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Magendie is a writer and freelance editor, and Co-managing Editor/Senior Newsletter Editor of The Rose &
. Her short stories, essays, poetry, and photography have been published and are forthcoming in both
print and online magazines. She has two novels in the query process, and is working on a third. And on every
Christmas Eve, she waits for Santy to return, but Ms. Claus's restraining order has alas thus far kept Santy
and Kathryn apart; she remains ever hopeful despite Santy's drinking problem and that pesky tattletale,
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Moonshine and Santy Clause

Old Moon shone over the mountains, over the valley and hollows, and over my little log house. Snow drifted
willy-nilly, until a sharp wind blew flakes around in an Appalachian clog dance. And on that splendorious
Christmas Eve night, I tossed and sweated in my merry old bed. That night, something wasn't right. I
sensed it. Women my age
Know Things. I got up and sneaked down the hall to the living room. And there
he was. And that red-suited, white-bearded, jolly son of a fat bastard was eating the chocolate-chocolate
chip cookies -- the ones my spouse in residence baked for his theater friends.

I exclamated, "Santy, what the hell?"

He stuck his finger upside his nose and twinkled his eyes, but that stuff won't work on women who
. We've seen men try everything under the Moon and we aren't tricked one speck. I tapped my foot
and glared. He tried the old, "Ho Ho Ho!"

"Don't get tricky with me, Santy."

Santy shook crumbs from his beard. "Well, Kitty Kat, most people leave out cookies for me."

"Not these cookies, buster. Yours are over there." I pointed to the sad-looking cookies resting on a paper
plate I'd baked out of a mix. They were supposed to be reindeer-shaped, but looked like horned elephants
without trunks.

Santy looked at me as if I were a bit Grinchy.

I grabbed the cookie tin. "Okay, come on, have another cookie. Maybe Roger won't notice. I'll make coffee,

"I have rounds to make, you know." But Santy sat at my table and helped himself to another cookie while I
brewed the Deep Creek Blend.

Santy and I chatted about commercialism, and when the coffee was ready, I also added a bit of homebrew
in our cups. I sat across from him and asked the same old same, "Santy, I don't get it. How can you go all
over the world in one night? And don't give me that pixie dust crap. I'm of an age. I
Know Things. I'm not
easily fooled."

Santy held out his mug for more, and I filled it with more hooch than coffee. Well, how'd I know about the
Santy Claus Handbook (of which I received a copy from Mrs. Santy the very next week -- she sure was
hornet-mad at me). It reads,
"Warning! Never mix alcohol with Santy Claus. If accidental ingestion occurs,
please administer the anecdote of two parts elves' tears to one part syrup of ipecac and then stand back."

We ate more cookies. We drank more white fire lightning. Santy giggled. Now folks, when a grown man,
even Santy, giggles, it sounds sticky, gooey, weird. But I was all full up with how I got Santy to sit down
and drink a few with me.

Santy finally answered me. "Ther'sh lotsh of Shanties. I got cou-shins."

"Wha' y'all mean?" I splashed us both another dollop.

"An American Shanta, an Italian Shanta
(hic) a Frenchsh Shanta (hic)." (You all get the idea with the
boozed-up dialect, so I will translate both mine and Santy's slurs from here on out into regular language).
Santy burped and said, "They're my cousins, twice reproved."

"Y'allses all cousins? You shittin' me?"

Santy nodded, grabbed the jar, swigged right from it, held it out to me, and I did the same. I was feeling
gigglied up myself by then. I moon-shined my eyes at Santy. His beard had more sweet crumbs in it, and
his eyes were toddy-warm.

Santy was strangely handsome in a red-suit-white-beard-I've-had-too-much-booze kind of way. I'd also
forgotten something important: the Woman of Age Handbook reads,
"Consumption of alcohol by a smart,
savvy, intelligent, perceptive, all-knowing woman will render her completely idiotic, and worse, she loses
all her powers gained from the ages. Plus, it rips through the retina to where even Santy looks hot."

I asked, "Well, how you allses do it then?"

"It's the big secret in Santa Land. But, pixie dust?" He brayed and snorted. "How bi-

"Well, you got those reindeers flying around, don't you? Huh?" I grabbed the jar from him and took a
good-sized glub. It burned fire down my throat and I began to feel invincible. And by God, if I didn't feel
prettier, smarter, sexier, and to top it off, full of know-it-allism (but I didn't know it was an 'ism' then). "Tell
me, what's that about, Scanty Pause, as if I don't wanna know."

Well, Santy fell out laughing. He slapped his knee and his belly really did shake like a bowl of jelly. It was
flopping and a-going and looked so cute I had to pinch it, which I did. He said, "Mrs. Santy wouldn't like
that!" But I knew he wouldn't tell her. They never do, do they? He said, "The reindeer come from Canada!"
Then he rolled his eyes as if I should know what all that meant.

And, golly gee, it did make sense. I nodded my head and said, "Oh yeah, Canadian Reindeer!"

He slugged back more and banged the empty jar on the table. Then he let out a big whistle. Next I know,
there's clattering and thumping and all sorts of racket, and I'll be-damned if his eight not-so-tiny Canadian
Reindeer didn't come tromping into my living room. They knocked over things and sniffed around. Santy
said, "There's Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen."

And I sang, "But do you re-calll? Where the hell's the most famous Canadian Reindeeerr of allll?"

Santy just looked at me as if I was stupider than a worm. Then he snapped his fingers and the Canadian
Reindeer tromped on out. Now, listen, I know those of you who are still around are thinking, "How come
Roger hasn't woken up with all this noise." And I'll answer by saying, "Well, hell if I know. I'm shrugging."

I got another jar and Santy grabbed it right out of my hands and drank it with throat-glubbing sounds to
the tune of
Deck the Halls. It was pretty cool. I asked, "Hon, how come you and your cousins don't visit
everywhere. Some kids don't get presents." I mean, there we were all comfy-cozy sweet, but there was
that problem there. It brought a dark old nasty cloud in the room that wasn't the Canadian Reindeer's fault.

Santy mumbled, "Some of the international Santy's never made it big. What can you do?" Santy shrugged,
I shrugged. He went on, "And I had a hundred and fifty-two elves move from the North Pole to New Jersey
and then from New Jersey to Florida and then from Florida to North Carolina. Half-backs." He shook his
wooly bully head, grinned kind of sly-like, then whispered, "Besides, a precedent was set long ago, and,
well... " He hitched up a sigh and let loose a tear that rolled down into this moonglow white beard. "People
don't love me no more."

I patted his hand, and changed the subject. "How do you get all those toys in one bag, Santy-bo-fanty?" I
pulled on his beard, he was so cute.

"What toys? I just come in and re-arrange all the stuff the parents buy. Then I sprinkle-tinkle pixie dust on
the presents to make them better than the average bear." He slobbed down a bit of hoochy-cooh, then
said, "That's a lot easier to do now that parents give their kids 'bout everything they ask for." He winked.

Wait a minute. Wait. Just. A. Durn. Minute. "You said you didn't use pixie dust." I grabbed the jar and tried
to gurgle out Silent Night, but it came out sounding like,
"Glug, glorp, gloop, glug, glorp, gloop."

"I did?" Santy looked confused.

"Yeah, when I asked you about pixie dust, you laughed like I was stoopid." Santy was a big, fat liar. Why
did I even think he was cute?

"Say, these cookies are good. Can I have another?"

I think I handed him a cookie, but I was distracted by weird sparklies floating around my head. I sneezed
and blinked and everything looked so beautiful! The colors! The colors! I've never seen such colors. I
hummed songs from the Sixties.

Santy touched the tip of my nose. "Have you been a good girl or a naughty girl?"

"Aw, Santy, you already know that, don't you?"

He knew. He grinned. I blushed.

Well, after that, things were a bit blurry around the edges. Santy put on some Christmas music and he
began dancing around the living room. He swung his bulging sack around and kept howling,

Wait. Just another. Da-gum. Minute. Bulging sack. What was in the sack if there were no toys? I was about
to ask, but then Santy grabbed me up and we did The Mashed Potato to those squeaky chipmunk singers
and I forgot all about his sack of goodies.

Then we did The Tango, Waltz, and Cha-Cha to A Skaggs Family Christmas. Magical! I asked, "Oh, Santy?
How does Mrs. Santy manage with you 'round all year? I mean, only out one night the entire
three-hundred-sixty-five days, and the rest of the time, you'ses under her feet. And, about fifty-gazillion
elves and eight not-so-tiny Canadian Reindeer? Don'tchoo get tired of each other?"

Santy stopped dancing; we'd just done a Jittery Bug to the Doo Whop Boys singing Swingle Bells. He said,
"Why, it's obvious. Mrs. Santy loves her some Mr. Santy." He tongue-swaggered, "And after
six-hundred-years of marriage, I don't need me any Viagra. Me and Mrs. Santy got it going on nat-ur-al-ly."

I raised my brows. "Six hundred years?" I grabbed the jar of whoop-dee-doo sauce from the table, and

He pondefecated, "Ho-dy, Ho, Ho, Yo!"

I was having enough of Santy all sudden. "Don't you think you need to get to visiting all the children about

"Oh pish posh. One year without Santy won't hurt them. Greedy little bastards." Santy flopped on my
couch and propped his black-booted feet up. Those boots where shined to within an inch of their leather
and that got on my nerves, too.

I wanted some dirt somewhere on Santy. I mean, I don't trust perfect men, do you? No-siree-Betty. I said,
"Santy," I said, "Little kids look up to you. Now take that back!"

He looked sorry, then pouted out, "I'm just going to take a little nappy and then I'll be going." And like
that, he was out. I shook him and throttled him and jerked on his beard -- nothing. I slapped him silly; I
put ice cubes down his pants -- nothing. I sure didn't want millions of kids rapping down my door because
I'd gotten Santy drunk and he missed his Big Night. I whistled for the Canadian Reindeer, but they didn't
hear, or didn't listen. Slipping outside, I called up to them, "Hey! Come down here. I need all yallses help."
Nothing. I tried again, "Come Prancer, and Chancer and Dasher and Blonder and Bitchen, um, Comet and
Stupid, and um, Victim, uh, and... come dash him away, dash him away! Damn dash his ass away all!"

Prancer finally tippy-toed into my living room again, snuffling through his nostrils in a way I knew was
smart-alecky. He stuck his sloppy reindeer tongue in Santy's ear. Nothing. If reindeer, even Canadian ones,
could shrug and then give a "You sure are in trouble, stupid" look to humans, I'd say that's what that
Prancer gave me. He turned his swishy tail to me and pranced out.

I'd had enough. I was tired, folks. So, I went on back to bed and left Santy on the couch snoring. I slipped
back between my cranberry-red, 800 count sheets from overspentdotcom, lay my head on my down pillow
from Tar-ge', and with a dog on the porch sigh, I fell right off to sleep. Which reminds me. I bet some of
you are thinking, "Now, why didn't her dogs bark at all that noise?" And all I have to say is, "Beats hellouta

Next morning, I awoke and Roger was already up and in the bathroom gargling away. I never could figure
out why some people brush their teeth before coffee. Seems coffee and toothpaste don't mix. But, I
deviate. Anyway...

I grinned to myself thinking about Roger finding a hung-over Santy on the couch. Maybe we could take
some pictures. Maybe we'd be famous with Santy as my marketing glory ride to the New York Times Best
Seller List (hallelujah music here). I had visions of green-backed sugar pops dancing upside my head. I got
up and sashayed myself into the living room.

And Santy was gone. Everything looked normal. Except, all but two of Roger's cookies were gone, and the
empty party-in-a-jars set on the table. When Roger came in, I told him what happened.

He said, "You are so cute." Then asked, "Where's my cookies?"

"I told you. Santy ate them."

"Oh, you." He right-arm hugged me while his left hand made coffee, prepared breakfast, read the paper,
whipped up another batch of cookies, wrote an aria, translated the Dead Sea Scrolls, and waved to
someone walking by on the mountain.

I used both hands to gesture in the air, pantomiming chaos. "No, really, it happened. As if I could eat that
many cookies and drink that much lightning all by myself in the middle of the night. I mean, really. As if I
could do that."

More smiling indulgently at me as he created world peace and won the Nobel Peace Prize while figuring out
what a gazillion times five squared is.

I hurried to the tree. There was a sparkly bag! I grabbed it and danced around. "Here it is! Here's Santy's
gift. He takes a gift you leave and makes it better. Uh, I mean, anyway... " I petted the bag, which felt
awfully light.

Roger didn't even turn around as he alphabetized the spice rack. "Uh huh."

I opened the top of the bag, my hands shaking with joy and the night's alcohol. Inside, was a rolled up
piece of paper. I unrolled it and read, "Merry Kissmyass to all! Thanks for the Party. I'm off to visit my
cousin in Italy. Ciao."

I knew I'd never show that to anyone. Instead, I stuck it in my pocket and would later flush it down the
toilet. But the sad thing is, seems no one even noticed if they didn't get everything they wanted that year
for Christmas. Oh, maybe a few kids cried here and there, and maybe some of the parents had to run in
and eat all the cookies and milk before their kids found them untouched.

I suppose some made excuses for Santy, like "Oh, little darling, Santy accidentally left your Omega Three
Double Duty Fancy Go Shmancy Dooglejiggie at Daddy's office! Daddy will fetch it tomorrow when there's a
seventy-five percent off sale at Toys B Yours! That silly Santy."

Maybe there were little things here and there and yonder that caused someone to think, "Something just
wasn't right that one Christmas. Remember, Sweetieums? We got into that huuuge fight in front of your
parents and you threw the roast out the window?"

Something just wasn't the same that year. Huh? Am I right? That's my proof. It's all I got. If people can
believe we went to the moon and then never, ever returned there, with all the stuff we know now that we
didn't know then, well then why not my story? I'm just saying.

You can thank your lucky moon in the sky that Mrs. Santy won't ever let Mr. Claus darken my door again.
I'll have to be happy with whatever gifts I get from Roger every Christmas -- which of course I would never
ever complain about in a ma-ill-ion years.

As a postscript, I know lots of you are remembering how I said Mrs. Santy sent me the Santy Claus
Handbook, and you're thinking, "Why doesn't she use that as proof, huh?"

Well, I say to that, I say, why not use that suspended belief thing? Like everybody did in the Fifties and
Sixties? But, if you must know, this is what happened. As soon as I read that handbook, "Poof!" It
disintegrated into air, a kaleidoscope of multi-colored confetti sparkly stars that whooshed right out the
window and into the night sky and spelled out:

A Merry Godammed Christmas to All! Greedy Bastards!
Kathryn Magendie