Santa Claus yawned, stretched and had a good scratch, then climbed into bed, where Mrs Claus was already comfortably settled. “Just about ready for the big day again” he said “It has come round quickly this time. I really wonder how many more years I can carry on you know, I find it more and more difficult each year.”
“Well,” yawned his wife, “Why don’t you take one of the elves with you, get them to do all the running about while you stay in the sleigh and tell him what to do.”
“That’s a fabulous idea, why didn’t I think of that” replied the old man “I’ll sort it out in the morning. Goodnight dear” He leaned across and kissed her on the cheek. “Goodnight” she mumbled, already half asleep. “I’ve got a nice kipper for your breakfast.”
The next morning, having eaten and enjoyed his kipper, he went into the workshop. The elves were busy loading the last of the gaily wrapped parcels into the sleigh, which was already piled high.
“Stop a minute chaps and gather round” he called. When they were all listening, he announced that he wanted one of them to accompany him on his rounds, to help him out. “I have put a lot of buttons in my hat here, “he said “ They’re all black except one, and the elf that pulls out that red one will be coming with me.” There was much excitement as they each took a button one by one, but Santa groaned inwardly when it was revealed that his companion was to be the elf called Dripnose.
Dripnose wasn’t the most popular elf, in fact he didn’t really have any friends. His personal hygiene wasn’t of the highest standard, and he always seemed to need a haircut. The crotch of his leggings always hung low, and you always knew what he had eaten at his previous meal from the remnants sticking to the front of his tunic. His nose was long, red and sore looking, and he continually sniffed wetly, hence his name. Santa was looking forward to his journey even less now he knew who he would have squashed into the sleigh beside him for the duration of the trip.
When the time came, they hitched the reindeer to the sleigh, and climbed aboard, then Dripnose waved to all the other elves as they soared into the sky. Santa Claus explained that he would sort out the parcels, and Dripnose was to climb down each chimney and deliver them. He gave Dripnose a bag, into which he was to pack any carrots or mince pies left out by grateful children, and told him if there were any glasses of sherry or whisky left out, he was to empty them into the nearest plant pot. Under no circumstances was he to drink any.
All went well for most of the deliveries, Dripnose was a quick learner, and Santa was very pleased with him. The bag of carrots and mince pies had been emptied several times into a larger sack in the sleigh, and Santa was glad that the reindeer and all the elves would have a grand feast when they got back. Dripnose had emptied all the glasses of drink as instructed, but at one house, he was feeling thirsty, so downed the large glass of sherry which stood on the mantelpiece. He felt it trickle warmly through his body. After that, he drank several more glasses, after deciding it was too tasty to tip away. He was soon feeling very lightheaded and giggly, and Santa looked at him suspiciously when he hiccupped loudly.
At last there was only one more delivery to be made. “Here we are “said Santa, “the last bungalow on the left down this lane and a nice big parcel addressed to Denise. .Don’t be long, Dripnose, then we can head home.”
Dripnose wobbled as he balanced on the top of the chimney, then suddenly overbalanced and slid down the chimney head first, clutching Denise’s gift to his chest as he fell. He landed in the fireplace with a crash, and lay there for a moment, winded. He was sober enough to realise that someone might have heard his descent, but he listened and heard nothing. He stood up gingerly and flexed his limbs, very glad he had no broken bones. The paper wrapping Denise’s present had been torn during his tumble, but he knew he could mend that if he could find some sticky tape, after all it was part of his job to wrap parcels by the thousand. As luck would have it, the tape was on the coffee table, where Denise had been wrapping some last minute gifts, so he gave a sigh of relief and picked it up. Oh Botheration, silly woman hadn’t secured the end, it had flattened against the rest of the roll, and with his bitten fingernails he had no hope of picking at it. Oh well, can’t be helped. He put the parcel beside the fireplace with the torn side downwards, hoping she would not notice when she picked it up. He looked round and spotted a plate in the hearth, with a mince pie and a carrot on it, which he put in his bag, and he licked his lips when he saw the large full wine glass beside the plate. He raised it to his lips, and as he tilted his head backwards to drink it, he was suddenly aware of a large dark shape in front of him, with two huge eyes, just inches from his own. Suddenly a large mouth opened beneath the eyes, even closer to him, and he was faced with two rows of large white teeth and curling lips, from which a deep growling sound started to erupt. In an instant Dripnose had flung the drink at the beast, and he ran for his life. It was on him and grabbed his tunic in its teeth, tearing a large piece out of it. He wriggled free and jumped up the chimney, as it grabbed the seat of his leggings. They stretched, then split with a loud ripping noise His hat fell off, and one of his shoes.. He scrambled up the chimney, leaving the creature barking and leaping around in the hearth. As he emerged from the chimney pot he could hear a woman’s grumpy voice shouting “Sasha, shut up for Gods sake it’s the middle of the night”.
“What’s all the fuss” said Santa as Dripnose threw himself into the sleigh, looking more disheveled that ever.
“I was attacked by a monster”said Dripnose, breathlessly.
“Oh sorry, I forgot to warn you about dogs” said Santa, “still, no harm done by the looks of things. Come on, let’s get home and share out those mince pies.” He tucked the shivering elf warmly under his arm and the sleigh soared into the sky. Dripnose vowed that if he was called upon next year to ride with Santa, he would feign death if necessary to get out of it, visiting earth was far too dangerous and he had a terrible headache and a sour taste in his mouth.
As for the dog – the next morning, Denise shouted loudly at her for breaking the glass and spilling sherry all over the hearthrug, and for scoffing the mince pie and carrot. When Denise picked up her parcel, the dog got another tongue-lashing for tearing the wrapper. Denise never solved the mystery of where the pieces of material had come from that Sasha was chewing to destruction. Sasha just wished she could hold a pencil, because she knew a bloody good exclusive story , just waiting to be written.