El Santa Clause

This short story by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

Directed by:
Robert Rodriguez
Written by:
Anthony Leong
Derek Leong
Tim Allen		as Santa Claus
Antonio Banderas		as Butcho
Steve Buscemi		as Mr. Pink
Nicole Sullivan		as the Vancome Lady
Edward James Olmos	as Chico
Quentin Tarantino	as Mr. Brown
Carlos Gallardo		as Blitz
Lou Diamond Phillips	as Don
Cheech Marin		as the Soda Jockey

Close your eyes,
Your Christ has come.
The crippled boy that you once knew,
The charmed enigma,
The chosen one.

The gringo came through the creaking door of wood and glass, and entered the dark and dingy department store. The man at the soda fountain by the entrance looked up from his want ads. The other patrons, sitting around at small wooden tables, playing cards and sucking back slurpees, stopped their conversations abruptly to glance at the stranger. The eyes were what stood out about this gringo. Wide, piercing, with just a hint of paranoia. The gringo licked his lips and wandered over to the soda fountain, a throwback from the fifties, and sat on the hard cushion of the four-legged stool. The soda jockey, a short balding Mexican, put down his paper and sighed, saying, "Hey senor, what can I get you?"

The gringo looked up at the bartender with those eyes, and said dryly, "A Pepsi."

The soda jockey threw him a scowl and barked, "We only have Coke."

"A Coke then, please and thank you. I've been wandering through the desert, and I am parched," the gringo said, rubbing the stubble on his chin.

So drink me in like tainted wine,
Come bite down on my sharpened cup,
And taste the dreams that numb the mind.

The soda jockey grabbed a plastic cup and scooped some ice from a large metal basin. "No ice," the gringo said.

The soda jockey swore under his breath, dumping the ice back into the basin. He filled the cup with the cold dark beverage and placed it in front of the gringo, who hungrily gulped down two mouthfuls. "Aah, that really hits the spot. This is the best soda pop I've tasted. Better than the department store I was at in the other town last night."

"The other town?" the soda jockey asked.

The tables were still silent, the patrons intently listening to the man's story as it unraveled. "You must have heard about it," the gringo said, "There I was, minding my own business, drinking my Pepsi at a corner table, watching the salespeople change the mannequins, when all of a sudden, there was this noise from the chimney. I turned to look at the fireplace, and there was all this dust floating around. The next thing I know, this man emerges from it. And he was big!"

"You mean tall?" the scruffy bearded man sitting next to the gringo interjected.

"Not just tall, but big," the gringo answered as he held his arms apart, "He was wearing this red and white coat, definitely overdressed for the weather. And he carried this big red sack over his shoulder. What was in it, I had not idea, but I had a feeling that we would soon find out."

The soda jockey was listening very intently now, and was eager for more. "His face... did you see his face?" the soda jockey asked.

"His face? No. I mean every step forward he took, his face was obscured by his white beard, that dangled to and fro. Just when you thought the beard would move aside to reveal his face, each whisker would shift back, obscuring his face again. It was like he was able to control each individual whisker to hide his face..."

Everybody wants,
Everybody says,
Everybody begs... in time.

"Then what happened?" a voice called out from one of the tables.

The gringo turned around to face the tables. "You want to know what happened next? He goes over to the soda fountain and orders a soda pop. When the men sitting at the tables heard this, a quiet murmur started as they started talking among themselves. He gets his soda pop and then he asks the soda jockey if he knew where Butcho was," the gringo said.

"He asked where Butcho was?" the soda jockey asked, the unease coming through in his voice.

"You know who Butcho is?" the gringo asked.

The soda jockey stood straight up and shook his head, "No, no, no. I...I don't know who Butcho is... so what happened next?"

"By now, the department store was deathly quiet, as though everyone knew what was going down. You could cut the tension in that room with a knife and spread it on toast. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the greasers sitting in the table next to me releasing the safety on his semi-automatic, ready to pounce on this stranger," the gringo continued, then pausing for dramatic effect, "Well, the stranger heard the click and he pulls out this big hand-cannon out of his coat and blows him away with one noisy shot. Let me tell you, after that, all hell broke loose. I dove under the table for safety as everybody and their dog in that department store had a gun, and bullets were flying everywhere. The stranger took care of them. He was running around, jumping on tables, leaping over the counter, shooting that big gun of his-- just going postal in general. Guys were falling left and right, and I was freaked out of my mind. From my hiding spot under the table, I saw him drop the sack on the floor. He opened it up and from where I was, I could see that it was full of every conceivable weapon. Sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, pistols, knives, grenades... you name it-- he had it. So he reloads and takes care of the rest of the bad guys. When all the smoke cleared, only the stranger, the soda jockey, and myself were the ones left standing. The stranger takes a good look around at his handiwork. He had this twisted look of satisfaction on his face. He then picked up his sack and told the soda jockey, 'Tell Butcho that he's next'. He took a sip from his soda pop and walked out the door."

"The soda jockey lived, right? He lived!" the soda jockey said happily, laughing.

"No," the gringo answered, "'cause just as he was leaving, the soda jockey reached for this shotgun that he had under the counter. But before he could peel of a shot, the stranger turned around and said 'You want some more?', before blowing a hole into the soda jockey. The soda jockey crumpled under the counter, his shotgun falling uselessly onto the floor. Then the stranger left, disappearing into the night."

And you will be the first to fall,
Every feeling will dissolve,
We are... silver.
Morphine baby's final breath,
Ever smothered to your breast,
We are... silver.

The soda jockey swallowed hard, his mouth being very dry. "Oh, and before he left, I heard him say something about coming to this town," the gringo continued.

The room was silent. No one breathed. "So," the gringo, abruptly changing the subject, said, "how much do I owe you for this?"

The soda jockey looked about nervously and answered, "It's on the house, senor."

"Oh thanks... well, I have to go now. Nice talking to you," the gringo said, getting up to leave.

The gringo walked out of the department store, and into the bright sunshine. As soon as the gringo had left, the soda jockey grabbed the phone and dialed the number for Butcho, his boss.

The house was on a hillside, luxuriously appointed in brass and marble. A high stone wall kept out unwanted visitors, with a heavy iron gate the only way in and out of the compound. Armed men, dressed in selections from the Armani catalog stood guard around the compound, ready to give their lives for their employer. A large picture window overlooked the compound, which was where Butcho stood as he was on the phone.

"Who told you this?" Butcho shouted into the receiver.

Butcho listened as the soda jockey recounted about the gringo who had come into the store today with the chilling tale of bloodshed in a neighbouring town. "Keep your eyes open, and your mouth closed. Keep me informed!" Butcho barked before slamming the receiver down.

"More stories?" Chico, the second-in-command of the cartel, asked.

"Yes. El Santa Claus is coming to town," Butcho answered to his subordinate.

"I have heard stories of the man in the red suit with the sack full of guns. But he is a myth, a fairy-tale. Nobody believes in El Santa Claus!" Chico retorted.

"Listen, goddamit. Someone is destroying my operation and those who survive say that it is this man who goes from town to town killing drug dealers. I hear that he has a list, and he checks it twice. Those who are naughty, and those who are nice. He also knows when you're sleeping, and when you're awake. No, there is too much at stake here! He is a very dangerous man! Put everyone on alert. I want to be ready when he comes here!" Butcho said angrily, pointing his long bony finger at his second-in-command.

"As you wish," Chico said.

As Santa Claus lay there on the bed that had seen better days in the rat-infested cheap motel in the small Mexican town, he thought of all that he had done and seen in the past year. Things weren't always like this.

He once had a dream, a vision. A passion for spreading joy to the children. He wanted to be a department store Santa Claus, like his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather. He wasn't as good as them, but he was improving. He had wanted to follow in their footsteps, dying with his sack of toys in his hands... traveling from town to town, gaining different experiences.

But that was gone now. Only the bitterness and pain consumed him. There was nothing that would ease his burden. Cheap soda pop. Two-ply bathroom tissue. He had tried them all. Nothing could replace the joy that he once had, make him feel whole again.

There was a knock at the door. Santa sat upright and grabbed the handgun under his pillow. He chambered it with his other hand and pointed the gun at the door. "Who is it?" Santa asked.

"It's me," the voice behind the door said.

Santa tucked the gun into his thick black belt and lumbered over to the door. He unlocked it and pulled it open, revealing his one true friend in the world. The wide-eyed gringo smiled and walked in. "So did you tell them the story, Mr. Pink?" Santa asked his friend as he locked the door.

Mr. Pink sat on the crumpled bed and answered, "You bet I did. I tell you, by the time I left, they were scared. I had never had an audience so moved. I think you won't have any problem when you go in tomorrow. They'll be scared so &^%less that they'll tell you anything. They even let me have a drink on the house."

"Did you at least leave a tip?" Santa asked.

"Like 'Tonic water removes blood stains from polyester'?" Mr. Pink answered.

"No, I mean a gratuity," Santa said.

"I don't believe in tipping... I don't tip just because society says I have to. Granted, if they really went out of their way to serve you, I'll give a little extra. But this automatic tipping's for the birds," Mr. Pink answered.

"But some people live off of tips," Santa said.

Mr. Pink said, "But why should they. They make minimum wage. And when you go to McDonald's, you don't tip them. I mean they serve you and they have to be nice to you. But you don't tip them. How come society says we don't tip these people but tip these other people? That's bull%$#*!"

Mr. Pink paused for a moment and then rubbed the thumb and index finger of his left hand together and asked, "Do you know what this is?"

Santa shook his head. "It's the world's smallest violin, playing for just the soda jockeys."

There was a momentary lull, which was broken when Mr. Pink said, "Tell me, my friend, why do you do it?"

"They took away the woman I loved and shot my leg so it is too painful for children to sit upon my lap," Santa said in a somber tone, "The two things that I felt passionate about-- stolen from me. My youth destroyed. They must pay."

"Yes, I know all that, but is it worth it?"

Santa was silent for a moment, thinking about his little helper's question. He could remember looking down upon the cold body of Domino, laying on the dusty ground of Moco's ranch. He looked up at Moco, the rich gringo drug dealer with the sinister smile, puffing away on an American cigarette. He remembered Moco firing his gun. While he lay on the ground, bleeding from the leg wound, Moco stood above him, laughing at him. He fell to the ground, his arm outstretched, falling upon the gun that had been dropped by the hit man whom he had been mistaken for. Santa remembered the heavy piece of metal, how it felt in his hand, and how it felt to pull the trigger. Two bullets hit Moco square in the chest and he fell to the ground and died. But Moco wasn't the last. There were more. And Santa was going to find them.

"Yes, my friend. It is," Santa said coldly.

"Now what the %^&% was I saying?" the gringo in the post-Pulp mode said, drinking the last of his slurpee.

The soda jockey turned to the strange-looking gringo with the curly brown hair, large pointy chin, and the beady eyes and said, "Senor Brown, you were saying that Christmas was like Easter, only with a bit of Thanksgiving..."

"Okay... let me tell you what Christmas is about," Mr. Brown, the Coca-Cola regional sales representative said, emphasizing each word with expressive head movements and hand gestures, "Christmas is about retailing. You see, think of department stores as regular selling machines. I mean, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, morning noon and night. Sell, sell, sell, sell, sell!"

"How many sales is that?" the soda jockey asked.

"A lot," the man sitting next to Mr. Brown answered.

"You see, Christmas is a conspiracy cooked up by the big department stores to help reduce the amount of inventory they have to carry into the new year so they can bring in next year's models. At the end of the year they have all this useless crap leftover. I mean, whoa baby, they're up to their ears in this stuff. They don't want to carry it, and you don't want to buy it. They have to come up with some reason to get you into the store and buy stuff that you don't need... and what better way than to give you a reason while making you think that you are actually doing something positive for humanity. And hence... Christmas."

The interior of the department store brightened momentarily as the front doors of the run-down department store swung open. The jolly-looking fat man in the red furry coat with the white trim came in out of the hot sun and sat at the soda fountain, next to Mr. Brown. He dropped the heavy red sack onto the linoleum floor next to his stool. "Soda pop," the man said, wiping the sweat from his brow with a well-used handkerchief.

The soda jockey looked nervously at the stranger. And so did the sweaty men sitting at the tables. Their eyes were fixed on the stranger. The red coat. The white trim. The sack. Could this be the legendary vigilante that the gringo had spoken of yesterday? Mr. Brown noticed the intense attention that the stranger sitting next to him had attracted.

The soda jockey reached into the cooler, looking back every couple of seconds, and grabbed a tall dark bottle. He removed the cap and handed it to the stranger. The man took a swig of the sweet carbonated beverage, some of it dribbling onto his white beard. "No Christmas cheer?" the man asked.

"Why would I need that?" the soda jockey answered.

"You know, I have a proposition for you. I am a traveling Santa. Children sit on my lap and tell me what they want for Christmas. It will help bring more style and class to your store. I work for almost nothing. I live mostly off of tips, but I need steady work. And I can guarantee more business," the man said confidently.

The soda jockey seemed unimpressed. "I also sing songs. Christmas carols, religious hymns, sleighing songs, even a few originals... whatever your customers want," the man continued.

"Tell me," the soda jockey said, "what's in that big sack of yours?"

The soda jockey motioned to the large red sack that the stranger had placed on the floor. "Presents," the man said.

"Show me," the soda jockey said nervously.

"It's not Christmas yet," the man answered.

Then the man noticed the two goons standing next to him, with guns pointed at his head. He raised his hands and said, "Take a look then."

Mr. Brown slid out of his chair, unsure of what was going down here. He started backing away from the stranger, when the soda jockey said, "Don't move Senor Brown."

Mr. Brown put his hands up and returned to his seat, saying "I'm cool. Cool I say."

One of the goons went over to the sack and picked it up. He lifted it to the soda jockey and reached inside, extracting a package wrapped in cheery red and green paper. "See, presents," the stranger said.

However, the lower most end of the package buckled, and a loaded AK-47 fell out, clunking noisily onto the floor. "Oh oh," the stranger said.

Then everything went to hell. The men sitting at the tables got up, knocking the tables over. In their hands they were brandishing assorted small arms, loaded, chambered, and with the safeties off. But Santa was ready.

"Looks like Santa's going to have to kick some ass," Santa said.

With a quick flick of his wrists, two silver Double-Eagle 9mm semiautomatic handguns popped out of their hiding spots underneath his white furry cuffs. He grabbed the grips and put his index fingers on the triggers. He turned to face the men at the tables and let it rip, putting a hole into anything that was moving. Orange and yellow flames lashed out from the barrels of the guns and the crackle of gunfire filled the department store.

A shelving unit stacked with boxed chocolates exploded next to Santa. Santa dove onto the floor, his ears listening for the reloading of the shotgun that had nearly killed him. He rolled towards the loud click from behind and emptied the last of his clips into the shotgun-wielding thin man.

There was a lull in the shooting as the bad guys reloaded. Santa released the empty clips from his guns, which fell to the ground. He quickly grabbed two more clips from the inside of his belt and reloaded. Mr. Brown cowered under a stool, shaking. In the security mirror dome above him, he could see a figure dashing at his seven. He swung around, and dropped to the floor onto his back. The gunman started his leap, his gun pointed at the large round fat man on the floor. As Santa slid along the ground, he opened fire following the arc of the gunman's flightpath.

"%$@% this, man. I'm going back to the video store!" Mr. Brown shouted as he scrambled out the front door out into the street.

As he downed the flying gunman, a machine gun tore up the linoleum tiles next to where Santa was lying. Santa rolled out of the way and did a flip back onto his feet. The machine gun fire followed him, cutting across the counter of the soda fountain, vaporizing the empty glasses that were sitting on it. As Santa dove over the counter, he grabbed the red sack that was still sitting on the counter. He landed behind the counter and grabbed a large box wrapped in red foil from the sack. He tore of the wrapping and extracted the sawed-off shotgun from inside, just in time to let hear a footstep behind. He swung around and caught a hefty gunman, knocking him into a Toblerone floor display. Santa then popped up from behind the counter, taking down the last few gunmen with a few well-aimed blasts from the shotgun. That was it... the last ones.

"He's here! El Santa Claus is here!" the soda jockey whispered into the phone, "Come quickly!"

A dark shadow came over the soda jockey, who looked up. "Ah... alone at last. You better shout, and you better not cry," Santa said.

"Why?" the soda jockey said nervously.

Santa smiled, ignoring the question. "Now tell me, where's your boss, Butcho?"

"I don't know who you're talking about!"

"Don't want to talk, eh?" Santa said.

The jolly man walked over to a radio sitting on a ledge behind the soda fountain and turned up the volume. As the song on the radio played, Santa did a little dance as he walked back towards the soda jockey, picking up a bottle opener from the countertop.

Well, I don't know why I came here tonight,
I got a feeling that something ain't right,
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I wonder how I'll get down the stairs.

"Stuck in the middle with you," Santa sang as he approached the soda jockey in a menacing manner.

"Nooooooo!!!!" the soda jockey screamed.

Clowns to the left of me,

Jokers to the right,

Here I am,

Stuck in the middle with you.

Three black Grand Cherokees came to an abrupt stop outside of the department store, skidding to a halt.

"He's still inside!" Butcho shouted as he got out of the first Grand Cherokee.

His armed goons got out and chambered their weapons. They then stormed the department store, while Butcho waited outside. It was a war zone. Bullet holes riddled the entire store and the bodies were heaped along the floor, having fallen where they were killed. Broken glass and empty shells were everywhere. But there was no sign of the mysterious man with the sack full of weapons.

"Looking for me?" Santa shouted down to the group of armed men.

They looked up and saw El Santa Claus standing on a large pop display, sack in hand. "We're going to kill you!" one of the armed men said.

"Come get some!" Santa shouted back just before leaping off the display.

The armed men opened fire, demolishing the pop display and sending jets of pop in every direction. Santa rolled onto the ground and let off a shot from his shotgun. The metal pellets took down four of his adversaries. The other four ducked and covered, returning fire from their hiding places.

Sparks and debris flew all around Santa as he backed away towards the rear entrance of the store. As he fell back, the gunmen moved forward, trying to box him in. One of the gunman grabbed a grenade from his belt. In one smooth movement, he removed the pin and lobbed it towards Santa. The round metal pineapple landed on the floor next to Santa and rolled around. "Oh #@$%!" he shouted as he made a mad dash for the back door.

The grenade exploded, filling up the sales floor with flames. The force of the explosion sent a piece of shrapnel into Santa's back, just under the shoulder, and knocked him onto his stomach at the same time. He winced in pain as jagged edge of the shrapnel dug into his soft tissues. Flaming debris and ash fell from above like morning snow. Santa sucked in his belly and got back onto his feet, forcing himself to ignore the pain.

He pushed through the back door and stumbled onto the street. His eyes squinted as they adjusted to the brightness.

"Everybody in the trucks! He's escaped!" Butcho ordered.

The armed men filed into the black Grand Cherokees and then sped off in pursuit.

Santa was feeling weak now. The back of his red suit was soaked with his own blood and the sack was feeling heavier with every step. He stumbled into the closest open store, with the sign "Taco Bell". This would do.

The Taco Bell was air-conditioned and cheerfully decorated. It was also empty. With their "Run for the Border" marketing campaign, their potential customers did just that. There was a lone woman standing behind the counter-- a blonde with her hair up in a bun. She also wore a lot of make-up.

"Hello. Welcome to Taco Bell. How may I help you," she said in whiny nasal voice.

"You have to help me," Santa said quickly, "there are armed men who are trying to kill me!"

"I can't understand you if you talk so quickly. You have to calm down."

"But they're on their way here. I need somewhere to hide!"

"Calming down... we're calming down... now we're calm."

"Butcho's men are coming after me. They want to kill me," Santa panted.

The blonde woman gave Santa a strange look and said, "Sha... you know what? Uh uh!"

She shook her head, "I'm sorry. At Taco Bell here, you must buy something from our menu if you wish to occupy space designated for paying customers. So shoo! Bye now. Bye bye."

"But you must help me!" Santa protested.

"I'm sorry but I can't hear you! La la la la la la la la," the blonde woman said as she put her fingers in her ears and shook her head from side to side.

"Okay... give me a taco then!"

"That's better. Now did you want hard or soft shell?"

"What difference does it make! Just give me one!"

"I can't serve you if you are yelling at me."

"Hard shell, then. Please."

"Hot or mild sauce?"


"Very good, sir. That comes to 200 pesos."

Santa dropped the money on the counter, which the blonde woman quickly scooped up, placing it into the register. "Will you hide me now?" Santa asked.

"Yes, you can hide behind the counter here," the woman answered.

Santa jumped over the counter and ducked behind the counter. Just in time too. Seconds later, the front door of the restaurant opened.

"Senorita Vancome!" Butcho said, "how are you my dear?"

"I am well," Vancome answered.

"There is a man. A stranger. He dresses up in a red suit. He carries a large sack full of weapons. Have you seen him?"

Vancome shot a glance at Santa, who was crouched on the ground. Santa put his index finger to his mouth.

"You know what? Uh uh. I haven't seen anyone like that."

"Well, be careful. He's somewhere in town. He killed a bunch of my men over at the Wal-Mart," Butcho said as he walked to the front door.

"I can take care of myself," Vancome said.

Before he exited, Butcho said, "Why don't you come up to the villa this weekend? I could use the company."

Vancome just smiled. When Butcho sped off in his Grand Cherokee, she said, "He's gone now."

"Thank you," Santa said as he got off the floor.

"I know who you are," she said, pointing at him.

"Really?" Santa said.

"You kill drug dealers," Vancome continued.

"So?" Santa replied.

"I don't think you can take on someone like Butcho all by yourself."

"Watch me," Santa said.

Santa woke up the next morning in a strange bedroom. His shoulder still hurt from the shrapnel, but it was better than it was yesterday. Miss Vancome was lying next to him, asleep. Santa breathed out deeply. He was in the right town. He had found Butcho and he was well-protected. He couldn't do this without help. He had to call in for reinforcements-- and he knew exactly who to call.

Santa pushed the bed sheets aside and reached for the phone. He dialed the number that he had memorized. After a couple of rings, a Mexican answered. "Don, it's me. I want you and Blitz to get your gear together and come to this address..."

He gave his two friends all the details. The kind of resistance expected, weapons of choice-- the typical lowdown. He hung up and lay back down, running over his plans on storming Butcho's villa. The morning sun was shining through the eastern window, bringing with it warmth.

A shadow fell across the bed. Santa sat up and saw the silhouette moving across the window. He shook Vancome and whispered, "Wake up. Butcho's men are here."

Vancome got up quickly and slipped into a black dress that was laid out on a chair. Santa dressed quickly and pulled out his Double-Eagles, all the time watching the silhouettes dance across the windows. "Get downstairs, now," Santa said.

Vancome tip-toed out of the bedroom and headed down the stairs. Santa took aim at both silhouettes, targeting one with each gun. When they both moved into position, he fired. The glass window shattered and the two gunmen crumpled where they stood. More gunmen came in, crashing through the glass, guns blazing. Santa grabbed his sack on the floor and ran out, whilst laying a suppressing fire.

Vancome got halfway down the stairs when she saw the armed men in the living room. One of them shouted and opened fire. The ornate woodwork of the staircase was chewed up as the machine gun fire followed her up the stairs. Santa saw Vancome running back up the stairs. "Don't go downstairs!" she shouted.

"Let's go up to the roof!" Santa suggested.

The roof was clear. But Butcho's men were not too far behind them. The two lovers rushed across the roof and stopped at the edge. Vancome stared over the edge, down onto the street forty feet below. "Now where?" she asked.

"You're going to have to jump!" Santa said.

He then grabbed her by the waist and gave her a long lingering kiss. "Now go!" he said.

Vancome took a running start and leaped the wide chasm, landing on the roof of the building below. She turned around and motioned Santa to join her. By now, Butcho's men had made it to the roof. As the guns of Butcho's men blazed, Santa started his run. As he reached the edge, he lost his foothold and slipped. He fell off the edge and bounced his way down the side of the building, knocking against window ledges and awnings. Vancome could hear him howl in pain as he hit each bump.



"Son of a..."

"That's going to leave a mark!"



He finally hit the ground, forming a large beige dust cloud on the street below. Butcho's men looked over the edge, down at the rising dust cloud, and began laughing. But they didn't laugh for very long. Santa emerged from the dust cloud and opened fire with his handguns, killing them all. When the shooting was all over, Santa shouted up to Vancome, "I'm alright! Really I am! I meant to do that!"

The street was empty. The noon sun was high in the sky, scorching the earth. Most of the town's residents were having their daily siesta, hiding indoors to escape the midday heat. Santa and Vancome waited on the street, in the shade. "When did they say that they'd arrive?" Vancome ask.

"Anytime now. Anytime," Santa said, watching the street carefully.

Two figures appeared at the far end of the street, distorted by the hot air rising off the asphalt. They were both dressed like Santa, in red suits with white trim. Don was carrying one sack over his shoulder, like Santa, but Blitz had two, one over each shoulder. Santa pointed and said, "There! Don and Blitz. Now we are ready!"

The four vigilantes crawled through the underbrush towards the villa, taking cover behind a small bush. "Butcho's villa is there!", Vancome pointed.

"You stay here," Santa said.

"But I want to go with you!" Vancome said.

"It is not safe for you. I'll be back. I promise," Santa answered.

Santa, Don, and Blitz stood up. Santa stretched the muscles in his neck and said, "Let's spread some Christmas cheer."

No sooner than they had revealed themselves, Butcho's armed guards opened fire. Santa dashed around taking out the guards with his Double-Eagles. Don opened his sack slightly to reveal a missile launcher. A flaming rocket shot out, making contact with a guard tower that overlooked the villa. It exploded, sending the guards flying. Blitz held his sacks forward, which revealed machine guns. He swung the sacks around from side-to-side, strafing the guards that neither Santa nor Don had taken care of.

Don dashed forward and took aim at the heavy metal gate that blocked their access to the inner compound. A missile screamed out of the sack and blew the gate open, leaving only charred and twisted metal in its wake. But the advance came with a price. One of the guards caught Don with a shotgun, spraying the air with a red mist. Don fell to the ground. His body lay very still.

Santa saw his friend fall, and it only enraged him further. "You drug-dealing-child-killing-cocaine-snorting-nose-picking-Reform-voting bastards will pay for that!" he shouted.

As Santa lashed out his diatribe, he did not see the gunman sneaking up from behind. Vancome jumped out of her hiding spot and shouted, "Watch out, Santa! Behind you!"

Santa spun around and emptied several bullets in his potential attacker. The gunman did a bizarre slow-mo dance of death as the bullets tore into him, before falling to the ground.

Santa turned around to face Vancome, who smiled back at him. A loud shot rang out and her eyes widened. She then crumpled to the ground. "Nooo!" Santa shouted as he dashed to catch her.

He knelt down beside her and caressed her head. "Hang on! You're going to live!" he said as a tear rolled down his face.

Vancome looked up weakly and smiled. "You know what?" she said weakly, "Uh uh..."

Her eyes fluttered closed and her body went limp in Santa's arms. She was dead. He only allowed himself a moment of grief before gently putting her down. He stood up, his blood boiling. Butcho will pay for this, he thought to himself.

Santa made his way into the compound, killing anyone who got in his way. He passed by the still body of Blitz, who had made his way into the inner compound before succumbing to enemy fire. Once he made it into the compound, there was an eerie silence. Sand drifted across the compound, blown by the desert wind. Santa looked to the marble stairs that led up to the house, on which stood Butcho, the object of his quest. The two men looked at one another silently.

"Oh my god," Butcho said, "it's you!"

"I can't believe my eyes!" Santa said.

"You're the nephew of the second cousin of my stepmother's sister! You are El Santa Claus? Do you know what this means?" Butcho said.

Santa thought for a moment about this sudden revelation, and answered, "Nothing."

Santa let his guns do the talking...

The black Grand Cherokee pulled into the last chance gas station in the middle of the desert. Santa got out, making his way to the rear of the truck, where he removed the cap to the gas tank. He grabbed the pump and started loading up with premium.

As he stood there in the scorching desert air, he listened to the conversation between a boy and a man who were standing before the open hood of a station wagon a few feet away from him. The boy was in his teens, dressed in a Public Enemy T-shirt. The man was tall and dressed in biker leather.

"We're not going to make it, are we? People, I mean," the boy said.

"It's in your nature to destroy yourselves," the man answered.

"Major drag, huh?" the boy said.

Santa finished filling up the tank and went inside the adobe building to pay. As he waited for the clerk to give him his change, a small Mexican boy said something to him. "What did he say?" Santa asked the clerk.

"Oh senor," the clerk answered, "he says that a storm's coming."

Santa nodded and looked off into the horizon, across the desert plain, into oblivion.

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