KC stands in the spacious living room at the Oaktrace house.
"Oh, come on."
"Hey, Red," Chuck Bidally grins.
"Don't you know anyone that looks like Chuck Norris that owes you a favor?"
Chapel replies, "I can get you a Playgirl..."
"That's not what I meant!"
Chuck, smiling big, "So, I just got to be her bread maker 'till Christmas?"
"If you can last that long, yes," Chapel replies.
"Hey!" KC whacks Chapel on a shoulder.
"And some guy comes in before then, and he's not me-"
"Put a bullet in 'em," Chuck interrupts.
"Incapacitate. I want to have a little ... one-on-one time with him."
Chuck lowers his brow, "Somehow I get the feeling that won't involve a beer."
"It may. Afterwards."
"You're not going to regale me with gross poop stories again, are you?" asks KC.
"Hey - everybody poops," Chuck shrugs his shoulders, "Or is that 'everyone'?"
"I don't tell you about my toilet going experiences!"
"That's probably because you've never had to crap in a dumpster before," Chuck replies.
"Oh, God! See?"
"Red, when nature calls, it calls. And the ladies have never had any complaints. Shaved head drives 'em wild."
Chapel walks to the front door quietly, escaping.
"What the heck does that EMeven mean?!/EM Do you have a complaint box and little forms to fill out?" putting her hands on her hips.
"Hey!" Chapel knocks on the door loudly until they both look over. He pauses for a second, looking at them sternly, then comments, "No lover's quarrels."
KC goes wide-eyed and steps at him pointing a finger and pursing her lips, "You're gonna p-"
Chapel grins and ducts out, shutting the door quickly.
"Come on. De-wad your panties and let's go make like Robin Leach."
"Remember - this is just to catch a bad guy."
"Right, right. Call me honey," says Chuck ever so slyly.
She exhales in frustration.
Chapel walks up to a decent-sized house. A couple kids are playing out front. He waves to them then knocks on the door. He smiles wistfully, watching the two children run around the yard. The door opens, squeaking as it does, revealing a man dressed too well for the accommodations in.
"Yes - please come in," steps aside and lets Chapel enter.
Chapel examines the room.
"Nice kids you got. I remember when I had that kind of get-up-and-go," while looking at items in a shelf. He turns around to face Brian, "Then one day it just sort of got up and went."
"Thanks. You have any kids?"
Chapel hesitates for a second, choosing his words, "Not anymore."
"I got that envelope you left in the mail box."
"Sorry I didn't call until today, but I didn't want my wife to be a part of this, so I waited until my day off."
"Mr. Denson, so we're clear, you won't be doing anything. There's no participation for you to be a part of. There's just my fee."
"Just so I got this: I pay your fee and you'll get our house back? How? Our old neighbor called and said it's already been sold."
"I bought it."
Denson nods in a manner reflecting his odd understanding of events. "It should of never happened. We paid all out mortgages on time, in full. We had that home for 20 years. Mr. Chapel, do you know what it's like after all that time to have to pack your house and be told to leave it? The kids are still having trouble sleeping and we've had to change rentals twice because of bad neighborhoods."
"Mr. Denson, I do commiserate. While I've never had to pack, I did have to leave."
"I still don't understand how it happened."
"Your realtor, Keith Waters, has been altering your payment records. Your property value has been going up the passed two years, correct?"
"And my understanding is it will be re-evaluated even higher again next time. In a few years your home will be worth twice as much."
"Really? That's over a million dollars. Wow. He stole our home for money?"
"Mr. Denson, I've frequently noticed a million dollars typically leaves a person somewhere in-between giddy and stupid. Mola out the ying-yang, wonderful house, nice neighborhood ... your realtor saw easy retirement. Sit on it for five years and sell."
"He always seemed a little weasely to me. What's your fee?"
Chapel stops from looking at photos on the mantel and looks at him, "One million dollars."
Shocked, he eventually speaks, "Do you take lottery tickets?"
"I'm afraid not. There is an alternative option."
"You owe me a favor. One day, someone much like yourself will be in contact with me, and I may need help helping them. Or whatever need may arise."
"Seems a tad too good to be true."
Chapel moves in, "Brian, I'm not selling you a belt that plugs into the wall and promises if you sit there while it vibrates you'll magically lose weight. You owe me nothing but a favor, only due once I've signed the deed over to you."
"Mr. Chapel, this would ... my wife would cry. I've learned long ago the only way to be completely sure is to have it in your hand."
"I don't blame you."
"But what about our realtor? He could do this to somebody else again, if he hasn't already," Brian comments.
"Let's just say I foresee a change of heart in his future," cocking his head to a side and smiling a wee bit.
KC and Chuck look around clean, well lit display cases where golden necklaces, earrings, bracelets and other jewelry glitter in the lights.
"Found one yet?" asks Chuck.
"Don't rush me. I want just the right one, in case he lets me keep it."
"If you get a diamond necklace, then I want a sapphire jockstrap."
"I want a divorce."
"It'll be your Christmas gift."
"I don't see a price on any of these," she wonders aloud.
"Red, if you have to ask, you can't afford it."
"My Chapel Express begs to differ. Oh - listen to that."
"White Christmas. I love that song," with a hand up and some fingers in the air, looking up, "Isn't it a beautiful song?"
"Red, I spent one too many years on the beat during Christmas. I don't quite enjoy it after what I've seen."
"Sorry. Why isn't anybody helping us?"
"Probably 'cause we don't look like we got two McKinley's to rub together."
"President. I got it. YO - a little service over here! Come on!" calls out loudly.
"Stop that! What are you trying to do? Hail a cab?"
"Worked," nods to an approaching employee.
"I apologize for the delay. May I help you?"
K.C. answers, "Yes, please. I'm looking for a diamond necklace, but ... I don't mean to sound-"
"But you're on a budget?" the clerk adds.
"Yes," she says shyly, embarrassed to have to admit that.
"Miss, there's no need to be embarrassed. My first job was at a theme park. I could barely afford auto insurance. What is your price range?"
"Under ten thousand."
"Ummm..." the clerk thinks and looks around.
Chuck adds some commentary, "That must have been delicious, whatever it was."
KC elbows him in the gut.
"What is it?" she asks.
"We don't have that large a selection of necklace under that price, with diamonds. If you'll follow me."
They stop at another case.
"Just this handful right here. These aren't exactly 24 carat..."
"That's okay. Ahhh..." she looks.
"That one," Chuck points instantly.
"How do you know?" she asks him.
"It'll look good on you. Try it, come on."
The clerk opens the display case and lifts the necklace gently from the neck display and hands it to Chuck.
"14 carat gold, though the carat of the diamonds is substantially lo-"
"It's okay," KC nods understandingly.
"Are you two engaged?"
Chuck answers, "Fairly recently."
She fakes a smile, "Sweetie, that's a double negative."
"Here you go..." he moves over and adjusts a mirror for her to look in, draping the necklace over her head and she holds her red hair in a bundle to avoid getting snagged.
KC looks at it for a few seconds, then runs her right hand over it on her neck. Chuck looks at it, then at her face, not saying a word.
"We'll take it," he says to the clerk, "Right, schnookums?"
"Yeah," in a distant tone.
"Splendid. Do you wish it gift wrapped?"
"No thanks," KC answers.
The clerk heads off with the necklace after she hands him the credit card.
"Hey - what I tell ya?"
"How were you so sure?"
"I had someone once. Had a neck like yours. Now, it wasn't no 14 carats I got her."
"What happened to her?"
Becoming obviously bothered, "Life," and quickly waves it off.
"Oh. Okay. Where do you think we should go next?" trying to change the conversation
"I don't know. Where do rich people shop?" he asks.
"Just about everywhere we do, only they can afford the things we pass on."
"Makes sense. If we're not buying it, somebody is. Let's go get some TV's and stuff. A bed-"
"What is this? 1950?" asks Chuck.
"'50, '60, '90, 2012 - whatever decade you want, just get your own bed."
"Ouch. I think I'll divorce you on irreconcilable differences."
"I'm divorcing you first!" she jumps in quickly.
"I called dibs."
An old couple not too far off looks at them confused, and then at each other.
"Miss," calls out the clerk, holding up a palm to get her attention.
They walk over.
"I just need you to enter your information and sign this," lays a sheet of paper down and a fine pen.
"Will that be all?"
"Wait - one more thing..." says Chuck.
In a montage, Chapel visits various stores and businesses with Santa's, to the song "Blue Christmas".
He pretends to examine the contents of a package in a Sale bin nearby a decorated Santa's Workshop area, while a small group of children wait in line with their parents.
Santa smiles and laughs lightly while a cute little girl shirts atop a knee, hugging him and talking. He smiles a little, then looks down. He notices it's a box of brownie mix and tosses it into the shopping cart. He continues on.
He spies on a handful more of grocery store Santa's.
KC pops open the back of a large red SUV, with fake reindeer antlers sticking out the tops of the back passenger doors. An employee and Chuck load in a large box. More boxes lie on the cart.
Chapel walks around outside a decent-sized mall, looking around. He stops when he sees the mall Santa with his back up against the mall, left knee bent and its foot resting on a break area bench. He lowers a soda bottle from his mouth. His head falls down and then darts over to see Chapel. He nods his head.
Chapel nods his head back, then gives the man a thumbs up. The man lifts a slight smile, then gives Chapel a thumbs up, too. He continues walking.
The song ends on light flurries of snow dancing softly down the sky to the ground at 5683 Oaktrace. A pile of boxes rests beside the phone pole outside.
Inside KC and Chuck make their beds in the master bedroom. KC pens her luggage and starts pulling out some small things here and there. A frilly pillow and blanket, an alarm clock. She them takes out her teddy bear.
"What the heck is that? A security bear?"
"This," holds him up, "is a gift from my dad. He is henceforth to be called Mr. Fuzzy Wuzzy."
"I thought Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair."
"Mr. Fuzzy Wuzzy, Jr."
"You want me to shave him?"
"Don't even joke. Now," she presses buttons quickly on her alarm clock, "I wake up at seven sharp to do exercises. Normally I'd go to work, but I put in for time off."
"And don't call me 'ma'am'."
"Sure thing, Red. Hey, you know what I do each morning?"
"If it involves anything you do in the bathroom, I don't wanna know."
"Nah, after that."
"Nothing. I'm retired."
"Sure, rub it in."
He thinks of a retort instantly, but drops it and instead says, "Too bad it comes after all your good years. IT goes by pretty fast, Red. Every five years you stumble upon new meanings in your existence."
"Such as?" leaning on her side on her bed.
"You become old and set in your ways. Each year you think you've better narrowed it down how to find a partner, when in reality double those chances are gone. And your looks."
"Never thought about it that way."
"And," he takes dog tags off his neck and places it on the nice and new dresser, "all those memories that come and go that you reminisce with others about..."
"Sooner or later you're the only one left that recalls them, and if you can't remember, part of you is lost forever. After 65, every year another part of your life dies."
"One day you're 80 'n' poopin' yourself in public."
Throws a pillow at him, "Okay, can we not do that anymore?"
"Swear up & down on Peter Sellers' grave."
"This is what you want. A nice home, no troubles, a friend to talk to, somebody who loves you."
"Don't we all?" she agrees with him.
"Not everybody. But so many guys and girls out there keep making the same mistakes. Meanwhile another year goes by."
"Then what's the lesson?"
"You know how they say no religion and no politics at work?"
"Only at work. Certain basic principals you just gotta agree on: religion, politics, and mores. Anything aside that is argumentative."
"Wow, getting all philosophical with Chuck Bidally. Who knew."
"Fart jokes and philosophy's pretty much all I'm good for unless you wanna hear about homicides and war."
"Maybe next Christmas."
Chuck sits up, "Here," and grabs the remote for the TV from the stand betwixt the beds, "got to be 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' on somewhere. It's American as French fires.
"Are French fries American?"
"Apple pie, then."
"Apple pie first showed up in England in 1381."
"As a Ford truck," Chuck tries again.
"Just the shell, right?"
"It's American as this fart I'm about to rip here."
"Not if you ate anything made in China, or covered in spices from other countries."
"Amazing - I can't even fart American. Here it is," stops flipping the channels.
"Oh - I never thought I'd be so happy to see Charlie Brown," says KC.
"You're hushing me?"
"Best part," motions to the television.
Linus walks on stage.
"Lights please," raising an arm.
The lights dim.
"And these were the same country shepherds; abiding in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night, and lo - the Angel of the Lord came upon them. The glory of the Lord shone 'round about them. And they were so afraid," standing in the spotlight, "and the Angel said unto them: 'Fear not! For behold - I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior - Jesus Christ, the Lord. And this hall be a sign on to you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger,' and suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the Heavenly host praising God, and saying: 'Glory to the God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'."
Linus picks up his blue blanket and walks left off the stage.
"I miss that America," KC comments wistfully.
Chapel walks around a busy cordoned off area in the center of a mall. An instrumental of "Jingle Bells" plays over the speakers as he does.
"Miss Hayworth," he says to a lady holding the hand of a little girl.
She looks, then back, and does a double take and stares at him for a couple seconds.
"Mr. Chapel," in an excited and surprised way.
Turns to see her, "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas. I didn't expect to see you here," she looks over at her daughter watching Santa.
"How is your daughter, Chrissy?"
"Fine. There's been no problems since that substitute teacher left the school. Whatever happened to him?"
"Let's just say ... I got him transferred."
"Thank goodness. Are you ... wanting that favor?"
"Not yet, Miss Hayworth," smiles.
Looks over, "Chrissy! Don't go under that rope," looks back at him, "Enjoying the Christmas atmosphere, or are you working on another favor?"
"Both, but I'm actually on a pet project right now."
"Let's just say you wouldn't want him coming down your chimney," waves at Chrissy.
"I hope you get him."
"Mommy, Santa!" she tugs at her mother.
"Just a minute honey and we'll get in line. You just let me know when you need it. Hope you have a good Christmas. Take care," reaches for Chrissy.
"You, too, Miss Hayworth."
He smiles watching them walk away. Chrissy turns to look at him; fingers in her mouth and a lock of brown hair falling across her face. She turns back around quickly.
As he comes back around, an innate sense of wrong flows over him, sending the hairs on his arms up; prior to, alarm bells from many years of dealing with the scum of society, had been sounding, but now, something was different.
By instinct, his inner radar pinpoints his gaze upon the mall Santa. He watches, like a honed and seasoned hunter, holiday poker face at a constant.
He watches a little girl on Santa's knee. The overhead jingle, noises, bustle of the shoppers starts to wither into the foreground, unconsciously. He watches. He waits.
Santa leans forward, drooping his head so the girl can speak into his ear. As she speaks, his right hand rubs the girl's left leg, innocently enough.
Chapel has become eerily still, focused squarely upon the two. When the little girl flinches slightly and pulls her head away from Santa, he forcefully brings her back in with a hand on her back. Though he could not be sure, since the view was at an angel, it appeared as if this mall Santa whispered into an ear: "You better not tell or I'll hurt her..."; it had been a couple years since he last had to read lips and was rusty, but he was sure.
Santa gropes at her leg, moving inward more before stopping. Chapel's head does a nervous tick; the whole head, not just the face muscles, just sort of cocks to the left in a brief instant, snapping back in place.
"Chapel?" a voice calls out to him.
He watches the girl squirm before Santa lets go.
A fist clenches shut, hard, like a mechanical vice, snapping a candy cane he had been sucking, in half.
"Hey there," a hand falls upon his shoulder. He spins about quickly, already grasping the arm reaches out to him and violently twisting it out, upward away from her. It's K.C.
Some shoppers look at them.
Bidaly speaks up, "Whoa there. Hey, I know you like to do things differently, but usually friends great each other with handshakes."
"That's gonna be sore for a week," shakes her arm, which Chapel has released.
"What happened there?" she asks, seeing the shattered candy cane in his right hand; broken pieces dangling in the plastic wrapper.
"Watermelon," dumps the candy cane in a big shopping bag she's carrying.
"You know, I know how you feel - I clocked a guy once for giving me coconut. Who the hell eats coconut?" Bidally jokes, lifting the mood some.
"Everything all right?" asks Chapel.
"Yeah, we were just," lifts up both arms holding big bags, "following orders," and mimics with her mouth "ow" and lowers the arm Chapel twisted.
"She's very good at following orders," Bidally adds.
"Any luck?" asks K.C.
Chapel thinks for a second and walks, "This way," motioning with a finger.
He stops at Miss Hayworth in line with her daughter.
"Miss Hayworth. I'm sorry to inconvenience you, but it turns out I do need that favor now. Can I talk to you over there?" motioning behind himself.
"Are those associates?"
"You could say they're my happy elves."
"Ah. Well, can we meet up in a few minutes? I don't want to lose my place in line and Chrissy really wants to see Santa."
"I understand," looks at the guy behind her towing his son by arm, "excuse me, my good sir, but I was wonderi-"
"Look, I've got other things to do. You get out of line, you forefeet."
"Oh, I understand," reaching into a coat pocket.
K.C. whispers to him quietly, "No tasers."
He grips, then leans in to the man's ear.
In a low voice, "Would this legal tender note featuring very prominently numbers representing 'five' and 'zero' help to rectify this?"
The man takes the money Chapel hands to him, "Yeah. Yeah, sure - I'll save your place."
"You have been," forcing the words, "most generous," patting him on the back.
"five minutes," the guy says, checking the 50 dollar bill as Chapel, his helper elves, and Hayworth's move off.
They huddle out of hearing range and Chapel speaks just loud enough to overcome the ambient holiday noise.
"Miss Hayworth, about that favor."
"I need to borrow your daughter."
"No?" raising his eyebrows and looking at her.
Concerned, Hayworth replies, "For what?"
"Oh, no need for concern, Miss Hayworth - we're not going clubbin' or to China. My happy elves here are going to pose as her mommy and daddy for Santa."
"And I'll be?"
"Babysitter slash housekeeper."
"So, I'll be playing myself," says Hayworth.
"Pretty much," Chapel replies.
"I'm not a baby, I'm five," Chrissy holds some fingers up.
"Oh my goodness, five? Still looking like a baby to me."
"No I'm not," says Chrissy.
"Do you still play with glowworms and Rainbow Bright?"
"Then you're a baby."
"Chapel, no teasing people a fraction of your age," says K.C.
Miss Hayworth is smiling and shaking her head over Chapel's exchange.
"Oh, right. And an adorable baby at that," Chapel adds.
"Humph," Chrissy huffs, sticking her lips out.
"And they are..." asks Hayworth.
"Mr. and Mrs. Smith."
"I'll be here the whole time," he looks at Chrissy and gets on his haunches, "what do you think, Chrissy? Will you play along?" smiling.
K.C. speaks, "And I shook, like a bowl full of jelly."
"What if I gave you this..." pulls something from under his coat, "delicious candy cane?"
"Ah, okay," grabs the candy cane.
"You are a sugar plum of cooperation," patting her on the head and standing up.
Bidally smirks and says to Chapel, "Never too young to start bribing the young ones, eh?"
"Now, normally I would insist most persistently that the favor be given when I ask, but being a child in involved, out of the decency of my heart, I must first make sure you agree, miss Hayworth. Do I have this permission?"
"Then you have my permission."
"Excellent. Okay, you two go wait in line with Chrissy - you're her mommy and daddy while in line. Got that, sweetheart?"
"Yup," says Chrissy, whom is paying more attention to the candy cane and shoppers.
"Mrs. Smith. you join her with Santa. Talk a mile a minute like you're rushed, don't know what you're doing, frazzled-"
"Are we doing this now, later? Before or after shopping? Does he have to hang around, or can he go shop somewhere else?" asks K.C.
"Yeah, like that," says Chapel, "talk about shopping, what you got, where you've been. Drop some hints about where you live. Not too hard, we'll assume he's not Columbo, and not too easy - he'll know it's a ruse."
"Oh, my God," says K.C.
"What?" asks Chapel.
"Who says 'ruse' anymore?"
"Cool cats. Now, ho, ho, ho, break!"
"You're such a dweeb."
"Huh. You think that, too, miss Hayworth?"
Hayworth replies, "Maybe a little. But you're plenty more scary."
"Hey - I'm staying out of it."
"Just ... go work your magic, will you?"
"No problem. Hey, sweetie - what's your name?" asks K.C.
"Come on, we'll get back in line and see Santa."
"Okay. Do you dye your hair?"
K.C. pauses talking while they walk. off.
"Yeah, do you?" Bidally smiles and taunts.
"Ask him if he shaves his head."
"Do you shave your head?"
Chapel looks at Hayworth, "Newlyweds."
A man opens a large school bus colored envelope that was slide through the bottom of his office door. He pulls out some papers. He rotates them to read. The cover sheet reads: "Stressed? Overworked? Need to get away?"
He flips it over, see nothing, then reads the next sheet: "Today is your lucky day! You've won a two day, no hassle or strings attached, vacation! Call today - limited time offer!"
Sitting down, he places the envelope on his desk and reads the final paper: "Just bring these papers as proof you're the recipient!
Travel Unlimited. 555-0182."
He looks at the back of the paper, them the envelope, looking puzzled.
"Humph," and picks up the phone to dial the number.
A number of minutes have passed. Chapel and Hayworth stand and watch.
"So, this is how you spend your holidays, Mr. chapel?"
"Since sometime about 30. Why?"
"It's so lonely."
"It's not so bad; I've grown to like me over time. It's sort of like an apathetic indifference."
Hayworth says back, "Look around; it's Christmas and you're the only one here alone. Even these geriatrically challenged folks have grandkids around them. Where's your family?"
Chapel, looking forward replies, "Unfortunately they couldn't be here."
"Well, maybe next Christmas."
"Maybe..." trailing off; unknown to her a look of sadness in his eyes.
"You know, I don't even really know you. Heck, you know a ton more about me. Still, I get the feeling that ... well, it's just ... I wish you were here smiling now, if you know what I'm saying."
"Ahhh, it gives you wrinkles anyway."
"Well, James Arness has far more wrinkles than Bob Hope."
"So, you're saying there's Hope for me yet?"
"I'm laughing on the inside," she says.
"So I assumed."
K.C., Bidally, and Chrissy reach second place in line.
"Is there anything that makes Christmas a little better for you?"
"One thing, yes," Chapel replies.
"They're up next," he notes.
"There they go. So, what would you have done if I had refused?"
"Well, first the Naughty List."
"Then I could offer Chrissy a pony."
She laughs, "She actually asked for a pony one time; God only knows why; she can't even clean the cat's litter box."
"Scuff, but I actually know a rancher with horses, just be coincidence he owes me a favor. I can make that pony happen."
"Doesn't like ponies. Gonna have to note that by your Naughty List entry."
"Next!" a midget in an elf costume takes the rope covered in tinsel away, opening the pathway to Santa.
K.C. waves to the elf as they pass by, Chuck holding Chrissy's hand. The elf makes a "click" through the side of his mouth and winks. Shocked, she looks straight forward, then leans into Chuck's left ear.
"That elf just winked at me in a sexually suggestive manner."Chuck turns for a split second, then looks at her, "You want me to go rough him up?"
"No! Well, maybe."
As they approach, he speaks up, "Ah, two's a company, red. I better hang back. Bring home the Emmy," falls back.
After some steps, she stops and speaks to Chrissy, "Well, honey, let's go see Santa."
Chrissy doesn't move. Then she turns her head upward at K.C.; K.C. leans in and speaks, "What is it?"
"You're my mommy?"
"While visiting Santa, yeah."
Chrissy ponders for a second, "Will Santa still bring me my presents if I lie?"
"Oh," laughs and picks her up and continues to Santa, "that's only if you like to mommy, not if mommy has you lie."
Santa puts his arms out, "Ho! Ho! Ho! Hello, little girl!"
Chrissy just looks at him.
"Say 'Hi' to Santa, honey. Go ahead," sets her on Santa's lap.
"Well, what's your name?"
Looks down, "Chrissy."
"Chrissy! A beautiful name," looking at her, "for a beautiful girl."
Santa looks at K.C., then Chrissy, "Normally Santa doesn't allow parents over here; it's a ... special moment for all good little boys and girls."
"Chrissy's just a little shy and insisted I come up here."
"Ho, ho, ho - no need to be afraid sweetie, I'm Santa," squeezing her tightly.
"She's still adjusting. We just moved her last week; haven't even finished unpacking. We're still furnishing the house with new stuff."
"Oh. Well, Chrissy, kids across the world have to move everyday - nothing to be sad about. I'll have to change your address on my 'Nice' list, but that's all. I'm sure you got a big, pretty new house."
"Honey, don't be shy. The move's been an ordeal for her, but she's got this big bedroom downstairs and big backyard. Lovely brick home over in the Oaktrace Cove Community. Well, aside from the mess and big pile of boxes out by the road."
Santa mouths, "Pile of boxes..." and then speaks up, "Well, Chrissy, let me make that all better. Just for you, name something you really, really wanted, and I'll do my best to make sure you get it. So, what do you want?"
"Honey, other kids in line are waiting, you got to stop being shy,"puts a hand on her head and rubs it, "speak up."
"Perhaps your mother will tell me. Well, miss..."
"Mrs. Smith. What would little Chrissy like?"
K.C. pretends to think, running a finger over her lips, then checking the time on her wrist watch, "You know, gosh - in all the hustle and bustle, I haven't even asked her. We've been so busy we haven't even had time to meet the security company guy to set up."
"Oh..." Santa trails off.
Chuck stands at the roped off pathway entrance, the elf on the other side.
"Hey," replies the elf.
"I understand you winked at my wife."
Grins, "Ah, ah, no, sir. I had something in my, ah, ah, my eye. In my eye. All gone now!"
Flexing his muscles, "Shame, then."
"Yeah, just a, ah, misunderstanding," faining a chuckle.
"'cause, ya know, me and my wife have this thing for little people. Sometimes we'll have a little drink, and a little guy, make our way to the bedroom, you know..."
"Ah, huh. And we slip on some leather, hook up the sex swing.-"
"Break out the three-way you-know-what, and, well ... my cousin raises donkeys, so ... oh, and he can join us. Now he's really sick, he does this thing where he-"
"Hey, honey!" K.C. calls out as she comes walking back, holding Chrissy.
The elf, jaw hanging, looking on in horror, blinks out of it and removes the rope so the two can get out.
"Think about it," quietly to him.
The elf shudders.
K.C. kisses him on a cheek for show, "Come on, sweetheart, let's get that shopping finished," she then lets Chrissy down and they walk away.
"Hey, turn and wink at that elf."
"The one who winked at me? No way."
"Trust me, wink at him."
"Okay..." turns and winks at the elf. The elf's eyes widen and he turns around. K.C. looks at Chuck, "What the heck was that all about?"
"Let's just say he won't be bothering you again. And watch the language, will ya? Every time you curse, you make baby Jesus cry."
"Go fry and egg."
K.C., Chrissy, and Chuck walk up to Chapel and Hayworth, who are now far off to where Santa would not readily be able to see them. Chrissy runs up to her mom and hugs her.
"Well?" asks Chapel.
"Mister DeMille, I'm ready for my close up," puts her chin up and pretends to whisk some hair out of her face.
"Ah, you dirty rat, you."
"Hook, line, and sinker. He's beyond complacent; the guy's pretty darn self-assured. I did everything short of giving him the address and the house key."
"Very good. Why is that elf running away?" pointing.
"That would be my fault. It was for a good cause, though," says Chuck.
"Midget sprints for charity?"
K.C. leans in to Chapel, "Well, I hope you're happy; top my long list of felonies, including extortion and stealing, I can now add lying to little children."
Chapel pats her on the back, "Comparatively simple, no? You two go about your work and we'll talk later. And I'll see about that Oscar."
"Right. Move, hubby," and starts shoving Chuck.
Tailing her, "Oh, ya sweet talker, you."
"Quite a crew you have," says miss Hayworth.
"My kind of crew though. Well."
Extends a hand, which she meets with one of hers, "Good-bye, Miss Hayworth. I'm out of your life forever; you'll never see me again," lets go.
She opens her hand to reveal money, "One hundred?"
"Buy her something ... very nice," nods and walks off, alone.
"Thank God for you."
As Chapel is slowly walking away, Miss Hayworth takes her daughter's left hand and walks off; Chrissy looks back over and waves.
Chapel stops once more at an outer edge tinsel-wrapped rope that circles the area Santa and the shop are in. He rests a hand on a fake large candy cane holding the rope up. He turns his head slightly, looking back only partially. He taps his fingers a couple times, then heads off into the crowd.