Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Powder Burn Flash # 56 - John DuMond

Christmas Bonus

"Fay-leece nobby-job" Larry said.

"Ho, ho, ho, motherfucker," Marvin said.

Marvin was dressed as Santa Claus. He had spent the day standing in front of a grocery store ringing a bell, collecting charity donations for the Congregation of Salvation. At the end of his shift he planned on liberating a portion of his take for personal use.

"How's your Christmas bonus shaping up?" Larry asked.

"Pretty good. Buncha loose change, but there's a lotta green in that bucket, too. How's your Christmas Eve been going?"

"Great. Got four X-box 360s out the door over at Discount City."

"All at once?"

"Three trips." Larry said. "One each on the first two trips, two on the last trip. I got a hundred bucks for each." Larry said.

"Good haul, but boosting's too risky for me. Especially this time of year. Shit, last time I got arrested, it was on Christmas Eve."

"No shit. What happened?" Larry said.

Marvin told Larry the story of how he got caught boosting a bunch of PS2 games over at Discount City a few years ago. He had stuffed them down his pants, and when he walked out the door, the alarm went off. The store detective was on him before he got two steps.

"Yeah, I begged him to cut me a break, what with it being Christmas Eve and all. But he wouldn't. Said he makes it a point to lock up everyone he catches on Christmas eve.

"A smartly dressed woman walked past Marvin and put some money into the little red donation bucket as she walked into the store.

"Thank you ma'am, and have a merry Christmas" Marvin said.

"Schadenfreude," Larry said.

"What's that?" Marvin asked.

"It means taking satisfaction in the misery of others," Larry said.

"I just call it being a fuckin' prick," Marvin said.

Larry noticed a lock on the donation bucket and asked Marvin whether he had the key.

"No," he said. "Fuckers don't trust us. But it's a cheap-ass lock. I figure I can pick it without much trouble."

When Marvin's shift was over, Larry went to his car to wait while Marvin collected his bucket and the stand that held it. He got into the passenger side of Larry's car, reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of lock picks. He lifted the lock and looked at it. "Fuck!" he said.

"What's up?" Larry asked.

"There's glue in it. They put glue in the goddamn lock."

"You're right, they don't trust you," Larry said. "Hey, I know. We'll get a set of bolt cutters and cut it off. Then we get a new lock just like it, put glue in the keyhole. They'd have to cut it off anyway, so they'll never notice the difference. Builder's Depot is still open, we can boost the stuff we need there."

Marvin agreed, as long as Larry did the boosting. On the ride over, Marvin thought about the glue in the lock. Those bastards over at the Congregation didn't trust him. That's why they bought the cheap locks, they had planned on just cutting them off at the end of the shift anyway. The thought of them treating him like a thief pissed him off.

When they arrived at the Builder's Depot, Marvin waited in the car while Larry went inside to pick up the items they'd need. He came out a few minutes later carrying a plastic bag. He got into the car and removed the items from the bag.

"Here you go. Cutters, a lock, and some glue to keep those thieving Santas in check."

Marvin took the cutters and cut the lock off the donation bucket. He examined the lock and said "Fuck!"

"What now?" Larry said.

"There's numbers engraved on the back of the lock. '4-1-5-7,' like they're trying to make sure it's the same lock when it's turned in."

Larry laughed and said "Damn, Marv they really don't trust you guys."

"No shit, Sherlock. Now what am I gonna do?"

Larry told Marvin that they could engrave the numbers on the new lock, but they'd need an engraver, and Larry wasn't providing one. Marvin figured he could either buy one with some of the donation money, or he could swipe it from the store. He'd be damned if he was wasting his hard-earned money on an engraver, and decided on five-finger discount.

Marvin left Larry in the car and walked into the store. He still wore the Santa suit, beard and all. After all, who'd suspect that Kris Kringle would shoplift?

It took him a few minutes to find the engravers in aisle 7. He picked out one in a box that looked small enough to conceal. He looked left, no one there. He looked right, no one there either. He bellied up to the shelf and stuck the box down his pants. Then he walked out of the aisle and headed for the exit. As he walked out the door, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Excuse me sir, I'm with store security," said the voice attached to the hand on Marvin's shoulder. "Did you forget to pay for that item in your pants."

Marvin broke loose from the store detective's grip and ran for it. He got almost ten feet before he was tackled and handcuffed.


Larry watched as Marvin got snagged by the store dick. As Marvin was being led in handcuffs back into the store, Larry yelled out "Hey, you're not going to arrest Santa on Christmas eve, are you?"

The store detective smiled and yelled back "Haven't you heard, there is no Santa Claus."

After they disappeared into the store, Larry looked at the donation bucket on the front seat of his car. He reached in and took out the greenbacks, left the coins. He tossed the bucket out the driver's side window into a nearby shopping cart.

"Like hell there's no Santa," he said as he started the car and drove off.

Bio: John DuMond lives in Albany, NY. His short stories have appeared in Jake Magazine, Flashing in the Gutters, and Defenestration. He blogs at


Gerald So said...

Excellent buildup to an unexpected but completely believable ending. Every man for himself. It warms the heart. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Very good story. Full of Christmas cheer.

Clair D. said...

nice job. A great little dark Christmas tale. =)

John DuMond said...

Thanks, everybody.

r2 said...

Ho, ho, ho. The last line was classic.

John DuMond said...

Thanks, r2.