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Rudolph lets go

A fable of modern Christmas

“Donner! Hey, Donner! Over here,” shouted Rudolph, his voice hoarse.

In the midst of the general noise at the North Pole's 'Polar Bear Bar and Grill', Donner, the stately, aging buck heard himself beckoned and his ears, beneath the enormous spread of antlers, twitched as he looked around, finally spying Rudolph leaning heavily on the bar. He made his way carefully across the floor minding not to trample any elves as they ran about with their mugs of cider or danced in their endless good nature. Arriving at the bar, he nodded to the comely elfess serving drinks and then saluted Rudolph.

“Hello there, my friend. I hadn't seen you and wondered where you might have got to – been doing some practice flying? The big day is coming up quickly.”

Rudolph stared back and crossed his eyes trying to focus on Donner.

“Naw. Sod that! I came here to get sloshed.”

“What?” answered Donner, incredulous. “How long have you been here?”

“I dunno, mate. What time is it now?”

Rudolph carefully placed his hooves against the sides of the glass and then drank deeply. Donner studied his friend, his eyes shining with mirth and good nature.

“Effectively, by the brightness of your nose, I'd say you are about four candles past a full Christmas tree!”

Donner began to laugh and it was so full and deep that, for a moment, the elves stopped, looking to see what was going on before promptly resuming their shenanigans.

“Aw, gimme a break, would ya?” spat Rudolph. “Just be a mate and buy us another round.”

Donner nodded and signaled to the elfess. Rudolph continued as the drinks were served up.

“And don't even talk to me about Christmas – sod that, too! I'm sick of it.”

“Ho there!” exclaimed Donner. “You had better not let Santa hear you!”

“The fat man? Phhtt!”

“How did you do that?” Donner studied Rudolph's face.

“Do what?

“Make that noise - we don't have lips.”

“Uh, mate, we're talking and a little noise is going to bother you?”

“That's true, too,” acquiesced Donner. “Suspension of disbelief and all...”

“I think you had better at this point,” pointed out Rudolph and belched.

“Anyway, Santa can sod off as far as I'm concerned. Saint Nick can kiss my left haunch. He ain't no bloody Saint – he's a slave driver! It's always, 'Rudolph, could you check out the new shipment of Christmas spirit' or 'Rudolph, go check out what's going on the workshop, I think the elves are brawling again. What am I, the bloody foreman of the elves? If I am, then he should bloody pay me for it!”

For punctuation, Rudolph drank from his glass, downing half of it. He belched for good measure. Donner took a more measured drink from his own glass and considered.

“It's because he respects you, you know,” suggested the elder buck, gently replacing the glass on the bar.

“Bugger that!”

“No,” returned Donner, “it's true. Ever since that foggy Christmas eve, when he put you on point and you guided the sleigh all around the world, you've been his favourite and rightly so. You saved Christmas that year, Rudolph.”

“It's a good thing they don't give out 'flying while under the influence' citations – FUI's, because I was a few angels past a host that night. I kept a flask in my pocket. But what a ride, eh, mate?”

Rudolph and Donner did a high-hoof. Then Donner was brought up short.

“Wait, you have pockets?”

“Two, actually.”

“And you were just as foggy as the night?”

“Mate, why do you think I kept slipping on the rooves?

Donner paused, digesting the new information. Rudolph interrupted.

“Say, where's that Vixen of yours, tonight?

“She out to the movies with her besties, Dasher and Dancer,” answered Donner.

“You know,” said Rudolph, slurring only slightly, “I don't care what they say about does of a 'certain age' but that Vixen is Hot!”

“That's my wife we're talking about, Rudolph!” suggested Donner.

“Good on ya, mate, 'cause she is HOT!”

Donner was pondering what next to say when Rudolph, listing slightly southward, said, 'Just a sec, I better take this'. From somewhere, he produced a cell phone and flipped it open with his hoof.

“Oi, Santa! How you doing, mate?”

Rudolph listened, nodding.

“So what you're saying is that the girl dolls aren't smiling and gay enough? The whole shipment? Oh, OK, just the last six thousand or so. Ya, it's no problem, mate. I'll fly t' the warehouse now and call on the foreman when I pass through the elf village. Cheers!”

Rudolph folded the phone and concealed it somewhere. He frowned and then belched again.

“Problem?” asked Donner.

“Bloody elves,” he said, lowering his voice. “Have you ever heard of a doll what won't make a little girl smile?”

Donner shook his massive head.

“Come on then. You can come with me and add some credibility, mate!”

Outside, beyond the flashing neon signs of the bar, the stars twinkled brightly as the two took to the sky.

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