Dining With Dasher
A Short Story by Doug Dean
Written using the suggestion "Reindeer"
Originally featured on 12-15-2008
As part of our series "Holiday Fiction Drive (The Things Holidays Drive People To, The Things Holiday People Drive)"

So then, get this, just as the bride and groom were about to cut the cake, in front of three hundred and fifty of Portland’s culture elite, smoke canisters crashed through the windows of the ballroom. Confused secret service poured in through the doors at the back of the room. Oh, don’t worry cause I see you worrying instead of enjoying your food—the gas they released wasn’t toxic poison. It wasn’t laughing gas either. Just a hefty dose of helium.

The SS men began squeaking at one another in high pitched voices as they circled the crowd.

“Is the perimeter secure?” falsetto-ed Agent Pranser.

Tuxedoed men helped their gowned wives take cover beneath sixty inch round tables, peering out between the draped tablecloths.

“Check! Where’s the Governor?” buzzed Agent Vixan.

Right on time, the fake snow started floating down from the ceilings of the ballroom. Everybody stopped for a second, just looking up at it, eyes glazed over. And then — this was so great, one of the rookie agents, Dondouer, his jacket said, pointed his semi-automatic at the falling snow, at the snow!!

After I caught my breath — I mean at the snow, I hit the remote and over the PA a loud hearty Ho, Ho, Ho and then my lime green Santa Claus and sleigh is projected onto the wall. I clicked on my remote and projector rotated so the stenciled image was flying around that big ballroom.

Then Agent Dondouer squeaks out, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Is that Santa Claus?” and then there was like, a cacophony of elfish voices. They were like “It is Santa!” or “I can’t believe this” or “Well thank you Jesus, now I seen every goddamn thing!” —okay? It was priceless.

Thirty seconds later, I click off the light show, and I drop down from my perch up in the rafters. The PA starts back up with some more loud hearty Ho, Ho, Hos, announcing me as I make my entrance, descending on a virtually invisible steel wire, in my brand-new, freshly tailored, bright, red Santa suit. I’ve got my finger to my nose, cause of that old myth where he does that. But it’s not like a finger is going to stop the eight semi-automatics pointed at me, now is it?

Don’t get me wrong. The suit is constructed with triple-layered Kevlar. Even the hat. Secret Service men are trained to shoot at your torso, so unless one of them decided to be a show-off and try to shoot me in the face — I was pretty well-protected anyway. It isn’t as daring as it sounds.

So anyway, I can only imagine, but I’m pretty sure that I looked fucking awesome flying down, or floating really, towards them. Mouths were agape. I could see Sam Adams smiling for a second, hiding behind a chocolate fountain. I like him.

Meanwhile the snow, actually partially hydrated sodium stearate—well, actually actually, I added to and tweaked just the basic compound sodium stearate adding some other goodies to the mix to boost the thickness of the foam and so it would smell minty like the North Pole—so it has been falling this whole time and is beginning to take effect. But nobody knows that yet.

“Freeze!!!” yelled this choir of Secret Service elves holding uzis. It was so unusual.

‘Ho Ho Ho! Ho Ho Ho!’ was coming from the speakers as my steel cable floated me down. I hit the third button on my hand remote, which triggered the fire sprinklers. Now this caused some chaos. Agent Vixan fired first, hitting my thighs, which were covered. I expected this, especially from Vixan. Dondouer was right behind him spraying my chest. Then they all started firing like a bunch of conformists, which they really are, by the way. It’s why I went freelance to begin with. Seeing them all thoughtlessly shooting at me was a good reminder that I’m where I’m supposed to be.

It hurts to get pelted with bullets like that, even if you’re wearing body armor. Luckily for me, it only lasted a few seconds. The first thing that happened was a kind of a worst case scenario. Agent Blixian, not the best sharpshooter, a guy who admitted to me when I was a rookie on the detail that he has kept his job by using his charm—anyway, Blixian missed me. One or more of his errant shots flew into the gold plated Victorian arches creating sparks. The sparks ignited the helium, which had pooled at the top of the ballroom, creating a rather loud and bright explosion of flame. This fire could have potentially blown up the whole room, killing us all. But it didn’t because the sprinklers were already on, and anyway everyone who wasn’t floating on a steel cable was now immersed in bubbly foam. Remember those snow flakes? Actually they were soap flakes.

Slippery, huh? Literally, too.

The big burst of flame looked awesome, but it was freaky. The white puff of my hat got melted, which sucked because it was brand new.

The gunshots stopped with the explosion, elfish voices shouting “Hold your fire!” from within a giant foam party.

I let the sprinklers go for another forty five seconds, then cut them as well as the looping Ho Ho Ho’s, so I could concentrate. The cable lowered me down into the foam right near the gift table. I grabbed the end of it and began dragging it towards the jet sleigh I construct—



Hey Debbie! Hi! It’s the person across the table.

Look, if you’re so bored hearing about why I can now, "all of the sudden," afford to take you out for this nice meal, then just don’t ask, okay? What do you want to talk about then? You want to tell me about your thrilling day at the Nordstrom makeup counter?

Do you know how many people would love to hear about the cool stuff I do? Rhetorical question, let me answer it: Like! Everybody!

But not you, right? You gotta act all disinterested while you mess with your Pad Thai — it’s mixed already! If you need more peanut sauce, ask the waiter! Moving the noodles around isn’t going to make them saucier!

Fine! I’ll ask him.

Excuse me. Can she have some more peanut sauce? Oh and I’d love another spring roll.

I feel like I’ve earned it, don’tcha think Deb?

So do you want to hear the rest or what? It only gets better.


Fine. I got all the gifts, I flew off in the jet sleigh with the sparklers all lit and it looked cool. Then I went home and finished painting the bathroom. The fence picked up the stuff in the morning. Rich people give expensive gifts.

Yeah, I guess that’s the end.

Read More By Doug Dean

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