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I Shot Santa Claus in Self-Defense!

Mr. Potato Head, an Amish Santa, and a strange Mariachi all point to an inevitable conclusion.

“Should I start just before I shot Mr. Potato Head in the face?” I asked.

“No,” Callahan replied. “Pick it up earlier than that.”

“When I discovered that Santa Claus was Amish?” I asked.

“Before that,” Callahan replied. And then he looked at me and made his pitch.

“You know,” he said, “we’ve already wasted three days on this. Internal Affairs has better things to do than spend time on your pranks. Do us all a favor. Admit this is just one of your infamous practical jokes that has gotten out of control. Then we can all go home and forget about the whole thing. Like it never happened. I got that straight from the top.”

Jack Callahan’s partner, Bob Reilly, was sitting at the table with Callahan and me. I could see hopefulness in his eyes as he waited for my response.

“It’s no joke,” I said. “I can’t forget about it. I shot Santa Claus. I shot him twice. But I swear…..it was in self-defense.”

I was praying that the crime scene report would back me up. I asked about it. “No forensic report yet?” I queried.

“Not yet. We’ll have the preliminary report by day’s end,” Callahan said. “We’ll see what it says then. O.K. Let’s hear your story again. Start as you approach the house.”

“For the tenth time, I shall tell my story,” I said. “It’s Christmas Eve. I’m on solo patrol….one man car. We get a call about suspicious activity at the house on 34th Street. I drive up to the residence around 11:15 p.m. I look up and see a man sliding down the long downspout pipe that runs from the roof. He has a sack and a gun in his left hand, and his right hand is on the downspout. I radio for backup, get out of the car, and approach.”

“Hold it!” Reilly interjected. “That’s ridiculous. A downspout can’t support a man’s weight.”

“Well I know now that it wasn’t a man,” I pointed out. “I know now that it was Santa Claus. Santa can slide down a downspout!”

“Santa can slide down a downspout,” Callahan repeated, nodding his head. “Of course. Go on.”

“So I approach as the guy slides down the downspout.”

“And what did the guy look like?” Callahan asked.

“White, heavy set, dressed in a Santa suit, with a white beard. But he was wearing overalls over the Santa suit, and one of those big brimmed black Amish hats that the Amish wear.”

“So he was an Amish Santa Claus with a white beard, hat, and overalls?” said Callahan.

“Yeah, I responded. “Just like I told you ten times before.”

“Go on,” Callahan said.

“So I figure he’s some perp, maybe wacko or high, who had robbed the place. I’m worried about his gun. I draw my weapon. I say to him, ‘Put the gun and the sack on the ground, face me, and put your hands up.’ And he does.”

“No resistance of any type? No quick moves? No attempt to run?” Callahan asked.

“No,” I said, “none of that. He just stares at me and smiles. And then he says ‘Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho!’”

Reilly piped up. “Did you get angry? Did you think he was calling you a ‘Ho’?” he asked.

“No!” I shouted. “He was just laughing like Santa laughs. ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’”

“Go on,” Callahan said. “What happened next?”

“I look at him and I say, ‘Gee, I didn’t know that Santa was Amish.’ And in a very polite way he says, ‘If the child deliveree is Amish, I’m Amish. If the child deliveree is Sri Lankan, I’m Sri Lankan. When in Rome, Officer. Ho! Ho! Ho!’”

I was starting to sound ridiculous even to myself.

“Let me summarize,” Callahan said. “At this point you have your weapon drawn, the Amish Santa Claus is facing you, your back is to the street, your weapon is pointed at Amish Santa, and Santa’s sack and gun are on the ground. He has made no threat, has politely explained his delivery policies, and wished you a merry Christmas. Is that about it?”

“Yeah, that’s right,” I said. “Can you find out if the forensics report is ready yet?”

“In a while,” Callahan said. “Go on with your story.”

“O.K.” I continued with my story. “So we’re about fifteen feet apart standing there on the lawn facing each other.”

“Your back is still to the street at this point?” Reilly asked.

“Yes,” I said. “And that’s when I see a flashing red light out of the corner of my eye. I think to myself, ‘Great, backup is here!’ But then I feel something in my back and a voice says, ‘Drop the gun or you’re a dead man!’ I drop the gun, freeze, and Amish Santa picks up his gun and his sack.”

“What kind of voice?” Callahan asked. “Loud, soft, male, female, old, young?”

“It sounded young to me,” I answered. “Young male, normal volume, but deadly serious.”

“Go ahead,” Callahan ordered. “And let’s take the next part really slow.”

I took a deep breath. “So I’m standing there,” I began, “and this thing is digging into my back, and it’s just like you hear in the movies. Time slows to a crawl. Everything seems like it’s in super slow motion. First, my whole life flashes before me. I mean, it’s incredible! I’m remembering all of the bad crap that I’ve ever done, all of the things that I’ve ever promised to do that I never did, all of the things that I should have said and never said, all that stuff. And then I see a vision of myself dead, lying there on the grass bled out. And then I get mad. I say to myself, ‘I’m not going to die here. Damn it. I am not going to die here! I’m going to rely on my training and make my move and take these perps down and live to tell the tale.’”

“Did you ever see any indication of a gun, or did you just assume it was a gun in your back?” Reilly asked.

“It felt like a gun to me! The guy was really pushing it in. It hurt. It left a mark. You saw the abrasion,” I replied. “You swabbed it. You’ve got the photos. Can’t we just get to the forensic report?”

“Finish your story,” Callahan said.

“So there I am,” I continued, “and things are all still in slow-mo. And I’m thinking, ‘Drop, roll, aim, fire…..drop, roll, aim, fire’ just like they teach you at the Academy. And then I do it! I drop to the ground, grab my weapon, roll to the right, set up and fire two rounds at Amish Santa! They go right into the sack that he’s holding by his chest.”

“At the perp,” Reilly interjected. “You fired at the perp. How many times did you roll?”

“Four. I even remember that I rolled four times,” I replied. “I mean, I even remember that on the third roll I went over some dog crap in the lawn and was pissed that I would have to clean my uniform.”

They both just stared at me. I continued on.

“After I fired at Santa, I spun around to look for the guy behind me, but he was gone! And then I spun back around, and Santa had disappeared too! And so had his sack and his gun.”

“But not Mr. Potato Head,” Reilly snickered.

“That’s right,” I answered. “I’ll get to that. I was shaking like a leaf! I took some deep breaths, composed myself, looked around again and still didn’t see anyone. Then I got up, and wiped some of that crap off of my chest. Then backup finally did arrive. We checked out the area and that’s when we found Mr. Potato Head.”

“The Mr. Potato Head with two bullet holes in his face?” Callahan asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “That Mr. Potato Head. There wasn’t a crowd of Mr. Potato Heads milling around! And obviously, the holes were from the shots that I fired!”

“Was Mr. Potato Head armed when you shot him?” Reilly asked sarcastically. “And how come we never found the rounds. How do you explain that?”

“Duhhh!” I replied. “Because, obviously, the rounds went thru the sack, thru Mr. Potato Head, and then into Amish Santa. Mr. Potato Head fell out when Amish Santa took off! The rounds are in Santa! It’s the only logical explanation.”

I felt myself turning red. “Look,” I said, “I know this sounds crazy. But you’ve got my discharged weapon, you’ve got Mr. Potato Head, and the abrasion on my back. I was told that the neighbor upstairs heard the shots fired. What we don’t know is what’s in the forensics report. Why don’t you see if it’s available?”

Callahan leaned over and withdrew the report from a briefcase. He looked at Reilly, then at me. “I lied before,” he said. “I’ve had it since this morning.”

“Damn you!” I shouted. “So what does it say? Does it back me up?”

“Yeah,” Callahan responded. “It backs you up….. in a way. Which just shows how ridiculous this whole thing is.”

“What the hell does that mean?” I asked.

“Well,” Callahan said, “you know that dog crap that you rolled over that you had all over you?”

“Yeah, what about it?” I asked.

“It was analyzed,” Callahan replied. “It wasn’t from a dog. It came from a reindeer.”

“Hah! Things are starting to make sense,” I shouted. “And what else?”

“And the swab that we took from the abrasion on your back was analyzed too,” he continued. “It had traces of foreign tissue on it. The tissue was from an antler!”

I had my epiphany! Everything made sense now!

“There it is!” I shouted. “It all fits! Think about it. Obviously, one of the Amish Santa’s reindeer was there too! While I had the drop on Amish Santa, the reindeer snuck up behind me, stuck an antler in my back, and told me to drop the gun! Then when I hit the ground and made my move, he flew straight up high were I couldn’t see him. While I was shooting at Amish Santa, he hovered overhead. When I turned back around to look for the reindeer, he swooped down behind me and grabbed Amish Santa and they both took off with the sack and the gun. It all fits! We’ve gotta find Amish Santa! He has two rounds in him. We’ve gotta get him to a hospital!”

Both Callahan and Reilly looked at me in amazement.

“It all fits?” Callahan said. “Yeah, maybe. But it fits this way too. You are playing one of your practical jokes. You take all that stuff with you and plant it before anyone else arrives at the crime scene. Hell, nowadays you can order anything over the internet, even Reindeer dung. Or maybe you went to a zoo. Who knows? But you go there, you plant the crap, you gouge your back, you plant the Mr. Potato Head, you set up the whole thing. Then you call for backup, and this ridiculous charade is off and running.”

“But my gun had been fired!” I shouted. “Two rounds! An officer on site verified that!”

“You could have done that at the practice range,” Reilly said. “You were seen there before going on patrol. Remember, we never found the slugs.”

“But what about the neighbor that heard the shots?” I countered.

“Not so fast,” said Callahan. “The neighbor that initially recalled hearing the shots has recanted. She says now that it might have been firecrackers, or backfire, or maybe even her old TV.”

“Her OLD TV?” I asked. “She has a NEW TV?”

“Yeah,” Reilly elaborated. “She’s a real sweet lady. In her eighties. All she wants to do now is to forget the whole thing and enjoy it. Nice back-story. Someone anonymously gave her a 55 inch LCD HDTV that she says just showed up mysteriously at her place the day after Christmas. Beautiful set.”

Another epiphany!

“Don’t you see?” I shouted. “It’s a Hush TV! Amish Santa got to her! Think about it! Amish Santa came back, and told her he’d give her a TV if she changed her story. Santa doesn’t want anyone to know what happened. Go check it out! At least I know now that I didn’t kill him!”

“Now you’re accusing Santa Claus of obstructing a criminal investigation?” Callahan asked. I said nothing.

“I am not harassing that lady about her TV set,” Callahan said. And then he smiled one of those wicked, gotcha smiles that you see when someone thinks they have you over a barrel.

Callahan paused for several moments, and then he finally spoke.

“Just one more thing,” Callahan said. “You seem to have an explanation for everything except for one critical item.”

“What critical item?” I asked.

“The red light that you said you saw flashing,” Callahan responded. “You said you saw it with your peripheral vision when your back was to the street. You thought backup had arrived. But that night, before she could have been bribed (snicker) by Amish Santa, the neighbor said she was near the window and didn’t see anything. And her window is right overhead. Any flashing car lights would have been noticeable, even by her.”

How could they not see the obvious?

“It’s clear as day! “ I screamed. “Think about it! It was Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer! Don’t you see? Rudolph snuck up behind me flashing his red nose! The flashing nose was to distract me and freeze me in place so that he could get into position! His nose isn’t that bright, but it was close to me! I would see it, but the neighbor never would have. Rudolph snuck up and jabbed me in the back with his antler. He told me to drop the gun! Rudolph has a young voice. I told you that the voice sounded young!”

“How do you know that Rudolph has a young voice?” Reilly asked.

“Haven’t you ever watched Christmas specials?” I shouted. “He always has a young voice!”

Callahan looked over at Reilly and then back at me. “I’ve had it,” he said. “This whole thing is absurd. I’m going home to spend time with my family, and I’m reporting back that this is all some ridiculous joke. The upstairs brass can figure out what they want to do about this investigation, and what they want to do about you.”

“Santa might sue us,” I said.

“I’ll take my chances,” Callahan replied. And with that, he and Reilly got up and left.

I sat there alone for a while, and then I slowly got up, left the station, and walked to my car. Driving home I began to doubt my own story, and wondered if I were having a nervous breakdown.

I arrived home about twenty minutes later. I grabbed my mail, and walked up the stairs to my apartment. As I tossed the mail onto the kitchen table, one envelope fell to the floor. I picked it up, and noticed that it was postmarked from Guadalajara, Mexico on Christmas Eve. That was odd, since I didn’t know anyone in Mexico.

I opened up the envelope. There was a Christmas card inside. On top on the front of the card it said “Feliz Navidad!” Beneath was a picture of the typical, smiling Mariachi, complete with sombrero, serape, and mustache. But then I did a double take. The smiling Mariachi wasn’t holding a musical instrument; he was holding a sack! And under the serape I could see a Santa suit! And when I looked closely at his face, the skin was tan but it was the Amish Santa!

Underneath the picture was written, “When in Rome, Officer! Merry Christmas! And please make sure that you read the note inside. Ho! Ho! Ho!”

I opened up the card. The note inside read as follows:

Officer,

I’m really sorry for all the trouble. It’s my bad. I never should have been caught like that. But that night my arthritic knee was bad, hip hurt…..you get the picture.

Anyway, don’t worry. Everyone here is o.k. Your slugs actually wound up embedded in an I-Phone in my sack. Merry Christmas, and take care.

Nicky

P.S. Rudy says he’s really sorry about your back. And check your next VISA statement carefully.

The VISA statement arrived three weeks later. There was a charge on it from the Apple Store for one I-Phone. There was also a charge from Toys R Us. It was for one Mr. Potato Head.

I figure I got off easy. Santa was alive, and there was no charge for a big-screen TV.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © Lee Goldberg 2011, 2012, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Contact info: leegpoetry@gmail.com

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