he usual disclaimers apply. Don't own them, just write about them for fun. Scarecrow and Mrs. King belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon enterprises and no copyright infringement is intended

Not Fooling Anybody

December 24 1994

11:00 PM

"Francine, I don't think that getting our informant drunk on eggnog
was the best way to get him to talk," Lee said, as he opened his front
door.

"It worked, didn't it?" Francine said. "He talked."

"Yeah he talked all right," Lee said, taking off his Santa hat and
putting it on the nearby hat rack. "About the weather, about his
mother, about his ex-girlfriend-it took him two hours until he told us
what we needed to know."

"You're just nitpicking-" Francine said, her blue eyes widening as she
saw the plate of chocolate chip cookies on the table near the
Christmas tree. "In my opinion, Scarecrow, it was a job well done."

"It could have been well done in about half the time," Lee said. "Next time we do it my way. And don't touch those cookies-Jenna and Amanda
spent all afternoon making those for Santa."

"I notice that you just grabbed a couple."

"I'm entitled, I'm dressed for the part." Lee patted his
pillow-enhanced midsection.

Francine sighed. "Well, Santa, in that case I'm going home to eat my
own cookies in peace," she said. "Give Amanda my best and tell Jenna I really
hope she feels better-Christmas is a terrible time to have the flu."

"I'll tell them," Lee said. "Goodnight Francine-Merry Christmas."

"You too," Francine said.

After she was gone Lee sat down in the armchair near the table and ate
a few more cookies, eyeing the assortment of presents underneath the
tree. Jenna's new bike was carefully hidden behind the tree where she
wouldn't see it-thank god he had put it together over a week ago-the
one year that he'd waited until Christmas Eve he'd been up until 2 AM.

Definitely not his old Christmas traditions, he thought. But then
again, Lee Stetson was no longer the same person. If someone had told
the old Lee Stetson that someday he'd have a wife and a family to
spend Christmas with he would've laughed in their face. He yawned-this
chair was so comfortable he could easily fall asleep right here-but he
needed to get out of this getup and get into bed with his wife. Lee
rose from the chair.

"Hello?" a small voice said. Lee saw Jenna at the foot of the stairs,
dressed in her favorite pink nightgown. Her blond hair was tousled
and her cheeks were the same bright pink as the fabric-a sign that she
still was running a temperature. The expression on her face was
confused as she stared at him and then Lee realized- dressed like this
Jenna didn't recognize him.

"Ho, Ho, Ho –and why are you still up, little girl?" He said, making
his voice deeper. "Don't you know that all children should be in bed?"

"I couldn't sleep," Jenna said. "I feel all hot."

"Where's your mommy?" Lee said.

"Asleep by my bed," Jenna said. "She said she was sausted."

"Do you mean, exhausted?" Lee said. Jenna nodded. "Well how about I
give you some more Tylenol and get you a cold cloth for your head so
that you can sleep, okay?"

Jenna frowned. "Don't you have more presents to deliver?"

"Ah-" Lee thought fast. "Well my-uh-my sled is superfast and I'm
almost done anyway, I have time." Lifting Jenna into his arms he took
her upstairs.

"Did you get my letter this year, Santa?" Jenna asked.

"Of course," Lee said. "Now let's see-you wanted a doll, a baton, a
pair of skates and-can't quite remember the last thing."

"A bike," Jenna said. "But I don't know if I'll feel like riding it
tomorrow."

Lee ruffled her hair. "Well that's okay-it'll still be there when you
do feel like riding it."

Amanda was in the armchair by Jenna's bed sound asleep, wrapped up in
a fleece throw, her head leaning against the backrest. She did look
exhausted, he thought-after he got Jenna to sleep he'd carry Amanda
back to their bedroom.

Lee put Jenna in the bed and tucked her in. The bottle of chewable
children's Tylenol was on the nightstand-Lee gave Jenna one of those.
Jenna made a face while she chewed.

"It tastes gross," she said.

"I know it does," Lee said. "But it'll help you feel better. Just one
minute, okay munchkin?" Jenna nodded. Lee went into the bathroom and
wet one of the washcloths, wringing it out so it wouldn't drip.
Coming back he put it on Jenna's forehead.

"That feels better," Jenna said, covering her mouth as she yawned. "I
think I might go to sleep now-can you get my doll?"

"Sure," he said, carefully tucking the doll under her arm. Her eyes
slowly closed. "Goodnight, Jenna," he said.

Jenna smiled. "Goodnight, Daddy."