The Year Without a Christmas

By Christian Martin

Copyright © 2008

December 1st, American border with Canada

'Sir, your passport?' asks a grumpy border official.

'A passport, why?' replies the grandpa all dressed in what seems like Santa clothes, including beard and big leather boots.

'Well, Sir, they are required since a few years back, the United States has been asking passports from anyone crossing the border to enter the United States, even from Canadian citizens.'

'But, I am not a Canadian citizen, I'm not a citizen of any country!'

'Ah but then, you are an illegal immigrant!' replies the stuck-up officer of the law. 'I will have to detain you!'

'But! But! Macy's is waiting for me!'

'Macy's? The store?'

'Yes!'

'Well, they are in for a visit from the immigration officials! Employing illegal immigrants is a crime and they will be fined! Come this way, Sir, we will take your deposition in order to start the criminal case against Macy's!'

'I need to call a lawyer before doing anything!'

'Sorry Sir, the protection of American laws applies only to American citizens, and therefore we can detain you without contact for as long as we consider your case; now please stop being difficult, and follow me, or I will have to put handcuffs on you!'

'What's your name son?'

'Alexander Badcook, and I'm not your son!'

'Oh, the kid that kept shovelling his little sister in the wardrobe and locking her in! You were a little jerk then, and you're simply a bigger one today!'

'How the hell do you know that, you old snooze? I kept telling mom she was trying to play hide and seek and always locked herself in the closet!'

'Do you think you can hide anything from me?' replied Santa, looking at the border guard with contempt. 'You were a prick then, you are a bigger prick today, and you will die a rotting prick!'

'So you were spying on me then! How many kids do you perv on?'

'I don't perv on kids, I read reports on their behaviours!' snarled Santa, getting pretty pissed. 'Have you ever wondered why you got coal in your Christmas sock every year since age 8? You were hurting your little sister, three years younger than you, every chance you had!'

'I don't believe in Santa since age 4, ever since when I asked for a teddy bear I got that bitch!' replied loudly the officer of the law. 'Now, move it, you fool, I got more important things to do than to keep company to an old ass like you!'

Santa got put into an observation cell waiting for processing, but naturally, no cell can detain Santa! The moment there was no one looking at him he took off and decided to proceed to New York City to respect his contract with Macy's.

Naturally, that didn't go well with the border patrol, who immediately sent out an alert, and the description of Santa to all officers; this caused pandemonium, because, as you know, there are thousands of Santa in the United States after Thanksgiving, and arresting each and every one of them for identification was a big nightmare. The whole thing became a question of National Security. A few days after Santa's escape, his picture was on every post-office board, every police department, and every store window. Every store that had a Santa had to supply proof that the one they were employing was a real American citizen, for three generations at least! Quite a few ended up behind bars for impersonating a felon, and no amount of pressure made the law officers change their attitude; jails were filled with old belly-heavy men, and every known Santa suit found was impounded; those that made the suits, distributed the suits and rented the suits were charged with helping a felon hide. It was not a witch-hunt; it was a Santa hunt!

December 6th La Guardia airport, NYC

Santa walks in, totally ignoring the stares, and heads to the customs offices.

'What can I do for you?' asks the custom official, while discreetly pressing on the alert button under his desk to get airport security to his offices pronto.

'I am here to collect my reindeers! They should have been flown in on Air Innu from the North Pole.'

'Ah yes, we had this come in this morning, it was an unplanned delivery. Sir, may I see their vaccination certificates for the bird flu, the bovine pox, the bovine tuberculosis, the …'

'Hold it! What vaccinations?'

'Sir, we can not allow in the United States animals that have not been certified healthy by the Food and Drug Administration! And the first line of defence is a vaccination certificate issued by a recognized veterinarian institute; since you do not seem to have that, we will have to put your reindeers in quarantine for six month.'

'Six months? Are you nuts? I need them for December 24, preferably the day before, so they can practice their flight coordination!'

'Sir, I am sorry, but the law is the law! And furthermore, I must warn you that one of your reindeers is puking all the time, and refuses to drink water, we think he may have rabies, we will have to shoot him and do the autopsy.'

'What? That's Rudolf, he's an alcoholic, and when he doesn't drink his gallon of whisky every morning, he pukes! He just can't stand water!' fumes Santa. 'Ever heard of Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer?'

'Yes I did, sir, when I still believed in Santa, but since my big brother explained to me that Rudolf was probably an albinos, and didn't drink alcohol because reindeers can't make alcohol, I started doubting!'

'And now, do you believe in Santa?'

'No, I believe if my kids keep asking me all these toys, I'll end up on the dole!'

'Your big brother never considered that Rudolf had been pilfering the village's alcohol reserve?' replied Santa, acidly.

'No, he did mention something about Santa living in a village, but we looked on the map and never found it, so we figured it didn't exist and was another lie. Anyways, your reindeers will be moved to the pound… I hope they like dogs, because it's the only pound the airport has for animals. You will be able to pick them up in six months, if they haven't been shot by then. By the way, 12 reindeers will cost you something around 1,000 $ a day of impoundment. Good day, Sir, and please accompany the airport security that just walked in.'

This time Santa was stripped, jailed immediately, shackled to the bars, and left alone. No sooner had the last guard left the detention wing that Santa unlocked the shackles, moved to where his clothes were stored, zapped them on, and escaped. He moved back to the customs offices, and, hidden behind the mounds of toys he was to distribute on the 24th, he kept an eye on how his reindeers were handled.

He saw them being moved to the dog pound, and laughed his ass off at Rudolf kicking the disrespectful officer in the butt for being pushy and yelling at him. Poor Rudolf: he was having a terrible headache, no alcohol, and a very long flight in the cargo bay of the airplane, and being presented with disgusting chlorine-laced water.

As soon as the dog pound closed Santa moved in, eliciting a storm of barking from the dogs; he quieted them down, and then opened all the cages, reindeer and dogs alike… he then opened the door to the hallway, and silently brought the whole herd of reindeers, followed by the dog pack, to the offices… It was late, by then, and the offices were empty, so Santa made his way undetected to the airport Hall, and let the dogs loose in nature, telling them to go into hiding in the airport complex. He then moved his reindeers to a parked truck to bring them to the farm he had rented for the duration of the contract with Macy's. No one noticed anything, given how busy the airport was with all the traffic going on, so Santa made good his escape.

December 8th, Washington

By then Santa had made the FBI's Most Wanted list, and his picture, taken at the airport, was distributed with a bounty of 10,000 $ on his head. Some people believe money can buy anything!

A meeting of senior security officials was convened in an effort to arrest a dangerous terrorist. The first thing done was to study Santa's known habits, in order to try and corner him from this pattern. The head of the Homeland Security Agency called in his best advisers, but they didn't have much of an idea; it was his grandkids that inadvertently give him the tip he needed, when his six-year old granddaughter mentioned that she was trying to find a picture of Santa's sled.

'Santa's sled, my dear? Can you describe it to this gentleman?' asked the head of Homeland Security, pointing to a portraitist of the FBI.

'Sure grandpa!' she replied innocently, and out came a fairly good description of Santa's toy sled, which was drawn by the man to the girl's satisfaction. Immediately, thousands, no, millions of illustrations of Santa's Sled were distributed, with an order to impound the said object as soon as it was recognized.

Overzealous officers began impounding each and every sled they could find, however far off the description they were from Santa's sled. Huge shipping of sleds were impounded in ports, airports, border custom points; children were arrested for using an illegal product while sliding downhill, and quite a few mothers were jailed for carrying their kids in a sled on the sidewalk! Sleds, any sled, were to be collected, and anyone found with one was considered an accomplice to a felon!

December 10th, Kennedy Airport, NYC

It didn't work, naturally, because Santa's sled came boxed up and into a kit to assemble. It's a magical assembly kit, for that matter. Nonetheless, when Santa showed up at Kennedy airport, having decided to divert his deliveries there after his bad experience at La Guardia, he was again in trouble.

'I'm here to collect my toy sled!' asked Santa, unaware that the word 'Sled' would start a furor.

'A toy sled? Do you have a delivery slip number sir?' asked the immediately nervous official; he was sure he was facing the most dangerous criminal of all time. The problem is, the alarm button was at the other end of the long desk, and he couldn't possibly run there to press it without raising suspicions, could he?

'Well, yes, it's SC2008-0001-0901.' Santa replied, looking, amused, at the antics of the man in front of him. 'It came as special delivery with Air Innu, yesterday late, I think!'

'Oh that's what the 0901 stands for, I had never seen it before. Air Innu, you say? That's a new airline?'

'Oh no, it is mine. I have been operating it for thousands of years!'

'Thou…thousands of years? But it's impossible the Wright brothers only took their first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1908! You must be joking!' By now, the man was sure he was dealing with a cracked pot, and wanted to be out of reach as fast as he could.

'Have you ever heard of Santa Claus, sir?' asked Santa, beginning to wonder if he shouldn't simply have taken the sled incognito rather than bother with all the paperwork.

'Yes, but Santa doesn't exist! It's a fable to make adults spend money on toys and boost sales at the worst time of the year weather-wise!'

'Are you sure?' replied Santa. 'By the way, what's your name?'

'I'm Billy Greyhound Jr., sir.'

'Ah, Billy! Remember that letter you wrote to me asking about your daddy getting better and a job for Christmas, when you were five?'

Billy turned white on the spot, and fainted. He sure remembered that letter, it was the most important letter he had ever written in his life, and he had forgotten about it; his mom had convinced him it wasn't Santa that had saved his dad from that cancer, and that it was her uncle that had given his dad a job when he had been cured by the chemotherapy.

'Oh well! Better get the sled while he's out!' thought Santa, and he jumped over the desk, walked to the rack that contained the boxed up sled, and, putting it on his shoulder, walked off, not forgetting to sign the reception slip as he passed the still out officer.

December 12th, Washington

The director of Homeland Security was pacing in his office, pretty enraged at the incompetence of the staff at Kennedy Airport. He looked around and bellowed:

'WHAT NOW? The terrorist has his sled, and his reindeers, one of which is always drunk, I've been told! How are we to find him in this country? We have arrested all the Santa Claus impersonators, impounded every sled, seized all Santa suits… WHAT NOW, I ASK YOU? I want that person dead or alive!'

'We could raise the security alert level to Orange, Sir, and warn the public about a dangerous terrorist disguising himself as Santa Claus. Some people are bound to see him, and shoot first before asking questions! It's what we want!' the FBI head suggested.

'We need to prompt the judiciary into action' added the Attorney General. 'Let's get a list of crimes we could charge Santa with and get all the police and law enforcement agencies involved. Right now, we have very little to go on. What does Santa do, usually?'

'I can get the Air Force and Marines to patrol the skies and shoot down any UFO, if not we can do what we did on September 11th 2001, close down the airspace on December 24th!' added the Chief of Staff, looking at the Secretary of Defence for approval.

'That's 12 days away, is there anything else we could do before that to corner the bastard?' asked the director of Homeland Security.

'We could booby-trap toys, and let the old geezer collect them… Given we can put in inertial detection in some of the biggest, and load them with explosives, the moment the sled accelerated beyond a certain threshold the 'toys' would blow up, and bye-bye terrorist!' suggested the head of the CIA.

'OK. Let's start with the charges we will put on TV, publish in the newspaper, and on radio. I want him to look like a combination of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, and Osama Ben Laden!' hollered the director.

First, he isn't American, according to the border guy, what's his name? Badcock? Ya, Alexander Badcock! So he is working illegally in the U.S. without a green card; furthermore he entered the U.S. without a passport. And the Canadians can't claim him so they won't have a say on what happens to him, since he himself said he wasn't a Canadian! So that's two charges: Illegal entry; working without a permit!'

'You are forgetting no proper id, passport, or health insurance!'

'OK, that makes three. Next?'

'I'll add illegal importation of animals, namely reindeers, violation of quarantine laws, obstruction of justice, escaping detention (at least twice!), putting the health of the public at risk by freeing all these rabid dogs…'

'We have no proof the dogs were rabid…' objected the Attorney General.

'Who do you work for, our team or his?' blasted the Director of Homeland Security. 'So that makes five more counts, for a total up to now of eight. What else?'

'He took his sled without authorisation... and assaulted an officer,' added the FBI representative.

'Assaulted an officer? I don't get it?' asked a sceptic Attorney General.

'The colleague that found the guy at Kennedy airport said he found the man manning the offices unconscious on the floor, and totally delirious, claiming he had met Santa Claus! Can you find me any OTHER explanation than a hit on the head for that?'

'OK… So we are at ten charges, including assault with an unspecified weapon on an officer on duty…'

'I've talked to my little girl, and she says Santa flies around the world, distributing toys freely…. What does that give us as leverage?'

'Hum, let's see… Has the FAA certified Santa's Sled for flying? I doubt it! And Santa probably doesn't even have a pilot's licence, much less a jet pilot's licence.'

'But we aren't even sure that it's jet propelled!' whined the Attorney General.

'Who cares? Do you really think that it's pulled around by reindeers???'

'And I'm sure the FAA would have suspended his licence for low flying in populated areas and landing on unauthorized runways!' added the Secretary of Defence.

'Unauthorized runways, what do you mean?' asked the Director of Homeland Security.

'I've never heard that roofs were authorized for jet aircrafts, sir!'

'So yes, that makes sense. What's the count?'

'Let's see we were at ten; we have now: uncertified aircraft, unlicensed aircraft, aircraft not meeting basic security features such as radio, GPS, security lights; unlicensed piloting, use of drunken crewmembers, low flying over populated areas…'

'Add flying in restricted areas, such as military bases, nuclear facilities, air fields, the White House…. At one count by area, we will have enough stuff to weight him down for the count… There are over 6 thousand restricted flying zones in the US mainland alone,'

'What's that about 'drunken staff'?'

'He said to the man manning the station at La Guardia that his reindeer, Rudolf, was a drunkard…. So since he insists that the reindeers are his crew, he is using drunks while flying!'

'Oh OK, that puts us at what? Excluding the no-fly zone violations which we have only an approximate number?'

'Fifteen, and we're not counting repeated offences… that guy is going to spend an eternity in jail! Do you know we could charge him for each landing he makes on a roof?'

'Nice! Nice! But is there more?'

'Well, I talked to my son yesterday, and he said he sat on Santa last year, and wanted me to bring him to Santa this year…'

'Hold it, we'll get there… for now let's deal with the impact of distributing free toys… Isn't that dumping? Especially since, according to the story, he dumps them through the chimney?'

'So, if I get you, we have to add, illegal import of toys, dumping on the US market in an effort to corner the toy industry, attempt at monopoly? Gooooooood! That brings us to 18 major offences!' said, smiling, the Director of Homeland Security.

'That doesn't make sense! I have to pay for the toys my kids get!' replied the Attorney General.

'You shut up right now! I don't want to hear anything that would let that terrorist escape the electric chair! This Christmas, it's Santa that's going to roast, not the turkey! Now, back to what your son was saying, Mr. Secretary of Defence?'

'He mentioned that he had sat on Santa's lap asking for his toys, and that he had gotten only one he had asked.'

'And what do you make of this?'

'Well, I'd say that Santa is a child molester that enjoys little kids; that he promises them toys he never intends delivering so he can have access to them; you know, the typical child abuser pattern: promise, attract, molest and dump cycle.'

'So we can add child abuse, endangerment, abuse of figure of authority… We have a very nice picture of the old Pervy Pappy, here, don't you think? Total 21 counts of repeated felonies! If he escapes the chair, I'll be hanged!' exclaimed the Director of Homeland Security, beaming!

'And where does he get his toys?' asks a nervous Secretary of Trade.

'Good question… I hear he uses 'elves' and other small people to make them…'

'Ah! Child labour? Slave camps? He abuses the deformed and defenceless? That adds up to what, Three more major offences, add probably, using millions of kids we never hear of that get kidnapped each year?' We have twenty-five MAJOR counts so far, and we could probably multiply by the number of offences! We're in business! Let's get the bastard!'

December 13th, Washington

The United States woke up to a newscast that sent shivers in the minds of right wing fanatics and brought tears to millions of kids around the country:

'Santa Claus Most Wanted Man on FBI List

As of early this morning, the Director of Homeland Security, accompanied, to the left (see picture) by the Director of the FBI and on the right by the CIA director, has issued a warning that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is wanted for serious offences, the number of counts raising in the millions. According to the Director of Homeland Security, this individual is more dangerous than Hitler, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, and Osama Ben Laden combined. All law enforcement agencies in the U.S. are currently trying to locate that individual, who is wanted dead or alive. This illegal immigrant worker entered the U.S, at the Canadian border, thus reinforcing our security concerns about Canadians' lack of discernment and lax security. He then collected reindeers at New York's La Guardia airport, violating all laws concerning quarantine; we assume that the reindeers are rabid given that one has refused to drink water while in custody of the Health Agency; furthermore, all the dogs that escaped with the reindeers are also suspect and to be shot on sight. Furthermore a sled, belonging to aforementioned Santa Claus went missing at Kennedy Airport, and must be considered armed and dangerous. Santa Claus's picture, taken from the custodial picture at La Guardia, shows an old, pot-bellied and bearded man, who seems to be able to escape from any prison, beating even Houdini at that game! Any person who sees this individual (see picture on the left) is to call the nearest law enforcement agency. We recommend that people stay away from the individual since he is considered a terrorist and must be handled with utmost care by trained officers. For a list of offences, see the Internet site of the FBI, or the addendum found in this newspaper. We have kept the number to the major offences, numbered at 25 counts, the Director of Homeland Security assures us that the exact number is still being tabulated and already is in the high millions.

National Security: All law officers and military officers are to report immediately to their duty officers for assignment. We advise all persons planning to fly on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th, that all flights have been cancelled. No civilian or unauthorized flight shall be tolerated in the U.S. airspace, by any civilian aircraft whatsoever. Any plane or UFO found in the air during these three days will be downed without further notice! All military aircrafts capable of flight must be ready to take off or be in flight at 00:00 hour on the 23rd. We are also moving in all aircraft carriers within intercept distance of our territories. As of midnight last night, the security level has been raised to Red. Please stay tuned on the First alert frequency of your radio, or TV station for any further instructions.

In other news, the marketing director of Macy's has been arrested and indicted for hiring a known terrorist. He is being detained in an undisclosed location for interrogation. The board of directors of Macy's claim they had no idea that the man they hired for their annual Santa Parade was a known terrorist. It seems that Macy's is being charged with hiring an illegal immigrant without green card and faces millions of dollars in fines. Macy's claims it will go bankrupt but the Attorney General is adamant that the case will be pursued.'

December 14th, Santa's farm

Santa is listening to the news, wondering where the world is going. He just can't believe what is going on and wonders how he will be able to do his job this year. Most Christmas parties had already been cancelled, and people were acting paranoid. Any pot-bellied man was suspect, and the toy industry was in shambles… the spirit wasn't there anymore. Even red cars were searched for suspicious contraband. The airline industry was threatening to ask for billions of dollars of compensation for lost trade during the three day 'sky closed' that happened to be one of their most busy periods of the year.

Even kids were involved in the protest. Three-year olds were seen doing sit-ins at Santa shows asking to see Santa; parents were going nuts about their kids asking for Santa to be freed, even if nothing showed the all-out house-by-house security search, done in direct violation of the Constitution, was giving any results. Marches on the NSA headquarters were organized by the toy industry, with parents bringing their kids with them to protest the unacceptable situation. But counter-manifestations occurred, some swallowing hook, line and sinker the 'terrorist' line of the government. Calls of anti-Americanism, of pedophiles, and of terrorists were exchanged, before the riot police managed to separate the two groups.

The shipping industry was at a standstill, its warehouses full of toys not going anywhere. About the only people rejoicing where the Churches who saw in this a good occasion to demonstrate that the over-commercialization of Christmas had gone too far.

Santa, being diabetic, needed insulin (hey, a chocolate cookies and milk diet does that, you know!) and he went out to the village. Unfortunately, the bigmouth nosey neighbour that lived across the street from the drugstore watched him go in and immediately called on the FBI office in the nearest town. She was told to keep an eye on the old man until a platoon of officers could come to the village. She waited at her window, watching the exit from the drugstore, and when Santa walked away going back to his farm, she followed him from a distance. Santa's rented farm was a mere 20 minutes walk from the village, and he never suspected he was being followed. He went to his barn to take care of his reindeers. The lady not only had a habit of mixing in others' businesses, but she also had good, pretty good eyesight, and she immediately recognized that these weren't cows. She returned home, taking note of the emplacement of the farm so she could guide the officers there.

Later that evening, the FBI, the army, the border patrol, and the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm) converged in force towards the village that had signalled a strange old man wearing red. The whole operation was done in total radio silence, and no news agency was invited to view the assault or other actions to be taken. The 101th airborne was mobilized to parachute over the farm while tanks, and infantry circled the farm in the woods. Nothing was left to chance. Even the phone lines in the area had been cut off so that no one from outside could warn the terrorist, and no one from inside could tell the world what was happening during the assault.

December 15th, Santa's Farm

Around midnight, Santa woke up, uneasy, and decided to go check his barn, and finish assembling his Toy sled, which was almost done. An hour later, having finished the work in the barn, he was getting ready to open the barn door when he spotted some strange activity at the edge of the field, near the forest. He decided to wait before moving back to the farm for a quick lunch of cookies and milk.

A few minutes later he saw a group of men slowly crawl along the snow-covered ditch, heading for his farm and barn. He locked the barn from the inside and closed the last light that was on.

Carefully he listened, trying to understand what was being said between the men outside the barn, without making any noises. Long years having had to listen for kids to head to bed before dropping in to give them their toys had made Santa able to hear things even bats couldn't, so he had no trouble figuring out who these men were. It became very clear to him that he was being encircled by people whose objective was capture or kill, so he decided to ready his reindeers for an emergency exit at full speed, with his Sled flying dark, no bells, no lights. It took him about thirty minutes to ready his team, trying to keep the nervous reindeers calm and silent.

At exactly three A.M., the parachutists landed, and gave assault to the farmhouse, blasting every window and door open. The noise covered Santa's own as he smashed through the barn door and took off to the sky. No one noticed the barn door smashed out rather than inside for a few minutes, by then Santa was out of the county and out of reach. NORAD naturally noticed the high-speed UFO but by the time the jets were on site Santa was long gone, having dropped below radar, and flying silently at a leisurely 100 knots, totally off the expected trajectory of his last radar signal.

By dawn, it became apparent that Santa had escaped, again. The director of Homeland Security was fuming; calling everyone with bird names and threatening to shoot the incompetent spoof that had organized the raid, until the general Chief of Staff reminded him rather loudly that if it was his wish, he could use his Smith and Wesson to shoot the Director of Homeland Security, since it had been him that had been directing the raid in the first place.

A few hours later, the news hit that the felon Santa had escaped the deadly trap and was on the loose again. It was further publicized that the Homeland Security Director had asked to meet with the President to see what could be done to stop this dangerous individual.

'Why do you so want that man, he never hurt anyone, as far as I know!' asked the President.

'Are you religious, sir?'

'Well, yes, I go to Church every Sunday, as expected! Why?'

'Have you ever noticed that Santa is an anagram?'

'An anagram, of what for God's sake?'

'S A N T A = S A T A N, We have been giving our kids to the devil!' shouted the fanaticized man, oblivious to the stupidity of his reasoning.

'So, it's only a play on letters! At that rate, I might as well pray my dog, err, God!'

'So is Lord Voldemort!'

'Don't you think you are going a bit far here? That's a character in a fiction story!'

'So? I have proof Satan, alias Santa, exists! Why not him?'

'And what do you want me to do, then?'

'I want carte blanche, Mr. President, a blanc-sign that will give me the capacity to call in every and all forces we can muster to arrest and kill the devil! We MUST, it's a question of survival…'

'I'll have to think about it, come back tomorrow…'

The Director of Homeland Security was not going to be put off so easily. He had some stuff on the President and now was the time to pull the carpet under the feet of the guy. So out came some compromising pictures, even more compromising recordings, and finally, the threat of bringing the information to the public's attention with doctored pictures, who would go well with the real things. The President balked, not knowing how far that crazy man would go.

Meanwhile, Santa had decided that the safest place for him might be in Washington itself, right under the nose of the authorities. So he moved his reindeers and sled to a friendly landowner place. That man had never forgotten Santa and prayed for his return. That individual had a huge estate, enclosed in big high walls, with horses and barns. It was easy to hide the reindeers and the sled. While Santa thought things out, the reindeers could be fed and cared for as if they were horses. Santa took a day off, resting, before trying to deal with the imbroglio that had developed.

December 17th, Washington, bureau of Homeland Security Director

'We haven't found any trace of Santa in the North West, Sir. No sign of landings, nothing. I must say that the snowstorm that befell the region has probably hidden any trace of a sled. We have begun a search pattern with helicopters and thermal detectors. For now, we found a lot of animals, mostly deer, wolves, and elks, but no reindeers. Our troops are doing a search of every farm, but are meeting with increasing resistance. The North West is well known for it's anti-Washington feelings, and it's beginning to show. Luckily it's not yet organized, but the number of serious exchanges of gunfire has been on the rise. Furthermore, some troops have been turning on us, complaining they were not here to do police work, but defend the country and that hunting a single man was not their job.'

'I don't give a damn, General. Tell them it's either they help or they get court-martialled for High Treason, is that clear?'

'Yes, Sir.' Turning to leave, the General didn't see the mad look in the eyes of the Director, but he felt a cold chill down his back. He decided he would stall all efforts by giving misleading directives, contradictory orders, and stonewall the Director. He also decided to pay a discreet visit to the President to figure out why he had given so much power to that madman.

December 17th, Washington, Santa's shelter

'Let's see what we can do to counter the government here, Santa. It's more and more like some madman took over the Oval Office, and it doesn't fit the person I know is sitting there. Something must have gone terribly wrong. I think I need to go see the President personally, and get the truth out behind the whole smudge.'

'You may be right. He may not believe in Santa anymore, but remind him about that Merry-Go-Round he got on Christmas day, when he was five, and how his parents couldn't figure out who had put it under the tree.'

'OK, I will, but I will also make sure we talk without any possibility of being spied on. I suspect he is being bugged, and we need to talk without raising suspicions.'

Later that day, Santa's friend called the President from his offices.

'Good day Mr. President, it's been quite a few years since we left college. Remember me, Martial LaForge? You know, we shared a dorm room?'

'Martial? Martial LaForge? Yes, yes! Yes, it's been what, forty years? I heard that you made big money in investment banking and commodities trading?'

'Oh, big money, it's a way of speaking… I managed to pick my needle out of the haystack…'

'A golden needle with diamond tip, I'm sure! You were the guy that started the race bets on campus and made your first million there!'

'Well, yes, these were the good old days, but you haven't made bad for yourself, landing a position in that prestigious law firm before entering politics. You seem to have been successful, given the seat you are sitting in!'

'Oh, that seat isn't that fun to sit in; it may be plush, but sometimes I feel like I'm sitting on a pin cushion, made out of all the needles people can't find!'

'Probably all these needles I've left behind?'

'Or for my behind, you mean!'

'Mr President…' began Martial, to be interrupted immediately.

'Martial, call me Bill, we had too much fun together in college to play titles here…'

'OK, Bill. I called because I wish to have a meeting with you today or tomorrow, at your earliest convenience.'

'Oh, let me check the damn agenda. I can't go pee without checking the agenda, these days! And how long would that meeting last, and for what purpose?'

'Well, the meeting may last about an hour, and it concerns the trade deficit we have with China… I'm having problems with some of my imports and you are planning a trip to China this coming February. I'd like to see you and explain what the consortium I lead needs. This would be our first contact, and I may well decide to go with you to China if you don't mind?'

'OK… We could meet tonight, for supper? My wife's out with the kids to do some PR. We will have the White House to ourselves, well, relatively speaking, given I feel I'm being monitored in my shower some days.'

'That would be fine, when would you want me to bust the gates?'

'Say six-thirty, I'm calling the security to let you in. But don't bust the gates, they might shoot first and ask questions later. Sometimes, I think 'I' am the terrorist, and I am scared of my own shadow.'

'OK, I'll be at the gate at six-thirty sharp, at the West wing of the White House. I will be there. Thanks for taking the call, Bill.'

'Oh don't worry I figured it was someone I knew given this is a secure private line… By the way, how in hell did you find that number? It's supposed to be NSA!'

'Money has it's privileges… Ever wondered who installed the new telephone system in the White House?'

'Err, I heard it was a high-tech security company….'

'It was my company. See you tonight, Bill.'

December 17th, White House, private presidential suite

'Hey, Martial! Welcome to my modest abode (at least until the next election).'

'Hi Bill, How are you doing? You took a turn for the old age, with all that white hair, and you look very tired.'

'Don't tell me, with that Santa guy I've not slept in days! He seems to be more evasive than a Stealth Bomber, and as dangerous! He probably is responsible for the rest of my hairs turning deep white. At least they were grey, or so I think, before!'

'White looks good on you, but you should try hair coloring.' Martial replied, walking slowly around the periphery of the entry hall. Finally stopping in front of the President, he shook hands, slipping a piece of paper in his hand as he did so. The president took a quick look as he was close to his friend and saw the word 'MICROPHONES!' on the paper slip. He understood why his friend Martial had walked around the room seemingly more interested in portraits than shaking hands.

Keeping the banter, Martial asked how the President's kids were doing, and his grandchildren. Keeping an eye for unexpected bright spots, Martial did another turn of the room and found no cameras in the hall.

'So how about we head to the dining room, Bill? I am getting hungry and we will be able to talk about business while eating.'

'Oh, OK, good idea, I'm not really hungry lately with all the crap going on, but I can understand you aren't in these shoes!'

'I pray never to be either!'

As he walked down the hallway to the private dining room, Martial kept the chitchat, while counting the microphones and cameras he passed. When they reached the dining room he asked to be able to go wash his hands, inviting with a finger the President to follow him. Both men were standing in the lavatory, the water running at full blast, and Martial started, making sure he was close enough and looking at the President's ear, while talking.

'Five microphones are in the entry hall, 8 in the hallway, and at least six in the dining room. 3 cameras I can see in the dining room and 2 in the hallway. We will have to play tight. Your White House is more a spy house than anything else. I will write down on a special paper that will dissolve in an hour all the questions and you will write the answers. You are being so spied on it's become a National Security Issue. I will maintain the banter about the China trade, and it will make sense, because I do really have a consortium I'm part of, and we do have problems with China. The numbers and solutions proposed will be either acceptable or not, I'll write down what to answer for our microphone friends.'

The two men returned to the dining room, and sat side by side, with Martial hanging his coat nonchalantly over a mirror he figured was hiding a camera, and offering the same to the president for another mirror located on the opposite wall. This created a blind spot on the table, but didn't stop the microphones from working.

The lunch started and the two men exchanged notes:

'What is the problem?'

'Blackmail'

'Who'

'DHS'

'Why'

'Power grab'

'How far'

'Nuke'

'Method'

'Pictures'

'Only?'

'No'

'?'

'Recording'

'All?'

'Doctored pictures'

'Seen? Heard?'

'Seen, not heard. Figured listening devices'

'OK How deep infiltration?'

'WH Staff, defence, military, police, justice'

'Wow anything else?'

'Coup.'

'Coup?'

'Nuke to simulate terror attack, take over due to incompetence'

'When?'

'Given directives, December 25'

'Short!'

'I know!'

'Well, Martial, I think your suggestions are interesting, but how do we implement them? I do need to talk to the trade delegation I'm collecting for the mission.'

'We should meet regularly, Bill. At least once a day until the mission is back, and we will be able to keep up with each other's progress and see any problem before it hits us in the face. After all a 500 billion dollar trade agreement is worth some work!'

'Yes, these numbers are impressive. Can I have a copy of the proposition as we worked it out so far?'

'Sure, I'll fax it to you from my offices as soon as it's been fixed and the ideas incorporated into a coherent text. I have a meeting later tonight with some of the other members and I will forward you and further comments I get with the fax.'

'Good! Let's eat the dessert, a crème brulée à l'érable, a specialty I discovered while visiting Quebec.'

'Hey, high treason! You should be eating American dishes!'

'Oh come on, don't be more nationalist than some assholes I've been working with. Some consider the only worthwhile import from Canada is the cold air to refresh their overheated body in the summer!'

'Hahaha! Well back to the car, I'll be going to the offices to get these propositions fixed, and then home… a nice bed, a hot bath, and some hot cider!'

'You are a lucky man. Let me accompany you to the car.'

Shortly after that Martial went to his office, changed cars because he had detected a bug put under the rear of his car bumper the moment he had started the detector, and sent the one he had used to the car wash… ostensibly because it was dirty, but more to have the bug removed.

Walking in his home he found Santa near the fireplace having a drink of eggnog.

'Drinking eggnog, Santa? I thought you ran on cookies and milk?'

'Hey, I'm getting old, and so is that diet!' Taking a swing of the eggnog, Santa continued: 'So what did you discover?'

'Oh a lot of dirty laundry… The President is under blackmail, and furthermore he can't take a crap without the people who have him under control smelling it.'

'That might be useful!'

'What, the blackmail?'

'No, the smelly crap!' replied Santa with a big belly laugh.

'Maybe, but meanwhile I found out who is doing it. The Director of Homeland Security.'

'Hum, what's his name? And did you talk about his gift to the president?'

'Fredrick Stetson, and no I didn't there were so many microphones they could hear us blink! We had to exchange sensitive information in writing.'

'Oh, I see. What now? By the way, that name rings a bell; I seem to remember a very nasty kid by that name… Give me time and it will come back… but he wasn't from the U.S. German, or Austrian, I can't remember.'

'Let's get to bed, we got a long day tomorrow, and I have a few calls to make to a friend of mine that can help us on the legal front before it gets too late.'

December 18th, secure room at Martial LaForge's offices

'So, from what you tell me, Sir, the President is being blackmailed by the Director of Homeland Security. Funny, usually it's the FBI that does it! Where do we stand, and what is there to gain?'

'The stand is clear: I stand with the President, and the gain is stability and the prevention on a coup d'État by the DHS.'

'Stability? Usually we make money out of its opposite!'

'It's not the case this time. A nuclear bomb to wipe out Washington, blamed, on all things, on Santa, would make us the laughing stock of the world. Who believes in Santa anyways in the high order of any government? They believe they are the gods, and only go through the motions to appease the ignorant mass.'

'You sure have a sad view of the public…'

'I don't think I'm too far off, when 60 % of the world's population is illiterate, and only 'know' what some supposedly inspired preacher tells them to believe. Did you know that in the U.S., some people still believe the world is flat, that this piece of wet dirt got created out of thin air in 4004 BC? And we are supposed to be advanced!'

'Let's forget theology for a bit, I am more in the concrete side of things…'

'The lead and plumbing side of things, you mean; the skunk works! What I want is all the dirties you can muster in 2 days against the DHS and his cronies. I know it's the weekend coming up, but I think it's one of the best times to infiltrate and bug his office. If he farts, I want a sample! Is that clear?'

'Yes sir, what else?'

'Locate all the blackmail material, but leave it in place until I give the go to pick it up and destroy it, that means any dubbings of the voice recordings, any copies of photographs, movies, and negatives, any electronic copy made, be they doctored or not. Ready every computer you find for remote triggered viral destruction. Use virus sequence Alpha-Red-Bravo, the one we prepared for assault on hostiles.'

'I could probably put one of these thin thermal sheets within the DHS' safes; when they burn, they literally melt steel. By the way, do you have their lock combinations?'

'It's a very good idea. I don't care if the building goes up in smoke by the same token. As for the lock combinations, I'm sure they have changed it, but there is an advantage to electronics, it's called a back door. And that lock, they can't touch; I'll give it to you. The government shouldn't have given us all the contracts for security…'

'Maybe not, but that helps us a lot today. As for bank safety deposits?'

'Do what's needed. Use any trick of the trade to put the boxes out of commission.'

'One more thing, sir…'

'Yes?'

'What's this reference about Santa?'

'Oh that! Where have you been lately? Skinny-diving at the bottom of the Marianna Trench? The DHS has declared Santa Claus a dangerous terrorist, and has managed, by blackmail, to extract carte blanche from the President, including the keys to the nukes. The coup will occur on the 25th, so we have very little time left to counter the asshole!'

'OK… I get it. I'll have my best on it right away.'

December 18th, Washington, DHS' offices

'What do you mean you couldn't see what they were writing? I have had cameras hidden even in the President's pisser, for God's sake! At least tell me the recordings worked!'

'Yes, but they didn't leave any paper behind. There was a fax with all sorts of numbers, that came in for the President from Mr. LaForge's offices this morning, we are verifying the contents to check for any inconsistency between what we hear on the tapes and what the papers contain. From what we have figured, they have covered only about 5% of the proposal yesterday, and there is no major discrepancy. We'll have to wait for a complete check-up by our accountants, but so far, all checks!'

'And what do we have on that LaForge?'

'Apart from having a top security clearance you mean? His business installed the new secure phone system for National Defence, including the direct link with the White House; another branch has replaced all safes with special ones, that are supposed to be nuclear-resistant… and they have been involved in other high-security buildings as well, including your own safe, sir.'

'Do we have anything to manhandle the guy?'

'No sir, he is cleaner than source water; if he had wings, he would be called an angel. He gives support to all sorts of worthy causes, but never puts himself forward, everything is done from a distance, via registered and totally legal charities: homeless, orphanages, abandoned kids, drug therapy centers, medical research in competitors' firms at that! We haven't found anything to tag on him, he's slicker than oil on wet pavement!'

'Have we bugged his place?'

'No success, sir; every time we tried, the bugs were destroyed within a few seconds of their being activated by our operatives. The last time, he must have been pissed, because the listening truck blew up with everyone inside. We never were able to pin it on him, because the truck was 2 miles off, and it was also an illegal implementation attempt, so it stopped us cold from lodging a formal complaint.'

'What about satellite surveillance?'

'We have the latest, dated the 16th in the early morning. Yesterday's are being sorted and processed.'

'Delays, always delays! I want INSTANT spying! Not data that's cold as cod!'

December 18th, Judge Luke Larson's offices, Federal courthouse, Washington DC

'Good afternoon, Johnson, what brings you to my offices? Usually, when I hear of you, there has been enough noises preceding your client that it deafens Amtrack's Washingon Baltimore Express whistle!'

'I have been asked by a customer who would prefer to stay anonymous to represent Santa Claus in the legal battle he is planning to undertake against the Federal Government, Your Honour. Santa Claus claims he is being maligned by the entire propaganda campaign that's portraying him as a terrorist, and that the entire charge list is a tissue of lies.'

'Are you joking, Johnson? Santa Claus? Are you nuts?'

'Well, if the fifteen million retainer I received from my client, cash I must add so he can not be traced, is any indication, it pays for a lot of nuts! And I have done business with the same individual, always on similar terms. I NEVER met him, or her, for that matter, but the conditions of payment were always the same. Cash, do what you are asked, no questions. I must admit that defending Santa Claus is a first in my career, but there is a beginning to everything.'

'It's also a first in mine, you better believe me! So, what do you have in hand?'

'First, Your Honour, let's review the charges as published by the DA, under the directives of the Attorney General's offices….'

Some six hours later, the meeting comes to a close.

'I must admit this is a pile of dirt, Johnson, but what makes you think they will a- find Santa; b- be able to arrest him; c- will bother presenting charges?'

'My client says he believes Santa himself will come to the testimonial stand to defend his integrity and lay to rest these charges.'

'Come to the stand? Wow, that I got to see! But how will he prove he is Santa? Because, to be honest, that is the first big hurdle… And who tells us they will let him reach my courtroom alive? From what you told me, the DHS is way too deep in shit to be bothered with blowing up Santa the moment he sets his hands on him, if he exists, that is.'

'Your Honour, I have no idea how they will proceed, but my client assures me that Santa will be there, in person, and prove beyond doubt that he is who he claims to be. Given who is talking…'

'I know, I know! I've been a lawyer before ending on the bench to burn my pants! When money talks, everyone listens in our profession! As one of my teachers at law school once said, the most onerous prostitutes are generally sitting in court, not in bed!'

'So, Your Honour, do we have an agreement?'

'Yes, I'll accept your request for a formal hearing tomorrow at 9 A.M. in the public audience room, and give the Government until Monday to substantiate their case. That will leave them little time, but given what you have told me, we need to move really quickly if we don't want to end up in a cloud of radioactive debris. That will put us on the, if my memory is correct, 21st, so less than 2 days before the coup begins in earnest.'

'Another thing, Your Honour, my client has offered to put you under protection; his firm is able to pick you up from the roof of the courthouse by helicopter, deliver you to a private airport they own, and fly you to nowhere. Given you have family, including children and grandchildren, the offer covers them as well; they will be picked up as you leave your home for the Court House tomorrow morning. Just give your children directives to the effect they need to follow the persons who will pick them up, without question, at 6 A.M. tomorrow morning; included in the pickup are pets, by the way. We won't do what happened in New Orleans!'

'Wow, you really take this seriously!'

'Seriously enough that the microphones found in your offices are being fed fake recordings supplied by a contact my client gave me. Just look at that 'mosquito' that's been in your lamp shade for the last three years!'

'Holy shit! It's a violation of the Judiciary!'

'Given what I've told you, are you surprised?'

'No, not really, but sometimes, it takes the nose in the shit to smell the stink, I think… You got my support here, and I'll do as you ask. But won't that reveal who your client is?'

'No sir, the paintings and numbers are of a totally legal police helicopter, but naturally, it's a fake. The moment it drops you, it gets repainted and a new number is put up, and not necessarily a police helicopter at that. Same on the way back to the court house Monday morning, by the way.'

'OK. Your boss seems to have all covered. I'm in. I'll see you tomorrow morning for the shot across the bow of that conspiracy.'

December 19th, 6 A.M., Judge Larson's home

'Martha, the guys from the security firm are here, you better be ready or you will be taken to the airport in underwear!'

'Come on you old fool, they aren't that rushed! Anyways, I'm dressed, I only need to finish putting on some mascara!'

'Body painting you mean! When you're done, you look like you are on the war path!'

'Marcus! I want to look nice!'

The doorbell rang, and the Judge, already dressed and ready to drive to his offices, opened the door to two rather impressive men, dressed in black and carrying what looked to him like hip-held bazookas, but that were in fact 444 magnum auto-pistols.

'Judge Larson? We are here to pick up your wife. We have fifteen minutes to get to the pickup point.'

'Martha, move it! They have fifteen minutes to get you to the pickup point!'

Martha walked in the hall, still brushing her hair, and looked at the two men. She almost fainted at their looks, gulped down the bile that threatened to gush forth, and said:

'I still need to put my lipstick on and finish brushing my hair!'

'Sorry madam, you will have to do that on board the helicopter, Bring your brush and painting kit with you. As for the dog, we have a cage for his safety; the canary is also taken care of, we will put his cover over the cage so it doesn't panic, and it will be placed in a safe place during the transport to the helicopter, in the boot of the car, so it doesn't get cold. The dog will be on the bench beside you, Mrs. Larson. Now, let's get moving. Robert, handle the canary, I'll handle the dog, Mr. Larson, please escort your wife to the limo. We're moving out. The driver is keeping an eye out for anything suspicious as we proceed,'

'What about luggage?' asked Martha.

'No luggage, we are on an extraction here, the less you carry the faster we move; leave everything behind, even medication, we have all you may need either on board the 'copter or the plane.'

'What about the safety of my husband?'

'Don't worry; he is being escorted to the courthouse in unmarked cars. He won't even know which cars are escorting him, because they will be changed every 3 to 5 minutes.'

With that Mrs. Larson was ushered into the limo and taken away. Half an hour later, the judge locked his house up and drove off to his office at his regular hour, following his usual route. By seven, Judge Larson was in the courthouse cafeteria, having his usual lunch, protected by four inconspicuous individuals that had been waiting for him. At eight AM, he received a cell phone call, giving him the count and a report; his children all talked to him one after the other, confirming they were on board an unknown plane traveling to an unspecified destination. All was going according to plan. He let out a breath of relief. His loved ones were at least safe and out of reach of the DHS.

December 19th, 9 A.M., Federal courthouse, Washington DC

'First Federal Court, Judge Luke Marcus Larson presiding! All rise!' bellowed the bailiff.

'All be seated!' bellowed the bailiff as the judge sat down on the bench.

'What do we have this Saturday morning?'

'Court case # 5128 of the District of Columbia, Your Honour… Err… Santa Claus against the United States Government, your Honour.'

The courtroom, filled to the brim by newsmen, exploded in laughter, but the judge banged his gavel against his desk furiously.

'I will not tolerate any disturbance in my court!' stated loudly the Judge. 'Who is representing Santa Claus?'

'I am Your Honour; Albert Johnson, Attorney, duly registered with the Bar of the District of Columbia.'

'And who represents the defendants?'

'I am William Blake, District Attorney of the District of Columbia, your honour!'

'State the case against the United States, Mr. Johnson.'

'My client, Santa Claus, sustains that he is being portrayed unfairly by the United States Government as a terrorist, is being pursued by individuals more inclined to practice vendettas than finding facts and justice, is being maligned in the public eye, and is deprived of his rights.'

'And what will be the position of the United States in this affair?'

'Your Honour, we plan to prove beyond doubt that the person claiming to be Santa Claus is a fake, a dangerous terrorist, masquerading as a jolly old man to mislead the public and cover up for his terrorist acts. We also plan to prove he is an individual that targets our youths and children in his actions, hiding his basal instincts at pedophilia behind a cover of misleading information. We also plan to show that by his actions he uses children as slaves in his manufactures and practise market dumping in violation of our trade laws. Furthermore, we also will show that Santa Claus has been working illegally in the United States, is an illegal alien, and is guilty of tax evasion!'

The list of crimes listed by the District Attorney went on and on, each eliciting surprised cries of outrage from the public. After about an hour of virulent assault on the persona of Santa Claus by the DA, the Attorney sat down, took a sip of water, sure that everything would be fine.

As the Judge was getting ready to suspend the audience, a group of lawyers walked in, and asked to talk to the court as Amicus Curia, Friends of the Court.

The judge was taken by surprise but agreed to hear them out.

'Please indicate who you are, and what interests you represent, and why I should consider your request, briefly, Sirs.'

'I am William Baxter, Attorney. My clients are the Toy Manufacturers of the United States. We will present a petition in favour of Santa Claus. Since this has started, the sales of toys have dropped so much we are faced with a crisis of unimaginable magnitude in the toy industry.'

'OK, you do have a point, there. You are therefore admissible in the case. Next?'

'I am Bernie Ecclesiast, Attorney, Your Honour; I represent Macy's. It is our Santa that has been prevented from doing his job by the United States Government, thus making all sales of toys go flat. Furthermore, our competitors are faced with the same problem and we decided to team our efforts in reinstating the right of Santa Claus to practice his job at our respective stores. All of us have lost considerable amount of money; furthermore, the United States has brought all of us to justice for employing an illegal immigrant. Proving otherwise is vital to our survival.'

'I see; your point is dully noted, and considered. We accept your presence in this courtroom and will listen to your claims. And you, sir?'

'I am Mrs Wilma Granger, Attorney for Amnesty International, an organization that is dedicated to the protection of human rights. We are here to represent the interests of the thousands of Santa Clauses and old men, unjustly arrested by the United States Government, in violation of the most fundamental rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. They have been detained for sometimes a month, incommunicado, and their loved ones have been deprived of the right to know what has happened to them.'

'I understand. I had heard about these blanket arrests, and I think your presence here is vital to the defence of their interest. You will be allowed to present your case within this court.'

'Your Honour! I object!' clamoured the DA. 'We are supposed to deal with a terrorist, and this will turn into a joke! Terrorists have no rights!'

'I concur with you; it will turn to a joke done on your ass, Mr. Blake. It is not the fault of the Court if the United States Government has brought on itself the wrath of powerful industry. As for your assessment that terrorists have no rights, I find it inappropriate, and I therefore overrule that objection. Any more objections?'

'Your honour, it is a terrorist we are talking about! In fact I move to have the court be held in confidentiality due to the sensitive nature of the case and the involvement of National Security matters!'

'It is indeed a National Security matter, Mr. Blake; however, the use of the words national security doesn't excuse everything and every act; furthermore, it is the Government itself that has brought on itself the wrath of the persons concerned and to the public eye its blatant disregard for the Constitution!'

'I object Your Honour! You seem to have decided already that we are guilty!'

'I have not decided on this particular case, but having found microphones in my chambers certainly doesn't help your case! Objection dismissed! And your request for closed hearings in rejected! Justice is best served in the public eye, not behind closed doors or in secret prisons!'

The public became agitated at the statements from the judge, which promptly brought the court to order with a few bangs.

'And you, gentlemen?' asked the judge at a group of lawyers that had yet to express their clients' implication in the affair.

'I am Alexander Abercrombie, Your Honour. I represent the Ecumenical Council of Christian bishops.'

'And what does the Church have to say?'

'Not the Church, Your Honour, the Churches, I represent the plurality of the faiths. We sustain that Santa Claus doesn't exist and that the commercialisation of the Birth of Christ is a disservice to the sacrament of this holiday.'

'Oh, man…'

'No Your Honour, OH God!' exclaimed the lawyer.

'Since you want to play that game, fine by me. I assign Santa Claus to appear before me when this court reconvenes…'

There was a hush in the courtroom, immediately silenced by a loud bang of the judge's gavel.

'… And I also assign God to appear before me for this hearing!'

The room exploded in pandemonium, and the bailiff had to call the sheriffs to get things back in order. The judge finally managed to be heard, after a lot of arm-twisting by the officers of the court. He hollered, at the full capacity of his lungs:

'This court will reconvene Monday morning the 21st, at 10 A.M. You better be ready and keep your arguments short. I will not tolerate any show of toga or name-calling in this court; we have a Christmas to celebrate, and only a few days left before it comes to pass. And God and Santa had better be present! Court dismissed!' With these admonitions, the judge slammed his gavel on the desk, rose, and hurried to his chambers.

The judge quickly changed to a winter coat and went up to the roof where he boarded the waiting helicopter. Meanwhile, the DHS was waiting with his team at the judges' exit in the underground parking lot, intent on intercepting the man who threatened his coup by holding hearings. Little did he know that the police helicopter that had landed on the roof was not one of his! He waited and waited; five P.M. ticked at his watch, and still no sign of that pesky judge. Finally, he decided to go with some of his men up to the judges' halls, only to find them deserted, and Judge Larson's chambers empty of employees. Only one conclusion was possible: he had been had, and Judge Larson had made good his escape! By then it was too late to call the Supreme Justices, and overrule the lower court judge's decision.

Meanwhile the news was out: on TV, radios, and the special editions of the newspapers, all carried titles attesting to their biases in favour of one or the other involved parties: The Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Vatican, titled 'God assigned to appear in Court in the United States!' The Wall Street Journal titled its huge special edition dedicated to the disaster of the current Christmas season 'Will Santa appear in Court and save Christmas?' The New England Journal of Medicine took a tangent, about half of it saying Santa, while a fake, helped the mental health of patients; and the other half calling it a dangerous delusion. Naturally there were huge divisions in the population: was Santa a terrorist or not? There were hundreds of talk shows, some claiming he was a Martian intent on preparing the invasion of Earth, while some claimed it couldn't be, a Martian being green, not red! Some claimed he was the devil: a proof, his suit, his ability to walk into lit fireplaces, and such totally unacceptable behaviours. The telephone lines at radio and TV talk shows almost melted from the number of calls. Naturally the assignation of God to appear in court also occupied a good portion of the debate space. Some claimed no one could assign God to court, because he was above the Law of Men; others defended that it would prove once and for all the atheists' point that God did not exist; and naturally, the other religions were having a field day, claiming that if God did not come to the calling, it's because THEY had the right God and that Christianity should convert to their peculiar sauce. The legal community was as divided as the country: How do you deal with this conundrum? Was Santa protected by the Constitution? What would be the consequences on the laws of the country if God did show up? How do you verify that the entity in front of you is either Santa, God, or, for that matter, a terrorist devil? That Sunday turned out into a huge security nightmare: marches defending one point or another converged towards Washington, and the police was overwhelmed. The National Guards of six neighbouring states had to be mobilized to keep the different opponents well and truly separated.

The only good thing that came out of this is that the Director of Homeland Security was too busy trying to stop the thing from blowing in his face to effectively do much to locate the Judge and his family, or Santa. He didn't bother trying to locate God, more intent in using Him as a propaganda tool than abiding by His rules!

When the President told him he wanted to be out of the Capital for the weekend, he gave his approval, without much thought to the fact that he was loosing an important hostage. Thus the President and his family left in the Presidential helicopter for Camp David. The moment the President and his family dropped off, they took a motorcade to a private helipad, boarded another helicopter, and effectively vanished from his radar. By Sunday morning, the situation in Washington was so bad, that the Director of Homeland Security was unable to deal with the apparent disappearance of the President, his family, and to complete the picture, the Vice-president and his family as well. He dared not make the news public, claiming that the President was having the flu and had retired to Camp David, and that the Vice-president had been sent to Davos at a hastily convened economic summit to help figure out how to handle the crisis.

December 20th, at a private forest reserve in the mountains

The President, Vice-president, the Judge, the Supreme Justices and their respective families had been spirited to an undisclosed location owned by a Holder-in-name corporation in the Bahamas that effectively belonged to Martial LaForge. No one knew who actually owned the property, which was a vast wood lot that was earmarked for forestry exploitation but was in fact a cover for a safe haven. Santa had also been moved there, reindeers and all. The reserve was so big these people actually never met and never knew they were in the area. All had been invited by friends to spend time in the reserve, friends that had been told to do so by Martial in the first place. For most, except the Judge, the President, and Santa, it was a vacation away from the noise of Washington. Since there was neither cell relay nor radios, nobody knew what was happening that Sunday, except Martial.

Martial talked to Santa about the DHS, and Santa finally clicked on whom he was. Given the information, Martial had his team search for documents proving Santa's assertions, and revelations. Knowing where and what to look for proved a very powerful advantage, and by suppertime, Martial had enough to nail the bastard. Meanwhile other teams had been busy removing the claws from the tiger by implementing self-destruct mechanisms to either wipe out paper or electronic documents. Trackers and bots were used to locate and effectively sabotage every accessible copy of the blackmailing infrastructure.

By noon, the DHS had finally flashed that the President had gone missing, but by now, he was in so much trouble he couldn't get his head straight and come up with a plan. He tried to raise the Vice-president, but never managed, and with cause! He tried to get into contact with the Supreme Justice, but again hit a wall. No one was available to overrule that pesky judge! Oh, he had that carte blanche from the President, but there was only so much he could do with it and the military and police forces. The riot police were called in to protect the main government buildings; the numbers of protesters overwhelmed them, and mobilizing the National Guards took time. Things were getting out of control way faster than expected, and the opposing marches collided in Washington. What had been a well-oiled coup was going to be a mess of first magnitude, and the DHS felt he was going to get the blunt of the blame for it. Riots exploded in the poor sections of Washington, and by suppertime, the town looked like World War III was being fought in its streets. Gang wars erupted all over town, the police were holed up in their precincts trying to fight off the assault of gangs; the army was trying to organize itself to take back the control of the town and find ways to get there in the first place, since highways, roads and even railroad tracks were being invaded by protesters driving in from just about every State in the Union except Hawaii and Alaska. The Reagan International Airport had been closed to all traffic, due to the number of planes on the ground bringing in hordes of journalists, religious leaders, toy manufacturers, and protesters. Every hotel, motel, even brothel was full to the hilt. At least one segment of the economy seemed to have been booming from the crisis!

By midnight, all was ready from Martial's point of view; everyone was in place, awaiting the final blow up. The only ones that seemed to sleep in the reserve that night were those that were ignorant of the impending collision.

December 21st, 7 A.M., forest reserve

Martial LaForge's helicopter teams were in place waiting for their incoming passengers. Namely, the Judge, the lawyers of his team, his near-protection teams, and the people who would be brought into court. At the same time, everyone was being fed, and gotten readied; bulletproof vests were distributed, and security basics were discussed. The Judge, the President, the Vice-president, and the Supreme Justices were updated on the situation in Washington.

'How do you plan on getting me there, Martial?' asked the judge.

'My teams on the ground have already surreptitiously replaced the DHS' men; by now, the courtroom's immediate vicinity is closed to all traffic, which, coincidently, fits with the DHS' own directives. I plan to use his own orders against him.'

'Oh, OK! Cute move, but still, getting in Washington won't be a piece of cake!'

'I plan to use the confusion in the air to get you down on the court building. See, there are so many military and police helicopters and other aircrafts in the air already that yours will go unnoticed. And it carries the dressing of a military aircraft, with all the trimmings. Don't worry, by the time you hit the Washington airspace, I'll have made quite sure it's so disorganized a bitch wouldn't find her puppies!'

December 21st, 7:30 A.M. Washington International Airport

A group of well-mannered individuals walked into the control tower and proceeded to take control of the airspace. No one complained, since the man in charge carried a Presidential Order signed of this morning, all very official, and clearly certified by the Presidential Seal. The leaving group of controllers were invited to stay at the airport given the situation in and around Washington. They gladly accepted.

At the same time, a group of what were dedicated military officers made their way to Andrews Air Force Base and, using a copy of the DHS' order, took control of the airfield.

December 21st, 7:50 A.M. Washington International Airport

Another group of individuals walked into the control tower, ready to take their shift in replacement of the ones that had been manning the tower since midnight. They were met by the leader of the previous group and herded to a secure location to join the other team. Some protested, but the Presidential order closed them up pretty fast. The same scenario played itself at Andrews Air Force Base, again without a hitch.

Meanwhile, the Court building was discreetly evacuated of its support staff as each one walked in to work. The evacuation by helicopter of the staff set a pattern that would play in favour of Martial's men when it came time to bring in the proponents.

In other areas of Washington, teams began converging towards the radio, TV, and cable distribution networks in order to handle any attempt at using them to drive the DHS' forces in the city. Information control is vital to the success of a coup, and it is also the case when you want to stifle one!

December 21st. 8:00 A.M. Washington International Airport

A group of well-armed gentlemen walks into the control tower; their passage along the service corridors of the airport had not gone undetected, so they were totally unprepared to be met with well-armed and very well trained men who knew how to handle M-16s. The surprise was great enough that very few causalities; their backups, who had stayed outside were taken totally by surprise, and had no time to respond to their call for help. Try fighting in a narrow hallway, when you are taken in crossfire from both ends. In less than ten minutes, both groups were under arrest and detained in a secure location, deep down, where no radio signal could reach them.

At the same time, the Andrews Air Force base was the scene of a similar bit of action; these were military and it showed; the battle was a bit bloodier, but eventually, the surprise did pay off and they had to hole down. The military base being what it is, the noise of fire exchange did not go unnoticed, but the Presidential Seal did it's usual to change attitudes, after the people started exchanging civilities.

The men that had moved towards the radio, TV, and cable stations were well in place by the time the DHS' men walked in the control periphery of the targets. They intercepted the men of the DHS as they got near the lobby doors. Finding themselves faced with mean-looking individuals that seemed to have every strategic position covered stopped any attempt at resistance, and the arrests went without a hitch. As part of Martial's men took the coup groups under custody, another part moved into the stations, moving in so as not to disturb the current programs. On the air, nothing changed, but in the station, it was another matter. Some of the staff had been planted high off by the DHS, and they didn't take kindly to the coup going astray. Some resisted and were killed, others committed suicide; a few cowed, but their attitude was revealing enough to warrant detention while investigations would be held later. By and large, nothing transpired to tick off the DHS.

December 21st, 8:15 A.M. Forest reserve

The proponents were herded to their respective helicopters and took off. A coded dispatch to Andrews Air Force Base and Reagan International Airport assured the helicopters priority clearance towards their destination. By 8:45, the first helicopter landed on the helipad, and, until 9:00 the waltz of helicopters continued, mixed with the helicopters that were evacuating the support staff except those necessary for the court hearing.

Martial's men maintained a tight ring around the building on the ground, while armed helicopters kept the sky clear of unauthorized flights. By then, the news media had swarmed the grounds and every available flat surface on nearby buildings and were trying to see what was happening on the roof. Newsmen were speculating as to what would happen; all sorts of rumours bloomed and busted. Only a select few newsmen were allowed in the building, mostly TV crews and national news agencies.

The hearing was held in a huge room, but even that room could barely contain the number of people involved. There were church leaders from just about every faith, and even an Atheist representative. The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archimandrite of the Orthodox Church and numerous other Churches were present, with their respective lawyers. The executives of every major Toy manufacturer in the World had come to the hearing, huddling together, worried about their business. The Child Protection Agency had its director present; and naturally, the DHS. The Attorney General had been picked up by the DHS at his home in the suburbs of Washington and brought to the Courthouse by helicopter. Both men were accompanied by armed forces to insure their protection. Neither noticed that it was Martial's men that were handling security. At 9:40, the President landed on the helipad, to be ushered into a side-room leading to the auditorium. At 9:45, the helicopters bringing in the 9 members of the Supreme Court began arriving, at about 1 minute interval. By 10:00 A.M., everyone having a close interest in the affair had arrived, and the ball game started.

December 21st, 10 A.M., Courthouse

'First Federal Court, Judge Luke Marcus Larson presiding! All rise!' bellowed the bailiff.

'All be seated!' bellowed the bailiff as the judge sat down on the bench.

'What do we have this Monday morning?'

'Court case # 5128 of the District of Columbia, Your Honour… Err… Santa Claus against the United States Government, your Honour.'

'Are all involved present?' asked the Judge.

'Your Honour, my client Santa Claus is waiting for the court to ensure his safety from arbitrary arrest before making an appearance!' claimed Albert Johnson, Santa's attorney.

'And what makes you think he needs the protection of the Court?'

'He is being actively pursued by just about every governmental forces, be they military or police. He fears that he will get arrested the moment he shows up and prevented from reaching the audition room.'

'I object, Your Honour, this is only delaying tactics by a man wanting to gain fame!' clamoured Alexander Abercrombie. 'Santa Claus doesn't exist!'

'Ah, Mr. Abercrombie, if I remember correctly? Where is your client, God? If I remember He got assigned to appear in this Court! Will I have to put Him in contempt?'

'But, but!' stammered Abercrombie, taken aback!

'No buts, or it's your butt that will end up in jail! I want your client present!'

The assembled priests and their sycophants received the Judge's sortie with shock. The Pope's personal lawyer asked to be recognized.

'Your Honour, I represent the Pope. I would like to bring to your attention that lowly Earthly courts cannot assign God to appear! You do not even have the authority to assign the Pope to testify.'

'I may be a lowly court, as you say, but in this courtroom, I AM God! Is this clear?' exploded the Judge, getting pretty furious at all the hoopla he was seeing. 'And if the Pope so happens to have walked into this courtroom, he is under MY jurisdiction, and no one else's! Is your client present?' asked the judge, knowing quite well what the answer was.

'Yes, Your Honour,' replied a cowed lawyer.

'Good, he will be called to testify, in due course.'

'What about the others?' enquired the shocked lawyer.

'Well, since there is supposed to be only one God, one will suffice to testify. Tell the others they had better synchronize their views, because I do not plan to spend the next 100 years listening to debates about how many angels can sit on the tip of a pin!'

'What about the safety of my client?' worried Santa's lawyer.

'I will guarantee the sanctity of this courthouse for your client, Mr. Johnson. Any, and I repeat, any attempt against Santa Claus within the confines of these premises and the perpetrators and instigators will be hauled to jail in chains, on their ass!'

'OK. I will signal to Santa Claus that he can come in.'

A side-door opened, and the bailiff was heard calling loudly 'Santa Claus to report to room 101 immediately! Santa Claus to report to room 101 immediately!'

The jolly old man walked in and headed towards the front of the room. He was very recognizable, with his black long boots, red coat, thick belt, big pot belly, long white beard, and glasses that gave him the 'fish out of the water' look so typical of him. His appearance was cause for a lot of whispering that got to the point the Judge had to bang his gavel on his desk to regain a modicum of calm.

The DHS signalled his men to arrest the old man, notwithstanding the Judge's orders. As they charged down the alley separating the benches in an attempt to nail Santa, pulling their guns out in order to keep anyone from intervening in the process, they were intercepted by Martial's men, immobilized and disarmed. The DHS was taken by surprise but tried to get away from the auditorium, only to be stopped at the door by three of what he thought were his men!

The Judge was not amused one bit. He had one of the men brought to the front of the courtroom and began asking questions!

'Who gave the orders here? And do not tell me that 8 men charging towards Santa Claus were not under the order of a leader!'

'The DHS, you old fool!' exclaimed the man. 'I have no fear, the DHS has carte blanche from the President, and you cannot stop the army from entering this building and taking you and these traitors and terrorists into custody for interrogation! I am sure they are going to burst that door any minute now and clean up this nest of varmint!'

'We'll see! Oh, I may wear glasses, but I think I spotted the Director of Homeland Security trying to make his getaway! It seems it hit a snag!' laughed the Judge. 'Sheriffs, I don't trust these men one bit, do a full body search right here, right now! No holes barred! I want to make sure there isn't going to be a flying knife the moment the detainees have an inch of slack. And include the DHS. He is to be charged with contempt of court, for a start, and we'll progress from there! Court recessed for 20 minutes, until we can clear the garbage. By the way, I want the Director of Homeland Security present here at all times. I will not let that rattlesnake out of my sight for a minute. If he needs to pee, get him a pee pot!'

'This is indecent!' exclaimed the Pope, standing.

'Talk about decency! Given how much the Church has abused children over its 2000 years of history, you are in no position to talk about that! Remember the castrati? These thousands of boys your predecessors had castrated so they could keep their angelic voices? Remember the Inquisition? Remember the number of times you minded lowly Earth affairs that were not of your domain? Remember the orphanages where priests enjoyed boys' 'holy ass', while telling them they were evil to be so tempting? Do not use the word 'decency' in front of me ever again!' fumed the Judge. 'And you others, wipe these grins out of your face, I am well aware that the Catholics do not have a monopoly on child abuse! Do I need to remind some of you the genital mutilation boys and girls undergo because of your teachings, or the elevation of beatings to a God-given right in all of your faiths? How many reject the different, the deformed, or the sick? How many claim these are punishments for sins by God? Look at your preaching and see what it gave: war, racism, social exclusion, systemic abuse, child abandonment, and widespread torture in His name! You are failures! By the way, where is He?'

Taking a sip of his water, the Judge resumed. 'Let's deal with this carte blanche thing. I wish the President was there to clarify things.'

At this comment, Martial LaForge stood up and explained that the President was in fact available to explain the carte blanche. A signal from his hand and another side-door opened, letting the President in.

The President walked into the box, and looked up at Martial, Martial gave the President a hand signal telling him that the blackmail stuff was being destroyed at this very moment, and that the offices of the DHS was being taken by his men. The President then looked at the Judge.

'Your Honour, I waive Executive Privilege in this circumstance. Before progressing further, I would like to make a declaration!'

'You may proceed Mr. President. I will not take it under oath, since your status puts you under oath anyways. Please proceed.'

'About a month ago, the current DHS came to my office, claiming he had a major terrorist plot under investigation. According to him the plot was to come to fruition on December 25th, with an international terrorist posing as Santa Claus. He wanted to have a free reign in intercepting every member of the alleged plot, and asked me for extraordinary powers. At first, I balked, considering that he had ample powers already, but he insisted. Let us say that he used extraordinary measures of pressure to get his free reign. I never thought he would go as far as he did that day, but in the end, I had no choice but accept to sign the blanc-sign. The moment he had this presidential order in hand, the blanket arrests started, and I couldn't do anything to stop them. He had me by the balls. And he made it quite clear if I even peeped a word about it, my family would pay. As of now, I know my family is safe and I am therefore free to denounce publicly for all to hear this blanc-sign, and nullify its existence. I hereby revoke any and all orders given under its cover! I will not reveal what means of pressures he used, because they are covered by Executive privilege and affect National Security. However, I have here a letter of dismissal for the DHS, which is effective immediately! I will also ask Congress to disband Homeland Security and de-fund it. It has grown way out of control, and seems infiltrated by shady characters. We have had enough trouble with the CIA, and the FBI already, we do not need another powerhouse that works in sewers! There are enough skunks in Washington to poison the air without giving them another nest! Due to separation of powers in this government, I cannot order his arrest but I hope this will be done under charges of High treason!'

'Thank you, Mr. President. This exposé of the history underpinning the Presidential Order was enlightening. Bailiff! Add High Treason to the list of charges against the DHS!'

'I'll reveal all your seedy characteristics!' exclaimed the DHS. 'You will be destroyed!'

'I doubt it!' replied the President, looking at the ex-DHS with contempt!

'Let's get back to the case in front of me. Do you have anything to add, Mr. President?'

'No, not for now, I wish to stay present to see the proceedings first-hand, if you do not mind? What I have heard so far has been astounding and I wouldn't want to miss it for anything!'

'Certainly, Mr. President. Please take a seat in the front bench, I am sure the newsmen would move their butts a bit further!'

'Now, back to Santa Claus. You claim, sir, that you are Santa Claus? Can you prove it to me? And wearing a red uniform isn't a proof in my eyes; the devil wears priests roman collars a lot!'

'Yes, Your Honour, I can prove I am the one and only Santa Claus.'

'Proceed then! I am impatient to see how you plan to prove this!'

'OK. First, may I ask the President to take the stand?' asked Santa.

'Usually, it's lawyers that do this but given how this case is going, I'll make for some adjustments!' commented the Judge. 'Would the President accept to take the stand?'

A very shocked President stood up and walked to the testimony stand.

'Mr. President, I will ask you a single question. Do you remember the merry-go-round you found under the tree when you were five and that your parents couldn't explain?'

The President's eyes almost popped out of their sockets, and in a shaky voice, answered 'Yes I remember it, in fact it's still on my dresser, and when I'm anxious I listen to its very calming music! No one was ever able to explain where it came from!'

'Thank you Mr. President, for your candid testimony. I would now like to ask Billy Greyhound Jr. to the stand!'

'Hold it, you spoof! I have the right to cross-examine the President since he is on the testimonial stand!' bellowed the District Attorney.

'Better change your tone pronto, Mr., or I'll have you cited for contempt of court! Nonetheless, it is true that he can cross-examine your witness, err…. Santa,' concurred the Judge.

'Fine by me,' replied the President, 'as long as it doesn't threaten National Security,'

'You were blackmailed, Mr. President, is that right?'

'Yes.'

'What were the tools of blackmail?'

'I am sorry, I cannot answer that question. It is protected by National Security.'

'National security has wide shoulders; especially when it comes to protecting corrupt politicians!'

'That is a statement, not a question,' replied the President.

'Still, I can give a list of these tools of blackmail, which can be found in the DHS' office safe. These include…'

'Stop right there, one more word out of you and I will have you hauled to solitary confinement for the rest of your life!' exploded the Judge. 'I will not let you reveal National Security issues on the public stand!'

'Oh he can claim all he wants; I am sure the blackmail was baseless but I couldn't take chances!' added a very snug President.

'But I can! I have the proof in my office safe!' exclaimed the DHS.

'Oh, is that the safe that melted this morning and started the fire in your office?' asked Martial, not caring anymore about being identified publicly. 'A most regrettable accident, but it does happen when electronics overheat! I must say that your computer suffered a similar fate. But not before dumping it's contents into my security company mainframe, where it was brought to light that you planned to nuke Washington and blame it on a terrorist organization headed by Santa Claus!'

That revelation shook the public to stunned silence, and everyone was listening with rapt attention as the depths of the coup was slowly brought to public attention.

'Any more question from you, Mr. District Attorney?'

'Not at the moment, but I reserve the right to call the witness back to the stand later.'

'Fine. Call your next witness, Santa. Mind you, I've stopped hesitating calling you that, I've got the devil sitting in custody right there, so if we can have him, why not Santa?'

'Thank you, Your Honour; as I was stating earlier, I would now like to ask Billy Greyhound Jr. to the stand!'

The bailiff called out outside the courtroom for Billy Greyhound Jr., who walked in, looking scared. He headed to the stand, and sat down, looking everywhere with wide eyes.

'State your name and profession!' requested the bailiff.

'I am William Greyhound Jr., and I am a customs official at Kennedy Airport.'

'Do you swear to say the truth, only the truth, and the whole truth? Say 'I wear!''

'I swear!'

'May I, Your Honour?' asked Santa's lawyer.

'Certainly, proceed!'

'Do you recognize anyone in this room, Mr. Greyhound?'

'Yes. That man in red is Santa Claus!' answered the witness, pointing at Santa.

'Is it his suit and looks that give you his profession?'

'No, sir.'

'So how do you know he is Santa, the real one, not the thousands of copy-cats we see on each street corner?'

'He knows about the letter!'

'The letter, what letter? I must admit I have problems following you there.'

'Well, I wrote to Santa when I was five, asking for his help in saving my dad from a terrible sickness and help him find a job. I even offered to go work in his toy manufacture for free if he saved my dad!'

'And what happened?'

'A doctor offered to do the treatment for free. I learned later that it was a new treatment for a rare cancer my dad was suffering. It worked and Dad found work a few months later.'

'And no one knew about this letter?'

'Well, mom did, because she helped me form the block letters to write to Santa, and she had it posted! I wish mom was still around, but she died a few years ago, exactly a year to the day after dad passed away.'

'I'm sorry for your loss, Mr. Greyhound. No more questions, Your Honour.'

The District Attorney walked towards the witness, looking like a shark ready to eat his next meal.

'Mr. Greyhound, you were at the desk of the customs office when this so-called Santa came to claim an object?'

'Yes, and it's not a so-named! He is Santa!'

'Keep your answers to yes or no, please. Were you alone at the desk?'

'Yes!'

'How come?'

'I can't answer that question, Your Honour!'

'And why not, pray tell?'

'He wants a yes or no answer and that isn't possible here!'

The naivety of the reply made everyone laugh in the courtroom.

'Oh! Well, ignore the shark in dress, and answer the question as you see fit!'

'OK, Your Honour; my colleagues were out for lunch and I had the lunch hour to run, because it was my day to do so.'

'So, you were alone, and no one was there?' resumed the District Attorney.

'I wasn't alone, Santa was there too!' to which echoed another bout of hilarity.

'I mean, did you give that individual what he wanted?'

'No. I woke up on the floor, when my colleagues found me!'

'So Santa Claus hit you?'

'No, I fainted!'

'Nobody faints like that; there had to be a reason!'

'You mean you wouldn't faint if Santa walked on to your desk and claimed his sled? I know I did!'

'Your Honour, I think the witness is deranged. He believes in Santa, and he has definitely been hit on the head!'

'Oh, I have been hit on the head for sure! But not by Santa!' yelled a frustrated Billy.

'See, Your Honour, he is unstable!'

'Mr. Blake, I would recommend you respect the witness. His testimony is credible!'

'But, Your Honour, he believes in Santa! It's a delusion!'

'Mr. Blake, do you believe in God?'

'Yes, I was raised a faithful Christian, Your Honour…'

'But I have yet to see God in the courtroom, but I do see someone that is well on his way to proving he is who he claims to be. Belief in God is a question of faith, and so is belief in Santa Claus! If he is a mental case because you think his beliefs are unsubstantiated, so must I rule that everyone that believes in God suffers from delusions? Take care, Mr. Blake, not to paint your case in a corner!'

'But he has bumps on his head, he even has a bandage!'

'So? Before jumping to conclusions, let's ask the witness to explain the bandages! Would you mind, Mr. Greyhound, explaining your current condition, since you state it wasn't Santa that cause this?'

'Oh yes. Let me see. When I woke up upon the return of my colleagues, the release slip for Santa's Sled had been signed and the box which, I assume, contained the sled, was gone.'

'How do you know it was a sled?' asked the DA, pretty sweaty by then.

'I had inspected the arrivals the night before, and it had fallen on me to handle that box to verify for contraband. May I resume my story, Your Honour?'

'By all means, Mr. Greyhound, by all means.'

'So when my colleagues found me on the floor, they woke me up by splashing water in my face, and asked me what happened. I told them I had met Santa Claus in person, and that he had come to collect his sled.'

'How did your colleagues react?'

'They reacted with a lot of ribbing, laughter, and good-natured jokes about Santa and his sled. I was the butt of Santa Claus jokes for the day. The more I defended my views, the more intense the ribbing became.'

'See, Your Honour? Even his colleagues do not believe his story!' exclaimed the exalted DA.

'Whether they believed his story or not is irrelevant to the issue at hand, Mr. Blake, is that clear? Resume your story for our edification, Mr. Greyhound.'

'When my shift ended, I was met at the door by two men in black, built like rhinoceroses and as good mannered as they are. They took me to a van without windows, framing me on each side holding me by the shoulders. They sat me in the back of the van and drove off.'

'Very interesting; please continue your story?'

'I was taken to a basement, and detained. Mean-spirited men interrogated me for days. They wanted to know who were involved in the Santa conspiracy; and why I had released a dangerous weapon to an avowed terrorist. I told them the sled was just that, a sled, but they insisted. They wanted to know about its secrets. How could I know about secrets, I can't even change a fuse on my oven! They told me I was a traitor to the Nation, and that letting this Sled out of the reach of the government would get me shot! They dunked me in cold water, used electrodes on me, banged my head on the walls, suspended me upside down and whipped me with ropes… I was sure I was going to die, and I prayed Santa to deliver me every day!'

'Very revealing of the degradation of the law in this country when those that are its legal arm violate it so blatantly! But how come you are here? Did Santa pop up in your cell to free you?'

'I think so Your Honour. Late last night, men wearing black clothes took me out of my cell, and then they took me to another van. I was sure I was taken out to be executed and buried, as the torturers had told me during the last month would happen, but instead I was brought to a private hospital, and bandaged up. I was so shocked I kept asking when Santa would come to see me in my bedroom! Then after a couple of hours of rest they took me to a helipad and I was brought here. Where is here? Am I to be executed?'

'No, it's not the case. You are under the protection of the Court, Mr. Greyhound. Nothing bad will happen to you. Any more comments, anything to add, Mr. Greyhound?'

'Yes, Your Honour; Santa, may I honour my promise and go build toys for you? I never came through with that promise, and you have come through so many times for me already!'

The courtroom exploded in laughter to the annoyance of the Judge. He banged his gavel, and exclaimed 'Show some respect for a man that has suffered immensely in the hands of people that took upon themselves to try and overturn our government for their own obscure objectives! And, Mr. Greyhound, I am sure Santa will honour your request. You have proven your worth today.'

After a few sips of water, the Judge banged his gavel, and had the court in recess for 10 minutes. After all, drinking does have its consequences and he was getting old!

December 21st, 11 A.M., Courthouse

The hearing resumed, with Santa signalling his lawyer to call to the witness stand the Director of Homeland Security.

'Are you sure, Santa, that man is a rattlesnake combined with a cobra.'

'Oh, I'm sure, let me guide you in his questioning. You will learn a lot about that man, and not all is rosy!'

'But he will lie between his teeth all the way… I suspect he would claim the world is flat if it made him some profit!'

'I know, but I have a few tricks up my bag, not only toys…'

'OK, since you are so sure…'

Turning to the Judge, Santa cleared his throat, and asked, in a loud voice 'We call to the witness box a hostile witness, Your Honour: Mr. Fredrick Stetson, Director of Homeland Security!'

The call left the room in a stunned silence for a few seconds, but then pandemonium broke loose. The Judge, who had been getting tired of banging his gavel on the desk and damaging the finish, decided to use his wife's 'rape whistle' to get things back in order, so he blew a few very loud and shrill notes, to the stupor of everyone present.

Once order was restored, the DA rose.

'I object, Your Honour, the Director of Homeland Security is protected by the Executive Privilege from testifying!'

The Judge took a look at the President, sitting in the front row. The President rose and said in a resounding voice 'I hereby remove the Executive Privilege Protection from this individual and hereby order him to testify!'

'Given this decision by the President, please bring the witness to the box and proceed with his swearing in!'

The bailiff expedited the process, and the director sat, hands in handcuffs and tied to the crossbar.

'Your name is Fredrick Stetson?'

'Yes.'

'Were you born in the United States?'

'No.'

'Where are you from?'

'Austria.'

'When did you immigrate to the United States?'

'I was 8 when my parents moved to the United States.'

The layer talked to Santa for a minute than resumed his interrogation.

'Tell me, how were your parents raised?'

'Objection, Your Honour, I cannot see where that line of questioning is going to lead us?' objected the DA.

'I do not either, Your Honour, but Santa says it will lead somewhere, and I trust the man,' replied Santa's lawyer.

'I will let this continue but it better get somewhere fast. Objection overruled! Please answer the question, sir.'

'They are children of …' At that point, the man tried to keep silent, but inexorably, his eyes were brought to Santa's, and he bit hard on his lips, drawing blood. After a minute of fighting with all his will, he resumed '…Hitler's Youth. They were raised in Nazi youth camps, being orphaned of the famine between World War I and World War II. Dad was a child soldier and Mother a Life-giver, that is a female dedicated to producing children for the Glory of the Third Reich! My sisters and brothers are the product of the eugenic process.'

'But you are rather old? What is your age?'

'I am 66 years old, I was born in 1942.'

'And how old was your mother when you were born?'

'Fourteen. My dad was 15, and in the army, on the Eastern Front. I am the oldest of our family.'

'You mean your mother and dad married respectively at 14 and 15?'

'No, 13, and 14… A baby takes 9 months to gestate, in case you do not know, and they did not want impure bastards!'

The room stood silent, shocked at hearing these historical facts revealed so blatantly.

'So, let me resume this: your parents were married at, respectively, 13 for your mom and 14 for your dad, and you were born sometime in the next year?'

'Yes.'

'How many siblings do you have?'

'Six. Each one is born at one-year interval. Each time my dad had a permission from the front, in fact, he impregnated my mom with another child, and once the state was sure things were going to work out right to get a new baby, he was sent back to fight.'

'This doesn't add up you know. The war ended in 1945… If I do my math right, your next sibling would have been born in 1943, the next in 1944, and the last in 1945… Are you telling me your parents continued the cycle after the war ended?'

'Yes. They did take a break while moving westward to escape from Eastern Germany, but they resumed the cycle afterwards. My youngest siblings were born in 1948 and 1949. By then mom was 21 years old. They decided to immigrate to the United States and to take a break in the eugenic planning they were still following.'

'If I understand, they were still very much in age to procreate when they moved to the United States. Your mom was 23; you were 8, and your dad 24. What put an end to the cycle?'

'Dad developed testicular cancer due to being exposed to chemical warfare. He had to have both testicles removed.'

'Ahhem, that does put a damper on the program!'

'Yes, it did, much to their dismay.'

'How were you raised?'

'We were raised according to the Hitler Youth Credo. Mom and dad believed, until their death, that Hitler would return, and that their children must be ready to take the torch of Nazism to the World.'

'How interesting! And what are these plans?'

'I refuse to answer these questions. They are National Security Secrets!'

'National Security Secrets, you say. Of whose National Security secrets are we talking about, here?'

Again, a battle of will between Santa and the man at the stand was silently held, and again, Santa won.

'Of the Third Reich!'

'But the Third Reich is dead! How can it have National Security Secrets?'

'It's not dead, the children of Hitler are prospering and controlling the United States power structure, following the Master Plan! We will overturn the defeat of 1945! We will win! Your own weapons will be turned against you!' hollered the now totally nuts man.

The revelations of the Director of Homeland Security sent shivers of fear across the people present in the courtroom. How close had the United States come to falling into the hands of fanatics? This was scary!

'What do you mean by our weapons turned against us?' asked the very worried Judge.

'I have changed the codes of the nukes, and I will personally trigger their firing against the enemies of the Third Reich! You are doomed!'

The President, white as a ghost, looked at Martial, who stood up, and signalled the judge for a recess.

'I call for a 20 minutes recess of the court,' exclaimed the Judge standing in turn, and with a hand, he indicated to Santa, Martial, and the President to move to his chambers.

December 21st, 11:35 A.M., Courthouse, Judge Larson's chambers

In walked the 9 Supreme Justices with the President, Vice President, the District Attorney, Santa's lawyer, Martial, and naturally, Santa.

'Would you like to take over the proceedings, Mr. Chief Justice?'

'No, no, I've been following the proceedings in closed-circuit TV, and you are doing fine.'

'OK. Thank you. Mr. LaForge, you signalled to me from the crowd that you wanted a recess? May I enquire as to why?'

'There are things that were going out of control there, and some things which I wished to inform you out of earshot of the news.'

'Oh, I see. What is this information?'

'Well, we broke into that vermin's codes, using backdoors each and every computer we implemented in the DHS offices had, and we have changed his access; by now, he has lost his fangs. Mr. President, we have in our mainframe the code list, and you are now back in control. Here is the code book.'

A breath of relief accompanied the revelation from everyone present.

'Why didn't you bring this to the public's attention?'

'Because, Mr. President, although the coup has lost it's fangs, you can imagine that the number of people involved is not limited to this individual. We are actively tracking each and every member of the coup, and it is way larger than a few cracked nuts. They must believe the coup will succeed or they will go in hiding and break into intractable cells.'

'I see. But the panic will mount!'

'I know, but the panic is already well installed, as you know, because of the way the DHS has handled the current situation in Washington's streets. The level of disorder is well out of control, and the street fighting between different groups will force us to use military force to regain control of our capital. Only a strong President will be able to succeed now. I would recommend that the area be placed under Martial law (sorry about the unintentional pun with my name, gentlemen).'

'That would require what? A vote of Congress?' enquired the Vice-President.

'Not exactly, I think the President can proclaim the law with the consent of the Senate and House of Representatives Chairmen and the Chief Supreme Justice's consent alone. Am I correct, Mr. Chief Justice?'

'Yes, Mr. LaForge, and we already have the Supreme Court in full here. The only persons missing are the Senate and House Chairmen.'

'While the court was in session we proceeded to both chairmen's extraction from their homes, and their family was brought to safety. They are on their way and should be arriving here in a few minutes.'

'While we wait, let's take a pee break. My bladder isn't what it used to be!'

A few minutes later, everyone reconvened in Judge Larson's chambers. By then the two missing men had arrived. A brief exchange of news updated the two as to the situation, which was dismal. As the situation was chaotic at best, the President had no problem gaining the approval to proclaim Military rule in and around Washington.

December 21st, 11:50 A.M., Courthouse, audition room 101

Everyone moved back to the audition room, were the others were milling around. As soon as the Judge moved to his desk, he slammed his gavel calling the room to order.

'Ladies, and gentlemen, the President has an announcement to make. Mr. President.'

The President walked to the front of the room, took a microphone and started by looking at the ex-DHS, waiting for the red lights on the TV cameras to turn on, and the anchors to signal they were ready to transmit live.

'Given what was brought to light by the declaration of the ex- Director of Homeland Security, I hereby declare a State of War and proclaim Martial Law. All military and police forces are now under my direct command! No order signed by the ex- DHS is to be carried out. Furthermore, Homeland Security is disbanded. That Gestapo ceases to exist as of now, and no longer exercises any authority in the United States; it's territories, or protectorates. These rules were established with the consent of the Supreme Court, and the leaders of both Houses. They are in application as of now. Military troops, from all three forces, are to move in Washington and take control of designated areas. Proceed! Further, the Secretary of Defence was found to be part of the plot to overturn the legal government of this Country. He is to be found and arrested. I herby name Mr. Martial LaForge Secretary of Defence, post he is to hold until confirming hearings by the Senate can be held.'

Pandemonium again broke loose, and it took a good 10 minutes to bring things back in order.

'I hereby suspend this audition until 13:30 for lunch, clamoured the judge. 'Ladies and gentlemen, given the situation in Washington, I hereby order that everyone stay within the confines of this building. We cannot guarantee your safety outside the perimeter the Secretary of Defence has established until the army has had time to move in. Court dismissed!'

December 21st, Noon, Courthouse cafeteria

The view from the cafeteria on the twentieth floor of the Courthouse was both breathtaking and appalling. The monuments that dot the Capital's landscape were visible, some charred by fires, smoke rose from parks, and downtown businesses were going up in flames. Quite apparently, the fire department was having a hard time accessing some areas, meeting with a lot of resistance from rioters. Explosions could be heard, and gunfire exchanges were common. The marines and infantry were slowly moving in from their base, but it was apparent they were meeting with very heavy resistance both from rioter and from renegade units still following the DHS' planned coup. Fortunately, the earlier morning's work had paid off, and the coup was paying the price of not having control over the airspace or the airwaves. Jamming of their frequencies, misleading directives, and downright incompetence hindered their efforts at gaining or controlling ground.

Heavy guns were heard in the distance, and the noise of tanks and howitzers exchanging fire was heard clearly. Martial's men controlled the buildings around the Courthouse and the roofs of the buildings along the streets leading to the Courthouse where the leaders of the country were holed in were heavily fortified; the streets were under intense crossfire, preventing the rebels from progressing forward. The sewers had been blown up at major intersections, thus preventing underground infiltration of the security perimeter.

Food was composed essentially of cold cuts, and cheese; the security had recommended that the diesel stored in the basement be kept in reserve to feed electric generators when the sun went down. Water was rationed, and everyone found themselves with lukewarm water for their very quick lunch. Martial, worried about the safety of all these dignitaries, considered evacuating them by helicopter, but the fighting around the security perimeter was too intense to bring in helicopters with a reasonable margin of safety. In accordance with the President, he therefore studied the possibility of evacuating them by using the underground subway that passed below the building and could be reached by drilling a hole in the subway tunnel's wall from the third basement of the courthouse. If push comes to shove, the persons would be brought down to the third basement using the elevators, who would then be collapsed to block further use. Martial's men would then stall any force by blocking the stairs, and ultimately blowing them up if necessary. A group of special demolition men were charged in preparing the tunnel for it's piercing, and then they prepared the elevators and staircases for their eventual cascading collapse.

While these preparations were ongoing the people holed in the Courthouse were having hush-hush discussions about what had transpired. Everyone was wondering what would happen to him or her.

December 21st, 13:30, Courthouse, audition room 101

The session resumed with a lot less enthusiasm than in the morning. Everyone had in mind what was happening outside, and if they were lulled into a misguided serenity, the occasional shaking of the building by explosions brought reality back in full blast at rather unexpected moments.

The district Attorney stood up and called the attention of the judge by some throaty noises.

'Yes, Mr. District Attorney?'

'Your Honour, in order to expedite this case, the Attorney General has instructed me to concede that the person sitting with my esteemed colleague is effectively Santa Claus.'

'Ah, finally! I thought we would have to spend the afternoon proving it!'

'But, Your Honour, the accusation stands on its grounds. We will prove that Santa is a dangerous individual, and that he works illegally in the United States, and has done so for quite some time at that!'

The attorney representing the Churches stood up, and objected vehemently. 'But, Your Honour, all we heard were hearsay! That red-coated individual has not performed one single miracle children associate with Santa Claus to prove he is who he is!'

'I admit I'm a bit left on my appetite on that point. Mr. Johnson, is there a way to formally establish that the person in front of us is Santa?'

Santa's attorney looked at the Judge, the Church lawyer and Santa, who just moved his head up and down once, but pointed at his red suit.

'Your Honour, Santa is willing to give a formal proof, but he is afraid that the Churches here present will thereafter claim he is Satan, an incarnation of the Devil. It is well-known that Churches tend to see anything unexpected in a dark light.'

'I understand the reticence of your client. Would the representatives of the Churches herein assembled swear to their God that they will not portray Santa as the devil if he performs a miracle in the courtroom?'

After a few minutes of consultations, the Archbishop of Canterbury rose and spoke out. 'We agree that, as long as the miracle in question is in accordance to the fable that Santa Claus is, we will not claim he is the Devil, but it MUST be in accordance to the fable!'

'Is that agreeable to your client, Mr. Johnson?'

A quick exchange of words and the lawyer stood up. 'Yes, Your Honour; would you please order that the central alley of the Courtroom be freed of occupants for this demonstration? '

'It is so ordered!'

A few minutes later, after much shovelling and groaning, the central alley of the Courtroom had been cleared. Santa stood up and walked to be at the beginning of the alley. He then whistled very loudly a funny sounding tune, and once it was finished, clapped his hands three times! In a shower of sparkles, Santa's reindeers appeared in all their glory, with Rudolf still carrying his bucket of whisky around the neck, Santa's Sled, in full glory, also appeared, tied to the 12 reindeers and seemingly ready to be loaded with goodies.

'Ah, now, is there any need for further proof Your Honour?' asked Santa. 'May I suggest I send them back to their barn, they find this place stuffy, and …' By then Rudolf belched and let go of a huge fart that had everyone gagging and wanting to strangle themselves not to breath. '…And, as I was going to say, Rudolf is rather nervous in closed quarters with too many people. That's why I have the Sled loaded in open air!'

'Please do! Please do!' answered a suffocating judge. To which Santa whistled another tune, clapped his hands three times again and BANG! The reindeers and sled vanished.

After opening the doors to let the air change for a few minutes, the audition resumed.

'Is everyone satisfied that this individual is Santa Claus?' asked the Judge. 'If anyone objects, now is your last chance!' No one objected, and after a minute went by the judge slammed his gavel and stated loudly 'Let it be known that the United States now recognizes the existence of Santa Claus!'

Turning his head towards the legal representatives of the Churches, the Judge now looked at them with a frown. 'I thought I had assigned God to appear in front of me, as well as Santa Claus. Santa Claus has, without doubt, and in conformity to this order, but where is God? Will I have to cite Him for Contempt of Court, or will I have to consider your clients fraudulent crocks that sell what they cannot deliver?'

At this moment, another cracking noise was heard, and what appeared to all like a brilliant life that seemed to change continually of form depending on how you looked at it became visible.

'And who are you?' exclaimed the Judge, who, by that time, had peed his pants, as most of the witnesses to the event.

'I am archangel Gabriel, the only lawyer that made it to Heaven! Your convocation was not answered to because it presented a vice of form. It said God, without specifying Him by Name!'

'But I thought there was only one?'

'That's bullshit!' At that a loud bang was heard. 'Oh, Sorry, Baal!' exclaimed the archangel. 'Anyways, when you hear 'America this, America that' does it mean there is only one American? I think not! If you want to assign an American to court, you give a full name, a birth date, and an address, don't you? Well it's the same with Gods!'

'Oh, I am sorry! I didn't know!' replied, shakily, the Judge.

'Ignorance isn't an excuse to disobey the law, your own system states. It also applies to convocations of Gods to appear anywhere!'

Turning what appeared to be his eyes towards the now very grey and shaky collection of priests, the archangel boomed, with a loud voice, making the windows shake. 'And you fools that claim to know what God wants! Has it ever occurred to you that the Gods, yes gods with plural implied, work in collegiality in establishing and maintaining this universe functional? They are sick and tired of your constant bickering! There is even a proposal to dunk you below sea level for another 40 days, but then your species has polluted the planet so much we wonder if the seas would survive! And stop praying for an intervention you do not really want! Be responsible for once! The Gods created a Garden of Eden on this piece of wet rock, and you have managed to make it into a planet-wide dump! Clean up your act! When Yaveh told Adam to put his pants on, he wasn't talking about his nudity, but his unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions! If nudity bothered the Gods, life would be born with diapers!'

Finally looking at Santa, the archangel smiled, a blinding smile at that, and said 'Hey there, cousin, fancy meeting you here. I thought you would be busy getting your toys packed away in that sled of yours. You are running late!'

'Don't I know it, Gabriel. Can you ask Chronos to slow down time after I'm done dealing with this so I have more of it to finish the preparations?'

'I can always try but that old grump…' which elicited another bang, 'Yes you heard me Chronos! You are an old grump! Well that old grump isn't in the best of moods lately!'

'So I hear… Maybe he should visit Bayers' and buy a case of aspirins. I can imagine he has a terrible headache with that bell he keeps tolling on every second to keep the time on schedule. Anyways, if he took a few minutes of break, time would slow down by as much I would have more time to do my work, and his headache would abate. Can you imagine? He started time by dropping that hammer on the bell with a big bang! Especially since, when he started, he was so pissed he must have hammered on it about a trillion times in what is now a one-second interval!'

'Anyways, Santa, I got to go back to work. Being the only lawyer up there has its perks, but it also is a big workload. If you only knew some of the outlandish proposals we get from these Gods… It seems the older they get the more senile they become! Must be why one of them decided humans were at the Gods' image! May the Great Architect be with you!'

With that, archangel Gabriel vanished with a resounding pop, a lot of flashy cascading lights, and it felt like the air had a smell of roses and ozone.

The Judge decided for a 20-minute recess, if only to change his soiled pants; let's assume he wasn't the only one needing a change of clothing!

December 21st, 14:30, Courthouse, audition room 101

'Mr. Johnson, do you have any more witnesses to bring to the stand?'

'No, Your Honour.'

'Mr. District Attorney, do you have witnesses to bring to the stand?'

'Yes I do, Your Honour! May I call to stand in testimony Mrs. Wilma Randolph?'

The bailiff called for Mrs. Wilma Randolph to sit at the witness box, and swore her in.

'Mrs Randolph, do you recognize the man sitting to the right of my colleague?'

'Yes Sir; he is the man that played Santa at Macy's when I went with my two kids at the start of the month.'

'Can you tell us, in your own words, what you observed while he was playing Santa?'

'Well, as I told you I have two children, a 5-year old girl and a four-year old boy. My little girl was the first to sit on his lap, and, after talking to her for a few minutes, he called her loudly a ho, not once, but three times, in front of all those other parents and children! I was ashamed, furious, but I couldn't intercept my boy before he took his turn on that perv's lap! He even called my son a ho as well! When I finally managed to collect my boy he had a stiffy and wanted to go to the bathroom! I am sure the old man played with him! Why else would he have called my son a ho if he hadn't perverted him? What had he taught my boy in these few minutes?'

'Thank you, Mrs. Randolph. The witness is yours, Mr. Johnson.'

'Mrs. Randolph, what makes you think that there was any discussion of improper material between Santa and your boy?'

'The stiffy! My husband only shows me his when he wants to do these disgusting things he says are calls of nature. For me these are sinful and the preacher agreed but has been reminding me I was sworn into obedience to the needs of my husband. Maybe I should change church.'

'Have you ever washed your boy?'

'Good Heavens, NO! I have a nanny doing these dirty acts, which I pay handsomely!'

'I suspect you have never seen a pee hard-on, Mrs. Randolph?' asked the lawyer, bemused.

'A hard-on? What's that? Anyways, if it's something that relates to the body, I have never seen my husband nude. He only shows me that ugly thing when he wants to honour me he says… What a disgusting honour!'

'Your Honour, I am not here to give basic anatomy. I am even surprised the lady has been able to get children. It goes to prove that even the most uninformed can produce seeds! I am done with this witness!'

'I do have one question for you, Mrs. Randolph,' enquired the Judge. 'Where does your husband work?'

'Oh, for one of those dirty words.'

'I do not understand. A word is a word, it can't be dirty.'

'You know, these dirty 3-letter words that kids use in school yards while their parents do not listen!'

'You mean he works for a sex shop?'

'Good heavens no! He works for a government agency; it's either the IRS, FDA, FBI, CIA, ATF, DHS, FAA, DEA, NSA… One of those, I just can't remember which.'

'Thank you, Mrs. Randolph!' dismissed the judge.

The lady got off the stand, head held high, looking at everyone with contempt and disgust. The moment she left the room, everyone exploded in raucous laughter and the District Attorney looked lost.

'Your next witness had better be more credible! Call him in!' laughed the Judge.

'Yes Your Honour, please have Mr. Alexander Badcock called to the witness box.'

The usual proceedings were done and the testimony began with the District Attorney's interrogation of his witness.

'Mr. Badcook…'

'Not Badcook, BadCOCK, C O C K!'

'Oh, sorry, I misread. Mr. Badcock, can you point to me in this room an individual you have intercepted at the border?'

'Yes, that man in red!' pointing directly at Santa.

'Why do you specifically recognize that man? You must see thousands a day at the border post!'

'Because he is an escapee from the detention cell, at the border post I work. I had personally locked him in there waiting for transport. When I came back to deliver him to the Homeland Security staff, he was gone. Vanished!'

'That must have been embarrassing!'

'Don't remind me, I was the laughing stock of everyone including the Homeland Security guys. I was pointed at, called the one that 'saw Santa' and lived to talk about it.'

'What brought this individual to your attention?'

'He had no passport, no visa, and claimed he was going to work for Macy's as Santa. What a ridiculous assertion.'

'What happened after Santa vanished, as you say?'

'Well, as I told you, I was ridiculed. So I decided to look at the recordings of the cell and there he was! So I called my supervisor and showed him what was happening. He was as baffled as I was as to how the guy first managed to remove the handcuffs, then open the cell door, the cellblock door, and then walk off, without anyone noticing him! That's when we triggered the alert.'

'So, to your knowledge, has anyone allowed the entry in the United States of this individual?'

'No, Sir, certainly not at our post!'

'So, would you conclude that this individual illegally entered the United States?'

'Yes, sir!'

'Thank you, he's your witness, Mr. Johnson.'

'Mr. Badcock, did he try to prove he was Santa?'

'Yes, he tried.'

'How did he try to prove it?'

'He told me things that happened while I was a kid.'

'And you did not believe him?'

'Oh the things he said were true, but it only proved to me he had been a peeping Tom, a Pervy Pappy, not Santa Claus!'

'And what did he tell you?'

'It's none of your business!'

'Your Honour, I would like to consider this individual a hostile witness!'

'I agree with you, Mr. Johnson. You will answer the question or be cited for Contempt of Court!'

He told me I had been having lumps of coal in my Christmas socks because I was always hurting my sister!'

'Was that all?'

'No he described what I used to do to that bitch!'

'It seems you are still mad at her?'

'Yes I am! I will never forgive her for being born. She took my place in my parents' room and all they talked about was her, her, and again, her! I even tried to strangle her, but mom found me out and gave me a spanking with dad's belt! I so wanted her dead!'

'You say 'wanted', have things improved?'

'Nope, she died a year ago in a car accident. Good riddance! But for me she will always live, taking my place over and over again!'

The ferocity of the sibling rivalry expressed by this testimony left a taste of bile in the observers.

'I have no further question, Your Honour.'

'OK. You are dismissed, Mr. Badcock. Call in your next witness, District Attorney. I am wondering how deep in mud you are going to dig yourself in with this one!'

'I call to the witness stand Mr. Robert Williams!'

After the swearing in of his witness, the now very nervous District Attorney began his interrogation.

'Do you see a man you have seen before in this room, Mr. Williams?'

'Yes', pointing at Santa.

'Can you describe under what circumstances you met this man, sir?'

'He walked in the customs offices at La Guardia International airport; wearing that red suit he is wearing in here. I found the looks of this individual suspicious, so I pressed the silent alarm button immediately.'

'What was he looking for?'

'Well he came in to claim a herd of reindeers.'

'Did you deliver them to him?'

'No sir, first, he had no import permit; second he had no vaccination record, and third, they had not been certified by a recognized veterinarian hospital as free of harmful germs.'

'What did you do?'

'I impounded the animals, one of which refused to drink water, thus telling me he was rabid!'

'What happened in your offices?'

'The security guards arrested that man, and brought him to a high-security cell, where they stripped him and searched him for any more contraband. He was then left alone, tied and shackled to the bars, until he was supposed to be moved to a high-security cellblock off the airport premises. While he was being processed, I had the dog pound guys come. They had to prepare some room for the reindeers, so it took them some time, maybe 2 hours to get to the customs offices.'

'OK. Is there anything you can add?'

'Yes sir, I never authorised their release, and the pound doesn't have the authority to do it on it's own, without at least a certification by a recognized veterinarian, and a countersign by one of the customs officials.'

'Thank you. He is your witness, Mr. Johnson.'

'I have just a few questions, Mr. Williams. Did you ask to see my client's papers?'

'No sir, we had been notified of an illegal alien impersonating Santa Claus, and I was sure any paper he would produce would be fake.'

'Did he explain the behaviour of the reindeer to you?'

'Yes, he claimed he was an alcoholic. Who ever heard a reindeer could be an alcoholic? How about using a hoof to decapsulate a beer bottle?'

'You said that the reindeer refused to drink water, and that led you to conclude he was rabid?'

'Yes.'

'Tell me, are you a certified veterinarian?'

'No.'

'Then how come you can declare an animal rabid?'

'Because it's common knowledge that rabid animals refuse to drink water!'

'I see. No more questions, Your Honour.'

'Any more witnesses, Mr. District Attorney?'

'Yes, Your Honour. I would like to call the man in charge of the dog pound on December 6th. His name is Suslav Sukov.'

The proceedings went as usual, and the interrogation began.

'Mr. Sukov, were you called to the customs offices on the sixth of December?'

'Yes sir.'

'Why do you remember being called?'

'I got kicked in the butt by a reindeer! That isn't usual! You know, I get bitten by dogs, scratched by cats, but it was the first time I had hoof prints on my behind!'

'How many reindeer were there?'

'There were 12, sir.'

'What happened to them?'

'We spent 2 hours building a framed cage for the reindeers at the dog pound, putting dogs 3 or 4 a cage to make space. Then we moved the reindeer in the cage. We had had a long and hard day, so by around midnight, we closed the pound, not expecting any more incoming flights and therefore requests from the airport.'

'And what happened next?'

'That, I wish I knew. The next morning, we walked into the pound, finding it very silent. We opened the door to the animal park, and discovered every reindeer had disappeared and also every dog! The only animals left were a snake that had had its meal the day before and was slowly digesting it, and a capuchin monkey, that was an illegal import as well.'

'No cats?'

'Well, no, for some reason, cat owners do not seem to bring them on trips, contrary to dog owners. Go figure! So we have very few cats.'

'I have no more questions, Your Honour. My witness is yours, Johnson!'

'I have no questions for the witness, for now, but I reserve the right to call him later on if some questions do pop up.'

'You are dismissed, Mr. Sukov. Please stay at the disposition of the Court for further testimony should the need arise.'

'Call in your next witness, Mr. District Attorney.'

'Yes, Your Honour. I will dispense from calling the guards that were supposed to be keeping Santa behind bars. His mere presence here testifies that he has escaped from their detention center. May I call to the witness stand the director of FAA, Mr. Anthony Roberts!'

'Mr. Roberts, can you tell me if the FAA has certified Santa's Sled for flying?'

'Most definitely not!'

'Mr. Roberts, assuming that an airplane company knowingly employed a drunk employee, what would be the consequences?'

'The employee would be terminated, and the airline would be fined. It might even go to suspension of right to fly over the country, a grounding, until all employees were tested for substance abuse.'

'Tell me, are reindeers recognised as crews members?'

'No.'

'Are there rules for flying over populated areas?'

'Yes sir.'

'Doesn't one of these rules state that, unless there is an emergency, an aircraft must fly at least 500 feet above a populated area, unless on approach on a designed landing path or on takeoff?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Is it legitimate to land an aircraft on citizens' roofs?'

'Definitely not, sir, the roof could collapse, the house or building could catch fire.'

'Not even a VTOL or helicopter?'

'No, sir. A VTOL or helicopter pad is specifically marked, reinforced and lighted for that purpose. A house roof, even a flat one, is not designed for that.'

'And are there rules for supersonic flight?'

'Yes sir, No supersonic flight by a civilian aircraft is tolerated over land. Military aircrafts can fly supersonic, but only for military emergency purposes and training in designated areas, which are devoid of population.'

'One last question, before I turn you to my esteemed colleague. Is there a Santa Claus registered as a pilot?'

'No sir.'

'Not anywhere?'

'No sir, and certainly does not have a licence as a jet, VTOL or helicopter pilot. Anticipating your question, we did a computer search and there is no Santa Claus registered as private or lightweight pilot either.'

'Thank you. You have the witness, Johnson.'

'No questions, Your Honour.'

'Fine by me, we're getting somewhere. Call in your next witness!'

'I call to the witness box General Thomas Snelling, in charge of NORAD.'

In walked a stiff-lipped man in his late forties, with white hair, wearing a brass-covered uniform clearly indicating the guy wasn't to be taken lightly.

'General Snelling, were you in charge of NORAD operations room on December 15th?

'Yes sir. I had taken station at the command at midnight.'

'Was there a strange event on that night?'

'We were informed that a dangerous terrorist was being sought by Homeland Security, and that there would be heavy aviation activity in the area. We were closely monitoring the action, for security reasons.'

'Did anything unusual happen during your watch?'

'Yes sir.'

'Can you describe what it was?'

'At 03:00 hour on the 15th, the radar registered an unexpected object heading North Westerly at absolutely abnormal velocities. The UFO followed a linear trajectory gradually dropping below our radar cover. We scrambled interceptors, but by the time they had even reached the end of the runway, the UFO had vanished from our radar screens. We plotted the probable landing area in Northern Dakota and sent interceptors there.'

'When you say abnormal, how abnormal?'

'Well in excess of Mach 24, sir.'

'Why do you say in excess of that speed?'

'Because it is the maximum speed we are able to measure. The mach-meter is topped at Mach 24.'

'You said, twice, UFO. Are you implying extra-terrestrial activity?'

'No sir, a UFO is an Unidentified Flying Object. No more, no less.'

'Are you telling me that someone is able to build an aircraft that flies at Mach 24, and it's not the United States?'

'I have no idea of who built that thing, sir, but I can assure you it's not from materials or technology we know of, and we are able to look up the Russians' butt when they design something!'

'I see. If I get you, it's an unknown technology, far more advanced than ours…'

'Yes sir, and I would give my left arm to get my hands on it!'

'Was there any other air traffic in the area?'

'Oh, lots! There are big carriers, small private planes, the usual. Nothing that would have triggered an alarm, for being out of place.'

'OK. Thank you for your time, General. My witness is now yours, Johnson.'

'General Snelling, are UFOs common?'

'Yes sir, they go from lost weather balloons to the kind of event I just reported.'

'General, has there been many events of the kind we are considering here?'

'I would say about a dozen or so a year. Generally falling meteorites, but its about once or twice a year we see a long insertion trajectory.'

'What do you mean about long insertion trajectory?'

'A trajectory that is almost flat, like a flying object would follow. Sometimes these objects change trajectory so fast the G force would kill a human, sometimes they hover, and then take off at speeds that would flatten a human to a pancake.'

'Is there a periodicity?'

'Well, one event occurs every December 24th, but it also coincides with a meteorite shower so we ignore it. We have tried repeatedly to intercept, but whatever it is, it moves so fast we can't seem to get a view.'

'Have you ever been able to catch a glimpse of a meteorite in flight?'

'No sir, but at least we find pieces on the ground sometimes!'

“And extra-terrestrial objects?'

'Meteorites are extra-terrestrial object, sir.'

'I have no more questions, Your Honour. Thank you, General, for your cooperation.'

'The witness is dismissed. Any more witnesses, Mr. District Attorney?'

'I would like to call the marketing director of Macy's, Robert Bloom!'

Mr. Bloom, ashen from the meeting with his lawyers, took the stand shakily and was sworn in.

'Mr Bloom, is it true that you hired Santa Claus for your store?'

All sorts of scenarios ran through Mr. Bloom's mind: Macy's denies hiring Santa Claus! Macy's Santa exposed as a fraud! Macy's hired illegal alien! Macy's hired avowed pedophile. Everything was nightmarish, and getting worse and worse by the second. Sweating profusely, the director started to say no, but then the face of sad children played in front, and mad parents blockading the store popped up, and finally, 'Macy's bankrupted by Santa for breaking contract showed up in red flashing light on Time Square. That was too much and he whispered a soft, inaudible 'yes'.

'I didn't hear you, Mr. Bloom.'

White as a ghost, Mr. Bloom answered, a bit louder, and very warily, 'yes!'

'Have you hired this gentleman often?'

'Since Macy's exists, for over a hundred years…'

'A hundred years, you say? Has it not appeared strange to you that the same individual was hired for at least 100 consecutive years?'

'No, we never considered it was the same individual, although he had the same look. I remember how he looked when I hired him at the beginning of my term at Macy's, some 40 years ago, and he looks exactly like he did then!'

'Didn't you verify his papers?'

'Why, I figured it was a young man of in his early thirties disguised as Santa 40 years ago, and it was the same that did the role each year. Forty years ago, there was not all that hoopla about aliens, social security, and even the need to declare a temporary seasonal employee. The government wasn't as meddlesome as it is now, and a business could hire a person that did the work as it saw fit, without having to report every move it did. The man was American in my book, and, when the government did move in with its big boots, this man was definitely past retirement age, and was not concerned by all the fuss.'

'Why do you need a Santa in the first place?'

'We do not need 'a' Santa, we need 'Santa', because without him, the toy industry would falter! Even if it helps our competition, the fact remains that without Santa, the magic of Christmas would lose a lot of its splendour. Your putting under arrest just about everything wearing red has put the stores on notice of bankruptcy. Our sales, therefore our profits, are done for a good part from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. Because of you, this year, everyone will be in the red. Talking about red, do you plan on putting our accounts books under arrest? Or the fire department?'

A very red-looking District Attorney looked around, wondering where everything had gone wrong. He had expected an easy kill but was faced with a furious witness.

'Mr District Attorney, do you plan to put yourself under arrest too? Your face is much redder than Santa's suit!' completed the marketing director. The last comment created an explosion of laughter from the audience.

'No. I am done with this witness. Does Santa's lawyer have questions for Mr. Bloom?'

'No, I don't' replied Johnson.

'Thank you, Mr. Bloom, for your testimony,' commented the presiding Judge. 'Anyone else, Mr. District Attorney?'

'Yes Your Honour, I have a last witness. I call to the witness box Santa Claus!'

The request took everyone by surprise. As Santa's lawyer suggested he take the fifth, but Santa declined and proudly took the stand.

'Santa Claus?'

'Yes.'

'Do you have a passport?'

'No.'

'Did you enter the United States December First?'

'Yes.'

'Do you have a contract to work at Macy's?'

'Yes.'

'Do you have a green card?'

'What for?'

'So you can legally work in the United States, Santa. Do you?'

'No. I but I got a blue one, from Heaven!'

'Oh. It's not a legal card to work in the United States!'

'Mr. District Attorney?'

'Yes, Your Honour?'

'What's written on our legal tender?'

'I don't understand the question!'

'IN GOD WE TRUST! If the United States trusts God with it's money, it must definitely trust a working permit delivered by God!'

'I see…'

'You better!'

'Santa, do you have a pilot's licence?'

'No, why should I? I delivered the first one to the Wright brothers!'

Taken aback by Santa's answer, the District Attorney tried another tack.

'Is your Sled FAA certified?'

'Tell me, sir, do angels need FAA certification to fly?'

'Not to my knowledge, they don't? Do they, Your Honour?'

'No they don't!'

'Do you always mistreat your reindeers, Santa?'

'Mistreat my reindeers, where do you get that idea?'

'Well, you make them work pulling what must be a huge sled, drink alcohol, and work 24 hours a day, according to the Society for humane treatment of animals.'

'I don't see where the problem is; for one, they work once a year. Second, they don't actually pull on the sled, they wear some trade-secret propulsion kit that do all the work; and they usually sleep most of the trip anyways!'

'Where do you get your toys, Santa?'

'I have my own toy manufactures.'

'Where?'

'Around the world.'

'From around the world? I thought they said they were manufactured at the North Pole!'

'Hey, ever heard of depots? I centralize the distribution at the North Pole, so I don't have to carry everything!'

'How about your workers? I have from a good source that you use children that you do not even pay. Slave labour has been banned, and child labour even more so!'

'For one, I pay my elves handsomely; in goods they like to have, not a money whose value drops faster than the Titanic to sea bottom! Second, before moralizing, how about opening your eyes to the world? Slavery is very much a common practice in the world, and child slavery even more so! Even the United States practices child slavery on its farms, right now! Children pick up fruits; work in sweatshops, in mines, in the carpet and sex industry! Wake up, and stop being naïve. I've been trying to get the governments to act, but the greedy bastards only see children as expenditures, not anything else! In God we trust to do nothing so we can stay comfortable, yes!'

Santa's sortie took everyone by surprise, but no one dared raise the old man on his points. It smelled bad enough already for humans without blowing out the cover on the pot by increasing the temperature.

'One last question, Santa; why did you call that little girl a ho?'

'Given that you never laughed in your life, even as a baby, I'm not surprised at that question. Ever heard of a belly laugh? HO! HO! HO!'

'I am done Your Honour. I rest my case.'

'Mr. Johnson, any questions for your client?'

'No, Your Honour!'

'OK. You may retire, Santa. I will take a few minutes to think over the extraordinary events we have witnessed today, and then I will render my judgement on the bench! Court recessed!'

December 21st, 18:00, Courthouse, audition room 101

The Judge walked in the courtroom, having taken 30 minutes to freshen up, and decide on the events of the day. The noise quickly died down, as everyone awaited anxiously to hear what were bound to be the most important words ever said in a courtroom in the history of man.

'Ladies and Gentlemen,' began the Judge. 'We have been witness to a number of events today that are best described as miracles! First, we were shown without doubt that Santa Claus exists; but even more extraordinary, we were put face to face with our narrow-mindedness concerning the nature of God, or, more precisely, Gods. We were told point-blank that we had to take responsibility for our acts instead of constantly begging; that we had to realize that the Gods have given us an opportunity to grow out of infancy. Santa Claus has brought to our attention some aspects of human society, which, in my view, are disturbing to say the least! I thought slavery, child slavery were a thing of the past! We have been put on notice to deal with the poverty, the misery, the pollution, ourselves, or face the consequences.'

Taking a sip of water, the Judge resumed 'As far as the events that have come to light which are of a political and military nature, I will leave the decisions to those best suited to take them. However, I must admit I have received today my best Christmas presents ever: first, a refreshing conscience of the true value of things; and second, my freedom to act according to that conscience! We came very close to losing both with that coup! Third, I have recovered my childhood, the sense of marvel, enchantment, and the right to dream, the beauty of life in its glorious colour! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Santa!'

After a very long round of applause, which took a good 10 minutes to die down, silence returned to the courtroom.

Looking around the courtroom, the Judge finally rested his eyes on Santa, and then concluded: 'Santa, you came to this court feeling maligned by the United States government. After hearing the testimony of high-ranking officials, I must concur. The way the ex- director of Homeland Security abused his authority was to say the least astounding. However, I really do not know what this country could give you to compensate your displeasure. I doubt anything from this Earth would be worthwhile to you, given your parentage! Contrary to some, I do not believe that Gods or any of their helpers, of which you certainly are, can be bought, or influenced in any significant way.' With watering eyes, the judge added, 'what else can I say but I love you, Santa! Court dismissed!'

Epilogue

Oh yes that year, Santa managed to distribute the toys, with the help of Chronos who took a two minute break, just the time necessary to swallow a crate of aspirins, I've been told! No one noticed but Santa, because when time stops, who can notice change? But there was more than the toys that were involved in prepping up Christmas spirit. An immense relief, the feeling of having been on the brink of a huge worldwide disaster, permeated what was left of the Season. The realisation that without taking into their own hands their destiny, humans were doomed brought home a shocking reality: We are not only all brothers, but we are living on an Ark which must be a place for all life forms, not only our species.

Index