Red Christmas – A simple tale of blood and torture
It was Christmas morning in London. That is to say it was raining fiercely and there wasn’t a flake of snow to be seen this side of the South Pole. In households all over the city ugly ungrateful brats were busy tearing open lovingly gift-wrapped packages and tearfully complaining about what was inside them. In other words it was a normal Christmas morning. Well, normal for anyone whose name happened NOT to be Johnny McKenzie, otherwise known as Johnny Nothing.
“Why do I never get any presents?” thought Johnny to himself as he dragged himself out of bed with a shiver.
“Brrrrrrr! It’s cold!” thought the shiver.
The other occupants of the rat-infested council flat that Johnny called home were all asleep as he and his shiver made their way downstairs into the living room. It had been a busy night for Johnny’s parents, the loathsome Felicity MacKenzie and her useless lump of lard husband Billy. As well as drinking several gallons of something that tasted like cheap lager they had found in a skip, the grisly pair had also been laying a trap for someone. Someone whom you might know very well indeed…
On Christmas mornings in most people’s homes you might expect to find a nice juicy Christmas tree covered in twinkling lights with a fairy perched on the top. Not so in Johnny’s home. Here, there was no Christmas tree. No twinkling lights. And there was no sign of a fairy with a giant pine tree stuck up her bum. Instead, there was a sweaty old man with a straggly white beard squatting in front of the gas fire making curious gasping noises.
The man was dressed from head to toe in a red all-in-one body suit with furry cuffs. On his wrinkled liver-spotted old head there was a really stupid looking hat. He looked ridiculous. I’m not joking – he really did look like a complete pillock. Moreover, someone had tied him up with rope and gagged him so that he could scarcely breathe. Johnny recognised the stranger instantly.
“Are you… Are you… Santa Claus?” Johnny asked in astonishment, prising the gag away from the old man’s mouth.
“Who do you think I bloody am?” spluttered Father Christmas. “Barrack Obama?”
“Not really…” said Johnny, fairly sure that this was not the president of America sitting in his living room.
“Untie me!” yelled the tied up stranger. “There’s going to be hell to pay – I can tell you!”
For a moment Johnny thought he was dreaming. “Am I dreaming?” he murmured, as if determined to play along with my description of what was happening.
“No you’re not bloody dreaming!” said Santa, as if determined to undermine my description of what was happening. “And if you don’t get these ropes off me I’ll have your guts for garters!”
“Are you really Father Christmas?” he asked.
“Yes,” replied the old man irritatedly, as if he was totally fed up of answering that question. “Now will you please untie me.”
Johnny dropped to his knees and began working at the ropes that bound Father Christmas. Whoever had tied them had made a good job of it.
“No offence,” said Johnny. “but I thought that Santa Claus was just a made up person.”
“Oh… I’m real enough all right,” grumbled Santa. “Who do you think delivers all those presents every Christmas?”
“But you’ve never delivered any to me.”
“Of course you haven’t – your bloody mother has always nicked them before you’ve had a chance to lay your hands on them.”
Right on cue the sound of an extinct woolly mammoth could be heard descending the stairs.
“Talk of the Devil,” groaned Father Christmas, as Johnny continued to struggle to untie him.
“Johnny stop untying him right now!!” ordered the hungover voice of the extinct woolly mammoth as it entered the room. “That silly old scrote is my prisoner!”
I suppose it’s fair to point out that it is a little cruel to compare Johnny’s mother, the delightful Felicity MacKenzie, with an extinct woolly mammoth. You have my apologies for doing so. Because woolly mammoth’s – even though they were big and hairy and smelly and prone to accidentally squishing any cavemen who accidentally got in their way – were actually quite cute. Baby woolly mammoths were particularly cute; and quite tasty on the barbecue, too, I’m told.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of Felicity MacKenzie, who was neither tasty nor cute. In fact, she was the opposite of tasty: quite rancidly tasteless, if such a thing is possible. The sort of human being tastebud equivalent of Brussel sprouts marinated in fart juice. And she was also the opposite of cute, which I make as being ‘etuc’, quite a meaningless word in actual fact.
She was so fat that she exerted her own gravitational pull. She was so ugly that when she was born her mother slapped herself. She was so mean that she won’t even allow me to finish this senten
Back to the story:
“Why have you tied me up!” yelled Santa Claus. “What do you want from me?”
Felicity MacKenzie was rummaging through the large sack of presents that lay beside the still tied up Father Christmas. Beside her was a blobby heap of beer belly and builder’s crack clinker named Billy MacKenzie. If you don’t already know, he was Johnny’s dad and Felicity’s husband. As usual he was unshaven and smelled of Victorian urinals and dog breath.
“This is no good!” scowled Felicity, throwing a box of Lego across the room. ‘We want expensive gifts. Something we can flog on eBay!”
“Stop opening my presents!” urged Santa. “They’re not for you!”
“Or what?” growled Billy MacKenzie.
“Or… Or… I’ll get very cross,’ said Santa, which wasn’t really much of a threat because he was still tied up and – let’s face it – however cross he might be, Santa Claus is never going to be that scary, is he? He’s Santa Claus for goodness sake!
“I’m ravenous,” said Felicity. ”’Ere Santa – you got any food in these parcels?”
As Santa looked on, the horrible pair continued opening the presents in his sack. Books, CDs, socks, after shave, strange looking adult toys that required batteries, and boring games like Cluedo and Monopoly were hurled to one side.
“Should you really be doing that?” asked Johnny, who had kept quiet while all this was going on.
“Mind your own business!” said his mother, spitting out a mouthful of perfume that she had hoped might be whisky. “And get me some food you little brat!”
Johnny went into the kitchen and rooted around for something to give to his mother. Apart from a small piece of cheese that was growing a quiff, the fridge was lukewarm and empty. Johnny moved back into the living room to give his parents the bad news. Before he could speak, however, Felicity MacKenzie let out a hoot of triumph, whatever that sounds like. “Hold on a minute,” she announced, looking over at a very unhappy Santa Claus.. “How did you get here?”
“I beg your pardon?” he replied.
“Are you stupid? I said: how did you get here?”
“Is that an existential question or do you mean into your flat?”
“Well down the chimney, of course.”
The fact that there wasn’t a chimney in the flat didn’t seem to deter Felicity MacKenzie. “No I don’t mean that you fat old imbecile!” she said. “I mean how did you get here? How did you journey to the flat?”
“Why on my sleigh, of course.”
“On his sleigh!” yelled Felicity in triumph. “And where is it now?”
“Why, it’s still parked outside.”
Felicity MacKenzie pulled herself upright and began to cackle. “Billy,” she said, “go outside and fetch our Christmas dinner.”
Billy looked confused. “Whatdoyoumean, Fliss?” he asked.
“I’ve got a special treat for us all today,” said Felicity, licking her bulbous trout lips. “…Roast reindeer.”
“Lovely,” said Billy. “But before we eat have we got time for another advert?”
Although when pushed she could just about rustle up a Pot Noodle, Felicity MacKenzie would be the first to admit that she wasn’t much of a cook.
“I’d be the first to admit that I’m not much of a cook.” said Felicity macKenzie, as she sat at the head of the dining table. There. I told you so.
Nevertheless, she had made a surprisingly good job of Christmas dinner. Delia Smith would have been proud. Delicious odours of cooked meat wafted around the flat like clouds of tangy loveliness making Johnny’s tummy rumble like a long extinct volcano. Hold on… If it was extinct it wouldn’t be rumbling. Would it?
“Shall I carve?” asked Billy.
“Please do, my darling husband,” said Felicity, putting on her poshest voice.
While Felicity and Billy sat at either end of the dining table Johnny stood in the doorway to the kitchen looking on in horror as his blood soaked father began cutting the Christmas dinner into succulent slices. Still tied up on the floor was Santa Claus, who was weeping profusely.
“Stop crying you big baby and have a bit of dinner,’ said Felicity.
“But… But… You’ve murdered… My Rudolph…” cried Santa.
“Oh stop fussing,’ said Felicity. “Do you fancy a slice of nose?”
Billy MacKenzie had been uncharacteristically efficient with Rudolph. First he had dragged the whimpering reindeer into the flat by its harness. And then, using a carving set that he found in Santa’s sack, he had set about slaughtering the animal.
First he had cut Rudolph’s throat, collecting the gallons of blood that gushed from the wound in a tin pot that he used for soaking his feet. “We can use this for black pudding later,’ he had said cheerfully.
Then he had neatly sliced the still warm and trembling carcass into smaller portions, passing a leg over to his wife which she swiftly popped into the oven with a bit of garlic. The whole exercise was over in less than ten minutes. However, the mess this created was terrible. Everywhere you looked there was reindeer blood: on the walls, the ceiling, the curtains. Most of the blood was on Billy, who looked even redder than Santa Claus. It was a red Christmas.
“Tuck in,” urged Felicity.
Dinner was over. Felicity and Billy McKenzie slumped into their chairs in front of the telly, stuffed to satisfaction and watching as the Queen gave her annual speech.
“Philip and I would like to thank everybody for giving us all of your hard-earned money so that you can help to maintain an oligarchy that is thousands of years old and patently unfair to all but the select few,” she said. “It keeps us in jewels and Corgis and helicopter rides and makes sure that you, my subjects, have no hope of ever achieving anything with your lives unless you go on the X-Factor or Big Brother or Strictly or some other asinine turgid nonsense…”
In the morning there was only one more thing to think about. The remaining bits of Rudolph had been stuffed into the fridge and under the sink and in the bath and into various cupboards. The presents that had been pilfered from Santa’s sack were already on eBay. It was just a question of what to do with Santa Claus.
Santa Claus. All over the world that name had suddenly become hated overnight. This was because, apart from a couple of isolated regions in the south of England, no presents had been delivered anywhere else.
Santa Claus. Millions of parents were left wondering how to stop their children’s desperate tears. “But it’s not our fault,” said mothers and fathers everywhere. “It’s that evil Father Christmas who’s to blame.”
Santa Claus: you could almost swim in the wave of bitter disappointment that washed over the globe.
Santa Claus: What a smelly old rat!
On television, newscasters told tales of the hated devil named Santa Claus. Police and politicians were interviewed, universally condemning this once loved figure. A warrant for Santa’s arrest was issued by Interpol. In many countries the death penalty was reinstated in anticipation of Santa’s capture.
On boxing day there was knock on the MacKenzie’s front door. “He’s in here,” said Felicity to a man waving an identity card. Early in the morning, Felicity had called the police and told them that she had apprehended a familiar looking intruder.
“Get him boys,” said the man, and at once a dozen or so police officers bundled into the council flat.
“I caught him killing a reindeer,” said Felicity. “So Billy banged him on the head and we tied him up.”
“Thank you madam,” said another man. “You’ve done a great service to the nation.”
Santa was handcuffed and taken into police custody. Three days later he was sentenced to death without trial. The Home Secretary’s triplets had caused such a fuss when they discovered they had no Christmas presents that he had vowed to get an instant revenge.
At the execution a jeering crowd threw rancid Christmas puddings at the cowering figure of Santa Claus. Some hurled chocolate cherry liqueurs. As his head was placed into the noose, Santa was asked if he had any last words.
The old man hunched his shoulders and coughed. Then he replied: “Yes I do, actually.”
The crowd grew silent as the man known as Father Christmas or Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas uttered his final words.
“What an ungrateful bunch you are,’ he said softly. ‘For thousands of years I’ve been making and delivering presents for you all and never once have I received a thank-you for my troubles.
“Despite living in a freezing cold draughty house in the North Pole with no-one for company save for a couple of imps and a reindeer with a genetic nose impairment you’re still not satisfied.
“Despite having to sit on rooftops for most of December waiting for your little brats to post their Christmas wish list up the bloody chimney I’ve never got so much as a ‘ta very much, mate’.
“Despite having to listen to endless crappy Christmas records by the likes of Slade and Wizzard and Bing bloody Crosby you still want more.
“Despite depositing millions of gifts into your kids’ stockings for longer than I care to remember, it doesn’t stop you from hinting to them that it was actually really YOU who bought the presents.”
There was a murmur among the crowd as the spectators took in Santa’s words. Then a crescendo of voices rose up and almost to a man began chanting the same words:
“LET HIM…” they cried, thinking of all the hard work they would have to do if Santa was allowed to go to the gallows.
“LET HIM…” they chanted, wondering how their lives might change without this universal figure of kindness and joy.
“LET HIM…” they chorused, trying to imagine what life would truly be like without Christmas.
“LET HIM… DIE.”