When the policewoman walked into the store, the first thought that came to Santa was to wonder why the simple act of owning handcuffs made a woman so attractive.
Santa had earned his nickname because his hair and beard had turned white early in life and because of the distinctive pear shape of his body.
But make no mistake: there was nothing jolly about this elf.
He always seemed to belong to whatever homeless camp was nearby and the police frequently questioned him when crimes were committed in his vicinity whether he fit the suspect’s description or not.
Unfortunately for Santa, on the day he found himself in handcuffs again, he was more than a suspect.
His day had begun with the purchase of his daily pint of cheap scotch. After he had paid, another patron of Louie’s Liquor and Firearms had bumped Santa’s elbow, causing him to drop and break his purchase. The other patron ran away leaving Santa alone to face the clerk and demand that Louie’s provide a replacement bottle.
Like everyone who came into contact with him, the clerk was creeped out and called the police.
For her part in the matter, Officer Maguire was well prepared. Having grown up the only girl in the middle of four brothers she was used to dealing with unruly, smelly men.
There were less pleasant looking guys around and there were many who drank more and/or bathed less but, this guy was in a league of his own.
His one-sided conversation in the back seat made him enjoy his ride to jail for the first time. Even the beginnings of alcohol withdrawal were not curbing his ardor for her.
He tried grooming himself in the reflection of the security screen, but with his hands secured, his contortions resembled a seizure, and Officer Maguire almost drove him to the hospital.
Another reality of the situation began to dawn on Officer Maguire: the reaction of her fellow officers if they were to discover the object of Santa’s infatuation.
Her only hope to retain any dignity was to get him booked as quickly as possible and get him out of her life.
Her dream was dashed as soon as they entered the jail.
A group of Shriners had been celebrating a birthday at a local strip club.
The booking area was still packed with the remnants of the celebration, many of whom were trying to remember whose birthday they had been celebrating.
There was no way for Santa to not stand out in the crowd: he was the only male in handcuffs who wasn’t shirtless and wearing a fez.
The only female officer in the room escorting the only prisoner still wearing all of his clothes was cause for comment.
Arresting Santa was almost a rite of passage, but the combination of Santa and Officer Maguire carried a promise of entertainment.
A group of Shriners began to sing a paean to the pleasures of brotherhood, alcohol, and easy women and the rest of them quickly joined in.
Inspired by the song and a flash of distant memory, Santa dropped to one knee and began serenading Officer Maguire with “If Ever I Should Leave You.”
What he lacked in ability he made up for with unmusicality.
Both the officers and the Shriners stood transfixed as though Pavarotti had suddenly appeared in their midst. They took a hard look at the horrified policewoman and recognized Santa as a kindred, if undesirable, spirit.
The only sound in the booking area was Santa’s voice. The only movement was Officer Maguire’s desperate attempt to dissolve into the wall.
His gestures were limited by the handcuffs so he tried to put as much into his facial expressions as possible.
When the sound on the booking area video – which was available on YouTube that same day – was turned off, Santa appeared to be attempting to chew and swallow a large, sharp object.
His dentures, which had never fit very well, had slipped causing additional problems with his diction. The title line of the song sounded like “If Edward Eyes Wool Sleeve You.”
With a heart freed by love and unburdened by rational thought, when Officer Maguire’s emptied the pepper spray in his face, he was the last to notice.
A quick-thinking sergeant took Officer Maguire’s gun right before she could shoot any of the Shriners and cops who took great delight in improvising a choral version of Santa’s love song.
The booking area had to be emptied while it aired out and Santa was taken to the closest hospital in the hope that his eyesight could be saved and a lawsuit avoided.
It took the medical staff a great of time and effort to get Santa cleaned up.
Throughout the ordeal he kept asking for a priest and assurances that his injuries weren’t fatal didn’t seem to have a calming effect.
When Father Ramirez got a good look at Santa, he stopped and took out his Bible with a quick reminder to himself that “We’re all God’s children,” wondering if in this case an exorcism was necessary.
His priestly reassurances that he was in no danger from his injuries were met with an almost violent sideways shaking of his head.
“I know,” said Santa.
“I just want to get married.”
Story by Milton Irvin.