—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

541 773-3373

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On Santa’s seventh day of wandering, before the big day, he chose to go to Rome for two very good reasons. One, he knew a toymaker there named Geppetto, who made marvelous wooden toys and every year he made new ones for Santa to take back to his elves to copy. Geppetto was good, but he was slow. The elves now, that was a different story. They made toys faster than quick.

And his second very good reason for going to Rome was to show off his Italian Santa suit. It was a suit of beauty. His taylor elves had really gone all out.

Though he was going to land outside the city, he wanted to fly over St. Peter’s Basilica. However, he didn’t have to tell Rudy, because the red nosed reindeer knew and he flew right over the top, so Santa could see the view he loved so well. 

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Santa liked to walk, but the city was too far, so he decided to walk till dark, then he’d get a cab, which he did. And even though it was well after dark when he got to Geppetto’s street, he didn’t have to worry, because the old toymaker worked nights in his shop and slept the day away.

He’d been doing so, ever since he’d had some problems with a wooden boy he’d made. It really spooked the other shopkeepers, so ever since then, he preferred to keep a low profile.

Santa laughed to himself, thinking about that boy and was almost to Geppetto’s door, when his Santa Sense went all haywire. There was a girl in a bar nearby, who was about to make a very bad life choice.

Ah well, Santa thought, as he turned toward the bar, he had plenty of time.

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The bar was kind of a strange place. They had tires hanging from the ceiling and Santa knew straightaway this not the kind of bar Mrs. Claus would approve of. Girls swinging on tires with hardly any clothes on. In Italy. What was this world coming to?

But Santa put tire swinging girls out of his mind. He couldn’t save everybody. And besides, the girls who’d be showing their wares on those swinging tires were all professionals, who could take care of themselves.

However, the pretty, dark haired girl he’d spied talking to the wrong kind of man wasn’t. This was her first time out playing the lady of the evening game. She thought she could turn a few tricks for a few weeks, then go back to her college life, just after she’d made enough money to support herself for the upcoming year.

Sadly, if she entered the game, she’d never get out and would be dead of a drug overdose inside of a year. Pretty, she was. Tough, she was not.

He was angry at the man trying to buy her and even angrier at her for letting herself be sold.

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“You!” Santa shouted, loud enough to wake the Devil himself. “Get up and get out.”

“You’re a dead man, fat man.“ The man fancied himself as a tough guy. He’d bought plenty of women, turned them onto the worst kind of drugs, then turned them out for a profit and left them to wither and die, when they were no more use to him.

“Lucy!” Santa shouted and devil quick, the Devil appeared in a cloud of smoke.

“Can you take out this garbage?”

“I hate it when you call me that, it’s Lucifer.”

“The trash, Lucifer.” Santa nodded to the tough guy.

“My pleasure.”

“And try not to make too much noise.”

But the Devil liked his fire and brimstone and loud music and loud shouting and things which make big bangs and all of a sudden a thundering noise rang throughout the bar, scaring everybody but Santa out of their ever loving wits. Every soul in the place, save for the tough guy who disappeared with the Devil, ran for the door, including the girl Santa was trying to save.

However it didn’t matter. He knew where she was going.

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Ten minutes later, he entered an out of the way, almost deserted pub. The man behind he bar left the second he spotted Santa. Apparently the girl had told him about what happened to the last man who she’d been with who’d run afoul of the man in the red Santa suit.

“You changed out of your evening gown,” Santa said. “I thought only I could change that quickly.”

She turned her back to him. “I think I was about to do something tonight I was going to regret. Now I’m not, so I don’t need it anymore.”

“And the man you were just talking to?”

“He’s okay. A friend.”

“Turn around.”

The girl did. “You’re him aren’t you.”

“What was your first glue?”

“Well, your suit for starters. That’s the best danged Santa suit I’ve ever seen. Only the real Santa would wear something like that. And then, when you called up the Devil. That was impressive. And when the Devil disappeared with the pimp, that sealed the deal. You’re him.”

“There’s a coffeeshop on campus. They’re hiring. It’s not a fancy job, but it’ll keep your bills paid till you graduate.”

“I’ll go see them in the morning.”

“Then I’ll be saying goodnight.”

She held out her hand and Santa shook it. Then he left.

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The girl’s horrible fate avoided, Santa went by Geppetto’s, but the old man wasn’t there. However, his place was unlocked and he’d left a note next to the sack of toys he’d made for Santa.

“You old coot,” Santa said under his breath, because old Geppetto was going out on the town with the seamstress from down the street. It seems a hot date with the seamstress was more important then a meeting with an old friend. Santa laughed, because he could certainly understand that.

So he hefted the sack onto his back, left Geppetto’s and was about to order up an Uber car, when his Santa sense went batshit crazy. There was another girl in trouble, this one was named Maria and she was going to commit suicide this night, because she was in debt up to her eyeballs to a very bad man and she couldn’t pay and what he did to girls who couldn’t pay was a fate worse than death.

Maria had inherited a classy pub from her father, but her father had a thing for the ponies and had lost almost everything at the track, so he’d borrowed money from the wrong man. Then he died and now the man was after Maria.

Maria’s pub seemed empty when Santa arrived. Then he saw Maria, sitting at the bar, smoking.

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“Hello.” Santa took off his sack of toys, then went behind the bar. “Oh look,” you have Corona.” He opened a bottle and poured out a glass for himself.

“Who are you?” She wasn’t the least upset about Santa seemingly taking charge of her pub.

“I’m Santa Claus.” He held up his hand. “I know what you’re thinking, but I’m the real deal. Ask Geppetto the toymaker tomorrow, he’ll tell you.”

“I don’t know if you are, but I could use a Santa Claus in my life about now.”

“And I’m here and Lucky Campanella the pimp won’t be bothering you anymore. In fact he won’t be bothering anybody anymore. A friend of mine saw to that a little earlier this evening. So you’re free.” He smiled. “And I predict that you’ll do a booming business as soon as you open your doors for business again.”

“I really think so,” she said. “I have plenty of good ideas for this place.”

“I’m glad,” Santa said. “So no more thinking suicide thoughts, okay?” He smiled, reached over and took the cigarette out of her hand. “And no more smoking, either!”

“You really are him, aren’t you?”

“I really am.” And Santa drank his beer and listened as Maria told him all about her plans for her pub. And after he was sure she was going to be okay, he called Uber. But before he could strap on his sack of toys, she gave him a great big hug, every bit as strong and sincere and the ones he got everyday from Mrs. Claus.

“Goodbye, Maria.” He hefted the toys onto his back and left just as the Uber girl showed up.

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Thirty minutes later, he was back in his sleigh with Geppetto’s new toys and he was about to tell Rudy to fly by St. Peters, but he didn’t have to.

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