A Crime Noir Retelling of Ruldoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
I grabbed a bottle of the old man’s eggnog from the top shelf and poured out a glass. They say hooch ain’t the best for jogging memories, but I was never one to play by the rules. Let’s see now; there was the fellow named Dasher, his brother Dancer, their buddy Prancer. And the dame who looked like she’d go toe to toe with any two-bit mall Santa if she was having a bad day? That was Vixen. I tossed another few names over my shoulder like they were salt and my luck had been sour. Comet and Cupid. Donner and Blitzen. Ordinary names, the same kind you’d see on page thirty-seven of the Nice List. One thing was certain: none of the sad sacks I could recall was the most famous reindeer of all.
As I wracked my brain the smell of my drink mixed with that of the smoke from my Montecristo No. 2, an early Christmas present from the old lady. Then it hit me, like a right hook from Jack Frost in his fighting days: “Rudolph.” The kid whose sniffer you might say glowed. If you ever saw it, that is. I knew he’d had a run in or ten with a few of the other reindeer—“a few” meaning “all”—but the details were about as cloudy as the muzzle of my snubnose the time I caught the big man putting coal in my stocking. That time I missed: lucky for him. He left the milk and cookies: lucky for me.
I needed to clear my head. I did so the only way I knew how: more nog. I was looking for answers, so I headed up north side to the one place I knew I could find them. Run down little hole in the wall called “The Workshop.” Her last name was Claus, her first…wasn’t important. I told her I had a hunch, like Quasimoto. She told me she had clues, like Blue. Names and games, she said. The former was for when they called him, the latter was for when they didn’t. Poor Rudolph. Then again, after I paid the lady so was I.
I stepped out into the snow and it started coming back to me, the way that boomerang my old man got me last year for Christmas never did. It had been a dark and foggy eve, and Kringle was never the type to take chances, the sap. At that point, the story of the kid with a stoplight for a nose had reached farther than my Uncle Joe when the gingerbread was on the other end of the table. Well, sleigh needed a guide. ‘Dolph needed cred, the street variety. Last I checked, two plus two equals four.
Word gets out—it always does—and sooner than an Alabama pigskin the whole sorry pack of reindeer start humming a different tune towards our fellow Rudy. A jukebox dime by the name of “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” if memory serves. It usually does, but I rarely tip. Rest of the reindeer start shouting out with more glee than Tuesdays at 8/7 central on Fox. Yippee. Myself, I never was one for shouting; my revolver did that for me. Luckily he had kept quiet. As I ran back that night through my mind I could see there were two things that went down: a third glass of eggnog down my throat, and the kid Rudolph down in history. Like George Washington.