by David S. Grant

Such a holiday cliché.

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The only thing colder than the weather outside is the Bud Light I'm drinking. You could say the same for the last five Bud Lights I've had in less than two hours. It's not snowing, but the temperature is hovering just above freezing and there's a frigid rain, cold as ice, followed by a brisk breeze straight from Canada. The weather alone is enough to kill you.

I had just finished work and was still wearing my Santa suit. The more drinks I consumed, the heavier my beard became. My red hat sat on the bar in front of me. I looked back, through the windows onto Rivington Street, watching the hipsters walk by as non-holiday indie rock played in the background. Turning back, I stared at the twelve-inch decorated Christmas tree resting on the shelf above the register. Each season, the item is switched out. For Easter there was a bunny missing an eye, Halloween a smelly looking jack o'lantern. Thanksgiving, a straw weaved horn of plenty filled with wine corks. For those without calendars, it was a place to know what time of the year it was. That, and me sitting at the bar in my Santa Claus outfit, the same outfit I am supposed to wear for the next two weeks at Tom's Toy Store on Ludlow Street. The same beard mixed with sweat, alcohol, and tears.

Today the line was non-stop with children, mostly from New Jersey, telling me what they wanted and how they had been good children this year and deserve among other items: train sets, bicycles, cell phones, hunting rifles. I had three different flavors of juice spilled on me today. A woman told me I was a bitter man (to be fair, this was after I said her son stinks), and my beard was pulled off by a girl named Laura who screamed I was a phony. My supervisor, a pale gentleman named Guy of all names was reducing my pay due to lack of business. It was two hours ago that I decided I would not go back to this job, or any job, for that matter. If you could get away with one action and not have repercussions, I'm guessing most people would deeply consider murdering their boss.

Six months ago I lost a lucrative construction job due a lawsuit my company lost. Then, my sister, my only family left, passed away in a tragic chainsaw incident. Now, the holidays had arrived and I was miserable. Behind the bar, a row of liquor bottles leaning up against a mirror, I catch a glimpse of myself in my suit, half drunk. Nowhere to go. A holiday cliché. I motion with my bottle to the bartender for another beer, lifting a shot glass for another shot of Jameson.

To my right is a table of aspiring authors. Years ago, I had sat down to write a novel about what Christmas meant to me as a child. Now, I couldn't care less. The dream is dead. Is the dream of writing a novel or the dream of Christmas dead? Yes.

One of the aspiring authors is discussing his blog on the war and product commercialization and the ruin of the true meaning of Christmas. I chuckle to myself, thinking I should hand him my Santa hat because he'll be needing it in a few years. Little does he know that right now he's got life by the short and curly ones. A couple of years from now it will all be shit. Behind this group is two finance guys who probably read about this bar in Time Out and figure it's a good place to unwind after a few lines of blow. I bend over and pull my bag closer to the bar stool. The gun inside makes a small clank as it hits the bottom of the bar.

At the end of the bar two girls drinking white wine and looking very cool (even for the Lower East Side) giggle as they look over at me. I notice and stare at both until it becomes uncomfortable, thinking which one may be the lucky one. In one motion I drink my shot of Jameson, and then chase it with a gulp of beer. Two of the aspiring authors place napkins on their drinks and go outside to smoke. As they leave, a woman wearing green tights walks in and sits next to me.

Two weeks ago, I was offered a job in Human Resources at EEG, a large finance company, only to have the offer retracted after they performed a background check and found two misdemeanors from over ten years ago. It had been a week since I decided that would be the last interview. The last time I would be rejected.

After closer examination, the woman in green tights was wearing an Elf costume. She had a sweatshirt over the top half and had clearly changed her shoes, but being in my current line of work I know when I spot Elf tights. Not to mention the tights were very flattering, accentuating her long legs. I asked her where she was working, but she didn't answer, only showing a card that read Jerry's Appliance Store. I ask if I can buy her a drink, but she ignores me.

"Listen, lady, the least you can do is say no thanks," I say, but she continues to say nothing, only looking forward. Out of frustration I kick my bag. The gun, containing two bullets, rattles against the leg of the barstool. The woman looks down at the bag, and then gives me a half smile as she motions to the bartender for a tap of Brooklyn Lager.

"Good choice," I say.

No response from the woman. I bend down to grab my bag, but am interrupted when a group of eight walk in the door. The five guys are all wearing glasses with thick black rims, the three girls appear drunk. The all reek of freshly smoked weed.

"Eleven dollars," the bartender says to me.

I dig out a ten and one and place it on the bar. The bartender, wearing a shirt that reads LES is MORE, nods and shakes his head at the lack of tip. Looking back over at the woman in Elf tights, I notice a bulge in her side that appears to be a gun. Great, I can read the headline now: A disgruntled Santa and Elf shoot-up a bar two weeks before Christmas. A holiday cliché.

She finishes her Brooklyn Lager and then quickly stands and reaches at her side to pull out her gun. I grab my bag and begin to open it when I realize it's not a gun, but rather a narrow leather journal. She writes down something, rips out the page and hands it to me, and leaves without saying a word.



I grab my shot glass and motion for one more for the road, drink the Jameson down, and grab my bag.

On my way out the door I laugh. I'm a drunken Santa, walking in the rain, and carrying a bag with a loaded gun, on my way to get laid. Such a holiday cliché.





Copyright © 2007 David S. Grant

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

David S. Grant is the author of Corporate Porn and upcoming books Bleach and Blackout through Silverthought Press. For more information on his writing, please visit: http://www.davidsgrant.com.

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