Dec. 3rd, 2011

At the moment I am projecting about seven pieces.

I was dreaming again – the usual dream. My plane was going down in the Kara Sea, tracer fire blossoming all around me. The cockpit was on fire. Crashing I could deal with, but I've always been afraid of fire. You would be too, if you were a snowman.

I thrashed in my webbing, trying to get loose, but there was no escaping the inexorable spread of fire. I screamed, just as always, and blacked out just as I woke up. I woke in my bed, with an empty bottle of gin on my chest, the same absence of legs I've had for the last seventy years, and the phone ringing.

I panted, the sweat refreezing on my forehead as the terror of the dream fled. I looked at the clock. Three in the morning. Who could be calling at three in the morning?

I picked up the phone. "Yeah," I said. At three in the morning, no caller deserves good phone manners.

"I trust," a snooty voice said, "that this is Sam the Snowman, Esquire, speaking. Or should I say, slurring."

"You are indeed, sir, slurring with Sam the Snowman," I said groggily. "Private Eye," I added. Never miss an opportunity to advertise, that's what I say.

"Yes," said the voice, drawing out the 's' in a disapproving manner. Already I knew this individual and I would be fast friends. "I am an employee of Santa Claus, who remembers you fondly, and trusts you remember him as well."

"Sure," I said, transferring the phone to my other ear and reaching for my pipe. "Obese guy, barber averse, disturbing relationship with kids. Owns the entire Arctic. I believe I'm familiar." Santa and I went way back. I hadn't seen him since things had gone downhill for me, in a personal way.

"Very good," said my mystery caller. "Mister Snowman, Santa would like to hire you to solve a crime. I trust you are looking for employment? My sources indicate your work habits of late have been, well, spotty."

"Your sources can suck on my fruity popsicle," I informed the jackass who thought it was okay to wake me up at three in the morning and then insult me. "And hell yeah, I'll work for Grandpa, as long as he can pay in something other than presents. What's the crime?"

"Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer is dead," said the voice flatly. "Mister Claus would like to know why, and how, and most of all – who."

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