The Three Santas
by Leah Mueller
The snow had just started to fall. A few flakes skittered between the el tracks’ iron rails and landed on my stocking cap.
“Can we get ice cream at Carson’s?” I asked my father.
“As soon as we find your mom.” Dad always had trouble finding Mom. She was never where she promised to be. He looked around anxiously, bobbing his square head back and forth.
Santa huddled on the corner, shaking a cowbell. His face looked grim instead of jolly. There was something else different about him, too.
I peered harder. A long, forked tail protruded from his red pants. It swished menacingly from side to side. A few people dodged to get out of its way.
Dad appeared even more agitated. “I guess she meant the corner of State and Lake. C’mon, let’s go.”
We hustled to the next block. Another, thinner Santa hovered on the corner, shaking a smaller bell. When he saw me, he grinned, exposing a set of yellow fangs.
I recoiled, and turned towards Dad. He grabbed my hand and hauled me across the street.
A third Santa crouched beside a mailbox. The strangest one of all. He had two heads with identical beards and caps. His four blue eyes flashed hard at me, then darted away.
“Dad, I thought you said there was only one Santa,” I complained.
Dad looked flustered. Then his expression relaxed, and he gave me a benevolent smile. “The others are his helpers.”
Relief flooded my body. I squeezed Dad’s hand. Of course, they were Santa’s helpers. Elves were simply weird.
“Hey, there’s your mom.” Dad pointed across the street. Mom had spotted us and was hustling in our direction. All was right in the world, and I could already taste my ice cream sundae.
Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona. Her most recent books, “Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices” (Czykmate Press), “Death and Heartbreak” (Weasel Press), and “Cocktails at Denny’s” (Alien Buddha) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears in Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere. Her essay “Firebrand, The Radical Life and Times of Annie Besant” appears in the book, “Fierce, Essays By and About Dauntless Women” which placed first in the non-fiction division of the 2019 Publisher’s Weekly Booklife contest.