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SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK


I suspect Santa Claus died this year.

I’m talking about the inflatable one that stood in my front yard. And I think it’s my fault. I think I killed Santa through negligence, and there’s a chance he might come back to haunt me.

Santa spends most of his life packed into a very small box. Every year, just after Thanksgiving, I pull him out, anchor him out in a patch of mud where my front yard should be, and make a lame joke about “turning Santa on”.

“I’m going to turn Santa on,” I say, plugging in the extension cord. “Usually he likes short, curvy women in green miniskirts and red tights, but sometimes he responds to sweet talking, stroking his beard, and double chocolate chip cookies.”

I didn’t set things up properly this year, and Santa was always leaning forward a bit, as if getting ready to chase little kids off the sidewalk. But after shoving four anchors into the ground, then screwing in four more anchors, and tying him off with cords, the last thing I wanted to do was start all over again. Usually by that point I’m either turning blue and losing feeling in my extremities, or I’m ankle deep in mud. This year it was mud.

So Santa stayed like that, and didn’t really look all that bad. He didn’t get inflated very often, because you’re not supposed to turn him on during windy days (insert your own joke here), and we’ve been windier than both Houses of Congress lately.

Then we had an ice storm.

Santa lay there, on his face, because that’s the way he fell whenever I unplugged him. On his face in my muddy, leaf-strewn yard. The leaves didn’t get raked this year. This is because I didn’t want to rake them – I’ve played the yard work game too long to worry about making excuses.

One day I decided the conditions were good enough to inflate Santa, so I went into the garage and plugged in the extension cord. Santa usually stands up by himself, but when I went out to check he was just laying there, part of his legs fluttering a bit, looking pitiful. Like me in the morning. I started moving him around, stroked his beard a bit, told him there would be cookies waiting on Christmas Eve, and he began to come around.

But he was leaning forward way more than normal, and even normal hadn’t been very normal, this year. So I walked around to look at him from the front.

Zombie Santa close

I think I screamed. I’m not sure, but the next thing I knew I was trying to claw my way into the bank across the street. Santa was scary.

Ice still clung to much of his front. So did frozen leaves and mud. He looked like a bum Santa, the kind you might find in the alley of a big city, hiding a bottle under their beard. Because of the ice, his face wasn’t all the way inflated – he appeared to be sneering at passers-by.

There was a chunk of mud weighing down his normally waving arm, so that it looked like he was reaching out. Somewhere along the way, one foot had canted forward a bit, so between that and the leaning he appeared to be lurching forward.

There was Santa, sneering, eyes squinting, reaching out as he shuffled forward toward passing pedestrians, covered with some dark material that could have been frozen mud, or – blood.

It was Zombie Santa.

Zombie Santa

I swear, Zombie Santa. I think his eyes had turned red.

When I regained my composure, I realized the only way to fix him would be to get that ice off his front, so his features would become normal and he wouldn’t look like he was trying to scoop up young children. I wasn’t sure if just picking at the ice would be enough, and besides – I was afraid to touch him.

So I grabbed a snow shovel.

I’m not at all sure why no one called the police. There I was, out in the open in my front yard beside a state highway, whaling away at Zombie Santa with a plastic snow shovel. It looked like I was trying to keep him from crossing the street and eating the bank patrons. It would have seemed heroic, if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

My success was limited. Frankly, right up until the time I took him in for the winter Santa still looked like he’d recently emerged from the grave, and was craving human flesh. Or maybe reindeer flesh. Or elf.

Christmas will never quite be the same for me. At least, not until the nightmares subside. Who knows what I’ve created? Or what I’ll create next time? Next year I’m going to keep a wooden stake and a silver bullet by the front door – just in case.

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
petzipellepingo
Jan. 2nd, 2009 09:18 am (UTC)
Next year I’m going to keep a wooden stake and a silver bullet by the front door – just in case.


That's right, you can never be too careful.
ozma914
Jan. 2nd, 2009 11:46 am (UTC)
I love how you always have the perfect icon!
(Deleted comment)
ozma914
Jan. 2nd, 2009 11:46 am (UTC)
Well, I kept begging for an official Red Ryder 500 shot air rifle, and he kept saying "You'll put your eye out, kid!", and I just snapped.
vovat
Jan. 2nd, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
Next year I’m going to keep a wooden stake and a silver bullet by the front door – just in case.

I'd go with a stake of holly, personally. And maybe some garlic-flavored mince pie.
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
Well, that would certainly seem more appropriate!
curiouswombat
Jan. 2nd, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
I think it looks as if he is winking. Although possibly in a slightly sinister way...

He'd better not crave elf flesh - they have very pointy arrows...
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
Santa is why Elves became so good at defending themselves!
xxmagex
Jan. 2nd, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, I see next year's Christmas movie horror thriller
"Christmas Eve Dawn of the Santa Dead"
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
I like it! I'll get started on the screenplay.
sp23
Jan. 2nd, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
Ahahaha! Dude, I love Zombie Santa! Don't change him. He'll keep all those damned kids offa your front yard. *g*
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
Not a single kid has come on my property this winter!
elizalavelle
Jan. 2nd, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
That is creepy! I just read World War Z last week so zombies are on the list of things that creep me out lol.
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:04 am (UTC)
World War Z
Oh, I just saw that book on Amazon.com last night -- is it good?
Re: World War Z - elizalavelle - Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: World War Z - ozma914 - Jan. 3rd, 2009 08:43 am (UTC) - Expand
married_n_mich
Jan. 2nd, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
I don't know, but when I first looked at Santa I thought that one, he had a tick - hence the eye, and the funny way he was standing made me think he might need to... potty.
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:05 am (UTC)
Hm ... Santa might prefer my story, it's slightly less embarrassing. But reading all those Christmas lists from snot-nosed little brats could certainly cause the tick, and imagine how much coffee he must have to drink over the holiday?
kazzy_cee
Jan. 2nd, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Awwww bless him!!

Did you ever consider that poor old Santa might have had a stroke!??!?!?

He might have needed urgent medical attention, and there you were ASSUMING he was a zombie!!!!

Poor Santa!!
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:05 am (UTC)
Well, if he wasn't a zombie when I first spotted him, he is now! But this is what I get for letting my imagination get away from me.
cbtreks
Jan. 2nd, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
kazzy_cee and I are on the same wavelength - I was also wondering if Santa had a stroke. Can he smile? Lift both arms? Tell you his name and birthday? Might want to be checking that out, there....

(Though Zombie Santa is much funnier!)
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:06 am (UTC)
I went out and asked if he could tell me his name and birthday, and he said:

"Braaaaaiiiiinnnnnnssssssss......"

Which, I don't know, could always be Norweigan for "Chris Kringle, December 25th!"

Edited at 2009-01-03 06:07 am (UTC)
(no subject) - cbtreks - Jan. 5th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jan. 6th, 2009 06:46 am (UTC) - Expand
nuchtchas
Jan. 2nd, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
poor Santa

:) Great story
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:07 am (UTC)
Thanks!

Don't worry, there's no dirt or stain on Santa that a good stiff brush couldn't scrub out of him. ;-)
gillo
Jan. 3rd, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
I think there's a great deal to be said for Zombie!Santa. It's time we returned to the Darker Side of Christmas! But next year the twins will be old enough to react to decorations. You might want a clean Santa for their sakes.

Nice article, Mark.
ozma914
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
Don't worry, I've got a plan to clean my inflatable Santa. A good, stiff brush and steel wool pads should do the job, don't you think?
wheelinventer
Jan. 4th, 2009 02:08 am (UTC)
My friend and I had a lot of fun with this particular entry, though I fear it wasn't particularly good for her since she has always found the idea of Santa rather frightening.

Anyway, as for the not calling the police, maybe they assumed that you finally decided to take action because of your Seasonal Depression and it came out toward Santa. Of course, I'm pretty sure that if the police had come, your explanation wouldn't have made you appear all that sane.

Anyway, I hope Santa didn't take it out on your grandchild this year. Merry Christmas!
ozma914
Jan. 5th, 2009 04:48 am (UTC)
Maybe your friend should read this: http://ozma914.livejournal.com/267849.html#cutid1 *evil laugh*

Well ... I work for the police, so maybe they did get some calls, saw the address, and just said, "Oh -- it's Mark. He won't hurt anybody, much." :-) In any case, people around here are used to odd things happening to me. Not that I don't embellish, when it's time to tell the story! And the grandkids made out just fine!
winsomeone
Jan. 5th, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC)
He looks as if he's winking in a very child molester type of way to me. Maybe that's why you haven't noticed any kids around- word has gotten out.....
ozma914
Jan. 6th, 2009 06:46 am (UTC)
Maybe I'll put him back up over summer, then ....
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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