by Gary P.
With Christmas almost upon us and New Year’s Eve after that, I revisit and rework slightly this piece for the holiday season. For while I too hope for peace on Earth and goodwill toward all, I can’t help shake the image of Santa Claus as a bad mother…shut your mouth. As a writer of hardboiled fictive fare, I can’t help myself but always wonder about what lies beneath the smile and twinkle in the eye.
There’s certainly material to be mined about the historical Saint Nicholas of Myra, whose lessons of kindness have been recounted in various cultures. Though if the facial reconstruction is accurate as has been postulated (and sorry for your white on white version Megyn Kelly), he looked like an aging customizer from the Pimp my Sleigh shop. Nicholas was said to have been born to wealth. But that like scion Bruce Wayne he would be orphaned at a young age and this would have a profound effect on the rich kid who was deeply religious. While Wayne is not particularly religious, he is driven and dedicated as Nicholas was for like Wayne’s alter-ego, Batman, he would come at night and do good. For example there’s a persistent story of Nicholas delivering three bags of gold to three penurious young sisters to save them from being sold into prostitution by their hard-pressed parents.
In my version the bi-racial orphan Nicholas St. Nicholas, with more than a nod to Dickens, is cheated out of his fortune by his evil, greedy uncle who has the lad imprisoned on trumped up charges of having killed one of the sisters. In prison the young man meets various sorts of cutthroats from cat burglars, street corner magicians to bare knuckle brawlers. Because he is a personable sort he learns various skills and methods from these rugged types. In particular he befriends and protects an older gent named Klaus, imprisoned for unfair taxes, a man who used to be a circus high wire performer who wore a colorful red costume trimmed in white fur for flare. The old fella dies in prison, whispering a secret to Nick.
Our hero engineers a break out and seeks to right the wrong his uncle has done. Unk has used his ill gotten gains to become king of the local rackets – having forced the two other sisters to be on the stroll among other misdeeds. But also seeking to be a symbol of hope to the downtrodden, Nick St. Nick finds old Klaus’ hidden away trunk of wonders and dons his costume to honor him and adding a crimson domino mask, strikes fear in the hearts of his uncle’s blackguards as Saint Klaus, a ghost of justice from the grave.
Let alone in many countries, there’s a tradition of Santa’s opposite who also comes out on his rounds punishing the bad kids. He’s called by many names, Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, Klaubauf, and Krampus. Sometine s he’s a devil’s imp with horns, cloven hooves and a serious forked tongue, band can also be spotted a Shadow-like dude dressed in black or be a hairy man-beast.
Now that’s scary Xmas, baby! Have a merry one, y’all.