Well, my dad grew up below the poverty line - so I got a lot of stories about walking to school in a blizzard, up hill; both ways - sounds pretty horrible... so I want to avoid having to live in a neighborhood like that. -- Johnnie Royale
Beaujolais! We have a winner! And none too soon -- the most
magical day of the year is nigh upon us. Curl up to your
iMac and read another touching Yuletide tale by none other than
our Xmas essayist emeritus, LENNY TUBEROSE!
It's true, folks. Like Charles Dickens and Norman Rockwell before him, Lenny
Tuberose has become synonymous with all that is wonderful at Christmas. This
year's contest was rough, but L.T. once again managed to claw his way to the
top. Congratulations, Lenny. Drink your fabulous showcase of awe-inspiring
prizes in good health -- you've definitely earned it.
Runner-up essays will be published over the next few days. To all our
readers, we wish you good cheer in this Season of Giving. Enjoy the magic of
Christmas again through the eyes of a child with this year's winning essay.
You Can't Spell "Holiday Cheer" Without Some "E"
"Pssst! Hey buddy, know where I can score?"
"Jeezus how old are you kid?" I had to ask. I mean, I sell drugs, but I got
standards. This kid wasn't even five feet tall. "Does your mommy know you're
out trying to buy dope?"
"Fuck you. I'm not a kid, I'm...I got a glandular thing."
Yeah, don't we all. I shrugged. Kid had moxie. "Whadda you need?" I asked.
"I want some 'E'. Can you fix me up?"
Figures. 'E' is the drug of choice for the teeny-boppers these days. One of my
"Sure, I can fix you up. How much do you need?" I asked.
"Better gimme 50 bucks worth. Got any hash?"
"I got everything and then some, Junior."
"Don't call me that," he snapped, all peevish like.
I shrugged. "Whatever. How much hash you want?"
"A quarter ounce. Will you buy me some liquor too? I'll give you an extra
twenty for your trouble."
That's where I draw the line. Like I said, I got standards. "No way kid.
That's like contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
"C'mon Jack. I'm not a minor, but I look young so they won't sell it to me. Be
a regular guy hunh. It's not even for me...it's for my friend."
Oh please! This kid must have thought I had just fallen off a turnip truck.
"Not for you eh...?"
"No, really! It's for my friend," he says. Then he jerks his thumb over his
shoulder towards a black Lincoln Town Car with dark windows parked on the other
side of the street. "The 'E' is for him too. The hash is for me."
"So why doesn't he buy his own liquor? He must be old enough. Or does he have
a gland thing too?"
"He's kinda famous and he doesn't want to be seen buying dope and liquor and
shit. You know how it is."
Well, I guess I do. "Ok, I'll tell you what. You pay me up front I want an
extra fifty for the hassle and I'll bring the liquor and shit over to the car
and give it to your friend. I don't want anybody to see me handing booze to no
kid. I got a reputation in this neighbourhood you know."
"Yeah yeah, whatever." He fishes a wad of bills out of his funky green pants
and hands me two hundred dollar bills. "This cover it?"
"That'll do. What's your friend drink?"
"Jack Daniels. Will you pick up some smokes too? Doesn't matter what brand."
I just stood there and gave him the hairy eyeball. He peeled another twenty off
the wad of bills and handed it to me.
I took the money and walked around the corner to the store. I bought the liquor
and smokes and walked them on over to the Lincoln and rapped on the rear
window. The window slides down and I get a look at junior's friend. Old dude
with a long beard and dark glasses, which is weird because it was, like, eleven
and change in the p.m. and the sun ain't so strong that time of night. Dude was
all decked out in red velvet looked like a pimp or something. I handed him the
bag of goodies.
"Here you go pops." I says. "Merry Christmas."
Then the old guy starts cussing me out! I couldn't make much of it out 'cause
he was muttering and slurring a little I think he'd already been drinking. I
shrugged. Whatever. You see all kinds in my line of work. Then the driver's
door open and Junior shoots me a look that's pure venom.
"You had to say that didn't you? Now it's going to take me half the night to
get him settled down again. Thanks for nothing you f..."
The old grump in the back seat interrupted Junior with something that sounded
like 'Ho ho ho'. Junior turned around to face me again and says, "Know where I
can find a Ho? Somebody who's not gonna blab to the National fucking Enquirer?
I'll give you another hundred as a finder's fee."
I almost told him to forget it, but I though better. These guys were loaded and
they were good tippers, so I figured what the hell. I would take them to see a
friend of mine she would charge the fat old bastard double for keeping it quiet,
I'd make an easy hundred and everybody would be happy.
"Ok. I know a place. You gotta let me drive though." I was carrying and I
didn't want the cops pulling us over because there was a twelve year old driving
Junior shrugged. "Suit yourself," he says, and he shifts over into the passenger
I moved the telephone book he had been sitting on and adjusted the seat and
mirrors for a normal-sized person and we hit the streets.
It was a bit of a drive 'cause my friend, Angel, works a corner near the bus
station. As we're driving, Junior keeps looking in the backseat to see what the
old man is doing. He'd more or less stopped grumbling and was contentedly
chain-smoking Camels and drinking Jack Daniels out of the bottle. Junior looked
relieved. "You wanna smoke some hash?" he asks me.
"Yeah, sure. You got papers?"
"We don' need no stinking papers," he sneers, and he pulls out the most
elaborate hookah I've ever seen. It had all kinds of tubes and chambers and
hoses and shit looked like it belonged in a science fiction movie. It even had
flashing lights for Chrissake. So he packs the bowl and fires it up and we
smoke our little smoke as we're driving along. Best fucking hookah I ever used
man smoke was all smooth and minty like.
"Nice pipe kid. Where'd ya get it?"
"I made it."
"No way! This ain't no homemade..."
"Yeah, yeah. I'm pretty handy eh I make toys for a living."
So we're driving along and smoking our little smoke and all of a sudden it
clicks. A little guy who makes toys...an old guy with a beard all dressed in
I stopped the car and looked Junior in the eye. "How old are you kid?" I
He smiled a vicious little smile. "I'll be eight hundred years old next May."
"That's right sonny. Close your mouth, you look like an idiot. I'm an elf,
smart guy. Not a kid, an elf. And you are driving Santa to get his rocket
polished, and the lady better be good or you are both getting a stocking full of
fucking coal for Christmas. No shit I've seen him do it before."
I looked in the mirror. Santa was already a third of the way through the
bottle of Jack Daniels and was chain-smoking those Camels like a chimney. As
I'm watching he reaches into the bag and pulls out a couple tabs of 'E' and pops
them into his mouth, washing them down with whiskey.
"Shit, man. Is he always like this?"
"Pretty much. It gets worse around Christmas though, and the last few years
he's really been hitting the skids come November. Don't worry about him with
the booze and drugs and a good blowjob he'll be a jolly old elf again in no
So that's how I met Santa Claus. He really wasn't such a bad guy when we got
some Jack into him, and he was positively lovey-dovey once the 'E' kicked in.
Angel gave him a blowjob in the back of the Lincoln and he hollered 'Ho Ho Ho'
through the whole thing. We drove around for a while and we all did some 'E'
and we got pretty twisted and a little careless. Anyway, we ended up at a biker
bar and Santa was all fucked up on 'E' and he started getting all touchy-feely
with a big hairy biker named Eugene who proceeded to drag Santa's doped-up ass
into the alley behind the bar and beat him unconscious with a pool cue.
Me and the elf waited for Eugene to come back in -- you don't interrupt Eugene
when he's laying a beating on somebody -- and then we went out to collect
Santa. That's when we noticed that Santa wasn't breathing.
The elf looked at me, his eyes all wide and pleading like. "What the fuck are
we gonna do?"
"What are YOU going to do, you mean. I'm outta here." I was too I did not need
the hassle of explaining a dead Santa to the authorities.
"We can't just leave him here!" The elf insisted. "He's Santa for Chrissake!
What are the kids going to think when they find out that Santa was beaten to
death by a big hairy biker named Eugene? They'll be traumatized! You gotta
help me out here, man."
The elf fished the wad of bills out of his pants and counted it quickly.
"There's thirty-three hundred dollars here. Help me get rid of the fat man and
I suddenly came over all civic minded like. I thought about the kids. I
thought about the money. I formulated a plan. I pulled the Lincoln around to
the alley and the elf helped me stuff Santa into the trunk. Then I drove across
town to the airport with a trunk full of dead Santa while the elf finished off
the last of the Jack. Well, Santa wasn't going to need it anymore. I parked
the car in the parking garage at the airport and wiped it down for prints, then
I bought the elf a plane ticket for Cancun and took a cab home.
And that's pretty much the end of the story. If you're looking for Santa, try
the trunk of the Lincoln in the airport parking garage. And have a Merry