Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring...not even Larisa. That is until she was awakened by a loud "Bang!" on the roof, followed by a few smaller bumping noises and finally an "Aaaaahhhhhh!!....THUD!"
"What the hell was that?", she said sleepily. She got out of her very warm bed, slipped on a robe and walked over to the window. Looking out, she saw that it had been snowing hard all night and her yard and the streets were blanketed in fresh, unblemished snow. Unblemished, except for the vaguely man-shaped depression in it directly below her window. Even in the dark, she could see that something red and white was moving in the snow down there.
"S...Santa?", She wondered. Well, she was sure going to find out. She threw on a pair of dickies, a sweat shirt and some shoes. Quietly opening her bedroom door so as not disturb her parents, she made her way out into the hall and down the stairs. She went out through the door in the kitchen, stepping onto the patio. It was colder than she had thought and as she watched her breath come like short bursts of fog, she considered going back for a jacket. But then she heard a low moan from around the corner of the house, which was where she had seen the shape in the snow.
Larisa headed towards the sound, her feet crunching the new snow as she went. She peaked her head around the corner and her jaw dropped open when she realized what she was seeing. There, sitting in the snow, holding his head in one hand, and his side in the other and moaning quietly, was Santa Claus. There could be no mistake. He had it all, the red suit, the white beard, the jelly belly...and something else. Something that said that this was no street drunk dressed up in a cheap polyester costume. He was the real deal. And he was hurt.
"Santa?", she said shyly, stepping around the corner. She felt as though she was breaking a commandment or something...you're not supposed to actually SEE Santa Claus. But here he was. "Are you OK?"
Santa started in surprise, but the movement caused him to grimace in pain. He did managed to turn in Larisa's direction, though.
"And who do we have here?", he asked. "Little Larisa Oleynik? Hello, child. Merry Christmas. Ho ho...ohhhhh."
"Oh, Santa...you're hurt.", she said kneeling down next to him. "What happened?"
"I must be getting careless in my old age...not that 1714 is that old. Don't you agree?" Larisa nodded (after all it wouldn't be polite to call Santa old, even at that age) and Santa continued. "Sweet girl. Anyway, I was just about to climb down your chimney and put your presents under your tree...I must say you've been a very good girl this year, by the way...but I stopped to adjust the harness on my reindeer first. Well, the reindeer have been pretty frisky lately...to be honest, they've been more than just frisky. They're upset with me because I don't want them to unionize. But what can I do? It's not like I'm making millions of dollars just giving away these presents to all the boys and girls, you know. I give them as much as I can. Anyway, they don't see it that way and when I bent over to re-attach the harness, one of them...and I just KNOW it was Prancer...kicked my feet out from under me. I bounced all the way down the roof and then fell off all together. I think I landed on my head. Ooof! And then they just took off, laughing..."
Santa had stopped and was rubbing his temples. Larisa was looking right in his eyes at that moment and she saw them roll up into his head, just in time. She grabbed him before he could fall over and guided him gently to the ground. This was horrible. Santa was out cold and the reindeer had taken off.
"Santa...Santa, wake up.", she said. No response. She had to find a way to wake him up. Thinking that if one faery tale was true, others might be as well, and even though it was usually a prince kissing a princess to awaken her, this would have to do. She leaned over him and slowly lowered her head down to his. She didn't think kissing Santa on the lips would be appropriate so she touched her lips softly to his forehead. A spark flashed where they touched (and whether this was due to Santa or Larisa is up for debate). Santa stirred.
"Huh...what...how did I get here? Where...where IS here?", he asked groggily. "And who's this? Little Larisa Oleynik? Merry Chris...oh, my aching head. Where did my reindeer go?"
Santa seemed like he was a little out of it now. Maybe more than a little. The blow to the head must have been what did it, Larisa thought. And now Christmas would be ruined, all because some stupid reindeer wanted to be overpaid.
"Well not if I have anything to say about it!" she declared. Larisa helped Santa to his feet, put his arm around her shoulder for balance and began to lead him into the house. He was still babbling away.
"Ho ho ho. No Unions! And who do we have hear? Little Larisa Oleynik! You know...you're on my "Nice" list. But maybe you can slide old Santa a little bit of the Naughty, eh?"
Suddenly Larisa stopped short.
"Santa.", she said calmly.
"Yes?", Santa replied with all the innocence of a kid caught with his hands in the cookie jar.
"Will you please take your hand off my ass?"
"Sorry.", he said, chagrined. He moved his hand. The two resumed their trek across the snow and into the house. Larisa unloaded him into an easy chair. He immediately passed out again.
"Santa! Wake up, you dirty old man.", no kiss for him this time. She just shook him until his eyes opened.
"Well, who do we have hear? Little..."
"Ya ya ya. It's me Larisa. We've been through this.", she said losing patience with him. It was already past two in the morning and she had no idea how many presents were left to deliver. "Listen carefully. You fell off my roof. Your reindeer took off..."
"Those no good, money-grubbing...", Santa started, but Larisa cut him off with a look.
"The reindeer are gone and it's Christmas and there are still presents to be delivered. And you are, obviously, in no shape to do it. Do you have a substitute or something we could call?"
"Substitute? No, there's just me.", he said looking confused as if he were trying to figure out what they could do. Then his face lit up. "And you! You could do it."
"Me? How? I'm just an average girl and I don't even have any flying reindeer, for goodness sake!"
"First of all, you are NOT average by any means.", he insisted seeming to shake off his bewilderment for the moment. "But anyway, it's all in the suit...and the pixie dust.", and he produced a small sack made of golden thread, closed at the top. He opened it and gestured for Larisa to look inside. She did and what she saw made her beautiful eyes widen in wonder. The bag was fill of dust that seemed to be all colors and none at the same time, or at different times, it was hard to tell. It also glowed brightly, but somehow each individual grain of dust could still be made out. And the dust seemed to be...dancing.
"The dust will let you do what you need to do to get every boy and girl the presents that they deserve. How else do you think I make so many deliveries in one night? UPS? Please."
"And what is the suit for...?", Larisa asked.
"Security. The dust only works for the person who's wearing the suit. Here I'll...", but once again Santa had passed out.
"Oh great.", Larisa said. But, not the kind of girl to bemoan a situation, she set about doing what had to be done, namely getting Santa out of the red suit so she could wear it. She managed to get the boots and hat off with no problem, and the coat came off with only a little struggle. But it took 20 minutes of pushing and pulling and twisting and tugging before she finally got his pants off.
"Hmm. I always figured Santa as a boxers kind of guy.", she said. "Those bikini briefs really aren't flattering."
Then she began to get dressed. When she was done, she looked in the mirror. She looked silly as the suit was far too big for her. Her feet practically swam in the boots, the pants were only kept up by doubling the belt over and cinching it and the coat practically hung to the floor. Even the hat was too big for her head.
"I can't go out like this!" Then she remembered the pixie dust. She opened the bag and pinched some between her forefinger and thumb. It was warm and felt like it was made of puppy dog fur. Crossing her other fingers, she sprinkled some over herself. The dust floated down and then began to swirl around her. Faster and faster it went and then suddenly it glowed so brightly that she could not see.
When her sight returned, the dust was gone and the suit had changed. It now fit perfectly, having even changed to a more feminine cut. She looked quite fetching, actually.
"This is more like it. So what's next? Hmm. I'll need some replacements for those no-good reindeer.", she said to herself. But she wasn't sure what she should use. She only had one cat, and anyway that didn't seem right. She needed some help. Then it came to her.
She went back up to her room. Turning on her computer, she connected to the Internet. She opened her browser and went to www.larisa.com.
"These guys are so sweet. They'll help me for sure.", she began reading through the posts, looking for people she thought might be willing. After a few minutes, she had her list.
Her first stop was Toronto. She sprinkled some off the pixie dust over her computer. Again, it swirled around and around. She felt herself being pulled into the computer and with a flash, she was suddenly somewhere else.
Robert Ramos slept in his bed, visions of sugar-plum Larisas dancing in his head. Larisa stood next to his bed and tried to gently wake him.
"Robert...Robert. Wake up. I need your help.", she whispered.
"Huh...wha...Larisa? Am I dreaming?", the confused lad asked as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
"No, you're not dreaming. I need your help.", she said again.
"Help? With what?"
"Saving Christmas. Will you help me?"
"Of course. If you say we gotta save Christmas, then we gotta save Christmas. What do I do?" Robert was pretty sure he was dreaming, but decided to go along with it anyway.
"I'll explain on the way. Quick, get dressed." As Robert threw on his clothes, Larisa logged his computer on to the 'Net and began to sprinkle the dust over it. And then they were both somewhere else.
The next stop was Lindsey Clark, also in Toronto. She was a little alarmed when she woke up and found Robert standing in her bedroom, but since Larisa was there, too, she figured it was OK. Larisa explained the situation and Lindsey agreed to help.
Over the next hour, Larisa moved down the names on her list one-by-one. Zip-Six, Anthony, JC, Achtung Baby, Tbone, Ska Tiger and finally Dei. All readily agreed to help Larisa save Christmas.
Larisa returned to her house with her "reindeer to be" in tow. They gathered in her living room. Santa was out cold and apparently dreaming about someone...and it didn't appear to Mrs. Claus.
"Oh Yvette...that tickles. No, you can't be on BOTH my Nice and Naughty lists...well, OK...maybe...", he said in his sleep.
"Hmm. I always figured Santa as a boxers kind of guy.", Lindsey said. She looked over at Larisa and they exchanged a look as only two girls can. "Bikini briefs?"
"I know, really.", Larisa replied. "OK now...I need reindeer and you guys are it." She lead them up onto the roof where Santa's sleigh was waiting. The harness was still there but there were no reindeer in sight. And the weather looked like it was turning bad. Larisa lined everybody up, and strapped them into the harness, taking care to do it as comfortably as possible. Once she had everybody strapped in securely, she pulled out the bag of pixie dust.
"Here goes nothing.", she said and began to sprinkle the dust over them. Once again, the dust swirled and danced and began to glow. It move faster and faster, glowed brighter and brighter until no one could see anything except the bright light. When it cleared the change was striking, to say the least.
Where nine people stood a moment earlier, there were now nine...somethings. They had become like reindeer versions of the fabled centaur. Human heads and torsos, unchanged for the most part, sat atop strong reindeer bodies. Huge antlers rose from their foreheads. Larisa's helpers looked at each other and as odd as they looked to one another, somehow, the change in themselves seemed exactly right. They had no doubt that they would be able to pull the sleigh as far and as long as Larisa needed it to go.
"Wow! Yeah...that'll sure do.", Larisa said looking at them in amazement.
"But Larisa,", JC spoke up. "What about the weather?"
He was right, the snow had picked up again and a heavy fog had rolled in from the San Francisco Bay. They could barely see a few feet beyond the edge of the roof. But Larisa new her Christmas stories too well, and even though they had no red-NOSED reindeer, she knew what would do the trick.
Larisa walked up to Dei, who was strapped in at the front of the line. She looked up at him, and regarded him for a moment. He smiled shyly and shifted slightly under her scrutiny. Finally, she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. A small spark flashed (guess it was Larisa all along). Instantly, Dei's face turned bright red as he was overcome with embarrassment and excitement at the same time. She had thought to use the pixie dust as well, but she saw that it would not be needed. Like a bright red star, Dei's face lit up the stormy sky.
"Oh Dei, with your face so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight.", she giggled and then headed back to the sleigh. She climbed in and picked up the list of good little children who still needed presents. Confirming the first address, she stood up and took hold of the reins. And her voice rang out...
"Now, Zip-Six! Now, Robert! Now, Tiger and JC! On, Anthony! On Achtung! On Tbone and Lindsey! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
And with Dei's face lighting the way, they rose into the sky. Larisa was pushed back into the sleigh's seat by the incredible speed. An enormous smile spread across her face and her eyes opened wide in excitement. She laughed with the joy of it. They were on their way.
The night was long and the work tiring, but before dawn, Larisa and her fans had delivered presents to every good little girl and boy. When the last gift was under the last tree, and all the stockings of the world were full, Larisa returned each of her "reindeer" to their beds...and their usual forms. She thanked them for their help and then, as they fell fast asleep exhausted from their journey, she slipped a small present under each of their trees.
Finally she headed home herself, using the pixie dust to travel the Internet now that she was once again without reindeer.
Meanwhile back at the Oleynik household, Roman and Lorraine had just come down for Christmas morning only to find a red-faced fat man in his underwear snoring loudly in one of their easy chairs.
"Larisa!", her dad called, somehow knowing that his daughter must have SOMETHING to do with this.
Copyright (c) 1999 by Dei