Ho ho howdy folkses! Welcome to Day Five of our Twelve Days of Shitmas celebration for 2022! Last time we enjoyed a frenetically paced Manga adaptation featuring a time-travelling caveman and a sinister dominatrix with green hair, stiletto heels and a leather whip. Today we tap into the traditional post-pagan reason for the season with a heavy-handed Christian-themed stop-motion animation program about a bland, unlikable middle-American kid and a droop-eyed, sanctimonious talking dog...and if any of that sounds like something you'd genuinely enjoy, well you're probably on the wrong website, pal.

We all do our doody at Shitmas.

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 doubled-up on last year's Secret Santa with a feature we like to call Crouching Elf, Hidden Santa, where invisible links to a nasty, dirty Elf and a miserable, shame-faced Santa are secreted randomly into a pair of screenshots somewhere in the review...and wonder of wonders, you get to find them! It's loads of fun, and by "loads" we mean approximately 1.3 seconds, and by "fun" we mean an infinitessimally brief respite from the abject misery of your meaningless existence. Thankfull, though, our Shitmas Bonus this year is a groundbreaking, must-read, revelatory look at the sinister secrets of Santa's sprawling North Pole empire. Each Tales from the Northside segment comes straight from a trustworthy whistleblower who once toiled deep inside the bowels of the organization where Christmas toys are made, and worker Elves' spirits are broken.

Once upon a time the President of the United Lutheran Church in America counted up the vast surplus of tithe money he'd received from the church's many congregants nationwide and said to himself "This is good. I like money, and I have it now, but will it last? Everywhere I look I see a vast, teeming landscape of rampant heathenism. How do I make sure the children of today become the God fearing, tithe-paying church-goers of tomorrow?"

First, he thought that since kids like cookies maybe he could sell them, just the Girl Scouts do, but he'd put tiny bibles in every box, and the kids would be excited because it would seem like they were getting a prize...but then he realized the bibles would have to be so small they'd be impossible to read.

Then he thought about how kids like dogs, so he figured maybe he could give every kid in America a dog with a bible strapped to its back, but then he thought "That's a lot of fucking dogs," and dismissed the notion entirely.

Then he figured maybe access to bibles wasn't really the root of the problem anyway. It seemed to him it was all those tempting-yet-unGodly Television programs on the airwaves today, filling kids' heads with secular nonsense about free thought and self-determination. He hated television...except maybe that cheerful little scamp Gumby. In fact, he loved Gumby, his wife loved Gumby and his kids loved Gumby, too.

He suddenly remembered that he knew a guy who knew a guy who knew Art Clokey, the guy who made Gumby, so he asked the guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who knew Art Clokey to get him Art Clokey's phone number, and then he hired Art Clokey and his wife Ruth to produce a children's program featuring bibles, dogs and sometimes even cookies, too.

At least that's the way Gumby tells it.

In truth, though it was explicitly religious and featured a blunt moral lesson in each 15-minute episode, the original Davey and Goliath (1961-64) took great pains to be non-denominational and inclusive, even going so far as to feature one of the first African American characters to be friends with a white character on American TV. Only the Lutheran hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" as the theme music and a Luther Rose featured in the opening credits referred specifically to Lutheranism. Aside from that it was generic Christianity of a featureless, flavorless, midwestern sort.

Following its original run, there were four half-hour holiday specials made between 1965 and 1967, then a second iteration of the regular series aired from 1971-73. Another special arrived in 1975, and then the program ceased production for twenty-nine years until a one-off program called Davey and Goliath's Snowboard Christmas, produced by Clokey's son Joe and funded with royalties from a Mountain Dew commercial in which the characters had recently appeared, aired in 2004. Mercifully the franchise has since gone silent

The show was extremely popular, and I used to watch it in syndication from time to time when I was a kid, but I was already destined for godless heathenhood and its dull aesthetic and overt moralism turned me off and tuned me out. I do, however, clearly remember having seen today's 1965 special as a rerun sometime in the early 1970's, and I even remembered certain sequences quite clearly as I watched it again for this article, but since I was never a fan to begin with there was no nostalgic comfort in rediscovering it. In fact, itxs so bland, maudlin and gorge-gurglingly wholesome the only way I could possibly get through it was to project my own crass, easy and cheap subtext onto it as I went along...and as long-time MMT readers already know, I am nothing if not crass, easy and cheap.

It's the day before Christmas Eve and Davey Hansen has the existential blahs. He's cranky and anxious and feels vaguely dissatisfied with the current trajectory of his life, which is real bitch when you're only maybe eight or nine years old and can't get a decent haircut to save your life.

Yeah, I'd be angsty too.

Worst of all, Davey is having a crisis of faith. He confides to his talking dog Goliath that despite all the festive preparations for the most joyous of holidays, and despite all the glad tidings and cheerful goodwill of his family and community, he just doesn't have the Christmas spirit.

"Have you looked up your ass, 'cause I think that's where your head is."

Davey's sister Sally comes in with a big box in her hand and tells her brother to clear off. She needs to set up the creche in the window where he's moping and has no time for his bullshit ennui. Goliath asks Davey what a creche is but Davey tells him he can't be arsed to say, so he should go ask someone who cares.

Sally piously explains that a creche is a model of the nativity scene, like a baby Jesus playset, with Jesus and Mary and Joseph and the three wise kings and a stable and animals and everything.

Sheesh! Her haircut ain't so hot either.

Goliath sees a figure representing a camel that one of the kings rode in on and declares that he'd like to be a camel, mostly because he likes a good hump.

While Sally is explaining who the figures represent Davey is sitting across the room being a snarky dick. He finally throws down the book he's been pretending to read and splits, cause this scene is squaresville, baby and he has better things to do with his life than play with wooden wise men.

Later Davey is sulking out in front of his house complaining that he wants to have the Christmas spirit, but he just doesn't know how to get it. He suddenly has the bright idea that maybe if he does some Christmassy things it'll help.

First up he heads downtown, flush with the cash his dad gave him to buy a tree. Instead of doing the smart thing and blowing it on smack, he and Goliath go browsing amongst the needly merchandise. The dog encourages him to have a sniff of one of the trees, assuring him it'll help him find the spirit.

Davey takes a whiff, but turns up his nose in disgust. He tells Goliath "I can smell Christmas, but I can't feel it."

"That's not Christmas...that's my wee."

Davey looks around and picks a particular tree because it's big and long and firm, but the kid whose selling them says sure, that one's nice, but it'll drop its needles too quick, if you know what I mean. He shows him another, slightly smaller tree that's got more stamina, and claims it's the best of the bunch.

"Size isn't everything, pal."

Davey tells the kid his dad will pick it up later and the kid writes down his name. Davey asks for the kid's name in return, and he tells him he's Kenny, the guy with the good wood. As they share a long, meaningful glance, each unsure of the other's intentions and motivations, Goliath asks Davey again if he's got the spirit and Davey tells him he does not.

Next Davey tries to shop his blues away, buying a doll for Sally, some perfume for his mom, baseballs for each of his friends and a smoking pipe for his father, 'cause dad sure does like to burn up a rock every now and then. When they're finished shopping Goliath asks again if Davey has the spirit, but Davey complains that all he has now is empty pockets and sore feet.

As they walk home, they pass the town church and Davey stops to listen to the ringing of its bells. Goliath starts asking again about the spirit and Davey tells him to shut the fuck up. He says he can smell Christmas and he can hear Christmas but he still can't feel it.

"The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless."

Davey, though discouraged, is still determined to rouse himself from the abyss of his lethargy and despair. He goes back to the corrugated utilitarian nightmare he calls his home, puts up strings of multicolored lights and straps a tacky plastic Santa's sleigh and reindeer decoration on the roof.

A turd covered with tinsel is still just a turd.

Just then Kenny arrives with the tree, saying he decided to deliver it himself so Davey's dad didn't have to come get it. He explains that since he and his dad live on their tree farm out in the country, he doesn't really know anyone from town, and he thinks it's kinda nice to have a "friend," if you know what I mean.

"Love me."

Kenny scans Davey's face for news of his fate, for any sign that his burgeoning love might be returned, but Davey, suddenly frightened by something strange and unfamiliar within himself, takes the tree and goes inside the house with just a perfunctory "Thank you," leaving Kenny to walk back to town alone, felling foolish and ashamed for having put any faith in his own silly daydreams.

Davey heads inside and tries hard to harsh Sally's impenetrable mellow, but she shrugs it off and tells him to go eat some Christmas cookies. Once again, he hopes this might cure what ails him, but that pesky ennui remains. He can see, touch, taste and smell Christmas, but he still can't feel it.

"Every living thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance."

Sally tries to console her brother, explaining that the real meaning of Christmas is right there in the cresch display, but all he can see is a bunch of little dolls. He looks them over half-bored, half-angry at himself for letting Kenny leave without at least getting his digits, then he spots the figures of the three kings and thinks "What a handsome trio! A fella could do worse than to bag himself one of those!"

Why's the brother gotta be behind the camel?

Then it hits him like a box of dicks: What he really needs is some musical theater to perk up his pantaloons and wash those doldrums out of his hair. He calls together all of his best boy-pals and meets them in their secret clubhouse to propose a Christmas play telling the story of the nativity.

He says Sally will be Mary, he will be the first king and Goliath can be his camel, because, as everyone already knows, he likes a hump. He looks around the rooms and assigns various friends to be Joseph, shepherds, and the other two kings.

You'd better not put me behind the camel or somebody's gonna get fucking hurt.

After the meeting, Kenny comes back to Davey's house again, hoping that persistence will win the day. When Davey answers he's resplendent in his King costume, with a jaunty van-dyke beard and saucy twinkle in his eye. Kenny has never before seen a man so confident, so full of vital thrust and energy. He bashfully offers that Davey looks "swell," and remarks that he must feel pretty Christmassy being dressed up so nice. Davey says no, he doesn't feel Christmassy at all, he just likes to be a king...which I believe is 1960's gay code for "dom top."

"Would you like to touch my royal scepter?"

As they chat awkwardly of this and that, Kenny offers Davey a nice hard piece of wood...which is the Christmas tree stand he'd forgotten to bring earlier. Davey asks how much he owes him for it. Kenny bats his eyelashes coquettishly and says "'s a present."

"Looks like I'm not the only one who likes a hump!"

Later on, Kenny is back at the tree stand, idly playing with a wreath and thinking of another type of ring he occasionally likes to use. A van with a massive P.A. system strapped to the top drives by announcing "a Christmas Eve pageant by the children of our town." It will be presented at eight o'clock the following evening at the local theater, which they somehow secured the use of without prior notice, money or liability insurance. Kenny laments that he can't go to see dreamboat Davey in the pageant because he has to work.

That evening the kids all head to the theater to rehearse. Davey stands on the stage, script in hand, and recites "We all bring presents to the baby Jesus on account of God gave us his only son," and, no lie, one of the kids in the front row says "What'd he do that for?"

'Cause he digs your Willie Dynamite coat, that's why.

Davey doesn't have an adequate answer, so he defers the question to Sally, who reminds them all it's "Because he loves us."

Thanks Sally. With all this rampant gay coding I almost forgot.

Davey announces a dress rehearsal for the next day at four o'clock and he, Sally and Goliath head home for the night. On the way they pass the tree stand and find Kenny asleep.

Do any of these children have parents?

The following day Sally and Davey are decorating the tree and Davey asks what she's hoping to get for Christmas. Sally demurs, thinking it unseemly to talk of material things, but Goliath butts in to say he wants a big bone, and although Davey claims he wants a bicycle, a big bone is what he really wants, too.

"Don't look at me! My desire is my shame!"

That afternoon they head back to the theater. Kenny sees Davey approaching and feels a hopeful thrill rise in his heart. "It's now or never," he thinks to himself, "I have to tell him how I feel."

"I'd hoped you'd come..." he offers shyly, but Davey passes him by without a glance, curtly explaining "Can't stop...dress rehearsal!"

"Why must I love him? Am I ever destined to be alone?"

Now we get to see some scenes from the pageant, including the two Shepherds spotting the Star of Bethlehem and the arrival of the three kings, complete with songs appropriate to each tableau, and I've got to say, the producers of the special have perfectly captured the agony of watching other people's talentless children attempting to act and sing.

The acting is as wooden as the hair.

Now we jump ahead to later that night, back at the house, where Davey and Sally are about to head to the theater for the actual performance. Sally insists on sticking a lit candle in with the window manger scene "for a stranger on Christmas Eve who doesn't have anywhere to go or anyone to love him."

I wonder if she has anyone particular in mind?

Sally goes on ahead and stops for a moment to speak with Kenny, who's still minding the Christmas tree stand alone because his deadbeat dad is out drinking and whoring on the other side of the tracks, and she says she expresses her sorrow that he can't come to the pageant. Kenny asks timidly where Davey is, and Sally winks knowingly and says, "He's coming."

"And so will you be if you play your cards right."

Davey and Goliath come tramping up the street, with Davey still lamenting that despite the many Christmassy things he's tried to do over the past few days he's still feeling depressed, adrift and rudderless. He's completely lost his equilibrium and his sense of purpose. His get up and go has got up and went to Dubuque, where it's settled down to a quiet life of bachelorhood with an extensive library of vintage french erotica and a goldfish named Manny. Goliath thinks maybe Davey just needs to finally acknowledge and accept his sexuality, but Davey still thinks if he can just find the elusive spirit of Christmas his life will settle back into its proper trajectory.

They stop outside the little church and listen to the bells again, but they ring hollow and cold, and bring him neither joy nor comfort. Then the bells stop and all is quiet.

"Do you not then hear this horrible scream all around you that people usually call silence?"

They continue on towards the theater and eventually come to Kenny's stand. Kenny is lost in his lonely thoughts and doesn't hear them approach. Davey stops and motions to Goliath to keep quiet. He gazes tenderly at Kenny, feeling at last some semblance of warmth and hope, some flickering flame of the spirit that urges him to break his silence and close the distance between them.

Tell him, you fool!

Davey steps up and puts his arm tenderly around Kenny's shoulder. He asks "Do you want to be a king in our play?" which I believe is secret 1960's gay code for "I'm willing to be sub if only you'll love me." He offers to take over the tree stand and let Kenny take his place, saying "the kids will tell you what to do," which I believe is secret 1960's gay code for something I'd rather not translate.

So Kenny takes the part and Davey stays behind to sell the trees, and we get to see the very same scenes and songs we saw during the dress rehearsal repeated verbatim.

Davey, meanwhile listens to the distant sounds of the musical play he birthed then abdicated and has a personal epiphany. Life, he now realizes, has whatever meaning you choose to give it, and the greatest meaning you can choose is love.

He sells the last tree and runs home to the creche and its candle to wait for his own special stranger to arrive.

Oh, and there's some Jesussy stuff too.

Davey finally realizes that God gave Jesus to man out of love, and now he's going to give himself to man for the very same reason. He admits to himself that he loves Kenny, and vows that no matter the consequences, he must come out as gay to his friends, family and community, to proudly and openly be the man he knows he was always meant to be.

"Uhh...maybe I'll tell them tomorrow."

The End.

So maybe there was a lot more Jesus and a lot less gay, but I still think there really was a little something going on between Davey and Kenny. At one point Sally said "I like that boy Kenny" and Davey replied "I like him, too," and at the end when Davey is standing at the creche and talking about God and Jesus and stuff he comes right out and says "I love Kenny."

I suppose he might have meant it in a platonic, spiritual "love of all mankind" sort of way, but then that would ruin the entire premise of this review.

Anyway, last I heard of them they had a condo together on Fire Island, matching Priuses and two yorkshire terriers named Sonny and Cher.

Shitmas Bonus!

Tales from the Northside:
The Unfortunate Chimney Sweep
A Christmas Ghost Story

One evening, a week or so after I had first met my friend Dongle the Elf, we sat quietly on a pair of comfortable chairs next to the fireplace at our local pub. It had been a particularly cold and dreary day and the weather seemed to make us both wistful and lazy. The fire was warm and drowsy, and a wintry mix of sleet and snow came in fits and starts, alternately pelting the big mullion windows with the gravel-beat of tiny drums then going silent and leaving us to quietly mull over our thoughts, with only the crackling of the tinder and the tinkling of glasses elsewhere in the establishment to accompany them. Occasionally even snow would pause to reveal a bright, full moon glowing hazily through a thin layer of clouds.

"How peculiar," I murmured under my breath, not quite realizing I had spoken aloud.

"What's peculiar?" yawned my friend dreamily.

"That dark smudge on the wall by the fireplace. I could swear it wasn't there a moment ago. It might be a trick of the light, but from here it looks like a tiny handprint."

Dongle was pale fellow at the best of times, but at my words he turned two shades whiter. He turned to look at the handprint and back again, and his face had altered so quickly and drastically, from idle daydreaming to fearful dilligence, it gave me both a shock and a vague sense of foreboding.

"Good God, man, are you ill?" I cried.

He took a fortifying draught of his Guinness and a long, deep breath to regain his composure. "I'm sorry, friend, I didn't mean to alarm you. I Just wouldn't have expected it...not so far from the Pole."

"Well, as a matter of fact you did alarm me, and I'd be very much obliged if you'd tell me what exactly it is you wouldn't have expected so far from the Pole."

He got up and walked tentatively towards the stain and scrutinized it for a moment before returning to his seat. "It's exactly as I feared," he said, shaking his head sadly. It's coal dust."

"Coal dust? Nonsense! No one uses coal around here anymore."

He settled back in his chair and stared straight ahead. "Nevertheless, it is most assuredly coal dust," he said with a rueful sigh, "It seems poor young Jack has followed me here."

I was intrigued by this curious and cryptic assertion, but also so befuddled that I sought in vain for a suitable response. I watched with growing apprehension as he methodically swallowed the remainder of his pint, shouted for another, and awaited its arrival in perfect silence. When it came, he set it carefully on the table beside him, ready at an instant to avail himself of it as the need arose. He cleared his throat, folded his hands together across his belly and told me the following grisly and extraordinary tale.


There was once an Elf named Matthias Merrye. He was old. Very old. I'm told he was far older when he died than any Elf has ever known or dreamed of. He was renowned in his time for having been the very first Elf Santa ever hired, back at the start of his gift-giving career, when he was still just good old St. Nicholas looking to do a good turn for the children of Christendom.

Several hundred years and many hundreds of worker Elves came and went, but Matthias remained, still working as Santa's closest and most important helper, the Sleigh Elf who always accompanies him on his annual deliveries.

One Christmas Eve sometime in the 1840's Matthias was along as usual, helping Santa by staging and organizing the gifts so that the correct presents ended up in the appropriate houses. They had reached Whitechapel in London sometime around two AM local time, though for Santa it was still quite early in his travels.

If you've ever wondered how Santa can visit so many houses in one night, it's because he delivers to them from an ever-so-slightly detached channel of time that moves far more quickly than the one the rest of us experience, and he can pop in and out of either of them at will. Not only can he move rapidly forward, but he can go backward in time as well, which is how he's able to gather the information he needs to compile his Nice and Naughty lists.

That night the sleigh stopped on a particular roof and Santa stepped into local time with his bag and the magic morphing wand that made his body, his clothes and everything he carried pliant and flowing like a semisolid putty. He'd climb into a chimney and his whole form would alter its shape to fit whatever nook or cranny in which he found himself, much like an octopus squeezing itself through passages in a reef much smaller than even the slimmest parts its body.

Santa paused at the edge of one particular chimney and pricked up his ears.

"Can you hear that Mattias? I believe it's coming from down in the flue! It sounds like a tiny snore!"

"I hear nothing," replied the withered Elf testily, "Need I remind you we've got nine hundred million three hundred seventy-two thousand eight hundred twenty-three more stops to make? Get a move on, now. It's cold out here."

Thus abashed by his gruff but faithful servant, Santa forged ahead and slid into the chimney, but about halfway down he felt an obstruction. It was solid and lumpy, and it seemed to be pushing upwards against his weighty, amorphous bulk even as he pushed down to move past it.

"Something isn't right," he thought, "I should go back up," but in his minds eye he saw the disapproving glare of Matthias, shaking his head and pointing impatiently at his absurdly huge pocket watch.

"Probably just a cat that got up in the chimney," he reasoned, "I'll push it through and it will scramble away, then I'll deliver these presents and be gone."

He pushed harder, and the object pushed back, then suddenly it ceased its resistance to him and down Santa went, tumbling out of the fireplace and into a bare, cold and empty room. He realized immediately he was in the wrong house, as it was plain no one lived there. He called up for Matthias to check the address.

That's when he noticed the dark lump in the center of the room, dimly illuminated by a trickle of moonlight just barely shining through a dingy window.

It was a boy of seven or eight, quite clearly dead, either suffocated by Santa's bulk or his neck broken under Santa's weight. There was a trail of soot from where he'd come rolling out from the fireplace.

"My mistake, boss!" called Matthias from above, "We wanted 237, that chimney over there. Just pop back up and we'll pop over."

Santa could feel the sweat bubbling on his back and forehead and the gorge of panic rising in his throat. "Matthias! Get down here! I need you!"


It seems that a chimney sweep called Dick Morley had been hired to clean this flue by some shifty property agent who'd been tasked by the building's owner with selling the vacant property.

Morley was an opportunistic scoundrel, expanding his business through the recruitment of "apprentices" from the local children's workhouses. He was a hard character, too, notorious for his harsh language and liberal use of a leather crop he always kept upon his person. He fed the boys little, worked them to the bone, and housed them in a rickety shack by a rubbish tip, where sometimes ten or fifteen of them had to sleep on the bare floor around a tiny cast iron stove, with barely enough coal burning in it to warm the feet of a mouse.

Business engagements had been abundant of late, so he'd recently picked up a few more urchins from the workhouse to meet the demand, including a wan, pale and sad-eyed little fellow named Jack Turnkey.

Jack had only been apprenticed to him a few days when he was sent up the ladder to clean the chimney at 325 Porthouse Lane. Having too many boys and not enough ladders, however, Dick took the one Jack had just used away with him to another job and left the poor lad stuck up on the roof. He tramped off with his ragged crew to attend to other appointments, treating the boy to the Parthian gift of a shouted threat: "Them chimney walls 'ad better be fit to lick yer supper off 'em, or you'll feel my crop hard on yer hide, boy!"

Poor Jack grabbed his brush and climbed into the chimney, and Dick Morley walked exactly three blocks north, where he paused beneath a scaffold to light his pipe and was struck and killed by a falling brick. The boys all scattered in panic, leaving no one at the scene to tell the arriving Bobbies that Jack was still stranded on a roof three blocks south.

Jack did his work well and waited, but his boss never came. When night fell he tucked himself back in the chimney to keep warm and found a nice tight space in the masonry where he could wedge himself in securely. After a long time crying to himself in the chilly darkness, he finally fell asleep.


"What are we to do, Matthias?" cried Santa, wringing his hands in a panic. His face was red, and he was shaking, breathless and wracked with guilt and fear.

"There's not much we can do, boss," said Matthias, shaking his head sadly, "We'll have to leave him where he is and move on. We've got our work, and there's nothing anyone could do to help him now, the poor devil."

"But he'll be found, Matthias! He'll be found and they'll know it was me! Look at the trail of coal dust, the boot prints! Who else comes down these chimneys on Chrismas Eve? Any Scotland Yard inspector worth his salt would know it was me!"

Matthias calmly put his hands on his hips, turned to Santa and looked him square in the eyes. "That's a load of codswallop, boss, and you know it. It's a damn shame what happened, but there's no one could tie you to it, and in any case it was an accident, a simple mistake. You didn't mean to do it. You didn't even know he was there."

"I heard him snoring. I wanted to see what or who it was, but you..." Santa shoved an accusing finger in the little Elf's face, " told me 'get a move on,' said we were too busy to stop and see...and if you hadn't fouled up the address... Matthias, I hold you responsible for this debacle and I expect you to fix it."

Matthias sighed impatiently and turned to the young boy's corpse. He tapped his chin thoughtfully then offered: "Give me Donner. He's the fastest, and the rest can manage the sleigh without him for a few thousand houses. You go on ahead, keep delivering the presents, keep to the list and the schedule, and I'll meet up with you when I've done what needs to be done."

"So what did Matthias do? Dump the body in the Thames?" I asked, half invested in the horror of my friend's tale but far less than half credulous that any of it was true.

"Yes. As it happens that's exactly what he did. He filled the boy's coat pockets with stones and dropped him off an embankment as the tide was coming in, but just as poor Jack was going under...he opened his eyes."

"Good God! You mean he wasn't dead?"

"If he wasn't before Matthias put him in the water he certainly was after. Santa never spoke of it again. It was a secret too sad, sinister and painful to share, and Matthias never told anyone, either, at least not for another hundred and twelve years.

His age and his guilt caught up with him at last, however, and as he lay dying he called in his wife and children, and a few house Elves he had known and trusted for many years, and he confessed the whole thing.

Since the last thing he saw was Matthias standing over him, Jack's spirit had apparently followed him back to the North Pole. Matthias claimed Jack haunted him to the day he died.

Oftentimes, Matthias said, Jack would come and whisper to him in the night, telling him his name and his history, how he'd lost his family to typhoid fever and ended up a pauper, how Dick Morley had beat him and abused him and left him stranded on a rooftop that fateful, hateful night. He'd leave charcoal dust handprints here and there to let Matthias know he was always near him, ever watching and accusing, a constant reminder of the crime that was the Elf's greatest shame and poor Jack's final tragedy.

Jack still leaves his mark on the wall sometimes, and whenever an Elf sees it he's compelled to share the story of the unfortunate chimney sweep who died on Christmas Eve.

The poor soul just wants what we all want, I suppose, which is simply to say 'I was here once, I lived and I died, and however short and painful my time on this planet was, I was part of the world, and I mattered.'"

The wind howled outside as a snow squall blew past, and the cool air drafted back down the chimney and sent a few errant sparks flittering through the fireplace screen. My friend was thoughtful and gloomy, and as my eyes wandered to the wall behind him I noticed with a start that the handprint I had seen so clearly just a short time before had now completely vanished.

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

Merry Christmas, folkses.

Next Installment: December 13th!

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?

Stealing from this page
will land you on Santa's naughty list