Ho ho howdy folkses! Welcome to Day Four of our Twelve Days of Shitmas celebration for 2022! Our previous offering was a treacly treat from the early days of seasonal TV specials, leisurely paced, monochromatic and full of sentimental hopes and holiday miracles. Today we offer a brash, colorful and kaleidoscopic fantasy full of tots, toys and time travel from the Land of the Rising Sun. It gave us headaches and nausea, and came with a seizure warning, but it was worth reviewing for the what-the-fuck value alone...and after all, isn't a little what-the-fuckery what the holidays are all about?

Maybe don't eat the pudding.

We're posting a brand-new review of a holiday special every other day beginning December 3rd and culminating with what we consider the worst of the bunch on Christmas Morning. This year we've upped the Shitmas ante with our sneaky Crouching Elf, Hidden Santa feature, where you can find a disagreeable Elf and a deeply unpleasant Santa Claus furtively secreted within randomly chosen screenshots in each review. Stick around afterwards for another Shitmas Bonus selection from our bombshell twelve-part expose Tales from the Northside, where a former North Pole employee spills the beans about serial abuses and unsavory double-dealings at Santa's bloated holiday-industrial complex. It's hot, breaking news in a sensationalist, tinsel-tabloid style but it comes with our unassailable guarantee that every word of it is indisputably true!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Japan rarely disappoints us here at Million Monkey Towers. In fact, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that without Japan there would be no Million Monkey Theater at all. Our humble origins, lo, these many years ago, were via a humble GeoCities page dedicated to Godzilla films. When MMT went live with its very own website on July 31st, 2003 our founder Nate's very first review was of Godzilla 2000 (1999), and the entire first full year of MMT content was comprised exclusively of Japanese kaiju and science fiction.

Even in the past few years since founder Nate's abdication of his golden throne, Japan has still been fronting, perpetrating and representing at MMT on a fairly regular basis. We've had CEO/Grand Pooh-Bah Pam's excellent review of Ishiro Honda's Gorath (1961), Nate's brief return with a bang-up take on Returner (2000), an Ultraman Tiga Halloween special and Japanese Shitmas offerings on both Day Four for 2020 and Day Ten for 2021. We relish any opportunity to feature content from that small but mighty nation, and our connection with Japan remains as strong as ever nearly twenty years since our site began.

We love you, Japan. Please return our calls.

We especially enjoy when Japan brings the weird, and boy-howdy is Flint the Time Detective: Caveman's Christmas weird: A team of temporal agents, including caveman Flint and his sentient stone club Rocky Hammerhead, a couple of giggling tweens named Sarah and Tony, a winged Easter egg named Lovelove and a robot pterodactyl called Putera travel through time looking for "Timeshifters," often friendly or innocuous Pokemon-like travelers who are none the less dangerous because of their penchant for accidentally altering the course of history. The team is repeatedly challenged by a smokin'-hot, bondage-loving villainess named Petrafina whose buffoonish henchmen Dyna and Mite are more often a hindrance than a help in her quest to foil the time team and please her boss, a mysterious, mask-wearing "Dark Lord" whose raison d'etre is creating chaos throughout the entire history of human civilizations.

I hope you got all that because I'm not going over it again.

Based on a popular Manga, this anime version was relatively short lived, lasting only 39 episodes, but like any cult program it enjoys a dedicated fan base. I found the experience of watching it akin to getting buzzed on Bass Ale and walking into a dark, crowded dance club, where flashing strobes, lasers, smoke and colored lights reveal barely-visible silhouettes of rhythmically swaying bodies and flashes of bare skin, and the grinding pulse of bass-heavy techno-trash lulls you into a sort of half-conscious swoon or trance. I wouldn't say it was unpleasant, but it was fraught with befuddlement and somehow gave me a slight hangover, though I haven't touched a drop of alcohol for at least half a decade.

The credit sequence sets the tone of noisy, frenetic action, with rapid cuts of high-speed highlights from various episodes and a pounding theme tune with a chanted chorus of "Hoom-Ba-Hoom-Ba-Hoom-Ba's" hammering home the fact that our hero comes from a primitive tribal culture.

Thankfully there were subtitles for the "Hoom-Ba's" so we'd know how to spell them.

An off-screen Narrator tells us he's going to share the heartwarming tale of Flint's first Christmas, so we head over to "The Bureau of Time and Space" where the diminutive caveman works. In a clear visual nod to Rotwang the Inventor's house from Metropolis (1927), the building is modest in size and completely dwarfed by the cold steel structures surrounding it.

I love Metropolis and I approve of this.

Inside, the Time Team are decorating their tree and attempting to explain Christmasto Flint. As is usual in anime, all the characters shout and gasp a lot. Call me an old fuddy-duddy if you like, but I think shouting is impolite.

For some reason Flint thinks Christmas is something delicious to eat...just like Crazylegs the Wallwalker in Day Two's Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls. Robot pterodactyl Putera explains that Christmas isn't a food, you regressive little savage, it's a special day when Santa Claus travels the world giving presents to good little girls and boys. Flint figures he's been pretty good this year and asks hopefully if he can expect a present or two. Sarah and Tony, whom the Fandom Wikia for FTTD tells me are fraternal twins, impatiently assure Flint he will, indeed be getting a present whenever Santa deigns to arrive.

The Wonder Twins.

Flint expresses his sincere wish that his gift be a pizza, then begins jumping up and down shouting "I'm getting a present!" like a toddler on a sugar high from too much Kool-Aid.

Where's a ball gag when you need one?

Their jolly preparations are interrupted by a call from Bureau head honcho Jillian Grey, who tells the twins' uncle Dr. Goodman that a Time Shifter has been detected in seventeenth century France. Despite their plans for a holiday party, the team is gonna have to drop their shiny balls and go investigate.

Jillian. She has the personality of a paperclip.

Dr. Goodman has the hots for Jillian, but she's an all-work, no-play ice queen who's too focussed on her work to even notice his obvious flirting.

According to Ms. Grey, the time shifter in question is a kind and friendly little fella called Elfin, and his superpower is being able to turn any object into a toy.

Elfin. He needs to make Jillian a "toy" to help her relax.

Jillian further elucidates that Elfin is always happy and has a deep love for children. She sends over a time coordinate card and the gang all pile on their dinosaur-shaped time cycle to go to old-timey France, with Flint particularly excited by the prospect of getting a few free toys out of the deal, because he's essentially a selfish child with no impulse control who should never have been placed in an important position of dire responsibility in the first place.

They pop the coordinate card in a slot and the time tunnel opens, carrying them back through the centuries. When they get there they see a bunch of children playing happily on everyday objects that have been turned into toys and rides. There's a statue that's now a mechanical hobby-horse, some park benches that spin like carnival teacups and a snowbank rendered elastic like a trampoline.

Looks like fun! Shame about the cholera.

In the town square many other children are happily playing with the toys Elfin is making for them. Flint sees all the presents and assumes the little fella must be Santa, so he runs over to him and begins demanding a present for himself.

Elfin notices one little girl kneeling all alone, praying to a statue of the Virgin Mary. He hands his bag of toys to Flint to distribute to the other children and heads over to see what the little girl needs, but Flint thinks that all the toys in the sack now belong to him. He starts fighting with the children to keep them.

Elfin greets the little girl, whose name is Monique, and declares "You look sad...let me help!"

He hands her a stick and turns his ass towards her, then twitches his tail and farts out some magical pixie dust, and before the her astonished eyes the stick becomes a doll.

I wish my ass could do that.

The Girl believes Elfin must be an angel come in answer to her prayers and help her find her missing mother.

Elsewhere Sarah has grabbed the bag of toys and handed them all out to the kids, leaving none for Flint, which sends him into a rage. He furiously chases her around the square, and in the chaos of the pursuit they bump into a priest and knock him onto his tuchus.

This is Father Jacques, who has been taking care of the Girl Monique since her mother disappeared.

"That'll be three hail marys, two tylenol and a cold compress."

Monique still believes that Elfin and the Time Team are angels and tells the priest as much, but instead of reporting them to the inquisition as heretics he takes them back to his church to engage in some heavy-handed plot exposition.

Fr. Jacques explains that Monique's mom went missing four years before, on Christmas Eve, during the last French Civil war. He explains that their home had been destroyed during the fighting and that food was scarce. Mom had left her daughter at the statue to go find something for them to eat and never returned.

Now, y'all know I'm a bit of a history nerd, so I have to have to call a little bit of bullshit here. As it happens, when the Time Team popped their destination coordinates into their dinosaur cycle the display explicitly showed the target year as 1651, but the French Civil Wars, or Wars of Religion, all took place in the 1500's. I know it's a kid's cartoon, but is a little bit of French theopolitical historical accuracy really too much to ask?

Maybe I should go watch The Devils (1971) for the 500th time instead.

Anyway, the Priest further explains that Monique's father had been killed in the war and that she now prays to the statue each Christmas Eve for her mother's return.

Elfin, Flint and entourage are deeply moved by this tale of woe, and Sarah decides they should all go back in time four years and see if they can find Monique's mom. Putera reminds them their mission is to pick up the time shifter and go home, and that what they're about to do could alter the course of history, which it's kind of the entire purpose of their mission to prevent.

All it takes to change his mind is a few tears from Monique, and before you can say "fatal paradox" the Time Team travel four years back to the war-torn past of her town. From their vantage above the buildings they observe Monique and her Mother at the statue, and when Mom heads off to look for food, they watch in horror as a mortar hits a building and the facade collapses on her!

"Merde! Je suis baise!"

Sarah wants to immediately swoop in and try to save her, but Putera insists they can't interfere, but can only observe as subsequent events unfold.

As it turns out, Mom wasn't killed anyway, but only wounded. She wakes up in a makeshift hospital inside a convent with a bandage on her head. The Team watch through a window as nun asks Mom what her name is and where she lives, but sadly, she has amnesia and can remember remember nothing of her previous life.

Seems to be a running theme this year.

So the Team heads four years forward again to hook up with Fr. Jacques and Monique, and as they zip though the vortex the unseen Narrator informs us that they're going to have bigger problems to deal with than Monique and her memory-challenged matriarch once they arrive.

It seems smokin' hot villainess Petrafina has tracked the errant time shifter to the church and plans to kidnap him for her own nefarious purposes. She's sent her two goons Dino and Mite, who scope out the premises and spot their prey.

The Blunder Twins.

The Goons break in, and before Fr. Jacques can say "Sacre bleu! Mon cul!" they throw a cloth over Elfin and Monique, tie it up into a sack and run off with it. Just as the priest is running out of the church to chase them down, the Time Team returns. He delivers the bad news and they give one of those dramatic anime group gasps we've been enjoying since the heady days of Speed Racer.

The Goons take their captured quarry out to their boss, who's waiting on a park bench in her red latex bondage gear.

I'll bet she's got that ball gag we needed earlier.

Initially Petrafina wants to get rid of Monique so she doesn't have to deal with her, but when she realizes how protective Elfin is of her she decides to use her as leverage to get him to willfully do her bidding. When he refuses, she pulls out a P-shaped stamp and explains that once he's branded with it he'll do whatever she asks of him anyway, so I'm not sure why she felt the need to negotiate in the first place.

She's a one-stop resource for all your dominatrix needs.

She stamps him on his forehead and leaps in the air to perform a brief "kitten with a whip" routine, and poor Elfin transforms into a massive red-and-white hell-beast, a cross between a draft horse and a shaggy lion, with a grinning skull-face and grabby-feely skeleton arms.

Simulated bestiality is an extra $500.

Elfin-beast growls menacingly as Petrafina waxes rhapsodic about her evil plan to create an evil theme park where she and her Dark Lord can enjoy an evil date together, having all sorts of mephitic fun riding rides, laughing over other folks' pain and trading stories of the pathetic sub cucks they've humiliated with their leather whips and latex harnesses. She lathers herself into an erotic frenzy, moaning with cathartic pleasure as her fantasy vision reaches its climax.

If you do something you love you'll never work a day in your life.

Just as she finishes her petite mort, Flint comes zipping in on his cycle and starts kicking her incompetent henchmen's asses. He flashes his Time Bureau badge and tells Petrafina she's under arrest, but she hops on Elfin-beast's back and takes off running, with Flint and his faithful, sentient stone club Rocky Hammerhead, in hot pursuit

Back at the monastery the Wonder Twins have dropped the wisdom on Monique's mom, twlling her she has a daughter who's been waiting for her to get her merde together for the past four years. They convince her to come with them as they head out to the park to meet Monique, warning that she's been nabbed by some bad guys and needs all the help she can get.

Meanwhile Petrafina has spurred Elfin-beast on to a rampage around the park, turning benches, trees and bridges into various evil rides, starting with an evil roller coaster with Dino and Mite riding in the front car. Flint powers up Rocky and the two start smashing shit left and right.

You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

At the other end of the park Elfin has just turned a tree into a huge organic ferris wheel that promptly comes loose from its frame and begins chasing flint and Rocky around the snowy fields.

It's the most heinous theme park disaster since Kiss met the Phantom..

The Wonder Twins show up with Mom in tow, but what should have been a tender mother and child reunion is spoiled by both the chaos unfolding around them and the fact that Mom still has no idea who the fuck her daughter even is.

Elfin-beast now makes an evil carousel, with evil horses that break loose and start stampeding towards Monique, Mom and the Time Team. They call to Flint for help, but he's busy reinventing the wheel, so Putera calls back to Dr. Goodman at the bureau and asks him to send one of the friendly time shifters they keep around for just such and emergency. He chooses a little guy named Batterball, whose body is a baseball, whose hair is a sideways mohawk made from the fingers of a baseball glove, and who carries an oversized baseball bat in his hand.

This may be the most Japanime thing I've ever seen.

Batterball shifts in to the park, grows himself to about fifteen feet tall and starts using the bat to whack giant flaming baseballs at the horses. He raises his batting average significantly, with a mess of direct hits that immobilize the bronze steeds within a ring of fire.

Also, whatever this is happens.

Petrafina realizes she's the one who's getting whipped now, and worse yet, she sees that the ferris wheel has changed direction and is now coming straight for her, with Flint and Rocky still just barely ahead of it.

It rolls through the ring of horses and knocks them over like ninepins, then hits a bump and careens towards Monique. Mom leaps to push her out of its path but lands hard directly in front of it, and when Elfin-beast sees the little girl crying in terror his overwhelming compassion for children rises in him and he shakes off the influence of Petrafina's control stamp.

He jumps in to hold back the wheel and Flint strikes a mighty blow with Rocky that sends it flying out over the horizon, presumably to land on a hospital or a church or a daycare center somewhere.

Out of sight, out of mind.

The P-stamp mark dissolves from Elfin-beast's forehead and he returns to his normal form just in time for Petrafina to bugger off back into the time vortex, and for Mom to wake up from her latest concussive event with all of her memories restored, because as every neurologist and/or Three Stooges fan will tell you, when one knock on the head takes your memory away another one will always bring it back.

She don't need no stinkin' cognitive behavioral therapy..

Before they head back to the future for their Christmas party the Time Team helps Elfin go from house to house leaving presents for every child in the town. Along the way Flint meets a fat fellow in a red suit who's on a similar mission, and asks him if he can have his hat.

Dude! You know you can get Santa hats at Walmart for like a dollar, right?

We cut away briefly to the previously unseen Narrator, whom the ever-helpful Fandom Wikia tells me is called "The Old Timer." He assures us that no one had ever asked Santa for his hat before and no one had since...because why the fuck would they?

Speaking of hats, that lid's pimpin'.

Back at the Bureau headquarters the Christmas party is in full swing, of you look at these things with vastly diminished expectations. Jillian Grey arrives in a grump and gives Flint a serious dressing down for going back in time specifically to alter history. Doing so is the Time Detective equivalent of the Prime Directive, and having violated it he must now turn in his badge and be discharged in disgrace.

Then she shrugs her shoulders, smiles and says "just kidding, bro!" Even though he's betrayed his oath and made a mockery of his sacred duties, she's gonna let him off without any sanctions whatsoever because gosh darnit, it's Christmas.

You'd think he was William Shatner or something.

Then everybody has a good laugh and Flint finally gets to eat.

The End.

I found Flint the Time Detective: Caveman's Christmas to be divertingly daft with just enough bizarre touches to keep my interest, but I suspect the novelty of it would wear off pretty quickly if I were to watch much more of the series. With so many gems of Japanese absurdity likely still out there to be discovered I very much doubt I'll invest any more of my time in it.

I wouldn't mind seeing a little more of Petrafina, though. I wonder if she has an Only Fans page...

Shitmas Bonus!

Tales from the Northside:
Mrs. Santa's Little Helper

On a particular evening a week or so before Thanksgiving my friend Dongle the Elf seemed unusually taciturn. I'd quickly learned that he wouldn't be ready to begin sharing his experiences at the North Pole until he'd finished his first Guinness, but he'd still be open and friendly, chatting about this and that item in the news or boring me with the workaday details of his less-than-exciting job at Keebler Cookies. After the chaos and turmoil of his years with the Claus organization, the convention and normality of it must have felt like some sort of bliss, so I'd often let him prattle to me about his day-to-day concerns for some time before asking anything about his more colorful past employment.

Tonight, however, he seemed hesitant to speak at all, deflecting my attempts at friendly chit-chat with grunts, nods and curt, one-or-two word answers. I finally asked him directly if I'd offended him in some way, which was the only explanation I could think of to explain his remarkable manner.

"Certainly not! I wouldn't be shy about telling you if you had, but you've done nothing but be a good friend to me by listening to me ramble on and unburden myself night after night. I'm just out of sorts today. I've got a something for you, but I'm of two minds about sharing it. It's not about Santa or the Elves or any of the folks I've talked about so far. It concerns someone who in all the time I'd worked at the Pole I'd not even known. In fact, I'd only seen her once in passing before the day this particular incident occurred."

Obviously I was intrigued by all this unaccustmed vagary and dissembling. "You say 'Her,' eh? You don't mean Mrs. Claus, do you?"

Dongle gave me a sigh and slightly irritated side-eye. "You don't miss much do you? Yes, It is Mrs. Claus I mean. It's just that the story is pretty rich, a real 'hot scoop,' as they say, but I just don't have anything against her and don't like to tell tales out of school. Santa and the others I'll talk about all day, but Mrs. Claus...I'm just not sure if I should do it."

I decided not to press him further. Either he'd talk or not, I reasoned, and it was best to respect his silence lest I lose his trust. I sat there with him for a very dour, silent half-hour, eating my dinner and feeling more and more that I was somehow, by my mere presence intruding on his privacy. I began wondering if I shouldn't make some excuse to go home, but he suddenly sat straight up, pursed his lips and nodded to himself determinedly. He turned to me and said:

"Alright, I'll tell you."

"You don't have to. If I don't need to know, you know I wouldn't insist."

"Well, as it happens you don't need to know...but I do think I need to tell in any case you're going to hear it."

"We always heard quite a lot about Santa, mostly bad or at best indifferent, regarding both his public face and the questionable character of the private man, but we never got to know much about Mrs. Claus except that she baked cookies, made gingerbread houses and came down from the Great House for product endorsement events and photo shoots a few times a year. I suppose aside from some of the servants in the residence, no one outside of Santa's inner circle had ever had much opportunity to get to know her, so to the folks down at our level, we greasy cogs working the factories and power plants and distribution centers, her private life was a complete mystery. Nobody knew where she'd come from, how she and Santa had met, when and where they'd been married or anything at all about her interests and ambitions.

There were rumors, of course. Some posited that she was a shrewd manipulator, a sort of "power behind the throne," or at the least secretly and seriously involved in various aspects of her husband's business empire. Some thought she was actually a hired actress, or a series of hired actresses, trotted out for the cameras then held on retainer until the need for her presence would again arise. Others believed she was the kept wife of a wealthy tyrant, a rueful contractual prisoner, locked into a loveless life she neither bargained for nor deserved. I'd never had a firm opinion, but I'd hoped she was at least happy with what was plainly a very secluded and sequestered life.

When I'd been with the Organisation thirteen years, working in a variety of places and positions, one of my supervisors recommended me as an apprentice in the promotions department. I'd always been something of a raconteur and he'd been impressed with the tales I'd spun over the past seven months after my transfer to Central Distribution Station 212. So I ascended the ladder, so to speak, trading in my overalls for a jacket and tie, and began learning the advertising trade.

I'd been there only a week when I was assigned to edit copy for a new campaign, and I was fairly chuffed to learn that it was to accompany photos of Mrs. Claus herself, promoting a line of Belgian chocolates with which Santa had recently formed a partnership.

It was early in the project when I saw Mrs. Claus in person for the first time. I was at my desk working and heard a flurry of shufflinf feet coming down the hall, accompanied by a murmur of obsequious voices saying "Yes, ma'am," "Of course, ma'am," and "Certainly, Ma'am," again and again in answer to a woman's voice that was too faint and indistinct to hear clearly amidst the din.

I looked up and saw an entourage of business Elves in grey suits sweeping along past the hall windows with Mrs. Claus in the center of them, looking poised, dignified and determined as she made her way to the photo studio at the end of the hall. I'd seen pictures, of course, so I knew her face, but what impressed me about her in the flesh was the way she carried herself. What little I saw betrayed no wilting flower or cowed paramour, but a woman of strength and self-possession who seemed firmly at the helm of her own destiny. Then again she was there to put on a show for the cameras so who could say if what I was seeing was fantasy or reality?

As she passed, she turned in my direction, and for just a second or two our eyes met and she smiled. She gave a graceful little nod, raised an eyebrow, then turned away just as the whole gaggle of them moved beyond my view.

It wasn't much of an encounter, of course, and it was fleetingly brief, but it did leave me with a positive impression of her, if not a particularly strong opinion.

Fast forward two weeks. The photos were in, and we were feverishly writing snappy slogans and punchy copy to accompany them. I must say, even at her age she photographed exceptionally well and the camera adored her. Every well-earned crevice and crow's foot glowed with beneficent health and wholesome appeal and her eyes were exceptionally deep, kind and motherly. Again, I wondered: was this the real woman or simply a part she played to please her husband and promote his empire?

I printed up our first proofs and walked down the hall to give them to my supervisor, a cormorant named Mrs. Furnsby, who'd been with the company for better than fifty years. She asked me to close the door as I entered her office and she motioned for me to sit down.

She thumbed through the proofs and nodded approvingly. "You've been doing exceptional work, Mr. Dangle. You're a quick study and a credit to the department...and it seems you've been noticed."

I thanked her kindly, said I was just happy to be part of the team and just trying to pull my weight. I tried hard to cultivate some modesty, though honestly I was fairly bursting with pride. This was my very first job that wasn't hard manual labor, and I was eager to keep myself facing forward and moving up.

"I have a special assignment for you. It isn't much, but it may take you some time. These proofs you've just given me have been requested up at the Great House...and it is you who must deliver them."

There was no hiding my feelings this time. I was astonished. No one I'd ever known or spoken to had ever been up to the Claus residence. It loomed over the Pole like some mythical castle, far away and mist-shrouded like something from a fairy tale. In the odd, myopic haze of its distance from the business district it seemed more like a painting than something tangible and real. The idea that I, who less than a year before had been a mere worker Elf in one of the factories would be allowed to set foot there seemed, frankly, impossible. Despite my better judgement I said so.

"Well, Mr. Dangle, you were asked for by name, so you'd better pull yourself together. A car will arrive at six o'clock sharp, just outside the main entrance of our building, and you'll be driven from there straight up to the Great House. Once you've arrived one of the valets will guide you to Mrs. Claus' private apartments, where you will hand the proofs directly to her."

"Mrs. Claus?" I cried.

"Yes, Mr. Dongle. Mrs. Claus asked that you bring the proofs to her personally. Need I repeat myself?"

"No ma'am, of course not. I apologize."

"No need," she said with a peculiar smile. "I know this is surprising to you, but she will have her little whims from time to time. Just remember this: an order from Mrs. Claus is as good as an order from Santa Claus himself. Whatever she asks you to do, do it."

Well, there's not much to tell between that meeting and six o'clock, except to say I was there waiting by the front entrance of our building an hour before my time and kept looking down at my hand to make sure the envelope with the proofs was still in it. The car finally arrived, driven by a Penguin in an elaborate chauffeur's uniform of crushed blue velour trimmed with silver.

It was about a half-hour's drive up a single lane road, and all the way I could hear my heart thumping beneath my paisley tie. The Chauffeur could see how nervous I was and gave me a pep talk along the way, saying Mrs. Claus was regal, but kind, and as long as I didn't make a fool of myself all would be well. As we pulled up past the front of the house and onto a cobbled lane curving around to the side he added: "Just remember: Whatever she asks you to do, do it."

Santa's home was everything you've seen in the movies and more, a lush, faux-gothic mansion of tremendous size and opulence. We pulled up to a massive annex on the east end and I was led inside by a penguin footman, dressed similarly to the chauffeur, but in red instead of blue and with his head left bare. As we travelled up seven floors in an old-fashioned elevator with a brass gate, the footman cautioned me not to speak until Mrs. Claus spoke first, and most importantly to remember: "Whatever she asks you to do, do it."

The elevator opened on a long hall lined with alcoves containing exotic plants the likes of which I'd never seen before nor since. There were no doors or portals along the sides, but only one massive gilt door at the very end of it. The footman motioned me into the hallway, pointed me straight to that door, then closed the gate and descended, leaving me alone.

I was apprehensive, but I knew I mustn't keep Mrs. Claus waiting. I carefully adjusted my tie, made sure my cufflinks were straight and walked down the hallway at an even pace. When I reached the end, the door opened and a wizened old Elf woman politely bade me come in. She led me silently across a large living room furnished like a French estate and up to an archway hung with a multi-layered curtain of amber silk.

"Is that Mr. Dangle, Edith?"

It was a surprisingly youthful and melodious voice, with a seductive, honeyed tone and meticulously precise diction.

"Yes, M'lady."

"Well don't leave him standing out there! Do send him in!"

Edith pulled the curtain aside and motioned for me to enter. I swallowed hard and complied.

I calmed myself by counting each layer of silk as I passed them. There were seven in total, and were of the finest, most delicate cloth I had ever seen, each imprinted with a subtle damask of fleur de lis. As I passed the final veil I was shocked to see the full naked body of Mrs. Claus...hanging limp on a hook beside a four poster bed!

It was a full-body prosthetic, finely detailed, with every spot, fold and wrinkle as life-like as any real person you've ever seen and its face was unmistakably that which I had seen in the hall outside my office two weeks before.

"Good evening, Mr. Dangle. What do you think of my little work outfit?"

The voice came from my left, and through a golden archway stepped the single most beautiful woman I had ever seen or imagined. He hair was a deep, glistening auburn cascade that fell in waves and ringlets across her shoulders, her skin was perfectly smooth with just a hint of a subtle freckle here and there, and her figure! To call it 'hourglass' would be the greatest complement ever given to hourglasses. She wore a diaphanous white kimono embroidered with green swans, which seemed to gently flap their wings as her graceful movements made the fabric gently ripple.

I took a deep breath to compose myself and in a rather buffonish attempt to seem suave and confident I said "It is very lifelike, isn't it? Though I must say I much prefer what you're wearing now."

She laughed a little bell-like laugh that made me feel slightly woozy to hear, and her perfect white teeth reflected the light of the dozen candles burning in sconces along the walls.

"You have the proofs I suppose? Bring them here to me."

I stepped over and handed them to her but she tossed them onto a mahogany vanity without giving them a glance. Suddenly her deep green eyes were fixed firmly on my own. A little shiver shook my frame. She raised a playful eyebrow, reached out and took my hand, then led me to the bed...

Dongle stopped speaking and gazed off into the distance, with a wistful smile and the flickering flame of the pub's fireplace sparkling in his eyes. After what I felt was a reasonable time for his indulgence I finally interrupted his silent musing.

"Well?" I asked, with some degree of impatience.

"Well, what?" he replied.

"You know damn well what! What happened with Mrs. Claus?"

Dongle downed the rest of his Guinness, hopped down off his barstool, humming a little tune to himself as he walked over to the rack and grabbed his coat.

"Dammit, Dongle...finish your story! What happened next?"

"What happened next?"

"Yes! What happened next?"

He slipped on his coat, shuffled to the door and put his hand on the handle, then paused and turned back towards me with a knowing smile and a mysterious wink.

"What happened next was...I did what she asked!"

All "Tales from the Northside" stories
copyright 2022 Bradley Lyndon

Merry Christmas, folkses.

Next Installment: December 11th!

As always, Cheers and thanks for reading!

Written by Bradley Lyndon in December, 2022.

Questions? Comments? Expressions of disgust? Why not skip the middleman and complain to me directly?

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