I wedge my old Fiesta on a ten-minute parking spot and gaze
at the despised, four-story building of Bank Goldwest through the
windscreen. A huge ballooned Santa, strapped to the facade of the
building, lit by a chain of colorful lights, waves cheerfully. The
street, despite this hour, is almost deserted, so I accept the
cheers of my inflated 'colleague' sincerely. Because tonight I'm Santa too. I
take a healthy swig of Haig from the flask, the liquid burning my throat and
taking the edge off my nerves.
yank the car door open, Jingle Bells from the loud speakers of the
shopping center across the street invade the night. The sound, crisp and clear,
floats in the freezing air and mixes with the dancing snowflakes.
all the way, oh what fun it is to ride' I mutter under my breath
while adjusting my two sizes too large Santa uniform, and reach for the bulky
but light red bag stuffed with empty boxes. It's Christmas eve again. Two
decades after my parents' eviction from our house we mortgaged.
Simple default, they told us from the bank I'm standing in front right
now. A year after my father lost his job, ironically on
another Christmas eve, a nice Santa present from the company he worked for
as a carpenter. He got gravely sick while refurbishing the old bank
building. Asbestosis, the doctors said. Nothing that they could do. My father
was a liability for the company. He died ten months later in palliative care.
Palliative care? What a fucking fancy word for pain relief. Because when you
die from asbestosis you die a horrible, painful death, slowly suffocating,
gasping for air, brain screaming for oxygen. But you can't scream, you
have no strength to open your mouth, let alone to breathe.
I step on the road, I check both directions and the bulky bag rocks on my
back. I wait patiently for the slow traffic, just the few cars heading
home. There are no people on the street. But of course they
are deserted - it’s Christmas eve, family time for dinner, a
honey-glazed turkey in the oven, presents, good memories and happy times.
People are at home now, preparing the table, the Christmas tree glowing with
blissful lights and ornaments. The symbol of prosperous America. God, I really
love Christmas. I should write a song about that, a song clear and crystal,
full of hope for tomorrow.
cross the street and enter the bank building, the entrance brightly lit,
festive, with a glimmering tall tree solemnly standing in the
corner. As I spot the security guard my heart pounds in my chest. I
try to relax by deeply inhaling. Even the smell of wealth and money is
different at Christmas.
uniformed man extends his hand. "Slow down, Santa. Where to?"
the party, dude."
two hours early!" He looks bewildered, and suspicion creeps into his eyes.
party's just started, dude. A present for you. Fetch!" I throw at him a
fake baseball which is nothing but a disguised taser, one of the latest ones
that come in any shape, and with a remote control. A small nifty thing.
Made in China of course.
he catches the ball and I squeeze the remote trigger. The dude has no
chance. I feel sorry for him but that's life. While he twitches and goes limp I
quickly drag him out of sight beside the revolving glass door.
huffing from the exertion, I straighten my Santa poncho and step into the
customer area. Shiny Christmas stars, fake gold garlands and tinsels hang
generously from the ceiling, the walls and above the four bank
counters, trying to warm up the coldness of the place. Nice try. Well,
Christmas disguise might work for a while, making people forget all the
covert financial activities of companies, banks, captains of the
economy, government and who knows who else screwing America. Not to
forget the stock exchange - especially when the stock market collapsed and
wiped away people’s life savings. The president then approved the bailout of
the collapsed banks. That was nice. Really good samaritanly. With
taxpayer’s money of course. Well, with mine too. Didn't that happen around
My hand slides over the rough handle of .45 tucked in the
waistband of my Santa trousers. The gun once belonged to my
grandfather. He served in the army and got wounded in the Korean
War. He ended up in hospital, later to be discharged and sent home with a
veteran's pension. A few years later, just before another Christmas day he
received a notice that his entitlement was to be reduced significantly. Some
kind of retirement fund fraud, they explained to him.
For sure Christmas is the best time of the year.
Nothing wrong with Jesus and his hope and wish for a better life for ordinary
people. How nice and humane if you believe in that. Not me.
pull out the .45 and yell, "Hands up! Step back!"
four bank tellers behind the counter freeze. It’s quiet for a moment. The
jingle outside hums 'Bells on bob-tail ring Making spirits bright...'
just fucking money. Don't get shot on Christmas, your loved ones will be
devastated," I yell again.
don't want to harm any of the bank tellers, they are just ordinary slaves
- they only want to bring bread home at the end of the day.
hastily empty my Santa bag on the floor and throw it at the woman at the
counter, gun pointing at her. "Fill it up! Fast! The rest of you on the
women obey. The one dumping the cash into my bag is fast, despite her trembling
hands. Once done I wave at her to step back, hands in the air so that I can see
really goes unexpectedly well. Maybe because it's Christmas and Jesus watches
from Heaven. Who knows.
lift the bag, at least a couple of pounds. Maybe two to three hundred grand.
How nice. Expected, by the way, this time of the year. Before the
Armorguard comes to pick up the cash. Well, I'm Santa after all,
bringing joy and presents to others. Selfless. But this time - a
nice present for me.
wave the gun again, take a look at the guard squirming on the ground
beside the door. He will be okay, just a taser shock for Christmas. His
family will be happy that he is alive. Surviving such an ordeal will be like a
present to his family.
I take a
final look at the women, the guards and the hall. The Christmas tree in
the corner with its beautiful flashing lights, its gold star on the top
glistening like a huge diamond.
Christmas everyone," I shout and bolt for the revolving door.
Outside the snow has carpeted the footpath. The jingle of the speakers louder
now, "Through the fields
we go laughing all the way..."
in my Fiesta, I jump on the gas and keep jamming the pedal for the next eight
blocks until I reach the projects.
While feeling shielded by the dilapidated houses, the
thought pops into my mind: the first Christmas that will be merry.
The dream Christmas that I righteously deserve has arrived.
Garnet is an Australian fiction writer. Other works of his may be
found in periodicals, including Pulp Modern, Mystery Tribune,
Switchblade, Out of the Gutter, Mystery Weekly, The Dark
City Crime and Mystery Magazine, Storyteller, Needle in the Hay,
Literary Hatchet, Heather, Flash Fiction Offensive, Romance Magazine, and