by Jeffrey Miller
Saturday started out bad for Mike Grabowski and got worse—first, he lost his job and then, he took it out on Santa Claus.
First, it was the ass-chewing he got from his immediate supervisor Todd Harris, who accused him of drinking on the job and botching the new entrance on the Kaskaskia Hotel renovation. Mike told Todd to go and fuck himself and then, slipped into the Dew Drop Inn across the street for an early lunch.
“That’s the second time this month Mike, I’m really sorry about this,” Walt Smith, the owner said later that afternoon, when he learned what Grabowski had done. “You can pick up your last paycheck next week.”
Mike drove around for a few hours wondering how he was going to tell his wife that he lost his job two weeks before Christmas. Before he got around to that, he had a score to settle. He waited in the parking lot of the Elks Club with a fifth of Jack before he got up the nerve to walk in, but once inside, slipped into the bar for a few more shots of courage.
He forgot all about his wife and son waiting inside the ballroom with other parents and children when he caught Santa Claus coming out of the men’s room.
“Thanks a lot for ratting me out, Harris,” Mike said, pinning Harris against the wall. “You cost me my job.”
“You’re drunk Grabowski,” Harris said, adjusting the white beard around his chin and pillow inside his costume. “Go home and sleep it off.”
“Why did you have to tell Smith?”
“You should have thought about that before you came to work drunk.” He pushed Mike aside and headed toward the ballroom where the Elks’ annual Christmas party was to get underway as soon as he made his grand entrance.
Harris didn’t see it coming. As soon as he hoisted the red bag of toys on his back, Mike spun him around and landed one well-placed punch to the face. The bag dropped to the floor, toys scattered everywhere.
“You broke my fucking nose!” Harris staggered back and clutched his nose with one hand, blood already seeping through his clenched fingers.
A couple fathers had to pull the two men apart. The bartender handed Harris a towel who wiped the blood from his nose and screamed he was going to call the cops. A few people had their cell phones out videotaping everything; three children cried when they saw the bloodied Santa.
Mike was forcibly escorted to the lobby where his shocked wife and son waited for him. When he saw the shock and horror on his son’s tear-streaked face, he didn’t know what was going to be worse when he sobered up—telling his wife he lost his job or trying to explain to his son why he broke Santa’s nose.