Friday, 22 December 2006

Pink Santa, Part Twelve


Pink Santa is a Christmas novelette of twelve chapters, posted serially by me, your snow-starved host, Cheeseburger Brown.

I hope everyone out there has a merry Christmas, or the nearest faith- or culturally-appropriate equivalent. Thanks for your readership this year. It means a lot to me to know there's people out there.

Announcements: with this, the concluding chapter of our Christmas story, this weblog is going on hiatus until New Year's Day when we'll kick off 2007 with
The Bikes of New York, a grim tale of hardship and courage set in the near future. Please do remember to stop by to check it out.

And now, let's wrap up our yuletide adventure:



12/12

It was the day before Christmas.

Brother Dominick, Mike and Chloe strolled up Yonge Street surrounded by busy shoppers and honking cars throwing sleet up onto the sidewalk. They sipped their cups of soup and smiled, kicking up flurries from the snowbanks and whistling along to carols playing from the speakers of clothing stores.

They walked into the Hudson Bay Company's department store and wandered to the penny fountain. "Well, children," said Brother Dominick solemnly, "it's about time I got moving."

"Are you going back to the North Pole now, Santa?" asked Mike.

Brother Dominick nodded, scratching his stubbly face where his beard was growing back in. "That's right, Mike. But I think I have to make a couple more Christmas wishes come true before I go."

"Like what?" asked Mike.

"Well," said Brother Dominick, putting his hands behind his back, "do you remember Brother Walenty?"

The children nodded.

"Brother Walenty was just a little boy when he helped out the Order, and now he's a novice monk on his way to becoming a full-blown agent." Brother Dominick looked at Mike significantly. "The Order is always in need of boys who truly understand the true meaning of Christmas."

"It is?"

"Yes," said Brother Dominick. "Mike, how would you like to come back with me to the North Pole? How would you like to be Brother Michael?"

Mike gasped. "Me? A Santa?"

"That's right. It isn't always an easy life, but it is a good life, and a meaningful life. You're just the kind of boy we know will keep the promises he makes, who will work hard to make children happy."

"Really?" asked Mike.

"Really," said Brother Dominick, nodding. "All I have to do is make the call," he added, gesturing toward the payphones along the wall. "What do you say, Mike?"

Mike bit his lip and cuddled his fuzzy sock friend. He looked around the mall at all of the people rushing to and fro, his eyes lingering on kids being carried by their parents, begging to be let go so they could run over to throw a penny in the fountain. Mike watched as the parents gave their kids pennies and smiled to themsleves while they watched their kids run.

"Santa," said Mike, "I want a fambly."

"The Order is very much like a family," said Brother Dominick.

Mike shook his head. "I want a fambly with a mommy and a daddy. That's what I wish for on Christmas, Santa. A real fambly who would let me live at their house, and be nice to me, and play with me."

Brother Dominick looked chagrined for a second but he smiled quickly to cover it. He reached out and ruffled Mike's black hair. "That is a fine, fine Christmas wish. And I'll do everything I can to make it come true for you."

Mike smiled. Chloe tugged on Brother Dominick's sleeve. "What about me, Santa?"

"Do you want a family too, Chloe?" asked Brother Dominick.

"No," said Chloe. "I want to become a Santa."

Brother Dominick blinked. "Um...but, my dear --" he stammered.

"What?" asked Chloe.

"Er..." mumbled Brother Dominick. "It's just that -- well, you're a girl. All of the monks in the Order are boys."

Chloe put her hands on her hips and stuck out her lip. "So?" she challenged, fire in her eyes. "Who says there can't be a girl Santa Claus just because there hasn't been one yet? I could be the first one!"

"Well..." said Brother Dominick, rubbing his chin.

"Come on!" pressed Chloe. "I saved Christmas, Santa! You know I did! We all did it together!"

Brother Dominick wore a thoughtful expression. He began to nod, and then he smiled. "My dear Chloe, you're absolutely right. You've shown a generosity of spirit and a dedication to action as good or better as most of the brothers I've ever known, and that deserves to be rewarded." He put his hand on her shoulder and looked into her eyes. "Chloe, the Order of Saint Nicholas would be honoured to have you."

Chloe grinned, then paused to ask, "Would it be okay if I don't want to wear a red suit?"

"Of course! What colour would you prefer?" asked Brother Dominick.

"Pink," said Chloe.

"So it shall be, Pink Santa," said Brother Dominick warmly.

He made his telephone call back to headquarters and a few more calls to arrange the journey, then all three got into a taxicab. Brother Dominick explained the itinerary to Chloe. "We'll pick up documents from an agent in Montreal, then take the train to New York City. From there we'll catch an airplane to Miami, then change planes and head to Bogota. From there we'll get on a train to Ushuaia in Argentina and onto the ship."

Chloe scratched her head. "But Santa, why are we going south? Isn't the North Pole up north?"

"No, my dear," explained Brother Dominick. "Remember the rules of magnetism: like polarity repels, and unlike polarity attracts."

"I don't understand," admitted Chloe.

"The north end of a magnet points to the Earth's southern magnetic pole. That means..."

Mike gasped. "That means the North Pole is in Antarctica!"

"Exactly," smiled Brother Dominick. "The last place people tend to look for it."

The taxicab pulled up the curb beside St. Anne Mother of our Lady Orphange South with its familiar stained concrete steps and murky, yellowish windows. Brother Dominick told the driver to wait for a moment while Chloe and Brother Dominick got out to see Mike off. Brother Dominick said, "Don't worry, Mike. I have a feeling you won't be staying here for very long."

"Do you really think I'll get a fambly?" asked Mike.

"Our best agents are making arrangements as we speak," said Brother Dominick with a broad smile. "In just a few days you're going to be introduced to the Cuthbertsons. I'm assured they're the nicest kind of people, and I know they want very badly to adopt a little boy just like you. That's their Christmas wish."

"I'm somebody's Christmas wish?" echoed Mike.

"You certainly are," confirmed Brother Dominick. "So as you receive, you'll be giving, too."

Santa gave Mike a tight hug, then climbed back inside the taxi. Chloe shuffled up next and gave Mike a kiss on his forehead. She said, "When I ran away I thought I was going to have to be all alone. I never thought I'd be lucky enough to have a friend like you. Thanks, Mike."

"Awww," said Mike sheepishly. "I'm going to miss you, Chloe."

"I'll visit," she said. "I promise."

"Okay," agreed Mike.

Chloe stood back, and then pulled out of her pocket the pink paper crown that had come from her dinner cracker at Mr. Baron's house. She fixed it on her head with special dignity, and then waved broadly to Mike. "Ho ho ho!" she pronounced in a deep voice.

Mike giggled. "Goodbye, Santas," he said.

The taxicab pulled away, mixing with the downtown traffic and disappearing in seconds. Mike watched after it and then climbed the steps to the orphanage. He reached up on his tip-toes to open the front door, revealing Sister Bethany standing right there.

Mike cringed because he thought she would yell at him, but instead Sister Bethany scooped him up and embraced him, covering his chilly cheeks in kisses. "Mike! Oh, Mike! We were so worried about you! Thank God you're back, thank God!"

"Better thank Saint Nicholas, too," said Mike. "He helped."

Sister Bethany paused. "But what about Chloe? Do you know anything about Chloe?"

"Yeah," said Mike. "She's happy."

"But where is she, Mike?"

"She's with Saint Nicholas."

Sister Bethany got a faraway look in her eyes. "Really?" she whispered. "So the Order takes girls now?"

Mike was startled. "Yeah," he replied. "Yeah, they do take girls now." Then he furrowed his brow. "How do you know about the Order, Sister?"

Sister Bethany smiled sheepishly. "Once, when I was young..." she trailed off, and hugged Mike closer. "Nevermind that right now. Let's get you inside. We're having baked apples and singing carols. How does that sound to you?"

Mike grinned. "It sounds really good."

Sister Bethany put him down, and together they went inside, hand in hand.


The end.


16 comments:

Anonymous said...

How Awesomely sweet : )

Merry Christmas to you and your family as well.

And as much as it will pain me not to have anything to read while I am at work next. I wait bitting my nails for your return.

Santa

Simon said...

A very Merry Green Chrishannukwanzamenorakah to you, Littlestar, Popsicle and Baby Yam, CBB. (I'm in the 80% of the country with only 20% of the population and 100% of the snow. I'd share some with you if I could.)

The 'Pink Santa' title has been bugging me since the early chapters and that was a marvellous "ah-hah!" moment there at the end. Sister Bethany's look encapsulated a lot too. Simply a marvellous end to a delightful yuletide tale that's gone a good way to helping me find my own Christmas spirit this season.

I also came to realise with the addition of certain covert lines of dialogue that the Order really isn't ninja Santas... they're Jedi Santas. For me, that's the greatest Christmas gift of all.

Anonymous said...

Great job , Matt! I've been reading this to my kids starting 12 days out. They all sit riveted (6 of them ages 13 down to 3 years) just before bed and laugh and giggle along. They get mad when I come to the end of each night's part and want me to "cheat" and go on to tomorrow night's reading. The two oldest have demanded I read this each year. Congratulations, Matt, you've started a tradition at my house!

You have a sensational Christmas and make sure you love those kids and Astra. They are very lucky to have you!

THE Danimal

John Allhiser said...

CLAP CLAP CLAP -- Bravo.

I'm sitting at the office with my son, and I printed all 12 chapters using the duplexer. With 3 hole punch paper, I put it in a binder, crossed out the vendor name, and wrote: Pink Santa by Cheeseburger Brown. He is no longer wanting to play games on the spare Linux PC. He is catching up on the story, and is absolutely enthralled by it.

I'll buy a copy from you when you publish.

Merry Christmas up there.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Santanonymous,

Thanks for your expression of cheer for me and mine: right back atcha. The next story is already well underway and it's going well -- so remember to drop on by come January 1st.

Dear Simon,

Yeah, we'd like a bit of that snow -- our Christmas seems a bit drab decorated by yellow grass and brown puddles.

The title has bugged me since the beginning. Usually titles that appeal to me come to me very early on in the process, but I just couldn't find one that I liked for this story. Pink Story was a title of desperation, typed into Blogger as I posted the first chapter.

I'm glad it made some kind of sense in the end.

Dear Danimal,

That's so very nice to hear, and I'm touched and honoured that your kids got a kick out of it. As has been suggested elsewhere in the comments, perhaps next year I'll put out a print edition with some illustrations.

Dear John,

See my comment to the Danimal; thank you so much for considering the tale worthy to try distracting your offspring with. That makes the whole thing worthwhile for me.

Merry merry!

Love,
Cheeseburger Brown

Moksha Gren said...

A truly wonderful story, CBB. My Norah is a bit young to get into this story...but I look forward to reading it to her. I like the title. True, it shifts the focus away from Mike and turns the whole thing into a sort of origins story about the first girl Santa...but that might not be such a bad thing.

Thanks again for sharing your stories with us. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas despite the lack of snow.

anastasia said...

I'm sorry there's no snow (you want to swap?:P)
A Very Merry Christmas to you & your family from way down south of the globe (aka ass end of the world)

Love

Anastasia

Nick said...

Thanks again for sharing, CBB. This has been a very hectic last few weeks, but it's been fun to have something to look forward to every few days.

And I'm hurting with you about the snow. Here in Wisconsin, you'd think we would have something, but it's just been rain the last two days.

Looking forward to the next story.

Anonymous said...

Lovely! I had a smile on my face when I started, and it only grew bigger as I read on. (I'd list my favorite parts, but there are too many to count...).
So glad to be reaffirmed in my belief that you don't have to be a kid to enjoy Christmas (as well as stories).

Happy holidays to you--whatever that may be...

Orick of Toronto said...

Great ending CBB. Marry Christmas to you and your family.

Thanks for the hard work that goes into so much good writing. It's even harder than it looks.

Sheik Yerbouti said...

Ahhhh.

That made up for all the unhappy endings you ever wrote. The title resolution was beautiful.

Ninjedi Santas will always be a very special part of Christmas now :)

Oh, and I'm really sorry about that snow problem... I was kind of down because we're getting rain for Christmas here in Dallas, but I guess I shouldn't feel so bad, eh?

Off to abandon ye olde computer for a few days; Merry Christmas, all!

P.P. Cook said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS Cheeseburger! All the way from Londinium, where instead of snow we have a nice Christmas fog. May you too also have as much fog as your heart desires! (I'd wish you snow, but maybe even the utterance of snow may lead us to feel disappointed that there isn't any, so I won't mention SNOW, SNOW, SNOW at all...)
Also happy new year! Happy St. Pancake's day and happy Easter! Sometimes I forget to send timely greetings, but not this year! Hurrah to you and yours, and thanks for all the entertainment.
Best wishes,
Paul

Reetay Arvaysay said...

Hooray for Pink Santas! Lovely story - warmed the cold cockles of my New York heart (which had been enjoying the clever nastinesses of the previous yarns). Merry Christmas to you & yours, and very best wishes for a wonderful 2007.

Mark said...

I read this last installment on Christmas Day. How appropriate.

I was guessing until the very end why this was titled, "Pink Santa." I like it -- the first girl in the Order.

Go Mike C. Now he can become the Ninja he never knew he could be.

Sith Snoopy said...

Cheeseburger, your stories are absolutely excellent. :)

Happy Holiday's, Dude. Thanks for brightening mine with Pink Santa.

Anonymous said...

Dear CBB,

I hope you had a great Christmas :)
But more than that, now that 2007 has officially kicked off -- I wish you a very happy 2007 -- may you and your family be blessed and may your wishes be granted.

Love,

Seemant