What the Sack is Really For
By: Timothy Law

"Hey, you!" slurs the little man beside me.

It looks as though he's been here a while. There are a few empty shot glasses lined up in front of him and the bottle of cheapish grog he has a strong grip on looks to be half full. I'm fairly certain it is the only thing he has a strong grip on. Giving him a more scrutinizing examination, I notice his beard that flows from his face to his knees looks like it is made from cotton balls. His ears look odd too, almost like he has covered the tops with something skin colored. Normally people would use this technique to add points, but this guy seems to be covering his points up.

"Hey, are you one of them journos? Ya look like a journo," he slurs accusingly.

Everything about him looks young, everything but his eyes. Those eyes look ancient, bloodshot but believable. They are the kind of eyes that make you think he's seen a thing or two. If it were not for the eyes I'd have had no trouble ignoring the little guy. Instead, I consider giving him a moment of my time.

"Yeah, I'm a journo," I admit, reluctantly.

To be honest I've only ever written for a dirty rag nobody has ever heard of and even less people have read.

"Shut up 'n listen then, I've got a hell of a story for ya," growls the little man.

He swivels in his seat so he can face me front on. Down goes another shot before he lowers his voice.

"Shouldn't be telling ya this, trade secrets 'n all," he begins, eyes wide, somewhat afraid.

"Go on," I urge, I've been here before with other informants.

"My name's Tom," he states, pausing dramatically. "I work for the jolly fat man," the little man continues.

I raise my eyebrows like I don't believe him.

"Tom Twinkletoes, head o' the electronics department at the North Pole."

My eyebrows remain raised.

"Ya need proof?" Tom asks, frowning.

I can tell he was hoping his name and role would convince me into believing him but I'm unsure whether I should laugh or just walk away.

Before my very eyes Tom's hands blur. In two seconds, he shows me a brand new TV remote. With the press of a button Tom causes the channel on the screen in the pub to change. Sport becomes the weather channel and those few drinkers watching kick up a fuss. Tom's remote changes the channel back and the sudden ruckus dies down.

"Proof enough?"

"Where did you get that?" I ask, a journalist has to know.

"Made it, didn't I…" slurs Tom. ├Ła want me to make ya another one?"

I wonder if this little man is a street magician, sleight of hand and all that. I'd be even more of a laughingstock than I already am if I wrote about meeting a Christmas elf and it turned out to be nothing but a hoax. I weigh up where my career currently is and wonder just how much worse it could possibly get. Not much I guess. I look around the bar I'm sitting in and realize that I've actually already hit rock bottom.

"Hey mister, ya need another remote?" growls the little man, his attitude grabbing my focus again.

"No, that's fine," I say. "Let's pretend for now that I do believe you."

Tom ponders for a moment, and I can tell he is going through that same line of thinking that I've just considered. Tom's face changes and I can see in those ancient eyes that he has come to the same conclusion as me. He also thinks he's got nothing to lose and to look at him I'd say he was probably right.

"The sack, we all know it gets filled with toys," Tom says.

He has slowed down his speaking. I am unsure if that last shot has finally kicked in or if he is just making sure that I can keep up with his story.

"Yeah, Christmas Eve, around the world in one night," I state to show I'm following.

"Right," Tom agrees before he pours and swigs another shot.

I consider catching the barman's eye, but I don't want Tom to think I'm not listening. His old eyes twitch as he continues.

"What you need to know is what happens when the sack is empty…"

"You've dragged me down here to tell me a story about an empty sack?" I ask. "I'm sorry but you've lost me there."

Tom seems to think he's told the whole story. Then a light of realization dawns in his eyes.

"Kids… Bad kids…" Tom mutters.

"Yeah, are you referring to the ones that are supposed to get coal because of their terrible behavior but never do," I reply. "What about them?"

"They don't get coal…" squeals Tom. "They get kid-napped…"

"What do you mean, Tom?!" I cry in disbelief. "Are you trying to tell me that Santa grabs kids in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve?"

"Not so loud!" Tom squeals again. "I swear it's true… Santa swipes the bad kids during the night and turns them into elves."


If I hadn't seen Tom build that remote I would not have believed a word of such a farfetched story, but the little man seems genuine. I whip out my pad and start writing. This promises to be the scoop of a lifetime.

*

It sounds as though everyone's favorite giver may just have a dark side, a very dark side indeed. With razor sharp claws Tom's told me that Santa pokes the kids on his naughty list awake and herds them into his ever expanding sack. The little elf swears he's seen the toys go in and the kids come out, sometimes a dozen kids in one night. What happens when a kid is missing Christmas morning? Tom could not say, and I believe him when he swears he doesn't know. I come to you editor with some hope that you are willing to print this story and risk your reputation as I risk mine. This darkness must be revealed, if only to save a handful of those kids Santa has his eyes on, that they might have a chance to learn to better behave.

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