Dec. 5th, 2011

Wow, everything really *is* on YouTube.

I crashed in my bed. By the time I woke up it was noon – still dark outside, but the clock doesn't lie. I got in the shower with my vest on, ate some sorbet out of the freezer, combed out my mustache and goatee, grabbed my bowler and umbrella and old Air Force sidearm, and hit Christmastown on my way to the hoosegow.

I threaded my way through the decorated Yule trees and came to The Abominable Snowman's cave. He had put bars across it and made it into the local jail a few years back. He wasn't a bad sort, I guess, although he did give legit snowmen a bad name. You never got the sense that he had completely abandoned being wild, though. And he hated being called 'Bumble', even though almost everybody did behind his back.

He was lurking just inside the shadows of the barred cave, his faintly glowing eyes visible in the darkness. "How's the bad-guy-catching business, A-Bomb?" I asked him. He didn't mind the odd nickname, except for 'Bumble'. He grinned in the darkness, a beautiful pearly set of dentures having replaced the fangs that had all been yanked out of his mouth years earlier.

"Sam Snowman," he said in his deep raspy voice. "You stayin' out of trouble?"

"Trying. Failing," I said. "I hear you got a new guest. Santa hired me to see if I could help him."

"No helping this one," Abominable Snowman said. "I got him dead to rights."

"Sure," I said. "Mind if I ask him a few questions?"

"Suit yourself," said the jailer, raising the cave-portcullis and beckoning me in.

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I left the Abominable Snowman's cave with more questions than I had when I arrived. This represented, I felt, rather poor performance on my part in the general area of private investigation. It is desirable, I have found, to find answers to questions if one wants to make it in the detecting business. Finding questions to answers is decidedly inferior, and has a much smaller profit margin.

I decided my next stop ought to be returning to the scene of the crime behind Santa's house during daytime hours. Not that there was better light to see, but there was superior visibility anyway on account of the fact that I was mostly not drunk. Clues, I hoped, would go a long way towards rectifying the disturbing question/answer imbalance.

I cut across Boxing Day Park, the shortest path back to Santa's castle. As I walked through an unusually dark stand of Christmas trees, I heard the jingle of bells strewn from the branches. Somebody or something had brushed up against a tree very close to me. Was I being followed?

I drew my Air Force sidearm pistol. I've found paranoia to be burdensome in the sense that one tends to get involved in embarrassing situations such as yelling at innocent strangers and pistol-whipping your landlady. On the other hand, it tends to reduce one's rate of emergency room visits to a smallish number. Life is all about weighing costs versus opportunities.

The nice thing about gliding instead of walking is that one makes less noise in snow. I walked casually around a tree and then quickly sneaked around the back side. I waited, gun drawn. A few seconds later I heard several sets of noisy footfalls coming from the place where I had been a moment earlier. "Where'd he go?" a deep voice muttered.

I came around the tree, gun drawn. There were three large reindeer there, looking around warily. Their eyes widened as they saw my pistol.

"Marco," I said.

A reindeer swallowed. "Polo?" he answered.

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September 2012

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