“If you kids don’t behave, Santa’s coming tonight and taking those presents back to the North Pole.” Father’s Christmas day threat worried me, but now it was days after the bearded elf made his pilgrimage and at this point his warning was a fading memory. Besides, at seven, I wasn’t so sure about the Santa Claus thing anyway.
I was excited and well armed with my new German Luger dart gun and the ping pong ball firing rifle. The pistol was my favorite since with the rubber suction cup removed from the dart, it could produce a sting on an unsuspecting victim. My older brother Billy’s favorite new toy was his Photo Electric Football. The game is simply a light bulb enhanced playing field where each opponent puts in a play, one for the offensive and the other for the defense. After the formations are inserted, the offensive player slides back a cardboard sheet and the illuminated board reveals the results. The play stops when a black or red dot intersects either the runner or the pass, with red being either a fumble or interception.
Billy and I played Photo Electric Football most of Christmas day and the next. The following afternoon we had a close contest when tempers boiled over. I inserted a play and passed for a long touchdown, but Billy tapped the game board and his red dot nicked and intercepted my scoring pass. I lunged at him but he was two years older, bigger, and much stronger. I was quickly put on the floor with a few ‘brotherly’ punches. After squirming away I pulled the Luger from my waistband and fired point-blank. He ducked, allowing the five inch projectile, without the rubber suction cup, into the Christmas tree and tearing through the hand painted ornament he made for our mother.
Time froze briefly as we both stared at the shattered remnants of his gift, still attached to the tree by the little aluminum hook.
Billy clenched both hands into fists shouting, “Look what you did. I’ll get you for this.” Then he tackled me.
In a millisecond we crashed into the Christmas tree and lay on the floor, tangled in the decorations. The fight was quickly forgotten as we stood the tree up and tried to put everything back in place, but with the aluminum icicles’ knotted and twisted, the popcorn strings tangled, and several more ornaments broken, it was a futile effort.
Mother, after investigating the scene warned us. “Wait until your father sees this.” Of course we were both on good behavior when father came home from work, but it was too little too late. After viewing the damage he questioned us in a loud threatening voice. “How did this happen and who did it?”
Billy tried to explain, “Patrick shot his gun at me and broke mother’s present.”
We expected the dreaded words, “Get my strap,” the corporal punishment tool that hung on a doorknob in full view. I always thought forcing his victim to fetch the belt was extremely cruel, but that was Father.
That didn’t happen. Instead he instructed us to put all our presents back under the tree and that night Santa did return and reclaimed everything except our discarded pile of new clothes. Eventually with a healthy dose of good behavior our presents were returned, but unfortunately for me, the Luger wasn’t one of them.
Patrick Shanahan; Bio
Patrick is a Missouri author whose weekly human interest columns have appeared in The Moberly Monitor, The Maple Messenger, The Home Press, and The Kirksville Daily Express. Several of his pieces have appeared in Good Old Days and Looking Back, both National magazines. He has numerous published works to his credit including his newest MEMORIES & IMAGINATION, a collection of short stories profiling several different genres along with 22 “snapshots of life” clips. One publisher, Crimson Cloak Publishing, has incorporated numerous Shanahan short stories in their themed anthology books over the past two years. In addition, another recent work, The Justice Club, brings the reader to the dark world of pedophilia, where a family is torn apart and the father seeks revenge. Reaching back into his childhood Patrick brings children to the world of make believe in The Adventures of Bunny Bunny. His most recent effort is writing a screen play at his agents urging for his book, A GIRL NAMED JANE.
The second oldest of 13 children Patrick grew up on the streets of Chicago and often feeds the pages of his manuscripts with incidents and characters from that time. He avoids challenging words and flowery narration, and always adds plenty of unexpected twists to his stories.
Patrick Shanahan books are available on all major book sites including Amazon Books, Wal-Mart Books, and Barnes & Noble.
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