck, behind the recycle bins. I asked her how she knew what to do, and she said that Barry Slattery taught her. Barry Slattery, I later found out, was a TV repair man who used to go drinking with her mum. Within a year he went down for manslaughter after killing a man during a drunken argument. The judge gave him a life sentence for trying to dismember the body afterwards, but he was out in 16 years.

*

A woman who looks a lot like Iggy Pop opens the peeling front door. It takes a moment before I realise that the ravaged figure in front of me is Maureen. Her pink, threadbare dressing gown gapes open, and her snatch looks like well-worn carpet.

“Hello, Joe.”

I glance around uneasily, trying to avoid eye contact. Trying to avoid looking at her mangy old pussy.

“Hello, Mrs Madigan. Is Christmastime around?”

“Follow me, sweetheart.”

She leads me down the hallway to the small lounge. There is a Christmas tree in the corner. It has been decorated haphazardly, and the lights blink erratically. A mangy angel sits on top, legs akimbo.

A scrawny middle-aged man sits on the sunken sofa. It has been covered in faded beige corduroy. The room gives off a clammy hairspray-and-perfume odour. He wriggles in his seat, fiddling with his zip. His cheap suit looks like it was made for a fatter man. “This is Marcelo. He’s a friend.”

He doesn’t offer me his hand.

I glare at him, wordlessly, until Christmastime walks in, still wearing her work uniform.

As I start to walk out of the room, Maureen offers me a wedge of tart-cards from her handbag.

“I haven’t got you a Christmas card, Joe – but you can have one of these if you like.”

“Erm, thanks.”

*

Upstairs.

Christmastime unbuttons her hot-pink rayon blouse and looks at me, challengingly. I put my hand up her skirt, feeling the wetness of her underwear. Her lips graze mine.

“He’s back, Joe. He’s out.”

“Who’s back?”

“Barry fucking Slattery.”

*

In the morning I pause outside the living room. There are no voices, only soft grunting sounds. In the kitchen Christmastime’s uncle Alan is smoking high-tar cigarettes through his tracheotomy. He nods a greeting at me but I’m too lazy to respond. I gulp down a brisk cup of tea and thumb through yesterday’s Mid-Devon Advertiser. Whilst I’m waiting for Christmastime to get dressed I stare gormlessly at Alan’s ravaged throat. He doesn’t seem to mind.

“Got any plans for Christmas, Alan?”

He shrugs.

“The rate I’m going I’ll be lucky to fucking live that long.”

*

It’s Christmas Eve and the social club is full of welfare bandits, sore-knuckled survivalists and a smattering of casual daytime drinkers. Behind the bar is some woman who used to be a crack-smoker. She glares at me when I order a bottled beer, then hands me my change wordlessly. A solitary string of tinsel dangles above the spirits rack. The man next to me is using a Christmas card as a beer mat.

Barry Slattery is a horribly damaged man, and a full-time smoker. He even smokes during mealtimes. A ravaged chicken-in-a-basket pub meal lays on the scarred table-top in front of him. One half-smoked cigarette smolders in the ashtray, another dangles lazily from his ugly mouth. A heavily made-up teenage girl sitting next to him sips at a cocktail through a straw. She can’t be more than thirteen. Grey stubble bristles around his sunken mouth as he offers me a grim, humourless laugh.

“Enjoy fresh meat do you, pal? Her name is Sylvia, and in the back-room she’s everybody’s darling.”

He has a grisly Westcountry accent. Grislier than most.

“I wonder what your parole officer has to say about that? A second jolt in Channing’s Wood can be tough on an old nonce like you.”

He grunts, sounding half-amused, half angry.

“Aaron, can you deal with this prick? I’m trying to eat my fucking lunch.”

A man with a bullet-shaped skull extricates himself from a nearby booth. He’s meaty with prison muscle and his eyes look like pools of spilled milk. He slips out of his bomber jacket and steps towards me.

“Take your best shot, bitch.”

He hits me so hard I taste blood in my throat. I stagger slightly, but don’t go down. He looks at me dumbfounded, and I try not to gasp for air.I pick the ashtray off Barry’s table and club Aaron behind the ear. He drops to his knees and looks up at me, pleadingly.

I take a step towards Barry Slattery.

“If you go near Christmastime or her family again I’ll put you in the fucking trauma unit.”

I don’t hit him. Instead I look him in the eye as I kick Aaron behind the ear.

He vomits on the paisley carpet, and a few people start to clap, half-heartedly.

“You come round here again and I’ll fucking murder you…” Barry splutters.

Newton Abbot is like any other small town – contaminated with violence and fear.

Luckily I don’t scare easy.

*

Christmas morning.

Barry Slattery’s face looks like a carrier bag full of meat that has been kicked around a car park for a couple of days. There is a hole in his gut where Christmastime has attempted to disembowel him with a bread knife, brown fluid leaked all over the carpet. Christmastime is sprawled across the corduroy sofa, sipping a large gin and tonic. When she notices me she raises her glass and slurs in my general direction:

“Hello, Joe. Merry fucking Christmas…”

I look around. I’m just pleased that there isn’t blood on the walls.

TomLeins-2013Bio: Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. This year his short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey and Sein und Werden. He is currently working on his first novel: Thirsty & Miserable. Get your pound of flesh at Things To Do In Devon When You’re Dead.

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It’s A Gift by John H. Dromey

Gritty Santa.112It was the season for giving, but not for Toby. He was a contrarian. A callous, calculating man who never gave away anything for free—not even a hint of what he might be thinking—for fear he might lose his competitive edge. For him, maintaining a poker face was part of his public persona and not just a useful ploy when playing Texas Hold’em.

As a corollary to his intense dislike for the bestowing of gifts onto others, Toby was not at all a gracious receiver of presents either. He didn’t want to be beholden to anyone. He didn’t want a handout, or a free ride, and he certainly didn’t want to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Toby was all about self-reliance. In his relentless pursuit of an independent lifestyle, he consistently worked the opposite side of the fence from the moral high ground occupied by the majority of decent, law-abiding citizens. In other words, Toby was a crook. He took what he wanted either by stealth or by force.

Wading through a sea of humanity on a crowded city sidewalk, Toby was on high alert. Like a lookout in the crow’s-nest of a pirate ship, he scanned the seemingly-endless waves of faces passing by. His primary concern was spotting any possible threats to his wellbeing, but his predatory skills were so deeply-ingrained he could not help but look for potential victims at the same time. There were no easy targets in view. Representatives of the flotsam and jetsam of urban society were much more likely to come out at night.

The ordinary pedestrians were of no special interest to Toby. Even the obvious tourists among them looked like they’d come to town on bargain tours and were not worth a second glance.

In the distance Toby spotted a standout prospect approaching—a fashionably-dressed buxom woman who was clutching a large handbag.

In his mind’s eye he saw himself snatching her purse, concealing the bulky leather bag under his jacket and then losing himself in the frenetic ebb and flow of foot traffic before cautiously working his way back to his tiny studio apartment where he could examine his plunder at his leisure.

Toby did not act on that impulse for a couple of very good reasons. In the first place his custom designed jumbo money belt was already crammed full of banknotes and secondly his conspicuous holiday attire would have prevented him from blending into the crowd.

As the woman drew ever closer, her desirability as a victim diminished more and more. She was way too alert to be caught off-guard. Her darting eyes gave Toby a quick once over and then she looked right at his face and met his gaze directly before moving out of his line of sight.

Toby shuddered. He felt as though the unknown female somehow or other had seen through the veneer of his disguise. That was impossible, of course, unless she could read criminal intent in his posture.

Although he was good at his chosen profession, Toby had never deluded himself by thinking he was a perfect criminal, nor did he pretend that he had just committed a perfect crime. Too many things had gone wrong.

It wasn’t Toby’s fault. He had had no intention of using violence that day. The by-appointment-only rare coin dealer was entirely to blame. The shopkeeper should not have agreed to a meeting based on Toby’s phony references. After making that initial mistake, the merchant should have been intimidated by the switchblade Toby brandished during the holdup but apparently was too amused by the would-be robber’s costume to notice the bladed weapon. When Toby gave the man a closer look at the knife, he accidentally made a much deeper cut than he’d planned.

Toby’s getaway strategy did not demonstrate any great originality, but to his way of thinking it was inspired. His decision to dress himself in the full regalia of a department store Santa meant he could stride down the sidewalk at a brisk pace as though he were late for work. An added bonus was when his robbery victim bled like a stuck pig, the man’s vital red fluid did not deposit a readily apparent stain on Toby’s suit.

Just when he thought he was home free, however, Toby felt someone brush against his shoulder.

A uniformed police officer, slightly out of breath from running, stepped in front of the man in the Santa suit and motioned for him to move out of the stream of pedestrian traffic.

Toby complied. He waited for the cop to speak first.

“I’m responding to a citizen’s complaint. A pedestrian said she didn’t like your looks.”

“A woman with a big purse?”

“That’s right. You noticed her, did you?”

“Yes, but I didn’t molest her in any way. No matter what she may have told you, Officer, I wasn’t jaywalking, or littering. You have no probable cause for stopping me.”

“What have we here? A jailhouse lawyer?”

“Maybe I have a record, and maybe I don’t. Either way, that doesn’t give you the right to harass me. Don’t you have any serious crimes to investigate?”

“I do,” the officer said. “In fact, a short while ago I received a radio report about a stabbing that took place a couple of blocks from here.”

“You should be on your way then,” Toby said.

“I can only handle one complaint at a time and, right now, I’m concerned with gathering evidence that’s closer at hand. I must say my informant was right on in her description of a detail you may not be aware of. She called it a dead giveaway.”

“What’s that?”

“The blood splatter on your otherwise snow white false beard.”

The policeman cuffed the suspect and read him his rights.

“She only saw me up close for a split second,” Toby said. “How could she identify the pattern that quickly?”

“She’s a natural born crime spotter. It’s a gift.”

“More like a curse,” Toby muttered to himself.

John H. Dromey photo JPEG Dec 2013Bio: John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He’s had short mystery fiction published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Gumshoe Review, The Literary Hatchet, Mysterical-E, Woman’s World (a mini-mystery), and Thrillers, Killers ’n’ Chillers.

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The Sanity Clause by Frank Sonderborg

Gritty Santa.112I was in a dark place. My natural habitat. The stink of death lay around me. That pungent stench of life extinguished in terror. They had heavily tasered me, but I was not dead. I knew who my lifeless Dwarf comrades were. Bar staff from the “Darby O’Gilly”. We were packed tight in the big trunk of a smooth running motor – it sounded like a Mercedes – and on our way to some well-planned disposal station. The Serb, a soul-fucker by trade, had taken a beef to them and decided to remove the itch. I was burned by association and a hit contract. I took no shit from nobody and this was the result. The Army had sent me on anger management courses. Didn’t work. Just got angrier. The fire inside me began again. A white heat of pure hate. Against the mob, the world, the bitches that turned me down, the universe. They’d made a mistake when they grabbed me. They hadn’t killed me. My hands were tied with duct tape behind my back. I squirmed to put my ear to the back seat. One was in the rear seat talking loudly to the driver. Thought, the dumb fuckers can only speak in one volume. And that’s loud all day long.                                                                                                                                             

“What are you getting the kids? Xbox or PlayStation?”

“Ya mean, what’s Santa getting them, the crazy bastard.” They both started laughing.

“I’d love to cap that fucker for stealing all the limelight. Why should he get the credit? But no, the missus says it’s Santa Claus who brings the presents. Not their hard working Papa. No, sir. Some red robed fucking alien on a flying sleigh, who Homeland Security just happen to turn a blind eye to every fucking year.”

I was working to free myself as I listened. I clicked shoes and a sharp spike shot out of my heel. I pushed back and sawed through the duct tape. Free at last, free at last, Almighty Dwarf King. We are free at last. Then I laughed inside. I was a man not a Dwarf or some circus freak. I was small. But I was a man. Which helped in this trunk of death.  I listen again as the two ass-holes continued their shouting match conversation.

“The Chinks will feed these, what do the Micks call them, “Lepro-Cons” to the fish. Fucking freaks. The Serb wants them gone by the morning.”

The car came to a stop and started to reverse. I turned as best I could and started to unhook my Bolo. It was in a flat case, strapped to my back under my shirt. The Bolo was a much shortened, sharpened version of a machete. I had lain before, in darkened holes, with bits of rotting, decaying comrades to keep me company. And I knew I would have to pay the Ferryman his penny, many years in the future, for this unneeded rerun.

The car stopped and Xbox and PlayStation got out. I gripped the Bolo with my right hand behind my back. And lay between my silent comrades. The trunk opened.

“I’ll tell the Chinks the goods are here. You start pulling them out.”

Xbox headed off and PlayStation leaned in, two handed, to grab a hold of a body.

I opened my eyes and stared at him. I could see the surprise in his face as I buried the Bolo, sticking him in the excessive stomach he presented. My left arm grabbed his neck to keep him steady as I worked the tool in the excess of fat. An eruption of blood covered me and my silent companions while PlayStation screamed as I gutted him. I scrambled out of the trunk and the smell of brine on the cold evening air hit me, as the stink of death was blown away.

The car was parked on a short pier near a fishing trawler. Xbox had turned in response to the screaming and, gun raised, starting firing in my direction. I had an option to run, jump or hide. I slid under the car. Lying flat, limbs still stiff, I watched Xbox coming back to the car. “Fuck! Fuck!” was all he could say when he reached the trunk and saw the gutted PlayStation. Then he came around the side searching in the dark. Looking for where I had disappeared to.

I lay still and waited until his shoes were midways along the car. I reached out, grabbed his ankle and started pulling and sawing. His screams gave me such an immense high. I smiled. He was pumping wild shots into the ground. Losing his balance as he came down. I slithered out from under the sedan and started sticking him anywhere I could. I got on top of him and buried the Bolo as deep as it would go.

This is for the Dwarf King, beneath his halls of gold and this is for the Dwarf Queen, sleeping in her palace of cold. And this is for me, Gimli, the man. And I am a man, you piece of shit.

It was designed as a trench tool. And I dug a trench in that fat fucker, one the “Old Breed” would have been proud of. The trawler had pulled away at the sound of gunfire, but had started back. I picked up Xbox’s gun and started pumping shots in their general direction. They got the message and faded. I dragged and dumped Xbox and PlayStation off the pier. I searched the car for something to wear. All I could find was a Santa Outfit.

I knew where the Serb lived so I planned to deliver a Christmas present. There’s nothing better than a trunk load of dead Dwarfs to kill the Yule tide spirit.

That Serb fucker had placed a contract on my head for some perceived slight. But he didn’t know I was as crazy as herd of over sexed Bonobo monkeys.

Anyway, his contract never included a Sanity Clause.

B&WFrankSBio: Frank Sonderborg is a writer of Action and Adventure short stories. He is currently working on his first adventure novel Brighton City Of Gold. Frank was born in Ireland and grew up on the Northside of Dublin. He’s lived for many years in Denmark but is currently residing in Hampshire in the UK. His stories have been published in: Action: Pulse pounding Tales Volume 2: Shotgunhoney.net : Noir Nation: International Crime Fiction No.3: Pulp Modern # 6  JFK  Issue published by Alec Cizak and Uncle B. Publications. Frank is also working with Prose-press.com and their latest Pulp-alternative publications.
Blog: http://franksonderborg.blogspot.co.uk/
fb: facebook.com/frank.sonderborg

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Savior by Bruce Harris

Gritty Santa.112Late December. Snow fell softly. Everyone and anyone with any sense were tucked cozily inside their homes. Not Jack Mason. A week before Christmas and he was where he shouldn’t have been, wagering on a hockey game he should not have been betting on and ignoring the two blondes on stage. They were doing things to each other only married couples had the right to do behind closed doors. Mason’s eyes were transfixed on the large wall-mounted television screen to the right of the dance stage. “Jesus Christ, he can’t save anything!” he shouted, pointing to the Los Angeles goaltender. Mason beat his fist on the wooden table. He had already seen the Kings blow a 2-goal lead to the Devils during the last minute of play. The goal horns blasted through the New Jersey arena as the Devils faithful stood and chanted. There was still hope until the recently acquired Kings’ goalie, who according to the sportswriters was to be the team’s saving grace, let in two more goals during the shoot-out. “Some savior,” he shouted at the screen, “damn bum!” Mason had bet large on Los Angeles. He’d sworn to himself he’d never make another bet, but with the Devils decimated by injuries and the newly hyped LA goaltender playing in his first game, he felt as though this was a sure thing. Now, Mason needed saving. He was broke and couldn’t afford gifts for his two little boys. That’s the reason why he’d made the bet in the first place and he’d already convinced himself it was for them. He tried not to think about his next scheduled visitation. That was easy. He didn’t have much time before he’d see two large hairy upturned palms pay him visitation rights, looking to collect the money he didn’t have. It was time to get away.

What he thought a lucky break came in the way of a Cadillac Escalade, key in ignition, motor running. The owner had dashed into a bodega for a quick second. Mason didn’t hesitate. He eased himself behind the wheel and took off, wiping sweat off his forehead. “Stay calm,” he told himself, “drive carefully, the roads are becoming slick. Don’t draw attention to the car. Just keep driving, obey the speed limits and think of a plan,” he repeated. Mason stopped at a red light. “Okay, this is going to work. Got to get away.” He felt a brief sigh of relief. Then, the driver from a Mercedes behind him began blasting his horn. Mason’s foot automatically went toward the accelerator, but he glanced up and saw that the traffic light was still red. The honking continued. “What the hell?” He looked into the rearview mirror and saw the man honking and pointing.  This was the last thing Mason needed. Sure enough, like a contagious yawn, the car to the right of the Mercedes began honking and pointing toward the Escalade. Mason checked and the light was still red. He wiped his mouth. He thought about taking off, but resisted. The last thing he wanted was to be noticed, but now he heard additional cars honking. It was like an orgy of geese. That was it. He was too wound up and he lost it. He got out of the vehicle, pulled a .38 from his hip, and stopped next to the driver’s door of the Mercedes. Horn blasts continued to fill the street. Mason smashed the side window with the butt of his gun, pointed the pistol at the driver and screamed, “What’s your fucking problem? It’s a god-dammed red light.” Now the center of attention, Mason wanted to vanish down an abandoned manhole but he needed something. “Money!” he demanded, “quick! Give me your wallet and I won’t blow your head off. Hurry! Now!” The Mercedes driver, beyond scared shitless, reached into his pocket and handed the billfold to Mason. “Smart,” said Mason. He fanned the bills’ edges with his finger. He looked ahead and saw that the traffic light had finally changed. “Okay, my friend, now it’s green. I’ll be on my way. Merry Christmas!” He started walking back toward the stolen car.

But like so many others, it was not Mason’s day. The racket from the car horns had brought the beat cop. “Police! Stop! Hands in the air!” he barked at Mason. Mason wheeled around with the .38 in hand. “Don’t do it!” the cop warned him, “save yourself!” Mason ignored the advice and pointed his pistol. The cop wasted no time firing off two rounds, both bullets scoring. The bet would go unpaid. His children would go without holiday gifts. His face hit the now red and white colored pavement. His last thought on earth was that of Santa. Mason’s eyes rolled back into his head. He never saw the bumper sticker on the rear of the Escalade: HONK TO PUT CHRIST BACK IN CHRISTMAS.

Bruce Harris

Bio: Bruce Harris is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: ABout Type (available atwww.batteredbox.com).

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Raising Cane by Dyer Wilk

Gritty Santa.112Everyone at the Christmas party was too drunk to recognize him. He walked from the front door to the stairs without so much as a head-turn, just another man in a Santa suit in a house full of drunks in Santa suits. He went upstairs and walked down the hall, opened the door. Frank was sitting in a rocking chair, wearing a red and green knit sweater. The girl on her knees in front of him was wearing an elf costume.

“How ya doing, Frank? Who’s the Ho Ho Ho?”

Frank looked up from his lap, eyes widening, and reached for his zipper as the girl stumbled to her feet.

“Jesus. Vince? What the hell are you doing here?”

Vince eyed the girl. She didn’t look a day over 19, clearly embarrassed, as drunk as she was.

“Go downstairs, honey,” Vince said. “Santa wants to discuss something with Frank.”

The girl gave a sheepish grin and walked out the door. Vince closed it and took a seat on the couch across from the rocker.

He reached into his pocket. “You want a candy cane?”

Frank shook his head.

Vince pulled one out. He hooked it around his finger and started to twirl it, waiting for him to ask.

After a minute, Frank cleared his throat. “So…uh…what did you want to discuss?”

“You know.”

Frank frowned. “We already went over this a year ago, Vince. There’s nothing more to say about it.”

“Sure there is. I’ve had some time to think. There are some things I didn’t get to say.”

Frank glanced at his watch. “Can you make it fast? I’m supposed to be downstairs hosting charades in twenty minutes.”

Vince smiled. “No problem. Sure you don’t want a candy cane?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“Okay. I thought maybe you’d start.”

Frank shrugged. “What am I supposed to say?”

“I thought maybe you’d admit it.”

Frank shook his head. “Admit what? I told you before. It’s nothing personal. It’s a seasonal job. A lot of guys come and go. I don’t think I know anybody who wanted to be Santa more than two or three years in a row. Not six years.”

“Six happy years.”

“Okay, six happy years. But it isn’t a career. Just because I hire Santas and Elves for five different malls doesn’t mean I’m making enough to retire on. Eleven months out of the year I’m selling houses. That’s my real job. And, like I told you before, you’ve gotta focus on your real job. You’re still selling cars, right?”

Vince shook his head. “They fired me.”

For a moment, something like genuine sympathy spread across Frank’s face.

“I’m sorry to hear that. Really. If there’s anything––”

“Want a candy cane?”

Frank wrinkled his forehead. “No. I…look, I am sorry. I know you liked playing Santa, but, with you and Beth having problems, I just figured you’d be better off staying home last year.”

Vince frowned. “Beth left me.”

Frank actually looked surprised. “Jeez, Vince…I’m…I don’t know what to say. I know we were never real close, but I always thought you and Beth were a great––”

“Save it, Frank.”

Frank blinked, confused. “What?”

“You can cut the shit.”

“I don’t know what you’re––”

“Oh, it took me a while. A long time. And by then I was in such a bad place I kind of thought it was funny. First you fire me and then Beth acts like…like I’m nothing. I actually thought she might’ve only loved me cause I was Santa every year. Isn’t that crazy? After she left me, I just…I just hit rock bottom. I was never much of a drinker, but when life goes down the shitter, boy, I can tell ya, you learn how to drink. And of course the guys at the dealership weren’t gonna wait around for me to straighten myself out.”

The guilt was burned onto Frank’s face. He knew what was coming next.

Vince shook his head. “For a guy who didn’t know Beth too well, you really liked fucking her.”

Frank’s whole body tensed. “Now hold on, Vince. Just hold on.

Vince smiled. “Oh no, I know it was only around Christmas time, not year-round. I’d be off at the mall with some kid sitting on my lap, and you’d be at my house with my wife sitting on yours. For a worthless fucking excuse for a human being, you’re pretty smart. No risk of me coming home and catching you when you’re the one setting my schedule. So what was it? Did you hire me back every year cause I was a good Santa? Or were you just enjoying the yearly tradition of boning my wife?”

The room became still, silent except for the muted sounds of the party downstairs. Frank sat there, his face blank.

“Well, Vince, I guess there isn’t any point in saying anything else about it. I think you should leave now.”

Vince didn’t move.

Frank’s face tightened. “I mean it, Vince. I’m not playing any games here. I let you say what you wanted to say. Now get out of my house.”

Vince sighed. “You can’t even admit it, huh? She told me everything.”

Frank leaned forward. “So she told you. So I fucked her. So what?”

“You’re not sorry?”

Frank shook his head. “Vince, you always were a gullible bastard. A real pushover. A guy like you marries a girl like Beth, he should know she’s gonna stray. I’m surprised it took you so long to figure it out. Better late than never I guess. But I’ll tell you what, since you had the balls to come here and face me, I’ll let you take a swing at me and we can call it even.”

“You want a candy cane?”

Frank scowled, gripping the armrests of the chair. “No, I don’t want a fucking candy cane!”

“Too bad.”

Despite the heavy padding of the Santa suit, Vince moved fast. He was off the couch in half-a-second, grabbing Frank by the jaw and yanking his mouth open.

“Do… you… want a candy… cane?” Vince said, pushing it down the chimney.

Dyer Wilk_dust jacketBio: At the age of eleven, Dyer Wilk received a large stack of used Stephen King novels. This event gave his life some direction. He now reads and writes constantly because he doesn’t know any better. He can be found rambling on Twitter and Facebook and at his blog, A Season of Dusk.

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