'Twas the Night before Christmas

A seasonal frippery. We're trying to interest David Lynch or Tim Burton, but so far their agents haven't returned our calls. . .


PAN TO: a glimmer of light, a warm, friendly kind of light that speaks of cheer and festivity. As we approach, we see that the light is sneaking around a solid and respectable front door, set into a snowbank. There is a large and lovingly polished brass doorknocker, almost totally obscured by a huge wreath of fragrant evergreens, cinnamon sticks, kumquats, ribbons, bonbons and poinsettias. The swirling snow mysteriously fails to settle upon it. A gloved hand reaches up to knock . . .

The door opens, to the sound of carols and the scent of mulled wine. An large, cheerful, elderly man, dressed in red and white, is standing in the doorway.

SANTA (for it is he): Ho, ho, ho. Come in before you freeze, whoever you - ULLP!

(A gang of muscular thugs, heavily armed, force their way past, knocking Santa to the floor. Elves flee in consternation and all directions.)

LEAD THUG: OK, don't nobody move.

SANTA: (struggling feebly to get up). But, but, but - this is an outrage! Who ARE you?

LEAD THUG: OK Boss, we got the joint secure.

(A diminutive figure in Arctic gear enters, followed by a very tall person entirely cloaked in black and hooded from view.)

SMALL PERSONAGE: (removing gloves, and placing a booted foot on Santa's belly, hampering his turtle-like efforts to right himself) The name is Woodgnome, Ernst Stavro Woodgnome.

SANTA: (gasps in horror)

WOODGNOME: (smiling in a sinister fashion) Ah, I see you know the name. They thought that they had seen the last of me, but as I promised, the world shall hear from me again.

(He discards his outer wear, revealing him to be wearing a Mao jacket in grey silk, and to be carrying a very fat and dyspeptic looking white Persian cat)

I am afraid, Santa Claus, aka Father Christmas, aka St Nicholas, aka Nick the Greek (kicks the supine figure as he recites each name) that my associates and I have decided - how shall I put it - that your little operation is due for a change of management. For too long have you inflicted your sickening brand of sentimentality on the world each winter. Now it is our turn to decide how Christmas is celebrated. Instead of Christmas carols and overeating and jollity, there will be cold dark cells, punishments and silence. Bottoms will smart from one end of the holidays to the other.

SANTA: (muffled) But this is monstrous . . .

WOODGNOME: (laughs theatrically, stroking the cat) Thank you. Even as we speak, my operatives are replacing the gaudy gewgaws your elves have packed with more - appropriate - gifts: whips, paddles, restraints, and canes. We *are* leaving the slippers, though. Cases of Ralgex and BenGay for after-spanking massage. Histories of religious flagellation and DIY guides to making your own whips and paddles. Hand-carved solid wooden spatulas, useful in the kitchen and the bedroom. Oh yes! Children all over the world, indeed the young at heart all over the world, will learn to dread what lurks under the Christmas tree in that tasteful faux-black leather wrapping paper.

SANTA: Hold hard you black-hearted villain! I'll never deliver such monstrous gifts, so how do you propose to get them to your victims, hah? That'll put a spoke in your plans!

WOODGNOME: Ah yes, that would have been a problem. Except for one thing. You may remember, back in the good old days, when you were starting up your tacky gift concession. The business with those underage girls in Smyrna - oh yes, we have FULL documentation on that - had all been successfully covered up, you were on a roll. So you took a partner. But it soon turned out that it wasn't exactly an even partnership. You got to play the personification of sweetness and light, while he . . .

TALL HOODED FIGURE: (in a sepulchral voice) Put the frighteners on people.

WOODGNOME: Exactly. You got to drink brandy and eat mince pies, while he was reduced to chasing naughty children with a birch - nice enough in itself, I grant you, but a bit limiting. He wanted to try canes and tawses. He even wanted to try being a sub, too, but would you let him? No. So tonight, he takes over. Step forward . . .

SANTA: Black Peter!

TALL FIGURE: (throws off his hood to reveal a magnificently muscled man in black leather with wild hair and burning eyes) Yes, Black Peter. And now I am going to be the man behind the sleigh. I'll be the boss and decide who gets what. And boy are they all going to get it! I do what I want now.

WOODGNOME: (softly) As long as you do what I tell you.

SANTA: Over my dead body!

WOODGNOME: Certainly. (He whips out a small silver crossbow and shoots Santa through the heart with deceptive ease and a sharpened holly stake. Turns to camera) OK, so it's not as elegant as piranhas, but sometimes you just gotta improvise. Besides, I got the idea from Dickens, and what could be more seasonal than that?

THUGS: The presents are all loaded, Boss.

WOODGNOME: Then very soon, the world will bend (over) to my will. The Woodgnome has returned . . . (Bursts into maniacal laughter)



Idris the Dragon

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© , 2005