Chapter 10: Up On The Rooftop
Ed, Santa and Rudolph the Red Nosed Ein stared at the split level before them, allowing themselves to be slightly hypnotized by the flashing Christmas lights. Then Ed made a sort of humming sound that made Santa jump a bit, skitted around the perimeter of the house, and then shimmied up half the drainpipe. She paused, narrowing her eyes at the roof, and then slid back down to fetch her dog, which she was now carrying in a knapsack.
After making her way back up the pipe, a little more ponderously this time with the addition of a corgi, Ed perched herself on the lip of the chimney. She yanked out a few extension chords she grabbed in the mall, just cause she could never have too many extension cords, and began to tie them together. After making a satisfactorily long rope, she tied one end to the bag. "Ready, Ein?" she asked the dog.
Ein's eyes got huge in an obvious indication that he was not ready, and never would be. He whimpered and tried to escape but Ed grabbed him and shoved him back into the bag. Ein silently pleaded with her one more time before Ed began lowering the bag into the chimney. "Don't be such a baby, Ein," Ed chided. "Ed's got you." She emerged with ring of soot around her eyes and nose but didn't seem to notice. Soon she felt the soft little thump that indicated Ein touched down. Delighted, Ed yanked the bag back up with a squeal and leapt from the roof in a single bound. Or at least three bounds. "What the hell just happened here?" Santa asked, wishing he still had some more pink.
"Wait," Ed grinned. She then began rocking impatiently on her feet, singing under her breath. "Yule log, egg nog, fuzzy dog," she hummed.
"What are we waiting for?" Santa asked, but his question was answered when he saw the small form of the dog leap onto the windowsill. He looked pissed, the dog did. He never really saw a pissed off looking dog before. They usually all had the same blank expression. But this was definitely one miffed canine.
Then to his amazement, the dog quite easily nudged the latch open on the window. Santa stared at the animal, mouth gaping open, and then watched as the elf thing quite casually dragged her duffel bag full of booty over to the window, opened it, and climbed inside. He continued to stand there, watching, until her little head popped out and she hissed, "Come on!"
Not knowing what else to do, Santa glanced nervously around and followed the bouncing Ed. He looked around the living room and spotted her unloading the various souvenirs from the mall and placing them under the family's Christmas tree. "Uh... Little Elf Thing," he hazarded. "What are you doing?"
"Being Santa!" she grinned this huge, almost frightening grin before cramming a spatula into one of the children's stockings. Then a completely different expression came across her face. Her eyes lit up, not with the blank, third person lunacy she seemed to be lit up with earlier, but a shrewd, mischievous sort of light. The kind of light one acquired when one was about to use her powers for evil. "People only like Santa because everyone likes Free Stuff," she said slyly, and when her new partner did not seem anymore enlightened, she added, "And The Mall only likes Christmas because there's no such thing as Santa."
Santa's eyes widened. This elf was not only a genius, but she was an evil genius. If the mall was so hard up for a Santa Claus, than that was exactly what they were going to get. And even if they did get caught, so what? He had seen Miracle on 34th Street enough times to know it is not in a department store's best interest to persecute Santa Claus. It is a public relations nightmare. Christmas is suddenly looking up, he thought as he jammed a martini shaker into Billy's Christmas stocking with gusto.
The unlikely trio lumbered from house to house, dragging their sacks behind them. Ed was amazingly stealthy, even taking off her gigantic boots on occasion where they would make too much noise. And she was some sort of technological whiz. She carried this ancient laptop in her knapsack when she wasn't using it to lower surly canines down into chimneys, but as far as Santa was concerned, she wielded some mystical key. She tore through lines of code like a lawn mower moving through an open field. No puny alarm system stood a chance against her. Nothing held her back. No locks, no doors, no bars or chains... nothing.
Santa found himself envying her.
They paraded around suburbia as if they owned it, and when they ran out of supplies, they simply went back and restocked. They were quick and they were silent. They were in and out far more efficiently than a fat man crashing down a chimney could ever be. They wouldn't have run into any trouble at all if it hadn't been for the kids.
The first time they looked up and saw a couple of children staring at them in wide-eyed wonder, Santa almost panicked. He pictured some oaf of a father coming after them with a sawed off shotgun and he froze for a moment, not entirely sure how to handle the situation. But then he realized that they weren't afraid of him. Not yet. They were children, and did not yet realize that breaking and entering was usually a malicious activity. People broke into their world all the time. The Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and now Santa. "Hey," he said softly. The children waved a bit timidly from their steps. "Uh... have you been good this year?"
They nodded. Well, of course they nodded. They weren't stupid. "Er, what would you like for Christmas? We've got um..." he rummaged through his sack. "A car seat cover and this lovely gift box from Chanel #5!" he tried to sound enthusiastic.
The kids looked at each other with skeptical expressions before the girl shrugged and said, "The car seat cover."
Santa handed it to her and attempted to shake his not very large belly like a bowl full of jelly. "How come you're not fat?" she asked him.
"Atkins diet," he said gravely. "The reindeer'll eat the cookies though." He felt he should literally throw their Rudolph a bone, since this Christmas Eve was proving to be one endless irritation for the little guy. Ein seemed to nod eagerly in agreement.
"That's a dog," the boy pointed out.
"No, we're just breeding them smaller this year," he said quickly as he glanced pleadingly at his partner to help him out. Ed, who had been watching this whole exchange with great amusement, finally saved the day. She was, not surprisingly, a remarkable performer. She walked on her hands, she balanced baseball bats on her nose, she balanced the dog on top of the baseball bat on top of her nose, and she did things with yo-yo's that seemed to defy the laws of physics. Then she bowed and the two of them backed out of the house and moved on to the next one.
From then on, anyone they did run into was pretty much powerless to resist Ed's charms. They won over every child they met, and even if Jimmy didn't know what to do with a Rotato vegetable peeler or a jar of leg wax, his celebrity encounter more than made up for it. The problem of course, was that children were now running into their parents room wielding stories of two visiting strangers and gifts not purchased by their own commissioned "Santa."
The calls into the police station were becoming over whelming. Everyone had initially shrugged it off as some practical joke. Nothing was stolen and no one was ever harmed. But the calls were too steady and the mothers too hysterical for the cops to ignore it for much longer. Eventually, the call came to be on the look out for the Santito Banditos. Or at least, that was what Punch christened them when the news first broke on Big Shot.