Sunday, 26 November 2017

The case of the Santa slayings

Not even December yet and it's too damn cold and wet to think about Christmas. Christ, don’t even get me started. Can’t stand this time of year, and it seems I’m not the only one. The phone call wrecks my first good night’s sleep in ages and I just pray it’s the wrong number... but I know it’s not. The festivities have started early this year – someone’s killed Santa Claus.
In an age of litigation and moral responsibility everyone has to be regulated and licensed; even would-be Santa Claus, would you believe? There’s even a goddamned training school for them; a four day course with a certificate and a big red suit at the end!
Looks like someone took a dislike to poor old Christopher Tingley; they must’ve taken exception to his portrayal in a big way. He was found trussed up like a Christmas turkey with an orange in his mouth and his giblets on the outside. Not a pretty sight.
Sure, there are plenty of killings over the Christmas period; no difference to any other holiday. Tempers fray, festivities be damned. But this one? Slightly more macabre than normal, probably why I got assigned to it. Ever since I cracked the Siamese Twin Murder-Suicide case I keep getting the nut-jobs. This one’s a little more creative; something tells me this won’t be an isolated incident, either. There will be more, you can count on it.
It doesn’t take too long for people to realise that the only way this’ll work is if I go undercover. Everyone seems to have a water-tight alibi; everyone’s desperate for the chance to play the jolly fat man and no one wants to risk it for anything. It’s got to pay well then, ‘cause it can’t be for job satisfaction! So the Chief agrees and laughs me out of the office. He loves the irony, and if it were happening to somebody else, I probably would do too.
Me, the ultimate, Christmas bad-ass going undercover in a training school for Santa’s where one Father Christmas has already been knocked off! Fer Christ’s sake, why me?

Every time you go to a mall and see one of those fat festive fuckers with their ho ho ho’s; or the creepy guys with the fake smiles and glassy stares outside cinema’s and bowling alleys; chances are they’ve been to a training centre like “Little Saint Nick – putting the Is into Christmas!” (No, I don’t get it either…)
They’re all regulated and have to pass certain tasks and tests to qualify. It’s basic common sense but takes over four days of intense course and field work. Seems that someone cracked after the first morning; and I can empathise completely –I’ve only been there a quarter of an hour and I already want to murder every last one of them (and I’m supposed to be the good guy!).
In amongst the Ho Ho Ho practice sessions everyone’s keeping tight lipped. No one had a thing to say about Tingley, except that he was the one that seemed most genuine about what he was doing; so maybe it was professional jealousy.
There were only five other people on this course: Paul Robeson –an Australian who really didn’t seem to give a fuck whether it was Christmas or not, he just really needed the money (I liked this guy a lot); Nicholas St. Hubbins –an Englishman fallen on hard times, his beard was tatty and smelt of mothballs, but at least it was his own, and the rest of him was the wrong side of shabby chic. Inigo Jeffies was odd.. it was difficult to gauge where he was from, he didn’t exactly speak any form of English that I had ever heard and he looked very puzzled throughout most of the days exercises, even managing to mispronounce the Ho’s. I couldn’t help but wonder whether he’d been sent as a cruel joke by the job centre. Oestre Lapin was probably the most decent guy I’d met for a long time; he was very light on his feet with a sensitive nature; but had a really sweet teeth. Then there was Martha Grimes.
Yup – a woman! In an age of equal opportunity, why not? Why not have a female Father Christmas… Please; let the killer be her…
By the end of the first day I was none the wiser; no one seemed to have wanted Tingley dead, yet there had to be a motive. To kill is one thing; but to be trussed up and gutted takes another level of hate entirely.
I slept in the college to keep up appearances and as I turned the lights out I said a silent good night to the budding Santa’s and wondered who would be next.

Her screams alerted us to the painful truth that Inigo would no longer be joining us. Someone had taken great umbrage to his impersonation, so much so that they had fed him copious amounts of mistletoe berries and even stuffed his mouth with them when he died. This was some hate, folks.
The thing is, anyone of them could have gotten to Inigo that night; and I hadn’t even had a chance to interview the staff yet.
If I thought the prospective Santa’s were hard work then they were amateurs to those that ran the college. I knew that they were hiding something, there was definite fear behind their eyes but I could tell that none of them had been responsible for either of the murders.
We were given a few hours grace because of the police investigation surrounding Inigo’s death. No one knew of my own under-cover work so everything had to run as standard and this gave me a chance to do a bit of research. I checked into the local library and looked at the newspapers going back over twenty years.
Fifty people had been killed whilst dressing up as Santa in this town alone. Fifty! Somehow it had been hushed up, but now it had managed to track back to the source –the college.

What the hell was happening? Only one man would be able to help me out, the owner of the College: Rudolph Deerheart (I swear, I’m not making this up.)
“Yeah – we hushed it up; but what else could we do?” It didn’t take much for Rudolph to start singing to me; I can be very persuasive sometimes. “If people found out that becoming Santa got you dead then who’d want it? Sales would plummet without having a Santa to brighten the Christmas experience and the country would go under. That what you want?”
He was asking the wrong guy.
But twenty years… the killings had gone on for twenty years! There was only one guy that looked as if he had that much hate in him and when we found Martha stuffed in the chimney, back at the college with her neck twisted completely round I knew it had to be him. He didn’t even deny it; seemed almost proud of it!
“You have no idea who I am, do you?” He snapped back when I asked why he’d done it. “Damned Coca-cola; damned Richard fucking Attenborough. No one remembers me anymore; even my name.”
“Saint Fucking Nicholas.” Exclaimed Paul.
“Ho fucking Ho, yes?” Nick snapped back. “This should be my time of year but for because of those charlatans, no one believes in me anymore. My power has been diminished and I’m forced to live in the gutter; no better than a tramp. Each year I try to put people off; kill a few Santa’s but it makes no difference. So this year I thought I’d get proactive, and I would’ve succeeded too if it wasn’t for you pesky...”
“Just take him away, will you?” I said to the police who were standing open-mouthed at the turn of events. Little Saint Nick turned Satan’s little helper… what a world, eh?

I needed a walk home, clear my head. I don’t know whether it was being in such close proximity to the festive cheer, but I was in the middle of a major headache. I’d like to say that it was because of the jackhammer pain that I didn’t realise I was being followed until we reached the building site.. but I just wasn’t paying attention. The case was over; or so I thought.
A church of all things was being renovated into a swanky club and I couldn’t help but sneer at the irony. A smack to the back of my neck sent me sprawling. I was in too much pain to put up a fight and somehow I was dragged into the church. I’m no lightweight but this person managed to heft me about as if I was a ten stone weakling.
The inside of the church was a mess; workman’s tools strewn about. Chisels, crowbars, nail-gun’s, hammers, drills, screwdrivers… it was almost as bad as the inside of my flat!
I was pushed to the floor and I hit my head against a trestle.
“Who’s going to miss another coppa, eh? Especially one who’s still sporting the colours.” Fuck, I was still in my Santa suit; but I recognised the voice and suddenly I understood what was happening.
“Brer Fucking Rabbit, I presume.” I said, rubbing the back of my head as I stared at the bloodshot eyes of Oestre Lapin.
“How dare you!” He kicked me hard. “Even now, when you should be humbled at the sight of such divinity, you try and crack wise.”
“Divinity? Since when was the Easter Bunny divine?” That received another kick.
“Arrogant pig. You know nothing of what I stand for. Think about what has been taken away from me. Saint Nick; always wanting to be the centre of attention; had to steal my limelight –even though I’d gone to such trouble! But with your death everyone will know it was me, and I will regain my proper place in the pantheon!” He closed his eyes as if in rapture and stepped back so he was against the wall; arms outstretched as if in a state of grace. That gave me enough time to pick up exactly what I needed; I may not be the smartest but I’m fast!
“Yeah –well fuck you too! Here’s enlightenment in spades!” I pointed the discarded nail-gun and shot several nails into him; two in each palm and two in each foot. I was tempted to staple his lips together for good measure because he was still spouting some pseudo-religious crap; but I rang the chief instead:
“The Santa slayings?... Yeah –nailed it.”

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