Forever Knight

Here Comes Santa Don

Captain Joe Stonetree pulled down the box from the top of the row of lockers at the 27th precinct. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve and it was time to air out the Santa Claus suit. Tonight was the annual Christmas party at the Mission shelter. He had been playing Santa for the children at the homeless shelter for just about as long as he had been a policeman. That was … never mind how long ago. He sometimes thought it was only because he was one of the few policemen who could fit into the costume with only a minimum of padding. After all, how many cops wore a size 44 medium? He knew, however that he really enjoyed it and that the kids wouldn't have anything if it weren't for the generosity of the police and firemen in the district donating their time and money to buy them gifts.

One of the other officers came to him and whispered something to him. Immediately, Stonetree dropped the red velvet coat and headed for his office. This could not be good. A call from the reservation almost always meant trouble.

A few minutes later, he came out of his office. His face was ashen. Almost the same color as one of his detective's.

"I'm afraid I have to leave immediately for home. That was my cousin Tommy Walking Stallion. My uncle, Jimmy Two Bears died this morning from a massive stroke." He said hesitantly. "According to Tommy, the funeral will be on Boxing Day.

"But Cap." Edith Murdock said. "What about the Christmas party? The kids are going to be terribly disappointed if you're not there."

"I guess you'll just have to find someone else to play Santa this year. I'm sorry, but family comes first." He picked up his coat and headed for the door.

"Someone else to play Santa … Now who could we get to do that? And on such short notice, too." Doug Allen mused as he scratched his chin. "We can't just have anybody do it either. He's got to be the right size and all … " He walked slowly around Detective Don Schanke, looking him up and down.

"Wait a minute guys." Don protested. "Why are you all staring at me like that? I mean, just because I wear a size 40 medium is no … "

"You wear a 40 medium?" Edith asked. "Close enough. We can use a pillow from the lockup to make up the difference."

"Oh no, you don't ... I'm not going to do it ... No way ... No How ... " Don began to back toward the door. " Positively not! … Knight … Aren't you going to help your partner out of this?"

"Oh, I don't know about that." Nick Knight said with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "I think you'd look rather ... cute in the red outfit."

&&&&

Forty five minutes later, Don Schanke came out of the mens room. To paraphrase the poem slightly, he was dressed all in red from his head to his foot.

"You guys are going to pay for this." Don groused. "And you're going to pay dearly. Especially you, Knight."

Doug Allen handed Schanke a large brown velvet sack that was filled with presents of various sizes. "These are for the kids. And we took the liberty of putting the other three sacks in the back of the Caddy."

"The Caddy?" Nick asked.

"After all, you are going to deliver Santa to the Mission." Doug explained. "It'd be too difficult for him to drive there himself. With the beard and hairpiece on, he's got almost no peripheral vision. So, since you're his partner, we've elected you to take him."

"Beard? Hair?" Schanke gasped.

"Of course. We can't have a bald clean shaven Santa, can we. All it takes is a little spirit glue here ... " Edna drew a line with the glue tube across Don's forehead and applied the wig. " ... And here ... " Another line went from his right ear across his upper lip and ended at his left ear. Then she put a small line under his lower lip. She applied the beard to that. "Now you're a proper Kris Kringle."

"One more thing before you go." Doug said. He took a green and red stocking cap with a yarn ball and a bell on it and handed it to Nick along with a green vest with yarn tassels and bells on it.. "Since you're going with him, you get to be his assistant elf."

"Oh no you don't." Nick protested. "You're not getting me to wear that thing."

"Oh, I don't know about that." Don said with a gleam in his eyes. "I think you'd look rather ... cute in that outfit."

"Just remember HO ... HO ... HO... " Nick stage whispered as they exited the station. He had the vest under his coat and he jammed the hat on his head as he opened the Caddy's door for Don.

"Funny, Knight. Funny." Don mumbled as he deposited his sack on the back seat with the others and climbed into the front.

&&&&

They slowly made their way down Queen Street toward the Mission. Even though it was close to Christmas, there weren't that many people out. A near blizzard the previous night had dumped nearly eighteen inches of mixed freezing rain and snow. Although crews had been working round the clock, the streets were still very bad.

As they rounded a corner, a woman's screams pierced the air. Nick practically fishtailed the car to the curb. He was out of the door almost before the engine stopped. Schanke was only steps behind him.

A woman sat on the sidewalk, leaning against a brick wall for support. "He ... He grabbed my things and ran down that alley." She gasped.

Nick showed her his badge and began to examine her for injuries. "Are you all right, Ms ... "

"Leward. Sharon Leward. " She said. "Don't bother with that. I'm not hurt. Just shaken up a bit. Get him, officer. He took my purse and my shopping bags. They've got all the presents for my grandkids in them."

Nick motioned for Schanke to stay with the lady and he headed into the alley. He could make out one very rapid heartbeat coming from behind a stack of boxes next to a dumpster. It had to belong to the thief. Slowly, he threaded his way through the clutter toward the boxes. Just as he was about to reach them, the thief bolted past him and headed for the street. Nick ran right behind him, looking for the chance to get in front of him. Unfortunately, the alley was very narrow and overhead wires made flight nearly impossible.

As he got to the mouth of the alley, he stopped. There, laying face down in the snow was the suspect. With a red suited detective sitting on his back.

"Lookey, lookey what Santa caught." Don said with a great big smile on his face. "Now All I need is something to wrap him up nice and pretty like."

Nick handed Don his handcuffs.

"You have the right to remain silent ... " Don intoned as he put the cuffs on the man.

"Oh great!" The suspect groaned. "I get chased by an overgrown elf and then arrested by Santa Claus. Can I give you my wish list now? I want a choo choo train and a GI Joe and a … "

"Watch it, slimeball, or I'll see to it that you get a lump of coal in your stocking." Don replied as he pulled the man to his feet. " As it stands now, you're going to get about six months to a year in the County Hilton for Christmas. Better call this in." He said to Nick.

"Already done." Nick replied, putting his cell phone back in his pocket. "The unit should be here any minute now."

"Are you really Santa Claus?" Sharon asked. "I mean ... I know you're not, but I can't help hoping for a miracle. My daughter has been out of work for the past four months. Her unemployment check barely covers the expenses. That means they have no money for Christmas presents. I had to wait until tonight to get the kids anything. I can't afford much and I didn't get paid until this morning and now, that ... that ... " She glared holes through the handcuffed man. "Has ruined even that."

"Maybe not." Nick said as he came out of the alley with several plastic bags and a purse. "I fished these out of the dumpster."

"You found them!" She cried. Literally. "How can I ever thank you."

"Technically, these are evidence in the case, but I think if you go down to the station and let the officers photograph them, they might be willing to return them to you in time for Christmas." Don said.

"Do you think they would?" Mrs. Leward asked.

"I think they could be ... persuaded to do that." Nick replied. He would make … sure they did just that. Hopefully, the Evidence room clerk wouldn't be a resister.

Just then, the cruiser pulled up, and Mrs. Leward and the thief, John Barstow, were taken to the precinct. As the arresting officers, Nick and Don had to go too.

After Nick and Schanke gave their report to the desk sergeant, Nick pulled Don aside. "I think it's time for Santa Claus to make a hasty retreat, don't you? We've got a bunch of kids at the shelter that are waiting for Old Saint Nick and his bag of toys."

&&&&

Natalie Lambert paced outside the door to the Mission shelter. Doug Allen had called her over an hour ago and told her that Nick and Schanke were on their way. The mission was only about a ten minute drive from the precinct.

When Doug had called her, she had told the volunteers to assemble the children for the imminent arrival of Santa. When they hadn't shown up after twenty minutes, they had sung carols. After thirty five minutes, they had played a series of games. After fifty minutes with no sign of the duo, they sang more songs. Now, they had run out of things to do. Many of the children were anxious, and a few were downright belligerent. If Schanke and Knight didn't show up soon, Natalie was sure that there was going to be a full scale riot.

Just then, a familiar blue green land freighter pulled up next to the curb and Santa and his elf got out.

"WHERE have you two been?" Natalie cried in desperation. "You could have gone by the North Pole and been here sooner. By the way, nice hat, Nick."

"Bah. Humbug." Nick muttered under his breath.

"We had to take care of a little business." Don explained. "Long story. We'll give you the details later."

"Yeah." Nick added. "Let's get inside and pass out these gifts. After all, this is why we're here in the first place."

"You're a doctor, aren't you?" Eve Farrell, one of the volunteers cornered Natalie almost as soon as they entered the building.

"Yes, why? Is someone ill?"

"Not exactly. Maria McIntyre, our piano player is in labor. She's on a cot in the director's office. According to her, she started having mild contractions earlier this evening, but she thought they were either indigestion or Braxton-Hicks. She's not due for another three weeks. About fifteen minutes ago, she had a major one and they've been coming every three to five minutes since then."

"Call 911." Natalie said.

"I've already called the Emergency squad. According to the dispatcher, there was a major pileup on the 404. Fifteen cars and three semi's. Every available emergency vehicle is there. No fatalities so far, thank God. But, unless it's a life threatening emergency, there's a two to three hour delay."

"Oh great." Natalie sighed. "I guess that means we have to do it ourselves. Nick. Get my bag from my car." She ordered. "It's parked in the far corner of the lot. Eve, get some towels. If you have any alcohol, either rubbing or the other kind, bring that, too. And some warm water."

"Shouldn't that be boiling water?" Don asked.

"Old wives tale. That was to keep the father out of the way while the baby was being delivered."

Nick handed Natalie her bag at about the same time Eve returned with an armload of bath towels and a box with the other supplies in it. Natalie started for the office. "Don, Nick, keep the children occupied. Eve. Come with me. You're going to be my assistant."

"But I've never delivered a baby before."

"Then now is a good time to learn."

"Nick. You play piano. Right?" Don said as they started to the main room where the party was going on.

"Yeah, but … "

"You know all the Christmas stuff like Silent Night and Here Comes Santa Claus, don't you?"

"Yeah but … "

"Good. Now get to that piano and start belting them out. I'll start passing out the toys. That should keep their minds off what's going on in the director's office."

"Yes. Sir." Nick said, giving Don a mock salute.

"HO! … HO! … HO! … Merry Christmas!" Don bellowed as they entered the room.

&&&&

About two hours later, Nick's hearing picked up the sound of a baby's crying. "I think we have a new member of the group." He whispered to Don. "How about we take a small break and go see him or her."

In the office, Nat and Eve sat on either side of the cot. There, Maria held a small wrinkled redfaced newborn. He was wrapped in a large fluffy white bath towel. All three were grinning past their ears.

"Nick. Don. I'd like you to meet the newest member of the human race." Natalie said.

"His name is Joseph Patrick Donald Nicholas McIntyre." Maria added.

"That's a pretty big moniker for such a little guy." Don said.

"We were going to name him Joseph Patrick after his grandfathers, but after tonight, I decided to add the other names as well.

Just then, a pair of EMTs came into the office. Nick and Don were once more relegated to the hall.

&&&&

"Nick." Don Schanke said as they drove back to the station. "I was wondering. Do you think we could make one more stop?"

"And where would that be?" Nick had a fairly good idea what Don was planning. He had seen him packing the plastic 'evidence' bags into the car before they left the precinct.

"I got Sharon Leward's daughter's address from the deposition she gave. I think those kids could use a visit from old Santa tonight too. And Mike Lawler was more than willing to let me have the gifts that Barstow had taken. I don't understand that. Usually, he's pretty anal retentive about things in the evidence locker, but he just opened the door and let me take them without a word. "

( He's also easily hypnotized. ) "No problem ... Santa." He turned the caddy in the direction of the Leward house.

He glanced up into the sky. The clouds had cleared and above them, in the star studded sky, one star shone exceptionally bright.

&&&&

The end?

Hardly

Happy Holidays to all.