A Story For Everyone's Favorite Time Of Year
The sun slid through the shades and pounded my eyelids, slowly coaxing me into cognizance. I sat up and stretched. Something was off. Where was the incessant cackle of the alarm clock that always accompanied my departure from the swirling realms of dreaming? Then I remembered it was the first day of Christmas vacation and that meant only one thing: it was time for the reindeer games. My friends and I invented the game while we were still in high school, driving around our subdivision, Sun Lake Forest, late at night with nothing to do. We noticed the numerous pairs lighted reindeer that filled the yards of so many people and, in a fit of genius, developed a most enjoyable pastime. The reindeer are constructed so that, should one take one of the reindeer and put its front legs around the hindquarters of the other, it creates the illusion that the reindeer are making love. Not long after we discovered the game, the neighborhood experienced a reindeer orgy like none had ever seen before. Dubbing ourselves the Randy Rudolphs, it was decided that the reindeer mischief would continue every year on the first day of Christmas and, once again, that time had come. It was time to rally the troops.
The first gentleman on my call list was Tommy Derigan. Tommy was the shortest member of the group but he made up for it with a most malicious sense of humor. He made at least seven girls cry during high school and he was banned from the nursing home after offending the majority of its tenants during his bid there for community service hours. As much as Tommy was truculent and just downright mean spirited, he was also fiercely loyal. If Satan himself came up from the bowels of Hell to claim one of Tommy’s friends, Tommy would’ve spit in the devil’s face and told him to piss off. Tommy was many things, most importantly for the night, he was the wheelman. “Tommy, you in for tonight?”
“Was there ever any doubt? I’ll clear the dead hooker out of the trunk to free up space.”
“Good to hear. You know how I feel about the dead hooker smell. I’ll see you at nine tonight for the pre-shenanigans tennis match.”
Next on my list of fellow miscreants was the Stiger. In truth, his name was Alan, but we had decided a long time ago that “the Stiger” was much more appropriate. The Stiger was the exact opposite of Tommy in almost every way except loyalty. A well-meaning gentle giant, the Stiger was the kind of person no one could ever be angry with because he would never do anything to spite anyone. “Stiger, do we have a runner for the pressing matters of the night?”
“I absolutely guarantee the runner’s presence.”
“Fan-frigging-tastic. You down for a Jake-Stiger team up in tennis?”
“It’d be unnatural if there wasn’t.”
Two members lined up, I had only one call left and it was usually the most challenging. Rick Stouffman was a great guy but his pesky sense of morality could get in the way of fun. We had to really lay the pressure on him to come in years past and I was braced for the battle. Besides, Rick had an undeniable gift that would have languished for all eternity had we not coaxed him into employing it. While the rest of us would struggle to get the reindeer into correct mounting position, Rick could effortlessly persuade the reindeer to make love on his first attempt. When we first saw him do it, we knew we had our mounter.
“Rick, you know what day it is?”
“How could I forget?”
“Good point. I came up with an incredible idea for this year. How about you skip your protestations and holier-than-thou speech because we both know you’re coming?”
“Alright, but I have a condition. The Stiger is on my team for the tennis match.”
“I’d agree but…well, there’s no easy way to tell you this. The Stiger hates you. I mean really just plain hates you. He said he’d rather crawl through three miles of broken glass naked and be kicked in the trachea before he would be on your team.”
“You know, even though our pranks our harmless, they’re still wrong…”
“Fine, you get the Stiger. Save your brimstone for someone else you eulogizing bastard.”
After being soundly walloped by Rick and the Stiger and going home to shower and throw on the black suit, white shirt, black tie combo that was our uniform, I waited for Tommy to pull up to my house in his mother’s Chevy Astro. Dubbed the Marshmallow as a result of its white hue, the van was our vehicle of choice because its suburban unobtrusiveness. Tommy arrived, having picked the other two up. Being the last member of the war party to be gathered, it was time to strike. As the navigator for our task, I had taken a tour of the subdivision earlier and had mapped out the most efficient route for our task. Unfortunately, I had chosen an almost too efficient route. We cleared out the subdivision in gloriously quick fashion. Reindeers were humping on every corner and several Santa Claus statues were in on the action. It was a beautiful sight and well worth our efforts. We were unstoppable. Buoyed by our success, a bold plan was put forth by the Stiger. “Gentlemen, that was a most impressive display of shenanigan can do. But are you tired? I know I’m not. There’s more to be done. Much more. The night is still young my loyal companions and I suggest we strike out into new subdivisions and make this a county-wide hit. Randy Rudolphs unite!”
None of us, not even Rick, could protest such an impassioned plea and so we left the safety of Sun Lake Forest for territory unknown. We decided to start with Crest Hills, a nearby subdivision renown for its Christmas decorations. Entering the brightly lit rows of houses, we saw we had chosen well. Crest Hills was a veritable utopia for those of the reindeer humping persuasion. Rolling through several streets, we made quick work of the reindeer population. It wasn’t until we reached the fourth street in the maze of cookie cutter dwellings that something caught us completely off guard. Tommy was the first to react. “Well damn, we knew this day would come sooner or later. It was only a matter of time before someone started to emulate the cheeky tomfoolery of the Randy Rudolphs.”
“I guess you’re right,” I replied. “It does console me that though these reindeer are unquestionably in the midst of making a beast of two backs, the angle of the left hoof is off. Novices I tell you. Novices!”
“It’s not funny. We’ve set a bad example for others and who knows what they’ll do now? We may have stopped at the reindeer but they might start tagging houses or worse.”
“You’re right, Rick,” Tommy cut in. “When we all die and get up to the pearly gates, don’t be surprised if Saint Peter shakes his finger and says ‘You’ve all led exemplary lives…except for those reindeer hijinks. You’ll pay dearly for such a grave sin!’ You hear me Rick? We’re going to burn for this! Burn!”
“Well, if we’re going to burn for this, we might as well go for the gusto,” the Stiger said. “Let’s go find some untampered reindeer and have at it.”
Turning the car around, we found ourselves on a pristine street chockfull of reindeer. Pulling up behind a parked car, Tommy cut the lights off. We saw our quarry standing stoically in front of a house painted in a gaudy salmon. Taking one last look around to see if the coast was clear, the back door slid open and the Stiger and Rick jumped out. Running up to the unsuspecting reindeer, the Stiger held the bottom one in place as Rick gently convinced the other reindeer to mount his friend. The deed done, the two began to run back to the van. That was when everything began to go awry. The doors of the gray Civic we had parked in front of swung open, revealing four beefy and none-too-pleased gentlemen. “What the hell are you doing? This is Plowing Prancer territory.”
“Excuse me?” a befuddled Stiger said.
“Everyone knows that the Plowing Prancers own Crest Hills. No one hits the reindeer here but us,” the tallest of the Prancers replied. They all seemed to be wearing matching black and blue sweat suits and each had a golden chain around his neck with his name dangling from it. It would seem we were facing a Steve, Cameron, Pete, and Alphonso. Alphonso had been the one who spoke.
Tommy got out of the van. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to accuse you a gerrymandering. We were not consulted when these lines were drawn and I personally feel disenfranchised. I think the rest of the Randy Rudolphs would agree.”
“I think you should tell the funny man to be quiet before he says something we make him regret,” Alphonso said.
“What are you going to do about it, wop? Are you going to have us iced?”
“All right, Tommy, that’s enough,” the Stiger said. I was relieved to see the Stiger taking control of the situation as pulled myself out the passenger seat of the Marshmallow. “We’re all out tonight for a bit of fun and I don’t see why it can’t continue. We’ll just…”
“Stuff it, shorty. We were staking out that reindeer and you just came in and swiped it right in front of our eyes. Swiped it like I swiped your mom last night,” Alphonso’s eyes lit up as he brandished a set of brass knuckles.
The Stiger shrugged. “Oooh, you’re going to pay for that. If that’s the way it’s going to be, this will be the last time the Plowing Prancers ever challenges the Randy Rudolphs. The time for diplomacy is over.” With that, the Stiger threw himself headlong into Alphonso, quickly taking him to the ground.
“You heard the Stiger,” I said. “Charge!” By the time I had finished my impassioned cry, Tommy had already jumped into the remaining Prancers, throwing elbows left and right. I quickly joined him in the fray, doing my best to deal out some holiday carnage of my own before being blindsided by Cameron. Just as I was hitting the ground, I caught an odd sight out of the corner of my eye. I could have sworn that an elf dressed in traditional Christmas garb down to the little pointed slippers was watching the ensuing melee. Cameron must have really socked me.
“You cheap bastard!” Rick yelled as he grabbed Cameron by the sweat suit and threw him to the curb. “I’ll beat you so badly, you’ll look like Alan Thicke!”
“Enough! You will all look like Alan Thicke before this night is through!” the elf roared. The elfin apparition was real. I should have known Cameron didn’t hit me that hard. How could he with a name like Cameron? “All of you are guilty of perverting the Christmas spirit through what you have done to this fair township’s reindeer decorations!”
We all paused and looked up. After staring for a stunned thirty seconds, Tommy spoke up, “Wait. Assuming you are what we think you are, you came all the way down from the North Pole to condemn our harmless shenanigans?”
“Oh, I came to do more than condemn. I came to punish. You have committed terrible crimes for which there will be a terrible price.” With that, the elf snapped his fingers and we found ourselves being surrounded from all sides with a menagerie of sharp-toothed elves foaming at the mouth. They swayed back and forth eerily with their little pointed hats swinging in odd directions as they slowly came closer.
Circling up with the Prancers in the center of the yard next to the entwined reindeer, we spun around looking at the bizarre fate that had come upon us.
“We’re going to die,” Rick said.
“We can get out of this somehow,” Alphonso said.
“I don’t see how,” Rick replied. “Look, that one’s wielding a mace. There’s one with a sword. And over there, that one’s got…is that a whisk?”
“It’s a very sharp whisk,” the elf angrily retorted.
“Since we’re about to be waist deep in death, I think its time we put our differences aside and fight for the good of reindeer mounting types everywhere,” I said.
“Damn right,” Cameron chimed in. “Let’s show them what the Plowing Prancers and Randy Rudolphs are all about. Aim low and we’ll have the Lollypop Guild begging for mercy in no time”
Seeing no other recourse, we lashed out at our aggressors. The Stiger took three down with one mighty swing, blood spurting from their tiny little mouths as I wrangled the mace from another’s small fingers. Alphonso administered a devastating blow to one of the swordselves and threw the vanquished foe’s weapon to Rick who quickly began to hack through rows of Santa’s possessed little helpers as they gnawed at his ankles. Tommy was having a tougher time being closer in height to the red-eyed munchkins of doom and would likely have fallen if not for Peter’s swift intervention. Grabbing Tommy by the arms, he began to swing him viscously into the bearded children as Steve and Cameron beat the group of elves in a way that make even a blind man cringe.
We continued to fight valiantly but our foe was slowly wearing us down. Their casualties were great but there were just too many of them. Just when we thought the fight was lost, we could hear sirens wailing in the distance. “Damn it, it’s the fuzz. I fear we must disperse, my elf brethren,” the elf who had condemned us yelled. “But not before I give you malefactors a parting gift.” Opening his little green vest, the elf somehow produced what looked to be a bazooka.
“Hit the ground!” Tommy shouted as we all tasted the cold winter dirt feeling an explosion rumble behind us. The police cars arrived just as we were pulling ourselves from the ground. We looked around and saw that the elf had taken out the salmon-hued house with his excessive firepower and that no other trace of the elves remained. “Well this is going to be hard to explain to the be-badge-ed gentlemen pulling up.”
After spending two weeks in jail, our court date finally arrived and we found ourselves sitting at a table facing a judge with menacing jowls as the prosecutor was explaining in very explicit detail what kind of punishment such heinous cretins deserved for destroying a vacationing family’s house and putting all of those reindeer in such sick and revolting positions. The others looked at me.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea for you to defend us, Jake?”
“Are you kidding? I’ve seen so many episodes of Matlock it isn’t even funny. I got this one on lockdown. I’m money in the bank.”
“Is the defense ready to give opening statements?”
“Yes your honor. May it please the court.” I got up and made my way to the podium and adjusted the microphone. “I want to begin by saying that before all of this began, we had a Jello eating contest and each ate nine packages and…”
“Nine packages?” the judge asked.
“That is correct your honor.”
“Well hell, I ate three one time and the next thing I knew I was greased down and naked in a back alley in Shanghai. You’ve got to be careful with Jello, that shit will fuck you up. Case dismissed.”
With that the Randy Rudolphs and the Plowing Prancers were vindicated and went to celebrate with a dinner of the highest order at McDonald’s. “Well I’m glad that’s over,” the Stiger said.
“No kidding,” said Rick. “I thought we were going to get the death penalty. I’m glad the justice system came through for us.”
“Of course it was going to come through for us. Everyone knows that the purpose of the court is to protect the rights of the perpetrators from the victims,” I said. “If the owner of the house really wanted justice, he would have gone to the mob.”
“Good point,” everyone said in unison as they nodded.
“And I think we’ve all learned something from this. I know I’ve learned not to be greedy with my reindeer monkeyshines. It’s good to be courteous and leave some reindeer unfettered for others to enjoy,” I said.
“Indeed,” Alphonso said. “The Prancers have learned that no one owns the reindeer. Anyone should be allowed to put them into compromising positions anywhere they want. Even Crest Hills.”
With that, we all held our cups high. The battle had been won but we knew that someday, the elf would once again raise his ugly face and we would be ready for him.