“There is a maximum permissible threshold for the amount of profanity you are permitted to use when you portray Santa Claus at the Central Valley Shopping Centre,” said Julia. “That threshold is none. No profanity. Whatsoever. Why was that not obvious to you?”
Julia didn’t scream. She had fired enough people that she knew that volume couldn’t help anything. At the same time, she really wanted to, and she was trembling from the effort it took to not scream.
Walt was too busy suppressing his own rage tremors to notice, however. He picked at his clammy Santa costume and answered in tones tense enough to launch rockets. “I understand that, in general, a mall Santa should not swear while children are sitting on his lap. I feel, however, that there are some extenuating circumstances.”
“And do you really believe that these extenuating circumstances justify your use of the ephitets ‘God damn it,’ ‘Son of a bitch,’ ‘Jesus fucking Christ,’ and ‘Holy bastard crap fuck’?”
“You weren’t there.”
“Jingles the elf told me, and Mrs. Clause corroborated.” Walt blanched at this explanation. Richard had struck him immediately as an oily fellow whose greatest pleasure was sowing chaos, while Hannah was a bubble-headed young actress wannabe so easy for him to manipulate because she had no thoughts of her own. “Of course,” Julia continued, “the last one, the ‘holy bastard crap fuck,’ was uttered loudly enough for me to hear it from this office. As this office is about a thousand feet away, plus two floors up, from Santa’s Wonderland, I have to reach the conclusion that you said this at a somewhat extreme volume. I am frankly surprised that your throat didn’t burst.”
Julia sniffed, realizing that there was an unpleasant odor in the air and that it eminated from Walt. “By the way, you smell bad.”
“Yes, I do.” Walt pointed to his Santa pants, which Julia noticed for the first time were soaked.
She softened her voice, dialing her anger down to empathetic disappointment. “Walt. When you went through Santa training, weren’t you warned that you’d be working with excited young children, and that on occasion they might have accidents?”
Walt smiled a brittle, sandpapery smile. “Yes, I was, Julia. And if you interview Jingles and Mrs. Claus, I believe you will find that when I was urinated upon, my reaction was understanding, and even jolly.”
“Then what was the problem, Walt?”
“The problem, Julia, was that the urination was not an isolated incident. Once that first little girl tinkled on my lap, there was, if you’ll forgive my terminology, a steady stream of copycat pissers.”
“They’re children, Walt. They’re susceptible to peer pressure.” Julia waved her finger with the excitement of a fresh idea. “Or, maybe, it’s pheromones. You know, like animals marking their territory.”
“I wonder how many times you could be marked before you began using language unbecoming a Santa Claus, Julia?” Julia shrugged in response; she had to admit he had a point. “It wasn’t even just the young children. About twenty or so pissings in, there was a little old lady with her walker with the tennis balls on the bottom. And she just pushed through the Santa’s Wonderland ropes, and came right up to me, and hiked up her dress, and peed on me standing up. Tell me, Julia, did she just confuse Santa’s Wonderland for a bathroom, and me for a toilet, and standing up for sitting?”
“I don’t know,” Julia squeaked, beginning to squirm with the sense that her anger was badly misplaced.
Walt, however, had hit his stride. “Or a little bit later, when what can only be described as a pee balloon fell from the second-story balcony and exploded onto what can only be described as my head? Do you not feel that you might utter the phrase ‘Holy bastard crap fuck,” in response to that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why don’t I let you find out?” With that threat, Walt began stripping. He slipped off his boots, pouring the contents of one into the other as a demonstration, then wrapped the boots in the velvet Santa jacket, and bundled that package inside the Santa pants.
He tossed the whole thing in a perfect arc that just grazed the office ceiling before landing on Julia’s desk.
The costume plopped, and it squelched, and most of all, it splattered—across the desk and the contracts and the memorandums and Julia herself.
Considering his point made, Walt turned wordlessly and marched out of the office, his head high despite being clad only in a pair of briefs and facing a walk to the other end of the mall to retrieve his street clothes from the employee locker room. He did slip one time in the dribbled trail he created when he entered the office, but nobody saw fit to acknowledge it.
Julia reached for a tissue to wipe herself off, but the box was soaked through. The office had its own bathroom, where she would made some attempt at cleaning herself up.
The Santa suit could be cleaned, and the office disinfected, so she considered her immediate problem. Central Valley Shopping Centre needed a new Santa. Richard was next on the list; they could make do without a Jingles for a few days, or even the entire season if need be.
When she gave him the news, Richard reacted with sedated pleasure. He was, in fact, overjoyed, but celebrating would be unseemly. Why reveal the number of disgusting favors he had called in to engineer the move?
Yesterday I went to the Lincoln Park Zoolights display of Christmas lights. It’s oppressively wholesome cheese in the extreme, which I like in very small doses because it always tends to give my my most demented ideas. This is one of them.
No specific plans for where this might be used. There are a lot of places it might fit, and I could also see adapting it as a filmed sketch for my comedy troupe Three Legged Race.