Chowcase: Santa Claws
The Christmas Rescue
When Santa Claws has to make an emergency, he receives help from a most incredible source.
Author’s note: All dialogue is translated from the Kitalian language for your reading pleasure, with the exception of the traditional Kitalian Christmas greeting. Enjoy.
The distress call originated high in the Alpo Mountains of Northern Kitaly and was sent out in a multitude of languages, especially those of the surrounding countries. The white-bearded polar bear raised the mike to his muzzle, squeezed the button, and spoke again.
“This is Santa Claws,” he said, “and I’ve been forced to make an emergency landing. Please, can anyone hear me?” He paused a moment and waited for a response. When none came, he spoke again. “If anyone can hear me, I need help. If you help me, I can guarantee that your name will stay on the nice list for the next three years.”
Santa Claws released the button and climbed out of the SLEIGH1000. The second his black boots hit the snow, he saw what the problem was. The fuel line running to the number two engine had split, causing the engine to quit running. Without the heat from the engine to keep itself warm, it had quickly iced over. The polar bear liked the SLEIGH1000; it had sounded good on paper. No more traveling around the world at breakneck speed in an open sleigh freezing his fur to the roots, listening to the reindeer complaining about having to work overtime on the holiday, and having an inebriated penguin sidekick sing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” over and over — if he’d just learn a Christmas carol or two. The SLEIGH1000 was supposed to change all of that. It was a vertical take-off and landing craft that provided an enclosed cabin area with heated seats and satellite radio, and there were no whining reindeer. Of course, they thought it was a fantastic idea as well, until they received their final paychecks accompanied by a nice bright pink slip. Looking at his situation now, Santa almost wished he could hear their grumbling one more time.
“Chingedy ching. Hee-haw, hee-haw.”
The polar bear’s head snapped around so fast that his red and white hat sailed off his head. As he looked around, trying to locate the source of the voice he had heard, he called out, “Buon Natale. Who’s there?”
“Buon Natale to you, Santa Claws,” a snow-covered figure pulling a sled said as it emerged from the mountain fog. “I am Dominick, and I’ve come to help you.”
Santa watched the figure toss back his jacket’s hood and brush the snow from his shoulders. With the hood removed, the polar bear could see that his rescuer was a young donkey.
“Not to sound ungrateful, “the polar bear said, “but why didn’t you answer my distress call and let me know you were coming?”
Dominick smiled. “I heard no distress call,” he said. “I was out gathering wood for my fire when I heard your craft going down. I grabbed the sled in case someone was injured and came as quick as I could.”
“How close is your home?” Santa asked. “I’ve only been on the ground for about ten minutes.”
“My home is about twenty miles that way,” Dominick said, pointing back the way he’d came.
The polar bear’s mouth dropped open. “You actually traveled through these mountains, under these conditions, at two miles a minute?“
“I would have been here quicker,” the donkey replied, “but I was afraid if I ran at top speed I would miss you.”
Santa Claws was amazed.
“So,” Dominick said, taking a look at the downed SLEIGH1000, “what happened?”
The polar bear pointed to the problem and explained what had happened. “I need to get it repaired as soon as possible,” he said, “so I can finish delivering the Christmas presents.”
Dominick thought for a second, then said, “My uncle likes to tinker with things; maybe he can help.”
“Do you think he would know what to do?” Santa asked.
“It’s possible,” the donkey said. “You want I go get him?”
“If you think he could help,” Santa replied. “How far away does he live?”
“He lives in my village,” Dominick said.
The polar bear started to nod. Before he had a chance to actually say anything, the young donkey was gone. Echoing through the surrounding mountains, Santa could hear Dominick’s unusual call.
“Chingedy ching. Hee-haw, hee-haw.”
The final “haw” had scarcely died away when Santa heard it again.
Dominick skidded to a stop beside Santa, and an older donkey climbed off his back. The bear could only stare in amazement.
“I knew where I was going,” the young donkey said with a grin.
“Buon Natale,” the older donkey said, extending a gloved hoof to Santa. “I am Giuseppe, Dominick’s uncle.”
Santa readily accepted the hoof and shook it warmly. “Thank you for coming. “Do you think you can fix it?”
Giuseppe walked over to the SLEIGH1000 and began to look it over. After a moment, he nodded. “It shouldn’t take more than a couple hours,” he said, “although you will need some fuel to replace what was lost.”
Santa was relieved that it could be fixed, but was somewhat dismayed at the time that would be lost doing so. Giuseppe could tell what he was thinking by the look on his face.
“Why not let Dominick help you with your deliveries while I fix this?” the older donkey asked.
“Sure,” Dominick said. “I’d be glad to help.”
Santa looked at the anxious Dominick and then at the SLEIGH1000. “How much ground could we cover while this is being fixed?”
The young donkey thought for a moment. “I’ve never tried it, but I think we could get all of Kitaly.”
Santa Claws thought for a second. It was only a little less of an area that he would have covered on his own.
“If we have any time left when we are finished,” Dominick said, “we might pick up a few towns on the way back.”
The polar bear liked the young donkey’s spirit. “All right, then. We’ll give it a shot.”
As Giuseppe began going through his toolbox, Santa Claws and Dominick began transferring the gifts for the Kitalians and a few extra, just in case, from the SLEIGH1000 to the sled Dominick had brought.
Santa took his place on the sled and was ready to go when Giuseppe motioned for his nephew to wait. He picked Santa’s forgotten hat up and handed it to him.
“We can’t have Father Christmas making his rounds without this,” he said.
Santa placed it firmly on his head. “Thank you,” he said. “Expect a little something extra in your stocking.”
Giuseppe blushed. “Buon Natale,” was all he said before turning back to his work.
“Ready, Santa?” Dominick asked.
“Whenever you are,” came the jolly reply.
And in an instant, they were gone.
It was a ride that Santa Claws never forgot. Dominick ran through the snow at such a great speed that the sled’s rails barely touched the ground. Not only did they visit every house and home in Kitaly, but the small kingdom of Monacow received its gifts during this very special trip.
By the time they had returned to where Santa had made the crash landing, Giuseppe was placing his tools back in his toolbox. After Santa and Dominick poured a couple cans of fuel into the tanks that they had picked up at a Gran Prix garage, the SLEIGH1000 was soon ready to go.
Santa Claws thanked his two new friends and then climbed back into his craft. And as he took to the air and flew out of sight, the two donkeys could hear the polar bear’s voice singing over the loudspeakers, “Chingedy ching. Hee-haw, hee-haw!”
Buon Natale to you all.