Volume II, Issue IV Winter 2003

White Christmas

The man with the beer gut slipped out of the Christmas display aisle and paused to gather his resolve and smooth down the Santa beard he'd just procured. Then, steeled for possible confrontation, he blustered in the direction of the free-sample table for the third time that day, with a hearty "Ho, Ho Ho! What do we have here, my dear? Salsa?"

The dainty sexagenarian in the red apron behind the La Casita Brands sample table gave the newly disguised moocher, Ellis Leahy, the flint-eye and pulled her bowls of chips and tangy salsa back as she snapped at him: "I already told you twice, fat boy, one sample per customer."

"Ho, Ho, Ho," Ellis replied, with his eyes a-twinkle as his hand floated out toward the food.

The old lady, quick as a snake, smacked him hard. Ellis yelped, "OUCH! SHIT!" as he shook his smarting knuckles and back pedaled, and stepped on one of those dinner-plate-sized Intelligent Programmable Robo-Vacuums, a renegade of the breed that had escaped from a sales demonstration back in housewares.Robo-Vac

The Robo-Vacuum squawked and went into a survival mode, spinning its new, rotund load into a pirouette before it careened off screaming bloody electronic murder, with Fat Boy still aboard, bug-eyed, three limbs a-flailing. With fake beard a-flutter, Ellis bellowed "WHOA!" as he blew by a bedraggled young mother and her five-year-old son. The boy looked after him, and with a look of quizzical concern asked, "That wasn't the real Santa, was it Mom?" And Mom, pondering the level of dumb-assed haplessness it must have taken for the fat guy to get himself into that situation, said, "Oh Lord, you better hope not, honey," as Ellis and the Robo-Vacuum scored a direct hit – with explosive results – on a center-aisle pyramid of bargain-price toilet tissue.

Riding atop the intelligent Robo-Vacuum at forty miles an hour, blinded by the Santa beard that had blown up into his eyes, Ellis blasted into the pyramid of individually packaged rolls of toilet tissue. The explosion was spectacular, and so forceful that it sent the ultimate cylinder – the one at the peak of the pyramid – sailing over the padlocked spray paint cages and the aisles of cheap hardware into linens, where it scored a direct hit on the crown of Ruth Leahy's head.

Toilet Paper Squeezably-soft, the flying roll caused no physical damage to Ruth; but as it bounced away toward the comforters, Ruth suspected – as another roll thumped down at her feet – that an incident involving flying toilet paper had her husband's name written all over it.

Meanwhile, the Robo-Vacuum that Ellis had ridden into his dilemma, free now from his oppressive weight, chattered away to home base, slaloming like an Olympic skier, off through the disarray of fallen rolls of toilet paper.

The Robo-Vacuum demonstration lady was aghast at the condition of her returning Vac-Man. Especially since she – an independent contractor working on straight commission – was financially responsible for it. She stepped over the knee-high enclosure where her other eleven floor-cleaners bounced about pell-mell sucking up a carefully applied sprinkle of sawdust, crouched down and stroked her wayward charge, and took in the newly concave metal top of him, the audible crackle of internal electric damage. Her eyes went steely, and she hissed: "Who did this to you?" He squeaked and spun and led her off.

The Robo-Vacuum demonstration lady and Ruth Leahy arrived at the site of the destroyed toilet paper pyramid simultaneously, as Big Crosby's "White Christmas" drifted out of the All-Mart's stereophonic sound system. Ellis had reflexively thrashed, like a freshly caught mackerel when he'd first gone down, and had created a sort or toilet paper angel around his fallen form. But now he just lay there, trying to regain his senses, as Robo-Vac lady stalked in and grabbed the front of his shirt, pulled his face to hers and growled: "You owe me a hundred and thirty dollars, butthead!"

A hundred and thirty bucks that Ellis Leahy – in conjunction with his wife Ruth – could ill-afford; and before Ellis could protest, Ruth loomed in and gave Robo-Vac girl's protruding ass a thunderous kick, sending her sprawling, gliding atop a sea of white rolls, down the pet supplies aisle, where she – panicked and attempting to slow her motion – reached out and clawed open a bag of cat litter before she bumped to a stop against an aisle-end aquarium. And as she sat up – the water sloshing from the jostled fish tank onto her head, destroying her puffed-up hair-do – her poor, dented little Robo-Vacuum chittered in and attempted to suck up the spill of white litter granules.

And Crosby crooned on.

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