copyright © 2008 Jeff Goode

’Twas the Night Before Christmas 2008

after Clement C. Moore

by Jeff Goode

copyright © 2008

(Interrogation room. JIM, a two-bit hood, and TWO POLICE OFFICERS.)

#1.     Where were you on the night of the 24th?

Jim.     What do I look like, a calendar? How the hell am I supposed to remember where I was on the 24th? Was that a Tuesday? I was probably home. I want my lawyer. This is harassment! I ain’t sayin’ nothin’.

#2.     It’s gonna be a quiet night then.

Jim.     Quiet as a mouse.

#1.     It was Wednesday.

Jim.     Wednesday the 24th?

#2.     Yeah, where were you?

Jim.     Hold on, wait a minute. That was the night before Xmas, right? … This is about the toys, isn’t it?

#1.     We got break-ins all over the city. Top brass is breathin’ down our necks. Somebody’s goin’ down for this. And unless I hear otherwise, I think you’re good for it.

Jim.     Okay… Maybe I do remember something… that can help you with your investigation.

#2.     We’re all ears.

Jim.     But I want immunity. And you gotta get me protection. And I want it in writing, or I’m not saying a word.

#1.     Listen, I can talk to the D.A. about a deal. But you gotta give us something first. As a show of good faith.

#2.     Yeah, good faith. Christmas spirit.

Jim.     All right. Off the record.

#1.     Off the record, sure.

Jim.     It was the night before Christmas, see. And I was at home, like I said. My old lady can alibi me. She was with me the whole time, you ask her. We never left the house.

#2.     What about your kids?

Jim.     You leave them out of this. They were asleep the whole time!

#1.     The whole time what? You’re not gonna be much of a witness if you try to tell us you didn’t see nothing.

Jim.     Okay, but maybe I heard something. Out on the lawn.

#1.     Like what?

Jim.     Like a clatter.

#2.     What, like a pizza pan?

#1.     Let him talk.

Jim.     So I go to the window to see what’s what, right? And what do you think I saw?

#2.     I don’t know, what do you think you saw?

Jim.     Right there out front, clear as day.

#1.     In the middle of the night?

#2.     There was a full moon that night, you remember?

#1.     Okay, what did you see?

Jim.     Maybe I saw… a sleigh.

#1.     A sleigh?

#2.     Didn’t we get a 9-1-1 call about a sleigh?

#1.     I need a description.

Jim.     Late model sleigh. Red, I think, with silver and gold interior. One o’ those little European compacts. Mini-Boggan, I think they call it.

#1.     Did you get a license number?

Jim.     No, but this Boggan — the one that I saw — had eight tiny reindeer pulling it.

#2.     Reindeer?

Jim.     Yeah, reindeer.

#1.     What about the driver? Did you get a look at him?

Jim.     No, he was too quick. But you get me a line up I can identify every one of those reindeer. There was Dasher. Dancer. Prancer and Vixen.

#1.     You know them by name?

Jim.     I seen ’em around the neighborhood. They’re always hangin’ around with this old guy.

#2.     What old guy?

#1.     Hold on, I’m writin’ this down.

Jim.     Comet and Cupid. And Donder and Blitzen.

#1.     And this old guy you seen them with. What’s his name?

Jim.     I think they call him Nick.

#2.     Nick the Saint?

Jim.     Nick the Saint! That’s him! That’s the guy! I mean… could be him. Now are you going to get me my protection?

#2.     Holy Christ! Nick the Saint! Chief’s been after him for ages.

#1.     Are you sure it was his reindeer?

Jim.     Yeah!

#2.     Then it had to be him was drivin’. Who else is gonna be hangin’ out with his known associates unless it’s the man himself, or somebody way up in the food chain.

#1.     And you can testify it was him driving?

Jim.     No way. I told you, I didn’t get a good look. You’re gonna have to get one of the reindeer to flip on him ’cause I can’t make a positive ID. I’m tellin’ the truth. They lit out of there so fast it was like eagles in a hurricane.

#1.     I see.

Jim.     Now can I speak to an attorney?

#1.     That won’t be necessary. You’re not under arrest.

Jim.     I’m not?

#1.     And you didn’t seen nothing.

Jim.     I didn’t.

#1.     So you’re free to go.

Jim.     No, you can’t!

#2.     Have a nice holiday.

Jim.     No, you can’t just let me go. You gotta get me into witness protection.

#1.     Well, maybe if I had a witness to protect. But right now all we got is a family man spreadin’ unsubstantiated rumors about Nick the Saint.

#2.     Boy, when word o’ that gets out on the street, he’s not gonna be a family man for long.

Jim.     All right, okay. I’ll tell you what happened.

#1.     I thought you might.

Jim.     So I think he’s gone, right? But as I’m pullin’ my head back in and turnin’ around, I hear something up on the roof.

#1.     A clatter?

Jim.     No, it’s like prancing and pawing. Like 8 tiny hoofs up there.

#2.     You mean 32 hoofs. 8 deer, 4 hoofs: 32 pairs of hoofs.

#1.     You mean 16 pairs of hoofs. 32 is 16 pairs.

#2.     I thought one hoof was a pair.

#1.     You mean like pants?

#2.     Yeah, like a pair of pants. Pair of hoofs.

#1.     No, I think it’s just pants that does that.

#2.     And hand cuffs.

#1.     Yeah, but there’s two in a pair of handcuffs.

#2.     Two cuffs, one pair of handcuffs.

#1.     So what’s a pant? Is it like one leg?

Jim.     Hey!

#1.     Sorry.

Jim.     So I run downstairs, ’cause I realize this guy up on the roof, whoever he is, is about to Mission Impossible his way down my chimney. Which is exactly what he does. By the time I get downstairs, he’s standin’ in the middle of my living room.

#2.     But you can’t make a positive ID?

Jim.     I’ll tell you what I know. But I swear I didn’t get a very good look.

#1.     Go on.

Jim.     He was about 5’6" / 5’7". Dressed all in fur, head to toe.

#2.     He’s wearing fur? And this guy’s crawling around a chimney?

Jim.     I didn’t say it was clean. He was covered in ashes and soot. And he had a big bundle of toys slung on his back. He looked like a burglar when he opened his pack.

#2.     But you didn’t get a good look.

Jim.     Maybe a little good.

#1.     So he was 5’7" Eyes?

Jim.     Twinkly.

#1.     Complexion?

Jim.     He had rosy cheeks. And merry dimples.

#1.     So Caucasian. Any other distinguishing marks?

Jim.     Nose like a cherry.

#2.     Guy with a red nose? Shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Jim.     He had a broad face and a little round belly.

#1.     All right, I’m gonna put you with a sketch artist.

Jim.     And it shook when he laughed like a bowlful of Jello.

#2.     So a funny lookin’ guy?

Jim.     Oh, yeah. I laughed when I saw him, in spite of the danger to myself and my family.

#2.     That’s Nick the Saint, all right.

#1.     So what happened next?

Jim.     He winked at me, and kinda twisted his head. And I took that to mean if I stayed out of his way and didn’t cross him, he wasn’t gonna kill me.

#2.     He told you that?

Jim.     No, he didn’t say a word. He just went straight to work.

#1.     Doing what?

Jim.     Filling the stockings.

#2.     With what?

Jim.     Toys.

#1.     So he broke into your house and he left toys.

Jim.     Yes. For the kids.

#2.     Well, this definitely links him to the toys.

#1.     It’s enough for a search warrant.

Jim.     Then he turns to me again. And I’m thinkin’: That’s it, now I’m dead. This guys gonna cap me right here in my living room and there’s nothing I can do about it. But instead, he lays his finger aside of his nose.

#2.     Gang signs.

Jim.     And just like that up the chimney he goes.

#1.     We’re gonna have to dust your chimney for prints.

#2.     You can’t dust a chimney.

Jim.     Then he sprang into his sleigh, whistled to his team, and off they go.

#1.     And that’s it?

Jim.     Yes. No, wait. One more thing. I heard him say something, just before he drove out of sight.

#2.     What’s that?

Jim.     It sounded like…

#1.     Yeah?

Jim.      "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

#1.      (writing) "Happy…"?

Jim.      "Christmas to all."

#1.      (writing) "Christmas to all…"

Jim.      "And to all a good night."

#2.     He didn’t say "Merry"? "Merry Christmas"?

Jim.     No, "Happy". I remember that. "Happy Christmas."

#1.     To all?

Jim.     To everybody.

#2.     And then he’s gone?

Jim.     Like the wind.

#1.     And that’s your story?

Jim.     Yeah.

#1.     All right, well, I just have one more question.

Jim.     Sure.

#1.     If you were in the living room, and he was on the roof, how did you see him jump in his sleigh?

#2.     Yeah, how do you know he whistled?

Jim.     Well, um…

#2.     A guy just broke into your house. With your kids asleep. And all of a sudden you’re up on the roof waving "Merry Christmas" to him.

#1.      (correcting) "Happy Christmas"

#2.     Yeah, not even Merry Christmas. A Happy Christmas.

Jim.     That’s what happened.

#1.     Your stories full o’ holes, Toy Man.

Jim.     Maybe I wasn’t on the roof.

#2.     You’re gonna fry for this one.

Jim.     No, wait, I’ll tell you what really happened–

#1.     You had your chance. Take him away.

Jim.      "Merry Christmas!" He said, "Merry Christmas!"

#1.     You’ll be Mary when you’re serving 8 to 10 in Leavenworth.

#2.     Unless you’d rather be Gladys.

#1.     Get him out of here!

(POLICE OFFICER #2 drags JIM out of the room.)

#1.     Heh heh heh. Gladys Christmas.


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