This was a tale written for a competition early last December. It falls perfectly for Fandango’s Flashback Friday — December 4 and so I’m delighted to share with you all today.
It also includes todays Ragtag daily prompt — Wine
Hope you like it.
Santa on Mulled Wine
“Ah, I hate Christmas.” Lenny scowled at some carollers. In six hours, it would be Christmas and Lenny wanted it over. He never saw his family, hadn’t opened a present in eight years and couldn’t care less about it. Pulling the collar of his old jacket high against the biting cold, he headed for the pub. He didn’t get far along the frosty road before a thump, a falling bin and a screaming cat reached his ears.
Peering into the alley between two houses, he saw movement and edged closer to the scattered rubbish. “Who’s there? What are ya doing back there?”
“Hic… I-er sorry, old boy -Hic- didn’t mean to upset your bin.” answered a rich yet slurring voice.
Lenny grew wide-eyed. He was looking at Santa Claus or at least a man in the traditional red-and-white suit anyway. His trousers were muddy, his hat was missing its bobble. He looked a befuddled fellow kneeling in the rubbish.
Santa climbed to his feet, hiccoughed and staggered into the wall with a groan.
Lenny grabbed his arm to stop him from falling. “Easy, fella! Looks like yer life’s gone down the toilet like mine.” Lenny looked into his red face. His eyes were unfocused with his daze. “Did the department store kick ya out?”
“I- er, woo-er, HO-HO!” Santa giggled. “I just junk-er drunk? Yeah drunk, sorreee-hic!”
“That’s putting it—”
“Rudolph’s going to be steaming mad! Hic!With me.” Santa raised a finger. “ ‘S’all Ms Howell’s fault, you know…”
“Really? Come on, let’s get you some coffee.” Lenny grabbed and led him from the alley. Seeing how sozzled the man was made him reconsider getting drunk himself tonight.
“Ho-yeah-Hic… Ms Howell has a daughter er… Hortensia… er yeah – Hic! – that’s it.” Santa scratched his curly beard. “Anyway, she always leaves me a goblet of willed mine-er mulled wine, sorry-Hic. Tonight’s was as strong as rocket fuel, HO-HO!”
“No kidding!” Lenny half-dragged him to the pub and opened the door. Santa stepped inside, went cross-eyed and fainted. He hit a table scattering screaming ladies, glasses and chairs as he and the table hit the floor.
“Want your usual pint, Lenny.” called the bartender seemingly oblivious to the chaos.
“Uh, no thanks, Harold; two coffees, please. One as strong as ya can make it.” Lenny scooped Santa up. “Sorry, ladies,” he said while dragging him to a booth beside the twinkling Christmas tree.
“Ho-Ho… Er thanks, Leonard.” Santa grinned stupidly.
“Sure. Ya know who I am?”
“Aye-yup. Leonard Dale, thirty-four and a good boy considering. I gave you a big yellow crane one year-Hic. You almost saw me putting it under your tree.”
“No! I was seven then. I loved that crane.” Lenny put a hand over his mouth as the coffee’s arrived. “Um… Thanks, Harold,” he managed.
“Wha’s the… er… minutes, no-er watch… ooh! So drunk. Erm… Yeah, time?”
“It’s seven-forty.” Lenny peered at him. “You’re really him, aren’t you?”
Santa nodded and pulled out a large handkerchief with a bag of reindeer food and blew his nose loudly, “I’m afraid so. I have thirty million presents to del-hic-ver yet too.”
“Bloody hell! Then you better start drinking that coffee.” Lenny pushed his mug nearer.
Santa accepted and poured more coffee in his beard than his mouth.
Three cups later Santa looked more focussed. “Thanks for rescuing me, Leonard. I’m going to need your help.”
“Thank you. I know you divorced and lost your family. Things will improve there in future, I promise. For now, I need you to deliver my presents with me so other families can be happy. Then tomorrow you shall be rewarded.” Santa stood and led the way to the door.
Lenny followed and opened it for him. Santa walked straight into the wall beside the open way.
“Funny door, they usually let you out,” he commented while rubbing his nose.
“This way, Santa.” Lenny directed him outside and was soon back in the alley.
Santa used some golden glitter and levitated them both to the roof. There in all its glory was his red-and-gold sleigh and reindeer. Rudolph at the front looked furious at his master. “Right, old boy. The reindeer really fly, but without the GPS and time machine in the sleigh, we never make it.”
“You drive, I can’t afford a DUI charge.” Santa shoved him into the sleigh, joined him and keyed the ignition. The reindeer took flight setting bells ringing. “Hi-Ho Reindeer and… Hic! Away!”