Fanta Claus (2)
… because I have a bit of extra time, the second instalment a little sooner than I thought:
Fanta Claus was lounging on the beach in a special wooden beach lounger, dressed in his colourful, paradise bird-feather Speedo, with a pina colada in his left hand and a beach bunny in his right. (*For the uninformed: A ‘beach bunny’ is a special take-away delicacy they serve on Fiji. It is rumoured that it contains sea urchin.) The surf crashed onto the white sand in a relentless, hypnotic song. Parasols and towels littered the beach; it was high holiday season on Fiji. The din of children screeching in playfulness was ear-splitting.
Fanta stretched, deeply contented. It was Christmas Eve. Tonight he’d wave at his workaholic big brother in passing and offer him an island daiquiri – more to annoy him, because Santa never stopped to chat on his busiest night of the year – and then check what the big old softie had left for him in his pillowcase-sized Christmas stocking. Santa never forgot his brother. Fanta was very pleased about this.
He sounds like a very callous bloke, but actually Fanta loved his brother very much. More so at Christmas; but in fact all year round. Santa had never been anything but kind to him. Fanta wasn’t callous. He was only a bit irresponsible and childish, and rather self-centred.
The blue sky suddenly birthed a small, white cloud that grew quickly and descended towards the beach. Bathers looked up, concerned. Some over-anxious moms started packing up their beach gear. But it was only Misty on Prancer, looking for Fanta Claus. Nobody except Fanta could see her or the reindeer. And he rolled his eyes, got up a bit unsteadily, and waited for the slight elf on the reindeer to come to a halt.
“News from the old lunatic?” he asked jovially, holding the pina colada out to her in a sharing gesture. Misty refused hastily. Spirits were not something elves liked to consume. It struck them as cannibalism.
“I have a message,” she started uncertainly. “Your brother is very ill, Fanta. He needs you.”
“Aw, the poor dude,” commented Fanta with feeling. “Will it be enough if I text him? Hee, hee, hee,” he added compulsively, then clapped his hand over his mouth. “Oops! Sorry!” He grinned and stared at his pina colada.
“That is the trouble,” explained Misty, scared. The drunken “hee-hee-hee” spooked her. “He needs you to stand in.”
“Har-har-har!” replied Fanta with a snort. “You’re kidding me!”
“No, I’m serious,” Misty insisted. “He needs you to distribute presents to children tonight. The doctor booked him off.”
“Get a second opinion!”
“Fanta, the doctor’s second opinion was that he’ll be dead by midnight if he does it all himself.”
Fanta got a very thoughtful frown. His huge bushy eyebrows, still a motley black-and-white, tried meeting over his great red alcoholic bulb nose.
Poor Santa! Dead by midnight? This was bad news indeed! His only family. A huge tear rolled out of his polar-blue eye. And what was worse – the whole workshop would fall to him then! He’d have to run it – or sell, it occurred to him. But sell to whom? The Easter Bunny certainly had more than enough to do herself. So did the Tooth Fairy. No, Santa’s workshop would become his millstone. The thought frightened his feathered Speedo into a knot.
“Fanta,” the little elf was saying urgently, “you have to do it! You’ve got to take over for Santa just for tonight, if you want him to be alive by tomorrow.”
What she said, sank in. Oh. So the only way to avert that terrible doom was by taking it on voluntarily, for tonight only? Oh. Oh-oh. Fanta sighed. There went his silent, holy night! He burped.
“Guess I’d better,” he mumbled and staggered off the beach to find his Fanta suit, leaving the elf staring after him.
Fanta Claus opened the huge wooden gate to his polar abode for the first time in many decades. It was a bit rusted on its hinges, which annoyed him. It was a cheek of that doctor to make such dire predictions about his brother when he was just in the middle of such a nice beach party. He wasn’t too steady on his feet anyway; those pina coladas the island girls made, were good.
“Swabs!” he bellowed, hoping his main elf hadn’t gone deaf in the meantime. “Schweppes! Schwipps! Bei Fuss! Zu mir! Marsch! Dallidalli!”
His entire staff of three elves came trundling in, unkempt, and slovenly, with an attitude. He studied them in despair. They had applied for jobs at his brother’s workshop and had failed. In his crazy youth when he’d had the idea one year to compete against his older brother, he’d rounded them up, along with the mad reindeer triplets Smasher, Crasher and Flasher and the runt of the litter, prune-nosed Randalph, who had this nasty habit of using anyone’s convenient leg for uncouth stuff. Fanta had then tried to put a workshop together, using wood off-cuts and other leftovers from his brother’s
place, but had very soon given up.
“We have a task tonight,” he announced to his unwholesome staff, glaring at them and his rabid reindeer in a state of alcoholic depression. “Randalph! Quit that! We have to take over for ol’ Santa, or else he dies.”
“Haw, haw, haw,” mentioned Swabs cynically. “Surely this is a hoax?”
Fanta shook his head solemnly, and promptly lost his balance. “We don’t have to like it,” he stated when the room had stopped spinning. “But look on the bright side. All his stock is ready for dis- dish – ag, you know. We don’t have to actually build anything. We’re just the deliv.
The delivery service.”
“Good luck,” growled Swab with his sour face. And his one round ear. There were rumours that he had human in his ancestry. A disgrace to elfkind.
“Well, gear up!” said Fanta cheerfully. “We’re gonna show the world that Fanta Claus is anytime as good and twice as jolly as his big brother!”
“Hic,” agreed Schwipps in Latin. He was the elf who didn’t find imbibing cannibalistic. He and Fanta understood each other.
(Santa opened his eyes a tad, momentarily coming to, out of his half-comatose sleep. The Doc had given him something for that anxiety, and it had made him extremely drowsy. He thought he heard something rumbling around in his workshop. A vague memory wanted to surface, like a whale shark out of the depth of his uneasy conscience, about someone calling his younger brother to the North Pole to help out. Oh dear. But it couldn’t really get worse than children not getting their Christmas presents – especially those good children who had been looking forward to him all year round. There were many good children these days. Those brats of past centuries who pulled the wings of flies, stole for a lark and tortured kittens for fun had been left in the middle ages, thank goodness. But it did make his workload greater – a work of love, he reminded himself.
A small freckly hand landed lightly on his arm.
“Mr Santa, please relax. Everything is under control.”
He glanced at the red-headed child who sat there monitoring his vital signs – he had been hooked up to all sorts of hi-tech machinery, he realized. And the child was human. How did a human get into Santa’s North Pole?
“This is my assistant,” said Doc Vera, loading a syringe with something. “Santa, please hold still, this may sting a little…”
As he slipped back into sleep, he heard the doctor whisper to her assistant: “We’ve got to keep him sedated! I don’t want him getting up and taking on the whole load himself anyway! That brother doesn’t look too competent to me.”
Oh-oh, was Santa’s last thought.)
“You can’t wear that!”
“Why not?” asked Fanta Claus indignantly. “I’m not going to borrow my brother’s red Coca-Cola suit! I’m sure the company will sue me!”
“Yes,” said Schweppes, the most realistic of his elves – and the only female, “but your seam on that jacket is hanging!”
“Well, my Fanta Grape suit has a huge rip in its pants,” countered Fanta irritated. “And there are buttons missing off the coat!”
“What about your Cream Soda suit?”
Schweppes – or Bubble Wrap, as she preferred to be called these days, following certain associations with several of Santa’s elves over at the factory – had fed him soda water until his head had cleared a little. He was now nearly in a position to make decisions.
Bubble Wrap pulled the Cream Soda suit out and looked at it with a critical eye. It seemed whole. There was an indelible spill of something horrible and black – possibly dried-on black Sambuca – on the jacket though. She sighed loudly.
“You’ll wear the pants from the Cream Soda suit, and the coat from your Fanta Grape suit,” she instructed. “I’ll weld on a few more buttons, never fear. Let’s see the caps?”
The Cream Soda cap had half of its fur trimming singed off.
“That was from a flaming Uzu,” Fanta reminisced with a dreamy smile. “At that Jojo’s Twenty-First.”
“That does it,” snapped Bubble Wrap angrily. “You’ll wear the Fanta Orange cap. Period.”
Fanta Claus heaved a long-suffering sigh and squeezed his overweight form – flabby from too good a life – into the green pants, purple overcoat and orange cap. At least he represented everything that he represented, he thought with grim satisfaction.
Outside, Swab was trying to hitch up the four reindeer to Fanta’s sleigh – which could be called more accurately Fanta’s toboggan. Smasher was irritating Crasher, who was trying to catch a nap on the frozen ground and was baring a half-hearted set of teeth at him. Randalph was doing what he liked most, to Flasher who didn’t seem to mind at all – she was smiling, as usual. Fanta wondered why there weren’t thirty young reindeer calves by now – this had been going on for decades! But of course, nobody ever aged at the North Pole. So it followed that nothing ever grew, either. Sorry place this! If he ever had to give up his island life, he’d get into breeding reindeer and elves, he thought. That was the only thing that seemed to come easily with this lot he’d picked.
“Hee, hee, hee!” he announced briskly. “Are we all ready?”
“Are we already what?” grumbled Swab. “Fanta, no offence, old dude, but why are we taking these? Shouldn’t we be taking Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and all those other vixen from your brother, and his sleigh?”
Fanta cringed and remembered the Christmas he’d tried hijacking his brother’s sleigh. All he had wanted was a joyride. But the conscientious reindeer took him from rooftop to rooftop, and they didn’t budge until every present in Finland was delivered, before returning him kindly to Santa. Gnasher had almost eaten him that time, too.
“Get the presents loaded,” he commanded. “We’re taking nothing of my brother’s. Except the loot. To be delivered. Hee, hee, hee.” He clapped his hand over his mouth again at that nervous emission. “Oh, buttocks!” It was like a bad cold; he always caught it around Christmas time.
© Lyz Russo, 2009
(2nd of 4 chapters.)