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Sleigh Bells Ringing

It was just another shift on Christmas Eve.  Sometimes, it was quiet, but other times, well, we never knew what we’d get called on.  Our first call of the night was for a motor vehicle accident on Main Street in Auburn, Washington.


Sleigh bells rang in the background as we rolled up on a red-dressed old man lying on the rain-soaked pavement.  A crowd milled around, looking from the sidewalk beside the Linger Longer Lounge. Police car and fire truck lights reflected upward from mud puddles on the street.


"What have we got?" 


“Sixty-year-old man, claiming to be Santa Clause.”  The firefighter winked at me.


“Says he was flying over the road in this sleigh when this white Tesla came out of nowhere. He swerved. His reindeer and sled went left. He went right and landed right here.”


I looked over and saw a white Tesla lying upside down, its doors, looking like wings, were wide open, revealing where the sound of sleigh bells had come from: the Tesla’s radio.


The firefighter could hardly hold back his laughter as he finished describing what “Santa” had told him.


“Well, let’s have a look at this character.” I said.


I squatted down next to his head.  A waft of sweet, sickly alcohol told me he’d been drinking all day.


“So, Santa, where do you hurt?”  I asked.


“Everywhere,” he slurred out the word.


“Can you be more specific?”


“Have you seen my reindeer?  I must find my reindeer.”


“The police are out looking for them now.  Let’s talk about you.  I need to know if you are injured.  I’m going to touch you. I want you to let me know when it hurts.”


I started with his head.  His red tasseled "Santa" hat was lying on the ground a few feet away.  His bald head had a few minor scrapes.  As I touched them, he winced.


“You’re killing me.”


“Hardly Santa.  I’m trying to save your life.”


An ambulance pulled up. I motioned to the crew to bring their stretcher.  We lifted him onto the stretcher. He protested as we placed him in the back of the ambulance. 


“Let me off this thing. My reindeer, I’ve got to look for my reindeer.”


Inside, I got a better look at him.  Besides the bumps, scrapes, and the alcohol on his breath, he appeared clean, and his beard was finely combed.  Not what I’d expected when I smelled the reek of old alcohol.


"So, Santa, what were you doing when you had this near miss?"


"Well, delivering presents, of course.  It is Christmas Eve, after all." 


I looked at my watch.  It was 2:30 in the morning.


“Sure, you were Santa, with a stop at the local bar.”


“Well, if you must know, I carry my own flask of Brandy, you know, to take the edge off the cold winter night.  It’s tough crossing the northern part of the globe this time of year.  Nothing like delivering presents in the tropics of the southern hemisphere."


"So, you were drinking your Brandy while flying your sled when this Tesla came out of nowhere."


“Well, yes.  It’s the new flight version.  Didn’t you see the retractable wings?”


I shook my head. “I don’t think they have flying Teslas yet,” I replied.


“Right, and there’s no such thing as Santa.”  He quipped.


Just then, I heard a snort.  When I looked out the ambulance windows, there standing at the back door were Santa’s reindeer.

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