Between the Lines: We Demand His Presence, Not Presents

Santa’s Private Office
7 a.m., Monday, Dec 16

Knock knock!

It’s unlocked! Oh, hey, Bingo. What’s up? Please don’t say it’s another production problem. Not now.

No, Boss, they tell me they’ve pretty much wrapped it up for the year, except for the usual last-minute stuff.

It’s not logistics, is it? Not with only 41 hours until “Go Time!”

Boss, no, everything’s green across the board.

Ok, I’m confused. You’re hardly holly jolly and your smile has turned upside down into a frown.

Um, well, remember last year when Algernon here suggested we consider establishing a legal department?

And, Algernon, didn’t I come thisclose to exiling you to the Permanent Polar Naughty List for all time?

That’s, uh, not how I remember it, Sir, and to refresh your memory, our contract specifically prohibits you from…

I don’t give a rotund reindeer’s rear about your contract, which expired in 1600, if I’m not mistaken, and I’m never, ever mistaken.

Correct, Sir, but in the absence of a new agreement, the old pact remains in effect. However, that’s not why…

Bows and bells, man! Did you already establish a legal team? Because if you did …

Boss, if I may…

Et tu, Bingo? Are you a participant in this clandestine crystalline cabal?

Crystalline Cabal? No, Boss, but, well, I think he may have been right, given, uh, recent developments.

WHAT recent developments? Let’s have it. Why are you staring at each other like that?

Don’t look at me, Alg, this is your party.

Ok, Sir, here it is. You’ve received a subpoena to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives.

Say again?

Congress, specifically the House Intelligence Committee, is demanding that you appear in person to testify before them.

Congress. Wants me. To appear. In person. It’s a bit too early to be hitting the spiked eggnog, isn’t it, boys?

Boss, believe me, Algernon and I may yet see a bowl to its bottom, but not before you’re aloft. 

Good grief. Is Bingo right, Algernon?

Sir, the subpoena arrived via drone overnight. In fact, the drone remains parked on your workshop roof with instructions on how to send it back with your acknowledgement.

You can’t be serious.

‘Fraid so, Sir.

Wait a minute. Why would they want me on Capitol Hill?

As I read it, Sir, you’re to be a witness in hearings regarding the inquiry into the possible impeachment of the President of the United States.

The President? Donald Trump?

The same.

You’re sure that’s what it says? I know many of “the suits” down there were royally miffed when I didn’t leave gift-wrapped tickets to “Hamilton” in their stockings last year. 

Could it be that, or all the MAGA hats I did deliver? They’re just hats, for snow’s sake. It’s not my fault a bunch of clowns thought it quite funny to ask me to send ‘em out like Christmas Cards. Remember January and all the letters? The wording differed, but the message was pretty much the same: “Bring me another hat like that, you fat, stupid elf, and you’ll live to regret it.”

That was pretty funny when you consider … Sorry, Sir.

It’s not the hats, Boss.

Well, then, what is it? What could I possibly bring to the table?

Milk and cookies?

Seriously, Algernon? Milk and cookies? You angling for a spot on SNL? Cause I can provide a one-way ride to New York justlikethat.

Sorry, Sir. Just trying to lighten the mood. Help me out here, Bingo.

Boss, our operatives on Capitol Hill report that some members suspect you of interfering with the 2016 presidential election to aid then-candidate Trump’s campaign.

WHAT? Do I look like a Russian hacker? Well, do I?

Well, you do wear red a lot, and … um, never mind.

If I may, Boss, the claim is that instead of ignoring all political wish lists, as NP protocol demands, you responded favorably to Mr. Trump’s hand-written letter to Santa arriving here in early December, ’15 asking for …

The presidency.

That’s it in a roasted chestnut shell, Boss. Oh, and that you’ve also been known to deliver presents from one end of The Ukraine to the other, including to some highly ranked politicos.

Suddenly I’ve got a headache worse than when a computer error wiped out our Amazon Prime membership. Sometimes I wish I’d stayed on The Island of Misfit Toys and given the reins to Dolly or that ostrich-riding cowboy. Maybe the spotted elephant. Now I know what it feels like to be a boat that can’t stay a-a-a-a-a-afloat.

Well, on the bright side, it can’t possibly get any worse, right? RIGHT? Hold it, why aren’t you two saying anything?

Um, well …

Great balls of blizzards, what now? Are they taking me into custody or something?

Not exactly, Boss.


Sir, you’re scheduled to appear before the committee on the, ah, fourth Tuesday of this month.

This month. December. And the fourth Tuesday is…

The … 24th.

Those coal-hearted fools. Don’t they know that that day …?

Boss, we’ve had some off-off-off-off-the-record discussions with a few select committee staffers, who say that date was specifically selected. That’s often a slow news day and your presence there, well, let’s just say it would cause quite a stir, and coverage.

Oh, that’s all I need, a picture of me, my hand up, as I’m sworn in. All over the cover of the New York Times, The Washington Post …

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald. What? Just sayin.

Ok, boys, am I correct in my belief that you’ve got something up your fur-trimmed sleeves?

Sir, we could end our late-season holiday amnesty program and start giving coal to all in D.C. who deserve it.

With a potential the carbon dioxide release of … Before the next quorum call there wouldn’t be a glacier or a floating ice cube anywhere on the globe. Since New York and D.C. would be in the briny deep, how do you think that would play in Dubuque, Algernon?

Off the top of my head, I’d have to think property values there would increase exponentially. Oh, uh, rhetorical. I get it.

Actually, Boss, along those lines, when was the last time we thawed out the emergency plans to relocate to the South Pole? You know, there being no land beneath us and all.

You mean “Operation Deep Deep Deep Deep Deep South?”

That’s the one.

As I recall, we hastily put that together after what’s-his-name …

Richard Byrd.

What-ever, Algernon, became the first human to fly over the North Pole. But didn’t it then get shoved to the back of the icebox until that first nuclear submarine made the first submerged passage under the NP? As I recall, we stopped paying attention after both events became kind of commonplace.

Actually, Sir, Byrd’s claim came under question when his diary, discovered in 1996, suggested an oil leak in the triple-engine Fokker monoplane piloted by Floyd Bennett forced them to turn back 150-miles short of the pole. And the submarine was the U.S.S. … Uh, sorry.

On the other hand, Boss, unlike here, there’s a lot of scientific activity both in Antarctica and at the South Pole itself.

Which is why if we play it right, we’ll blend right in. And if we employ a little magic and get this done as fast as only we can, by the time they start looking for me… Guess what, Algernon. You’re going on a journey.

To D.C., Sir, with you?

Oh, no, no, no, no, on a little scouting mission, much farther south. Much much farther south.

Um, that’s at the opposite end of the earth, Sir, and I’ll be the only…

Look at it this way, Algee-Boy, think of all the penguins you’ll get to know, and right now it’s nigh on summer down there. Don’t forget your sunscreen! 

I should have gone to law school.

Tim Kelly is a former congressional press secretary and award-winning reporter, editor, columnist and photographer. He has lived on the North Fork for 30 years. For his mid-life crisis, he became a bagpiper.

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