Saturday, December 25, 2010


To All a Good Night
By Jennifer Zoia

Jimmy did not like clowns. Check that - Jimmy was fucking terrified of clowns. The oversized smile, the wild hair, the big baggy clothes. There was something sinister about all of it, like a hallucinated Technicolor child molester. Santa Claus was the worst of all, the kind who had a taste for children's blood. He hid behind that beard and spectacles, the painted on rosy cheeks and the velvety red suit, just the thought of which sent shivers up Jimimy's spine. These were not the trappings of a saint; it was goddammed creepy.

Christmas Eve sent his phobia into overdrive. Jimmy spent that night awake and locked in with a fire big enough to barbeque the bastard should he even think about approaching from the roof.

On this December 24th, Jimmy brought armload after armload of wood into the house, making a huge pyramid by the fireplace. Then he barricaded himself in. He started by locking every window and door, and checking them twice. With long screws, he attached wide oak boards to each window frame. As an extra precaution, he closed the curtains. The thought of Saint Nick's nefarious face peeking in at him inspired a ripple of panicky nausea.

He boarded up the front and back doors, and then turned to the fire. Within five minutes, the logs were crackling and curls of yellow flame chased smoke up the chimney.

With every entrance to the house closed off, Jimmy sat down with a glass of ice and a bottle of Jameson. He waited, but like every year, the house was quiet. Not a goddamed creature stirring. He was pissed at himself, too, for hiding like a kid under the covers who mistakes his jacket for a boogeyman in the closet. Around 2;30, the whiskey was kicking in and he started to drift off, the hot fire's illusion of safety helping to carry him along toward sleep.

Just past 3am, a noise startled him awake. The fire was still going, and he decided it might have been just a pop from one of the logs, but then it came again.


Jimmy's mind froze and his heart thumped back in response.


His throat tightened and his stomach rebelled. Those thumps were coming from the roof. He waited and listened over the deafening roar of his pulse in his ears. For ten minutes, there was nothing more.

Then, it was at the front door.


Five quick, hard bangs like someone were rapidly trying to kick it in. He saw the 2X4s vibrate with each impact. There was a peephole, but no way in hell was Jimmy going anywhere near that door. The kicking knocks came again in five pounding blows that rattled the dishes in the cabinets a room away.

Jimmy's whole body started shaking. His chest was burning and his breaths were short. He sat on the floor, muscles numb, terrified to the edge of consciousness.

A long painful hour passed with no more sounds. The fire was dying, and the impulse to feed it plus a slight ebbing of his fear finally freed him from the paralysis. He put on a few new logs, which quickly roared to life. With quaking hands, Jimmy poured himself another drink.


The first rays of light peaked in just past 7am and, feeling safe in the bright Christmas morning sunshine, Jimmy went to the front door. He removed the 2X4s, and opened it to see if the early morning kicker had done any damage. The door was fine, but there was a box wrapped in red and green paper with a big red bow sitting on his front step.

His bowels turned to water at the sight of it. Jimmy didn't want to touch it; it was like a discarded piece of necrotic tissue, but he had to know what was inside. With a contained scream making a painful lump in his throat, he reached down and removed the lid. Inside was a large snow globe that he cautiously lifted and examined.

The scene in the globe was his living room - wood floor, fireplace, blue sofa. In the middle of the floor was a body - his body, he knew, or most of it, anyway. It had been disemboweled and a pile of intestines lay next to it in a pool of blood on the floor. The throat was cut and one arm had been hacked off and was stacked in the
woodpile. Red glitter swirled around as he looked at the gruesome diorama- it would make a shower of blood if he shook it. Next to the tiny fireplace, Santa sat eating cookies off a plate, a bloody hatchet beside him.

In gold script on the base it read "See you next year?"

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Jen was born and raised in northern Illinois. She is now a professor in Washington, DC where she lives with her two golden retrievers.


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