SANTA IS DEAD by Jude Roy

The doorbell woke me up from a deep sleep. I cursed, slid on a pair of jeans, and shuffled to the front door. When I opened it, a kid, maybe five or six, stood on my porch. Tears ran from his eyes, and snot covered his upper lip.

“What’s wrong, kid?”

“Santa’s dead.”

“Where are your parents?”

He didn’t answer me. I looked around for a car or an adult—nothing.

“Come in, kid. It’s cold out here.”

I led him to my office and planted him in a chair. I handed him a Kleenex. Kids made me nervous. You could never anticipate what they were going to do.

“Now, what’s this about Santa being dead?” I asked once I had seated myself at my desk.

“Someone shot Santa.”

To check out his story, I called Pat Broussard, my friend, former boss, and sheriff of Ellison Parish.

“Not now, John.”

“Have you heard if someone shot a Santa?”

“How could you possibly know about that? It only happened a few minutes ago?”

“I’ve got this little kid over here telling me that someone shot Santa. What happened, Pat?”

“Some guy capped the Santa at the Towne Mall, in front of everybody, kids and all. It’s crazy over here. Kids bawling, parents yelling. I’ll come over as soon as I can.”

“Let me find out who the kid belongs to before you come barreling over. He’s scared enough as it is.”

“Okay, twenty minutes. It’ll take me that long to get away.”

I ended the call.

“What’s your name?”

“Johnny.”

“What’s your daddy or momma’s name?”

“Cassie.”

“Any last name?”

He wiped his nose with the back of his hand and gave me a puzzled look.

“How did you get here?”

“Walked.”

The mall was only a few blocks from my house. It was possible, but of all the houses between here and there, why pick mine?

“What happened to Santa?”

“A man shot him.”

“What did you do when that happened?”

“Ran away.”

“What about your mother? Where is she?”

He shrugged.

“Okay, did you see the man that killed Santa?” He nodded. “What did he look like? Was he scary?” Nod. More snot wiping. “What was he wearing? Maybe a jacket.” Nod. “Did it have a hood like yours?” Nod. “What color was it? Was it red?”

“Black.”

“Was his skin the same color as yours?” Nod. “Was he a grown-up man?” Nod. “Like me?”

“Yes.”

“Younger than me?”

“No. He had hair on his face.”

“A beard. What color? Black maybe or white?

“White.”

“Like Santa’s beard?”

“No”.

“Shorter?” Nod. “Was the hair all over his face?”

He shook his head and pointed to his chin and upper lip.

“A goatee. Was he tall?” I stood. “Tall like me?” He shook his head. “Maybe this tall?” I held my hand at shoulder level. He nodded.

“What kind of shoes was he wearing?”

He stuck out his foot, and showed me a Nike shoe.

I called Pat again.

“I’m about to take off.”

“Pat, you’re looking for an older white man wearing a black hoody and Nikes. He’s between five and six feet and has a white goatee.”

“Gotcha. I’ll pass it on.”

I ended the call.

“Would you like something to drink? I have orange juice.”

He nodded, and I got him a glass of juice. He took a sip and placed it on my desk.

“Mommy, said you were a nice man.”

“She knows me?”

And it hit me. His mother was Cassandra Cassie. I had done a job for her several years before. I heard she had a child, but I had not met him.

I called Pat again.

“We got him, walking down Pitre Lane.”

“Great, Pat. The boy’s mother is Cassandra Cassie.”

“I know.”

“You know?”

“Yeah, she was wounded. She told him to go to you. She’s hurt bad, but I think she’ll pull through.”

I ended the call.

“You know what happened to your mother?”

Tears and snot mixed. I handed him another Kleenex.

“Mommy’s hurt.”

“Yes, but she’ll be okay.”

“How did you know to come to this house?”

“Mommy told me.”

“She showed you where my house was?”

He nodded. Then he broke down again.

“What is it?”

“Santa’s dead, and there won’t be no more Christmas presents.”

“Nobody can kill Santa, Joey. He’s special. You’ll receive Christmas presents again.”

I liked this kid. He was a natural detective, just like me.

Then it hit me—just like me.


Jude Roy is a Louisiana native currently living in Kentucky. His stories are mostly set in South Louisiana. He has published in The Southern Review, American Short Fiction, MystericalE, and numerous other journals and magazines. He has stories forthcoming in Mystery Weekly and The Gravel.


Copyright © 2017 Jude Roy. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.

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