Divided Loyalties

Written ByL Mel

“William, please, I am sorry!” Chris called from the corner of the living room. He’d been standing there for only ten minutes and was already fidgeting and whining.

“Chris, if I hear one more word out of you before I call you, I’ll double your time with the paddle!” I threatened. Fortunately my threat was effective and he was silent for the next while.

It had been a long season and I knew my beloved Brat was exhausted and out of sorts, but that gave no excuse for his behaviour and I was not about to allow him to get away with the stunt he’d pulled.

Please bear with me while I explain. You see, my Chris has a very special ability that he uses once each year to allow him to complete his rounds in the single night afforded him. There is a huge scientific explanation of the whole process which would take me about twenty pages to type out and still it would be unreadable for most people, so I’ll simplify and say that Chris can divide himself. He can divide into two, four, or many more selves.

Each year on Christmas Eve, he and the reindeer take off at precisely midnight and as they reach an altitude of one mile straight above the pole; he and his sleigh, the reindeer and all the contents split into three hundred and sixty identical versions of themselves. Each takes one degree of longitude and moving faster than the human eye can see; they deposit their gifts of Christmas love to every home they touch.

This is a wonderful ability but it does have its problems. For one, it’s absolutely exhausting and also dangerous. You see, if anything happens to even one of those three hundred and sixty selves during their rounds, they will not be able to rejoin to make the single whole that is my Chris again.

One particularly frightening Christmas back during World War II, the part of him that was in England was caught in an air raid. Prancer took a piece of shrapnel and though Chris had the power to heal him, he had to find a place to land to do so. He ended up in a bomb shelter that was filled with terrified children. Once he had his reindeer cared for, he spent the next several hours spreading his special joy and love to those kids. Unfortunately, the time he took there put him way behind in his deliveries.

Normally what happens is that all the sleighs merge at the same time above the pole in a spectacular ring, and then fly at lightening speed towards the single point in the centre. It’s incredible to watch and yet horrifying at the same time. It appears as if they will collide in the biggest explosion since the big bang, but instead you see a dazzling display of light from which emerges nine reindeer pulling a sleigh containing a single Chris.

However, that year above the pole waited three hundred and fifty-nine Santas with their reindeer driven sleighs. The gap in the ring was visible even from the ground where all the citizens of the village stood and watched and waited.

As the hours slowly passed, I grew more and more terrified. There was no way for me to even communicate with all the Chris’ above us. All we could do was wait and the longer we waited, the more terrifying it became. Remember what I said about this being exhausting? Well that is the crux of it. It takes a great deal of energy for the re-emergence to happen. The longer they are apart, the weaker they become. If it goes longer than twelve hours, they’ll no longer have the strength to come together. Each part that is left will slowly loose cohesion until they disappear forever into stardust. I would lose my Chris and the world would lose Santa Claus.

Well as I’m sure you’ve guessed, the part of him from England arrived in the nick of time and they came together once again. When he landed that day, I took him home to bed. Before he fell into his long sleep of recovery, I made sure he understood that I was laying down the law on him dividing himself for any other purpose but his Christmas Eve journey. There was no more doing so to be in two places at once during the busy time or for playing games or tricks on anyone. He was limited to one dividing each year and that was all. I could not live with something happening to him when there was no good reason. I had come to know from the moment our relationship began that Chris had a special duty to the world and for that one day each year, I had to give up my place, my role as Chris’ Top and give him to all the children of the earth. It is something I am willing to do for them and for my Chris, but for the other three hundred and sixty four days of the year, he’s my Brat and I take care of him.

In the years since that frightening wartime Christmas, Chris has obeyed my directive and has never used his power other than Christmas Eve. Well that is until two nights ago.

With there being only a month left until the biggest night of the year, we’re all a very busy lot here at the pole. Chris and the elves have been under a lot of stress getting production numbers up and keeping up with all the latest in high tech toys. I insisted that he be home no later than nine p.m. each evening so that he could get enough sleep to function properly. However, unbeknownst to me, he had others making demands of his time that evening.

The “A” shift of elves were celebrating the early completion of this year’s hottest toy, Robo-pooch, and planned a night out at The Fairy Club where they were featuring The Chippendale Dancers for a one night only appearance. They apparently put a great deal of pressure on Chris to join the celebration. So Chris agreed to go even though he was well aware of the fact that he had to be home by nine. He also knows that I don’t like him partying with the elves, especially the “A” shift, as when they get into the eggnog, they are a wild bunch!

It seems that last evening was also the night that Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost decided to throw their first annual Snow Fest and had asked Chris to be their honorary Snow King. He seemed to feel it would be an insult to his friends to say no, so of course he accepted. Frosty and Jack live on Ellesmere Island so Chris would have to take the sleigh and fly to the festival.

Then to add to things, Prancer informed Chris that since Dasher and Vixen had to move up their mating ceremony, (Vixen, the little slut was pregnant! And if you ask me, I don’t think Dasher is the father) the ‘Stag’ he was throwing for Dasher was moved up to that evening. Of course Santa is expected to attend all the reindeer stags!

Now my Chris found himself with four obligations for the same evening. Be home for nine p.m. with me, attend a party with the elves, act as Snow King at Frosty and Jack’s Snow Fest and attend a reindeer stag.

I, of course, had no idea about any of this until I was lying in bed with Chris watching the elfin o’clock news with Geraldo Keebler. When they announced the headlines of this evening’s news, Chris leapt up from his previously reclining position. He would have flown from the bed if it weren’t for my arm grasping his bicep in a steal grip.

The sound of Geraldo Keebler’s voice and the words he spoke will be forever etched in my memory: “Breaking news: Santa Claus in bars and behind them! We have exclusive film of the multiple arrests of our beloved Chris Cringle, tonight on the elfin o’clock news! Due to the magnitude of this report, we will be omitting the usual pause for commercial breaks from our sponsor, Peppermint Canes, the sweet mobility aid company. First, we take you live to the Doe a Deer Bar where a bachelor’s stag was taking place this evening. Our field reporter Bambi Walters is on the scene.”

The Doe a Deer Bar appeared on the screen with the reporter standing in front of it. Flashing lights from the local constabulary’s vehicles made for a sensational sight. The reporter was standing beside the bartender. “Is it true that the police have taken Santa and a number of his reindeer into custody?” The newswoman asked in her distinctive voice.

The bartender whose apron appeared to be covered in hot chocolate stains answered, “Yeah, there was a big fight in the bar tonight. It seems the groom-to-be was informed that his fiancé was getting some on the side with another buck and he went a little off the deep end. The one accused of doing the deed and Dasher went at it pretty hard, butting antlers and all, so I had to call the police. When they got here, Santa was right in the middle of it so they just hauled the lot of them out of here, tossed them in the paddy wagon and told me they were taking them down to the station for questioning.”

“Well you heard it, folks; they’ve arrested Santa Claus. This is Bambi Walters reporting; back to you, Geraldo.”

The scene went back to the studio. “Thank you, Bambi; that was incredible. Now you folks are not going to believe your ears when you hear our next report from the field. For this we go live to The Fairy Club and our reporter Tinker Couric.”

The camera panned the front of the well-known Fairy Club with its huge gossamer wing covered entrance and stardust encrusted roof. The pretty blonde correspondent, Tinker Couric, began to speak as a line up of obviously inebriated and dishevelled elves were led from the club entrance to a bus marked ‘Pole Transport’.

“Good evening, Geraldo and viewers. As you can see behind me this group of Santa’s personal elf crew is being taken away from The Fairy Club by Pole Police. We have been informed by the Sergeant in charge that the elves in question are being charge with both drunk and disorderly, and conduct unbecoming an elf. They apparently were here this evening to see the Chippendale Dancers. During the performance, a group of the elves climbed up on the stage and attempted to divest the dancers of their g-strings.”

The camera followed Tinker over to the side of the bus and did a close-up of the passenger in the seat at the back. Even hunched over as he was, I’d recognize my partner anywhere. It was obvious Chris did as well, as he moaned pitifully at the sight.

“Here you can see that Santa Claus himself has been taken into custody with the elves. It is my understanding that this evening was to be some sort of celebration for the “A” shift from Santa’s Toy Shop. All I can say is it looks like the celebration got out of hand. This is Tinker Couric reporting; back to you, Geraldo.”

I glared at Chris and was about to question him when Geraldo Keebler began what he called the final segment of his Santa report.

“Now, viewers, I take you to our affiliate station on Ellesmere Island and the Anchor of the Arctic Circle News, Nanook Cronkite.”

The somewhat elderly Nanook appeared on the screen with his grey hair and dark rimmed glasses. “Good evening, gentle arctic viewers. As many of you know, today was the much anticipated First Annual Snow Fest here on the island. Our own Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost have worked tirelessly on this project for the past several months. They were able to persuade Santa Claus himself to be the First Snow King and lead the festival parade. As thousands of children lined the street, Santa sat upon the Ice Throne Float, which was pulled by a team of polar bears. We have footage now of the opening minutes of the parade.”

I sat mesmerized watching as Chris, all dressed in shimmering white fur, was pulled down the road on a float waving merrily at the crowds. I lost all awareness of Nanook’s commentary as I watch the scene unfold on the television screen. They hadn’t even covered a single block when a fish-sicle monger with his cart moved into view. One of the bears pulling the float lost all control at the sight or smell of the frozen fish on a stick and began bounding for the cart at break neck speed. This caused the float to jerk hard in the direction of the rapidly moving bear. However, since the other bears remained on course, the top heavy float lost balance and began a slow motion topple onto the street.

I watched in horror as Chris was sent flying off the throne, landing on top of the fish-sicle monger’s cart. The camera rapidly moved towards the cart and to my great relief, Chris began to move and he came shakily to his feet. The white fur suit was covered in fish-sicle pieces and a deep gash was visible on Chris’ forehead, but otherwise he appeared to okay.

When I began to breathe again, I could hear Nanook’s voice finishing up the report. “We have spoken to the doctor at the Frost and Ice Clinic and have been informed that Santa is suffering from a mild concussion but is otherwise in good health. The physician had recommended that Mr. Cringle remain for observation for the next twenty-four hours. However, it appears that the patient is reluctant to do so and is insisting upon returning to the pole within the hour. This is Nanook Cronkite, and that’s the way it is.”

I turned to Chris, still holding him tightly in my grip. “How many?” I practically screeched. “How many more?”

Chris was shaking and teary-eyed as he answered. “That’s all, just four of us. I’m sorry, William, I really am.”

Thirty minutes later, we were dressed and down at the pole police station. The desk sergeant greeted us with a small grimace as he noted the look of embarrassment on my Brat’s face.

“Now, Mr. Cringle sir, don’t you fret. Your other two selves are free to go. We have cleared them of all charges. Your self that was at the bar fight at the Doe a Deer, was simply trying to break up the two combatants. Though Stags Dasher and Comet will have to pay for the damages to the bar, all other charges have been dropped. It seems Doe Vixen convinced the bar owner to see things her way.” He gave a knowing leer with that statement.

“And though the Mr. Cringle at the Fairy Club may have had an eggnog or two too many, he wasn’t responsible for the elves disreputable behaviour. Apparently he was attempting to return the g-string one of the elves had pulled off a dancer. It was just that he was found with the garment in his possession and the officer in question assumed he was the one who’d taken it. So you’re free to take them home with you now.”

The door behind the sergeant opened and the other two dishevelled but well Chris’ came out. They both glanced at me and then hung their heads as they shuffled slowly towards us. I led the way back to my Land Rover, opened the back door and the three climbed silently inside. I kept looking at them in the mirror as I drove towards the sleigh house. With only the three Chris’, an empty sleigh can easily be pulled by two reindeer. So I quickly harnessed Rudolph and Cupid as they were sober and ready to fly, and we took off for Ellesmere Island to pick up the final version of my partner. I’d called ahead to the Frost and Ice Clinic and had spoken only two words to Chris when they put him on the phone. “Don’t move!”

It caused quite a stir when three Santa’s landed on the roof of the clinic. Though the residents of the pole all know about Chris’ ability to split himself, it is not common knowledge to the rest of the world. We were shown to my final Chris’ room and I sighed with relief when I found him sitting up in bed looking reasonably healthy. I pulled him into my arms and kissed him soundly before I spoke to them. The other three moved to stand beside the bed; each looking precisely as contrite as the other. All three were chewing on their lower lips as they considered just how upset I was.

“I want you together right now. Then the doctor will examine you. If and only if you are cleared, we’ll head home where we will discuss this. Until then I don’t want to hear any excuses or explanations.” I looked at them sternly.

The Chris in the bed slid his legs over the side and stood leaning against the edge while the other three joined him and formed a circle. They held hands and stepped towards the middle. There was a blinding flash of light and when I could see again, only one Chris stood beside the bed. He was dressed in the outfit that the Chris I’d spent the evening with had been wearing. The clothing from the others lay scattered on the floor. I’d never seen him do this while dressed in anything other than what he’d been wearing before the split, so that clothing always came back together with him.

He looked a little pale and shaky as I moved towards him. I guided him back onto the bed. “You should have kept on the hospital gown,” I said pointed to the flimsy garment lying on the floor. “Lie back. I’m going to go and get the doctor.”

He grasped my hand tightly before I could move away. “William, I am sorry. I love you so much.”

I gave him a small smile and a kiss. “I love you too. Now just rest until we get you checked out, okay?”

Chris smiled weakly and released my hand. A short while later the doctor released him into my care. I was told he should see his own physician tomorrow just as a precaution but that he should be fine with a couple of days rest.

We flew home immediately. Chris slept most of the way with his head in my lap as I guided the sleigh. Not that I had to do much, as Rudolph and Cupid were pros and had us safely at the front door of the house in no time. I called Bernie (the little twerp) to get the sleigh back to the stable and told him to give Rudy and Cupid a special treat for their efforts.

I got Chris to bed and spent a restless night watching over him. Dr. Winters examined him the next day and said he’d be fine. The gash on his head was already mostly healed since it had happened to only one fourth of himself and there was almost no sign of the concussion he’d suffered.

As a precaution I made Chris take that day off, though I gave him a project to do while he rested. Three hundred lines of “I will never split myself for anything other than Christmas again.” We also talked for a long time about responsibilities, obligations, prioritizing and sharing with each other. We discussed how he might have better handled the requests and how he should have come and talked to me about them.

The next morning, I stood Chris in the corner and told him he could stay there and think about how badly he’d scared me. I left him there for thirty minutes to emphasize how extremely important it was that he remember this punishment and learn never to repeat this behaviour again.

When I felt it was time, I removed the heavy paddle from my desk and sat down on the red velvet sofa. It was hard for me to consider punishing Chris this harshly but this was a serious situation and I had to make a point. I called him out of the corner and he walked slowly over to the couch. His lip quivered slightly when he saw the heavy leather paddle. “Lower your trousers please,” I commanded when he stopped beside me.

It took him a moment to follow the order; however, he didn’t argue. I reached up and pulled down his briefs myself and guided him across my lap. “I don’t think there is a need for any more discussion, do you?”

Chris shook his head and mumbled a quiet, “No.”

I raised my hand and began a long and hard spanking which I followed up with ten very firm swats using that heavy paddle. I have no doubt that my beloved will find it extremely hard to sit for the next few days, but I also have no doubt that he will ever repeat this infraction again.

I must confess that I never look forward to Christmas Eve when he stops being my Chris for one night and becomes the world’s Santa. Even though I’m proud of him and what he does, it’s still hard for me to let him go, to let him do his dangerous magic.

This year will be especially hard for me. So I’ll ask a favour of you, gentle readers. When you look up to the sky on Christmas Eve, please say a little prayer for my beloved Brat; that all 360 of him come home to me safe and sound. If you do that, I will promise to keep letting him out of my arms for the stroke of midnight of Dec 25th for the rest of time.

The End

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