It was nearing Christmas and I was out getting gifts for the orphans. The children had been so good that Sister Francis insisted I buy the kids gifts this year instead of making them watch reruns of Sex and the City while scrubbing my shoes. But I still say clean sneakers and Kristin Davis makes a nice Christmastide.

So there I stood at Charlie's House of Wonderful Toys wondering how to get to the Dollar Store. I got back into my car and continued down the street. Suddenly a man jumped in front of my car—er, I drove onto the sidewalk…whatever. I swerved to avoid hitting him—well maybe I didn't swerve…who can really say what people do when they drive. In any event, I drove over him.

As I stood in the woods digging the hole, I realized the old man wasn't quite dead. And that's when he told me a story of Christmas.

I knew he was Santa by the way he rubbed his beard on my face. He told me stories of Mrs. Claus, flying reindeer, and how all the elves are gay. "This story begins on the night before Christmas," he began as I stared at his leg twisted in such a way that he looked like a candy cane—a candy cane covered in blood that was also an old man.

"Shh!" I retorted impulsively, searching the clearing for a blunt object. The police couldn't be far away now.

"The snow was falling on the rooftops like fairies stopping off for a nap."

"Is the whole story going to sound this way?"

"Do you have a difficulty with fairies?"

"I guess not."

"As I said, it was snowing. The Campbell children were all sitting by the tree whispering about Santa—all except for Annie Sue Campbell, who was staring out the window. ‘Annie Sue, come back by the fire,' her mother called, holding a tray of cookies."

"Is this story going to be long, because I have feta in my car and that smell doesn't Febreze out. Also, you're probably bleeding to death."

"Annie Sue had fire engine red hair and freckles by the barrelful."

"Do you know these people or something?"

"Annie Sue sat right down by the fire. She smiled impishly and leaned on her loving mama. ‘I would like to tell you all a story of how I met Santa Claus,' their mother whispered, giving Annie Sue a little hug. ‘You met Santa, Mommy?' ‘I sure did, Emily Karen.'"

"Why do they all have Appalachian names?"

"Their mother began telling them the mystical story of the mystical Christmas when she met Santa on a bus bound for Vegas. ‘When I took my seat, there he was sitting right next to me. He wore red and white fur and smelled like gin and old milk—the kind of milk that's been in the fridge at least a week past its expiration, but you don't want to throw it out because it would take just a little too much effort. And I knew he was Santa by the way he rubbed his beard on my face. He told me stories of Mrs. Claus, flying reindeer, and how all the elves are gay—even Kirby, who by the way dropped out of North Pole State Dental College. Then he passed out in my lap.' And," the old man looked back at me, "that is my story of Christmas."

I wasn't sure how to respond so I sneezed on his coat.

"Martin, I have a secret." His old man eyes glinted in the snow.

"How do you know my name, old man?"

"Because I am an angel. Also, I stole your driver's license."


"Martin, I'm an angel. That's my secret."

"You told me that already."

"I know. You sort of stole my thunder when you asked me how I knew your name."


"I forgive you, Martin."

"Can you do miracle things?"

"I can kill people."

"But I've never heard of angels killing people."

"Maybe that's because I'm not an angel."

After he stabbed me in the elbow, he hurriedly dragged himself away through the trees with his arms. I'm not sure, but I really don't think he was an angel. I made it back to my car and eventually to the Dollar Store. I wasn't arrested for vehicular assault, but I will never forget the special Christmas I spent in the woods with the guy who I hit with my car.