Friday, December 16, 2011

SANTA'S CHOICE! Guest Post by Richard Gazala (Blood of the Moon)

Richard's chat with Santa (below) shortly follows my chat with Saint Nick in the posting following this one.

"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" wheezed out of a juke box as I perched myself on a squeaky stool next next to my beefy buddy in the red suit. I ordered the bartender to mix me up something tricky. Then I turned to Nick to watch him scowl over a long, long scroll while he mumbled silently on chocolate chip cookies between sips of milk.

"Surprised to find you cooling your sleigh here tonight," I said. "Just nine nights to the big day, and you're loafing in this joint?"

"Relax, friend. I'm working," Nick grunted at me without looking up. He jabbed a quick finger at the scroll. "Going over this year's nice and naughty list."

I sneaked a peek at the list, trying to spy my name. "Well, you aren't sounding too jolly about it."

"That's because naughty is outnumbering nice in a big way." He gave me a knowing glance. "It's been a tough year."

The bartender sat a tall glass full of dark, bubbling amber liquid in front of me. Black smoke oozed over the tip of the glass and crept along the top of the bar. I raised a questioning eyebrow at the tender, but he just winked and promised me this was one very tricky drink. I shrugged and took a deep swallow. It tasted like chicken.

I tipped my chin at Nick's list. "Where's my name?"

Nick's blue eyes wandered from me to my drink and back again. "Let's say don't be surprised when Rudolph bolts past your rooftop without slowing down even a little bit."

I sighed as my fingertips drummed against the smoking glass in front of me. "I keep forgetting what a nosey guy you are," I muttered.

"Hey, what can I say? Like the song goes, I know if you've been bad or good." A grin formed under his rosy cheeks. "It's a gift."

I slurped down the rest of my slurpy drink, peering at my hefty companion through the bottom of the glass. "Okay, I admit it's been a rough year for me. Sometimes I had to go naughty. I'm not proud of it."

"So 'Be good for goodness sake' just kind of slipped past you, huh?" he said.

I gave his scroll a dimissive wave. "I'm saying you should ease off this whole list of nice and naughty thing. Give me a break! It's too much for you to leave something awesome under my tree just because my moral compass jammed a few times this year?"

Nick's considerable gut wobbled like jelly as he guffawed in my face. "A few times?" He wiped a tear from his eye.

"Just one cool gift, Nick. I'll mend my ways next year. Make you proud. You'll see."

Nick surveyed my pleading eyes while he nibbled on another cookie. He didn't say anything.

I slapped a palm on the bar, startling the tender. "Your lists are clouding your vision. Lists of nice and naughty, of good and bad..."

A huge smile broke over Nick's face. "Of Good And Evil," he said.

"Great," I mumbled, rolling my eyes. "Another list."

"No, fool," Nick replied. "Since you swear you'll mend your ways, I'm giving you that break you want so badly. Tis the season , after all. You want something great under your tree? You got it." He reached into a big red bag on the floor next to his shiny black boots and handed me a book wrapped in a gleaming gold ribbon. "Put this under your tree."

My eyes ran across the cover. It was a copy of Gerald Griffin's "Of Good And Evil." I couldn't believe my excellent fortune.

The bartender pushed another tricky drink at me. I waved it off and pointed at Nick's milk. "I'll have what he's having."

Nick nodded at me. He stood up and grabbed his red bag. "Merry Christmas," he said. Then he put a finger beside his nose, and vanished like he was never there at all.

But I know he was there. I have a copy of Griffin's "Of Good And Evil" to prove it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A TALK WITH SANTA

I had a funny dream last night. I was a kid again and sitting on Santa's lap, peering expectantly into his startling Adriatic-blue eyes. But he remained silent, the weathered ageless features of his bearded face set in disquieted resolve.

Uneasily I asked, "No HO HO HO...no asking what I want for Christmas? What kind of Santa are you? Why did all those other kids run away from you crying?!"

"Tough year, kid," Santa finally spoke, his resonant voice sad and not so soothing. "No toys --- for anyone! I had to lay off all my elves, get rid of my reindeer. Even fired Mrs. Claus, a belly full, anyway."

"But...but how can there be Christmas without your toys?" I squawked. "We need those toys as a reward for being good and nice all year. I worked dam...darn hard at that. Only a few slip-ups."

Santa looked at me solemnly. "There are worst things in life, kid, than not getting toys on Christmas. Sorry, but good or not, I've been wiped out, like untold others. These are bad times! At least I'm telling you face-to-face."

"All that goodness for nothing," I sighed, disheartened. "I should have been naughty --- like kids really want to be. No toys, no being good!"

"The true Christmas spirit is giving gifts to others. Your parents, your uncles and aunts, others."

"But what gifts can I buy? I'm just a kid. I make no money."

"You receive an allowance."

"But that's measly!"

"You can supplement it by catching crickets and digging worms, selling them as fish bait. Anyway, the gift I have in mind doesn't cost much. And it's the perfect gift for this year; highly appreciated by those who receive it. They'll be thankful to you forever."

"What gift is that?" I squinted, really not believing what I was hearing.

"Your novel. Of Good And Evil."

"WHAT?!!" I squirmed on Santa's lap. "But...but I won't write that until many, many years from now. So how can I give it to anyone as a gift?!"

Santa finally smiled. "Remember, this is just a dream. Anything's possible in a dream."

Santa pulled out a sheet of paper from inside his red jacket.

"What's that?" I asked, more astonished than curious.

He now grinned broadly, eyeing me admiringly. "A review of your suspense thriller Of Good And Evil. By Tracey Alley. Like you, an author in the future."

"You carry around reviews?"

Santa broke into laughter, a loud, naturally infectious laugh. "In this dream, yes." Then calming down, he said, "Now listen. Let me read parts of it to you." He began reading:

"In order to be able to engage the reader from the opening paragraphs and hold their attention throughout, to be able to let the reader suspend their disbelief for the duration of the novel takes a special kind of talent. Gerald G. Griffin is an author with just such talent. In his brilliant thriller 'Of Good And Evil' he takes the reader on a wild ride with the real world as his background and makes the reader believe in his plot and characters."

I gawked at Santa startled. "Gosh, I did that?"

"Quiet. There's more." He read on:

"Gerald has given his audience a well-conceived story and delivered it with the talent of a born writer. He's also gone that step further that separates writers from great writers. He's worked hard at the mechanics of the novel so that the plot flows smoothly, the characters are believable and the reader is able to sit back and enjoy this page-turning thriller."

"Wow! This Tracey thinks I'm a great writer!"

"Will you hush, kid. Let me finish reading this." Santa continued:

" 'Of Good And Evil' has received several well deserved 5 star reviews. Ron Sheffield, Gerald's gifted but tormented main character, has everything a great writer needs to engage a reader on an emotional level. This is one of the gifts of a truly great story-teller."

Finished reading, Santa adamantly said to me "You see, what did I tell you? This is the gift! The gift of Christmas! The gift everyone should receive."

Santa once again broke into laughter, the laughter becoming spasms. Through his laughter, Santa quipped, "You see, kid, dreams too can become true. Merry Christmas!"