Disclaimer: The characters from Emergency don’t belong to me. But, I appreciate the chance to have a little fun with them.
Here Comes Santa Claus
By: Vanessa Sgroi
“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way . . .”
“Jennifer DeSoto, didn’t I tell you to go to sleep?”
“Yes, Uncle Johnny. But I wasn’t done singing yet.”
“Well, you need to be done. It’s way past your bedtime. I promised your Mom and Dad you’d be asleep long before they got home. Can you at least try?”
The little girl sighed deeply before answering, “Okay.” Her sheets and blanket rustled as she rolled over and curled into a ball.
Johnny Gage stood quietly in the doorway for several minutes. Hopeful that Jenny was indeed drifting off to sleep, he moved down the hall to check on her brother, Chris. The little boy was sound asleep.
With a smile, Johnny ambled downstairs to the living room.
The three of them had spent the evening watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Popcorn and cherry Kool-Aid added to the festive air as did the pepperoni pizza they’d had for dinner a couple of hours earlier.
Johnny whistled as he picked up their empty bowls and cups from the coffee table and deposited them in the sink. After wiping sticky residue off the coffee table, Gage plopped down on the couch with a huge yawn of his own. After the last television special had finished, he’d politely listened to the kids sing two Christmas carols they were due to perform at the school pageant the following week before he’d tucked them both in bed. He’d returned to Jennifer’s room a half dozen times since to urge her to go to sleep. Now, he sat back and rubbed his hands over his face. A glance at his watch told him he still had a couple of hours before Roy and Joanne would be home; a relatively early night considering the two paramedics had to work in the morning.
Getting up, the dark-haired man flipped the channel on the television in an attempt to find something of interest. He finally settled on a rerun of Dragnet. Returning to the couch, he stretched out and settled in to watch the show. After about ten minutes, his eyes drifted closed.
***Sometime later, Johnny came awake with a start. Rubbing his eyes, the paramedic wondered what it was that had awakened him. Johnny was just about to get up when he glanced over toward the Christmas tree and let out a little yell. There was a little old man standing there. A little old man who looked a lot like . . . well . . . Santa Claus.
The dark-haired man rubbed his eyes and looked again. The rotund little man was still there standing near the sparkling Christmas tree. “What the . . . Who are you? Better yet, what are you doing in Roy’s house?”
“I’m exactly who I look like. Santa Claus.”
“Oh, c’mon. You are not Santa Claus. You’re not even wearing your red suit or boots or hat.” Indeed, the man claiming to be Santa Claus was wearing a gray three-piece suit and spit-shined black oxfords.
“Well, you could say I’m incognito. I only wear my red velvet suit on Christmas Eve and Christmas.”
Johnny didn’t say anything, but the skeptical look on his face told all.
Seeing the look, the white-haired man said, “All right. You want more proof. Watch.” As he finished speaking, he held out his hand, palm up. Within a couple of seconds, a glow emanated from his palm. And then in the blink of an eye, his hand was filled with fluffy white snowflakes. Pursing his lips, the man blew out a puff of air, sending the white flakes aloft before falling gently about the awed paramedic.
“Hey, that’s amazing! How’d you do that?” Gage gazed at the man before him, now convinced he was dreaming.
“Magic, young man. Magic.”
The dark-haired man made a sweeping gesture with his hand. “So . . . um . . . Santa. What are you doing here?”
Santa cleared his throat and reached inside his suit jacket. He pulled out a rolled piece of parchment-like paper. “I’m checking my list twice. Hmmm, Christopher and Jennifer have been exceptionally good this year. They’ll have a jolly Christmas this year indeed.”
“I don’t suppose I’m on that list?”
“Well, let’s see . . .” Santa continued his perusal of the long list, “John Gage . . . John Gage. Oh, dear! Yes, yes. You are on the list. But, you’ve been a little naughty this past year.”
“Naughty? Me? But . . . but . . . I . . .”
“Don’t worry, my dear boy, I did say a LITTLE naughty. Certainly not enough to justify coal in your stocking.” This last was said with a definite twinkle in his eyes.
A hint of pink blossomed on Johnny’s cheeks.
“Well, at least I’m better than Chet.”
“Ah, yes, that would be Chester Kelly, would it not? Hmm, let’s see. Yes, you were better behaved than Chester was this past year. My, my, he does love his practical jokes, doesn’t he?”
“So . . . Santa . . . you . . . uh . . . really live at the North Pole?”
“And you have elves who make toys for kids?”
“Certainly. Would you like a tour?”
“A tour? Of the North Pole? You can do that?”
“I can. It’s not often I’m ‘caught in the act’ so to speak. When a very special human does observe me, I like to offer the rare tour.”
“It sounds fun. But I can’t leave Chris and Jenny.”
“Ellsworth can stay with them.”
“My Chief Elf and Head of Operations. He’s outside waiting for me.”
“Yeah, but I really shouldn’t . . .” Johnny shook his head as he spoke.
“It will only amount to a few minutes in real time.”
“Do we get to go in the sleigh?”
Santa chuckled. “No, I only use the sleigh on Christmas Eve. It’s far too cumbersome to use the rest of the year.”
“Then how . . .”
Still assured that this was all a dream, Johnny eagerly agreed to the tour. Ellsworth the Elf made himself at home on the couch, and the two were soon on their way.
In what was nothing more than the blink of an eye, Johnny found himself standing in the middle of Santa’s village smack in the center of the North Pole. He gaped at the sights before him.
Looking at the piles of snow everywhere and at the big, fat snowflakes aimlessly twirling in the sky, he commented, “Hey, how come I’m not freezing to death?”
Before jolly old St. Nicholas could open his mouth to answer, Gage snapped his fingers, “Oh, I know, magic, right? This is incredible!”
And the enchanted tour began. Johnny marveled at the little houses and industrious elves who were busily assembling toys for the coming holiday. His rapid fire questions were patiently answered by his chubby tour guide.
“Hey, what are they making over there?”
Santa looked in the direction the dark-haired man was pointing.
“I believe they are making toy robots.”
“Ooohhh, I always wanted one of those in the worst way when I was a kid. I think I even asked for one for Christmas one year. But I didn’t get it.”
For the first time since their meeting, Santa’s expression grew serious. “Yes, yes. I remember that year. There was something you needed far more than a toy robot.” Before Johnny could question that statement, the man brightened and asked, “How would you like to see the reindeer before we go?”
“You mean Dasher and Dancer and . . . Bluster and . . . er . . . Dixon? And the rest?”
Santa chuckled mightily as Johnny stumbled over their names.
“Let me introduce you to them all. My reindeer just love visitors, particularly Prancer. You’ll love Prancer.”
The reindeer did indeed love company, much to Gage’s delight. When they reached Prancer, he reached out to give him a pat, as he had with all the others. This particular reindeer nudged forward and tossed his head to the side, bellowing loudly. Startled, Johnny jumped back. Landing on a large patch of ice, his feet slid out from under him, and the dark-haired man landed on his rear end with a grunt.
“Now, Prancer,” Santa mirthfully scolded, “I’ve told you to stop doing that to our visitors. Are you all right, young man?” He reached down to help Johnny to his feet.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. Nuthin’ hurt but my pride.”
“Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah, I’m ready,” Johnny mumbled, pulling at the wet seat of his pants.
Again by magic, they were transported back to Roy’s living room. After a few words of goodbye, Santa and Ellsworth left, the long list of the naughty and nice trailing behind them. Johnny sat down on the couch to contemplate his adventure.***
The key turning in the lock alerted Johnny that Roy and Joanne were home from their holiday “date”. He yawned and rubbed his sleep-gritted eyes before sitting up. A news anchor on television was just beginning a rundown of the day’s events. A minute or two later, Roy and Joanne walked into the room. Joanne greeted Johnny, kissed Roy’s cheek, and murmured she was going upstairs to check on Chris and Jennifer.
“Hey, Junior, how’d it go tonight?” his partner questioned.
“It was great! The kids were good and mostly went to bed when they were supposed to.”
“Let me guess. Jenny was the hold out. I bet she wouldn’t stop singing.”
“Yeah. How’d you know?”
Roy laughed. “That’s been her new thing all week. She wants to be prepared for the school concert.”
Johnny yawned and stretched. “Well, I’m outta here. I’ll see you at work in the morning.”
“All right. See you in the morning.”
On his way home, Gage remembered the strange dream he’d had.
The next morning, Johnny entered the locker room whistling. He was in such a good mood that even Chet couldn’t spoil it. He greeted Roy with a wide grin.
“You look tired this morning. Late night?”
Roy glanced at his partner and smiled, “Yeah, but it was worth every minute.”
Surprised at his usually-reserved partner’s comment, Johnny turned to his locker slightly embarrassed.
His mouth dropped open when he opened the locker door. There on the shelf sat a toy robot. He reached in and pulled it out.
Roy looked over. “What’s that?”
“A toy robot. I just found it in my locker.”
“Where’d it come from?”
“Um, I don’t know.”
“Watch out. It’s probably another of the Phantom’s practical jokes.”
Johnny stared down at the exact toy he’d wanted so very long ago.
“Yeah . . . maybe.” He carefully placed it back on the shelf and started changing into his uniform.
But deep down, Johnny knew exactly where the toy had come from and who had left it for him.
And he smiled.
* * * The End * * *
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Stories By Vanessa Christmas Stories