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– Chapter One
Introducing Santa

– Chapter Two
"Take Me Through the Numbers"

– Chapter Three
The Scheming Begins

– Chapter Four
Santa and His Shrink

– Chapter Five
The Doll Factory






New Orleans






- The Divine Right    of Capital

- Pigs at the   Trough


- What It Is

- Why a Santa    Novel?

- Who Benefits

- Secrecy in Santa

Author Bio






Chapter One - Introducing Santa

     “Reindeer dung.”

     The rich voice suggested hot cocoa, magic, and giving--strong warmth overrun by tougher things. But the voice also betrayed a mind bent to commerce and decision, timeslicing and competition, faster and cheaper.

     “I don’t believe these numbers for a minute.”

     Large, strong fingers fiddled with a silver pen, turning it end over end. One palm slapped the desk, sending papers skittering over the polished mahogany.

     “Hm-hm-hmmm,” the big voice rumbled, and the hand moved from desk to face, teasing a curly white beard that flowed under a bulbous red nose, thrusting out like a ship’s prow beneath bright blue eyes that should have twinkled but didn’t.  

     Half-glasses perched on the nose, and it was through these that the blue eyes stabbed, as if to change the numbers on the page.

     “Bridle,” the voice continued. “Do you mean to tell me that the government--the government--of Argentina is raising a protest over reindeer dung? And they need ten million Santeans to cover the removal? Why don’t they just use the stuff, spread it on their, what do they call them, pampadoodles?”

     “You mean pampas, sir,” Bridle said. Bridle looked like a small man or a large child shoveled into a navy suit. He surveyed his boss.  What sort of rumble was this?  Disgusted? Taking it out on the Argentines? Or angry, taking it out on his accountant, questioning the numbers, fingers stabbing, beard wagging?  Probably the angry side.  It so often was these days.

     How had it come to this?  Good with numbers seventeen hundred years ago, discovered arranging toy sequences in the old shop, brought before the Chief--even then, most of them had begun to drop the more familiar Santa--who looked him over kindly, half-elf surveying elf, and decided then and there that he should be an accountant.  An accountant.  For seventeen hundred years.  Bridle sighed softly.  After a while, this job could get tiring.

     “Something wrong, Bridle?”  Blue eyes skewered him in a way they never used to.

     “No, sir,” Bridle said. “Just wondering why they think you’ll pay that kind of money.”  He watched for a reaction-perhaps a tremble of the beard, arranged against the dark gray suit, the white curls all but hiding the red and green striped tie.

     “That’s true.  How much is that in today’s currency, anyway?”

     “Well, in US dollars, it’s about twenty million.  I could give it to you in Euros.”

Christmas story, Santa CEO involves elves, reindeer, presents, Christmas and business, business ethics and strategy

     “Euros?  Bah!” Santa said.  “Another feeble attempt to unify that little band of nations. Nothing but trouble, I’d say.  Tell me something, Bridle.”  He leaned forward, large elbows straining the gray fabric.  “Is Argentina in Europe?”

     Uh-oh.   “No, sir.”

     “Thought not.  Then I’ll take the dollar figure as a start.  Take this down to Silvertongue. Get him to cut it in half.  Find a favorable exchange rate and use that as the basis.  Twenty million!  I want it down to eight and a half, tops.”

     Bridle winced.  Maybe he should see Miracle for this one.  Or Angelus for prayer, just to be safe.

     “Don’t cower, it won’t be that difficult.”  A corner of Santa’s mouth snapped up and down. “Now off you go, and get me an answer by the end of the day.”

     “Isn’t that--a bit soon?” Bridle said.  “Because of the negotiations, I mean.”

     “I like giving Silvertongue a deadline.  Cuts through a lot of his meandering.  Gives him a challenge.  A stretch goal.  Just like I’m giving you.  Now go on, I need to get ready for the Board meeting.  See if Roxy’s been able to get Oiler, I need the latest status.”

     Bridle took the paper from Santa’s outstretched hand and hopped off the chair, wincing when pain shot through his bad knee.  Doesn’t he know that replacing our chairs with these big half-elf ones makes us all feel puny?  Probably costs.  Bridle headed to the door.  And probably one of my own cost analyses that did it. 

Christmas story, Santa CEO involves elves, reindeer, presents, Christmas and business, business ethics and strategy

     He sped up as he neared the door, throwing his shoulder into it.  On the other side, Oiler chatted with Roxy, as always stunning, her medium-length black hair arranged above dark eyes and around sculpted cheekbones and ruby-red lips.  Oiler was quite taken by her-but then, everyone was.  As if Oiler had a chance, elf that he was. Bridle scowled.  Oiler was the worst kind of elf, the kind that’s forgotten the elf side and wants to be a half-elf, human-sized, big and important.  Even if it was impossible.  What was the old saying?  “Talking beyond your size.”  That was Oiler.

     Oiler spotted him.  “Hey, Mr. Accountant,” he said.  “What kind of mood is he in?”

     “Not too bad.  Kind of disgusted with the Argentines, wants answers now.”

     “Argentines?  How does that figure?  What’s the problem?”

     “Reindeer crap.”

     “Reindeer crap?  You’re joking!”

     “Nope. The Argentines think there’s too much of it.  They want him to pay for removing it.”

     Oiler burst out laughing.  “Didn’t they figure when they signed the ranch contract that reindeer poop might be part of the deal?”

     “Not this much, apparently.  You’d better get in there--he asked for you immediately.”

     Oiler straightened up and arranged his perfectly tailored blue suit (“Imported!” he’d announced, and one of the others--Halter, head of Doll Assembly Operations--had shot back, “Hell, everything’s imported up here!”).  He sauntered to the doors and pushed on them as though their size meant nothing.  His grunts and groans gave him away.  He slipped through the eventual crack and disappeared.

     “Oh, brother.”  Bridle shook his head.

     Roxy looked up from her computer screen, fixing him with her dark, dark eyes. “Aw, c’mon, Bridle, it’s just Oiler.  He’s entertaining.”

     “I guess.”

     A buzz.  Roxy flipped the Autospeak.  “Yes, sir?”

     Santa’s voice, harsh and metallic, cut through the room.  “Roxy, please get in here.  I need you to take notes.”

     “Right.”  She flipped the switch again and sighed.  “That thing always makes him sound madder than he is.”

     “But he’s angrier than he used to be.  At least I think so.”

     “You’re not the only one,” she said, picking up her laptop.  She paused as she passed him, bent over and kissed the top of his head.  “Don’t let it get to you, sweetie.”

     It was a nothing gesture for her, but for a seventeen-hundred-year accountant, it was something else.  He blushed despite himself, trying not to stare at the beautiful half-elf as she opened the door and stepped inside.  Skirts hadn’t been that short in the old days.


© 2004 David Soubly

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