Strangers in a Strange Land, Part 1

A lot of people really dig Christmas Eve. The presents, the family (blood and otherwise), the anticipation, the food — a lot of things to be loved by people who love them.

Not me. I like Christmas evening much more.

==

Floggin’ Brews was busy on Christmas evening. It’s a chance to get out of the house for a few hours, away from crazy Aunt Louise and sleazy Cousin Louie with his bad jokes. Come share a little time with your chosen family, have a good brew or your favorite recipe for an Aviation, talk about the cool things you got or did that day, and just relax.

I love having the bar open on Christmas evening. I love to host my crowd on an evening when people just go to mellow out and smile. Business was brisk, and the place was as cheerful as it ever is. All’s well with the world.

Ret was willing to come in and work this evening, and a good thing that. She came in around 7 as the traffic began to pick up. She came rushing in and said, “Mikhel! Did you see that sleigh and reindeer parked on the curb out there??”

“Yes, yes, I did.” I nodded toward the end of the bar, and I thought her eyes would bug out when she looked.

“Put your coat away and grab an apron. We’re gonna get busy, and I’ll explain later.”

She stared for a moment, and then went back to put her coat and hat away. She got behind the counter and continued to not stare at the customers at the end of the bar.

She sidled up to me and loudly whispered, “Who are those two jokers ? Is there such a thing as a Christmas costume party?”

She was pointedly not pointing at them. One was a very large older gentleman with a full white beard and a full head of heavy white hair. He was wearing what was doubtless the ugliest Ugly Christmas Sweater ever made; its jarring colors made your eyes water to look at it too long.

But what got her attention was his drinking companion. Eight feet tall if he (she?) was an inch, with an evil expression and horns that added another six inches. You couldn’t see that one’s feet from behind the bar, but you could easily imagine Pan’s legs. There was a very tall, slender basket on the floor next to him (her?) with a lid on it. There was something very wrong with that basket, but a quick glance didn’t uncover it.

“Who ARE those guys?” Ret repeated.

“Why that’s Santa and Krampus,” I answered.

**silence**

“What?”

“Santa and Krampus. They’ve had a busy day, and they both decided to stop here for a drink and a breather before heading home. I’m flattered, actually.”

**silence**

“Their glasses look about empty. Krampus is drinking Blood and Smokes — use the Laphroaig for the rinse. Santa’s drinking the Avec les bons Vœux de la brasserie Dupont saison. I’ve got new Dupont coasters under the bar by him.”

**silence**

(to be continued)

 

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