Monday, December 20, 2004

There Came Such a Clatter

I awoke this morning and found this story staring at me. My intention was to finish the story about the dressing room. I guess, through a clouded haze, I produced this story instead.

There Came Such a Clatter

Red wine rested in a crystal glass. My cat sipped milk beside the warm fireplace. I lay beside her, fetched the wine and took in the aroma of the beverage mixed with the burning hickory. She purred as I scratched her ears. She seemed to be at peace with the empty house, no repeat of the Thanksgiving fiasco.

All was quiet except Nat King Cole floating through my stereo and the cracks and pops from the burning wood. Gazing upon the flames I felt warmth and comfort. My eyes moved to the cat and noticed her fast asleep. My eyes too grew weary. I placed my empty glass on the mantle and stretched my legs and body on the sofa. Soon my eyes closed and I dreamed of a small village decorated with Christmas lights.

A thump on the roof startled me out of slumber. The cat resembled a feline from Halloween with its hair raised and pupils dilated. Another loud thump came from the fireplace, which, by now, only had smoldering ashes. Sitting up, I reached over and grabbed my Glock aiming to protect kitty and I.

The cat gave a low growl and started moving back as light snow fell from the chimney. She appeared scared. I, on the other hand, was pissed. How dare a burglar invade our peaceful slumber and interrupt Christmas Eve? I checked the clip to make sure I had enough firepower. Cocked and ready.

More snow fell and loud rumblings resonated from the fireplace. From the fading sounds of the cat's paws on the kitchen floor I knew she was not dependable. I bent down out of eyesight.

A black boot appeared in the cavity and I fired. The screams were deafening. Blood poured from the wound and on to the remnants of the burnt wood. To my surprise another boot appeared. I fired again but missed. Soon a figure in a red suit laced with white fur fell in the fireplace and to the floor. A big black bag landed beside him. He rose to one knee, grabbed the bag, and retrieved a 38 special. Before I could move he jammed the barrel against my left nostril.

"In all my years delivering presents I have never been shot," the man said in an unsuspecting Italian accent. His fat belly rolled with each word. His breath smelled of cookies and milk. More like rum laced eggnog. He reached over and pulled the chamber and loaded a bullet.

Looking down the barrel a memory came to me telling me the identity of this man. IT was Jolly Ole Saint Nick. But he wasn't so jolly after I plugged his foot with my Glock.

"I'm sorry, Santa. I thought you were a burglar."

He pulled the gun back and sighed. "Ah, forget about it." He sat down looking at his wound. "I'm getting too old for this crap." He looked up at me with his dark eyes. "I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse. Since I'm now unable to perform my duties I'm gonna pass the responsibility off to you. You do a good job and I'll, uh, fatten your bank account. But, screw up, and I'll cut off your fingers."

"Santa, I just couldn't."

He pointed the gun to my head. "It's either that or I end this conversation right here and now."

Faced with the choice I grabbed the bag and said, "Let's go."

As I reached the chimney I heard a familiar low growl emanating from my bedroom. I turned and saw the cat sneaking up behind the old fat man. Apparently the home invasion by Santa really pissed off the feline.

He didn't hear her until it was too late. By the time he turned his head the cat leaped and sunk her claws in the middle of his back.

Santa screamed like a schoolgirl.

He quickly stood up and tried to reach for the cat. Twisting and turning he stretched his arms around to his back. He almost got one hand close to her head but was rewarded with a solid bite that severed his pinky finger. Pulling his hand back he shook it sending drops of blood across my living room.

During the melee he dropped his gun. I ran over and kicked it to the next room. Before I could turn back I felt hands tightening around my neck cutting off my air. Drawing my foot up I kicked back and landed square on Clause's jewels.

Santa whimpered and fell to the floor.

My attention was drawn to a window by jingling bells. I saw the reindeer and sleigh leaving the premises. Little Johnny, down the street, wasn't receiving his Tickle Me Elmo this night.

I looked back and saw the cat attacking Santa's head with quick slaps of her paws. With each swipe his white hair turned red.

Before I could raise my own gun he reached back and grabbed the cat by the scruff of the neck and threw her across the room. She hit the wall hard and landed on a stack of presents. She got to hear feet, shook her head and hissed. Apparently she wasn't hurt, just angered.

She crouched and took off in a dead run. Jumping, she landed on his head with her claws sunk on each side of his face. She cocked her head and started gnawing on his neck. He tried to pull her off his clawed face but with each pull strips of skin and drops of blood fell. She growled and bit harder making blood ooze out of his neck.
His eyes rolled up and his body fell limp to the floor.

The cat landed on all fours, looked at him for a few moments and walked off. She stopped in the kitchen to drink from her water bowl.

I walked over and moved his head with my foot. He didn't respond. From the pool of blood gathered around his face I realized Santa was dead.

Shaking my head I looked over at the cat who was giving herself a bath. I drew my gun and aimed for her head.

She looked back with sad eyes and meowed.


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