GEORGE COULDN’T SLEEP and watched the Christmas movie
Holiday Inn with the sound on low. The Christmas tree winked silently
beside the television as Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire laughed,
danced, and sang while they fought over girls. These movies were
supposed to get him in the mood for Christmas, but he was facing
divorce while going into the poorhouse.
George ate several bowls of Cap’n Crunch and walked into his
living room. He stared at a Panzer taking aim at him. Shanti’s house
of inflatables beamed like it was Jack Frost’s palace. George could
hear the pumps of Santa and the reindeer sled that glowed weirdly
in pneumatic glory. Shanti’s Christmas tank flashed a red MERRY
CHRISTMAS. Then the Panzer continued its rotation, looking for
other sport to flash away its fiery message.
George held his bowl down and muttered, “enough is enough.”
He went back into his kitchen and slipped out a carving knife. Then
he slipped on his blue parka and stepped into his snow boots. His
back felt pretty good after three ibuprofen and the hot tub. George
slipped out of the side door into the bracing northern air. He listened,
clutching the kitchen knife. There was nothing but an airy hint of
snow and woodsmoke. The pump for Shanti’s pneumatic menagerie
hummed like a small factory.
George moved stealthily to the snow, running across his yard to
the clump of pines directly across from the Shanti palace. He could
hear the plastic on plastic sliding of the turret. He pushed the pine
needles aside and stared at the rotating Panzer. The turret was taking
aim at his house again. George stared at the dark windows of the
George took a breath. It was like his plan to be Santa Claus. A man
had to say enough is enough. I will not have a Christmas tank taking
aim at my house anymore! He examined the darkened windows one
more time then broke from the pines like the GIs in the Battle of the
Bulge he had watched on The History Channel. George ran low and
approached the Christmas tank as it turned toward him.
He raised up with the knife and charged the tank, not unlike
those maniacal soldiers who charged up the beaches of Omaha. He
plunged the blade into the turret. The hardened rubber plastic gave
way but the knife slid off. George couldn’t believe the knife hadn’t
penetrated the tank. He raised the knife again and plunged it into
the turret. Again the rubberized cover gave way and the knife slid off.
He hacked and hacked, but to no avail. The turret rotated and nearly
knocked him over. George glanced up at the windows and then like
a GI fighting in hand-to-hand combat, he brought the knife in low,
thrusting as hard as he could into the base.
The explosion of air was a pop as the tank began to wilt in front
of him. The turret sank like that famous scene in The Wizard of Oz,
melting away from the lack of pressure with the pump working furiously
to reinflate the moribund Panzer. George felt an orgasmic
glory as the tank sank in front of him. He had just taken revenge on
his boss for firing him, his wife for doubting him, and the world for
forcing his daughter to grow up too fast. He raised his knife over the
dead tank and shouted in the winter night.
Real Santa...Holiday Special
STARRED REVIEW BOOKLIST
"If somebody doesn't make a movie out of this book, there's something wrong with the world. This could have been played as an out-and-out slapstick comedy, but instead the author approaches the story like a character study: a portrait of a man with the best intentions in the world watching those intentions collide with reality. It's a steamroller of a story, starting small, with George's idea, and getting bigger and bigger as George tries to put the elements together, as his obsession takes him further and further away from reality. Beautifully done."
David Pitts Booklist
"The author marries the everyday dramas found in the novels of Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby to the high camp of Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry. Adults looking for a funny holiday-themed tale that doesn't lose its sense of wonder in the face of realism will find a treat here. A lovingly crafted comedy about the madness that fatherhood inspires."
Best-selling author Hazelgrove (e.g., Ripples; Tobacco Sticks) captures the human need to believe in something good. This book will satisfy readers looking for a happy Christmas story.-- Library Journal
"Hazelgrove's lively improbable narrative will appeal to the readers in the mood for holiday fiction."