Elf in the Crossfire: Santa Ain't a Paramedic
Two days until Christmas. I'm out in the get-up around eleven-thirty, which is indicative of my first mistake. Potential pneumonia could be my second.
Bad goes to worse when I do something normals never do and catch a sinking feeling. I thought it was just the snow starting down again...
A big stinking sinking feeling. The kind you can't place until... well...
As I'm parked, people are slowing for the light and staring me down in the outfit, which is essentially a bright red slutty elf costume. For 'tis the season for idiots to spend money on a fancy bike cab ride since sleighs are pretty hard to come by around here.
Usually I'll allow myself to be demeaned further by wearing fuzzy antlers. Anything for tips. Somehow I forgot them tonight.
The rickshaw has lights and reflectors so I'm plenty visible, but people honk incessantly just to get you to notice them and wave.
I'd just had so much more of my share of that all day that it had long ago stopped being a problem. If you get into this schtick, you've gotta play along.
I'd tell you about the last fare, but it harbored its own particular atrocities that pale in lieu of what came next: I picked up a bottle. Off the street.
That's right. A water bottle. The kind that are just about everywhere. A plastic bottle once filled with clear drinking water that people buy. Disposable. Apparently with intent to dispose also of the contents. Yes, sometimes people will leave fresh water, with all its glorious hydrating potential, trapped in its plastic container. Trapped until the world melts, or until I fancy myself vigilante liberator for our most precious resource as it suits me.
So here's what- I've pulled up next to a big bottle. Almost full! (Fuckers, whomever they are) and I take my gloves off for some reason- with a care that doesn't seem to fit with the act I'm going to perform- to reach down into the scuzzy roadside slushsnow and retrieve what to my eyes was a "clean" bottle, but upon touching was very much not. The slimy surface infected me with a sadness that became the company of more dread than exhaustion.
Fate propels me forward into doing the things it needs to have done. However mundane, however pointless.
Water emptied, now it's my civic duty to find a proper rubbish receptacle for this disgusting vessel.
So, the closest can is at the gas station on the kitty-corner intersection. And here I go. Only too happy to be compelled by a lazy gravitation. Willful, but not strong.
On any other day in this absurdly filthy city, I might just cast it away or toss it in the rear carriage pocket and forget about it 'til after my shift was over and into the next day.
But no. No, sadly. Not this time. I'm a good elf.
Off the bike, shaking out my cold legs in frozen tights. Bottle tossed between the pumps, I wipe my hand on my suit and draw my cavewoman-of-the-city dumb gaze back up slow. Under the lights I begin to hear the buzzing that started in my stomach and worked its way up to my brain. It announces, fully now, its new intentions for things that when translated into english are probably called "chocolate" or "chips" or "hot beverage."
These foodstuffs-of-desire were just a few sprightly elflady-steps away, toward the sound of carols piped out into the parking lot.
I turn and I go to open the door and the delirious wave of terror is slow-hitting.
I see a man inside, holding up the convenience store clerk at gunpoint. A big gun is attached to this human lump of coal, and now it looks like he's all finished so here he comes.
Oh boy. I freeze. This place has become a very inconvenient store.
Instead of running or barfing, my body thinks, let's just try to make our elf-self very very small. As tiny as possible. With nothing to hide behind.
As I go to get on the ground, he turns and makes eye contact with me. He's running out and I look like the last thing he'd expect to meet- a north pole reject tigress about to leap up and bite my hero teeth into his neck, which is really my very last idea.
So- bang! He points, shoots, and the shot shatters at the edge of my left kneecap. He tears off, I go down and the next thing I remember from the world of solid things is the ambulance.
In between, I am shuttled to a sweet hot place via a cocktail of brain chemistry. The endorphin-laced pain-train puts me on a fast track to astral project and I am funneled piece by piece into other things.
The best parts of me attempt escape into the mistletoe in my kitchen doorway, my roommates' fluffy dog wearing my fuzzy antlers, the blinking lights on the tree behind the long glass icicles, the stirring stick dropped nonchalantly into the glass of rum and egg nog.
The ambulance is like a furnace and I toss with the thaw. Now that I'm back in my body, everything hurts. My hands ache like I dipped them in outer space. And without peeking down at my knee I remember how raunch-diculous I look right now. How I can’t remember where my gloves are. How I didn't lock up the rickshaw, how I won't be able to ride out the rest of the season and other plans I had that are, well, um, "shot," thanks to a stupid plastic bottle.
But maybe it won't be that bad.
I close my eyes and hear jingle bells. Unbelievable. I still really want some chocolate.