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We meet at 8:30 p.m. at a small rundown café on Grand Avenue. The detective is in the back room, beyond the kitchen, at a private table. I sit across from him, prepared for a confrontation.

“Hello dick-tective,” I say, sarcastically. “It’s good to see you in a suit and tie.”

He points his finger at me in an authoritative manner. “Lawrence, I’ll get right to the point. If you’re not going to tell me the truth about what happened, I swear to God you’re going straight to jail. Don’t think you’re getting away with it. I know you were there when Linda and Leroy were murdered.” He bangs his fist on the table.

“Okay, relax, I’ll tell you the truth. What I’m going to say may seem a little bizarre, but I swear it’s the truth,” I reply.

The detective looks suspicious as he leans back in his chair. “Okay, tell me your story,” he says.

“My wife and kid think the story I’m about to tell you of Darrin—a runaway elf, condemned by Santa and banned forever from the North Pole—is ridiculous, and I don’t blame them, but it’s an important part of this investigation.”

The detective jumps from his chair, reaches across the table and tries to grab my neck with his hands. “You son of a bitch, I told you not to mess with me. You think I’m an idiot, telling me a story about Santa Claus,” he exclaims.

“Wait!” I shout, shoving him off me. “The story of Darrin will explain what happened to Linda and Leroy. Just sit back in your chair. If you’re not happy with my story, you can drag me to jail, and I’ll confess to anything you want.”

“You better be straight with me,” the detective demands.

“The story of Darrin is based on tradition and has been passed down from generation to generation. My grandfather told me the story, and his grandfather told him the story. My grandfather believed in it, and when he passed away, I made a vow that my kids would also know about Darrin. I was young and scared out of my mind, but it is true.”

The detective stands up, walks around the room, then says, “I can’t believe I’m listening to this shit, but don’t stop. I have nothing better to do tonight.”

“Darrin was the name of an elf who committed the worst crime ever. He was young but clever and studious. Many female elves adored him, and he was being groomed for an important job. For two years, he worked as an apprentice for a much older and wiser elf. Then one day Darrin was assigned to be communications courier for Mrs. Claus, which gave him an opportunity to be part of the inner circle, an elite secretive group making all the decisions for the North Pole with Mrs. Claus at the center of power.”

“What do you mean?” asks the detective, as he sits back on his chair.

“Saint Nick was just a fat guy who delivered presents.”

“What?” he asks.

“Many years ago it was Mrs. Claus who was in charge of everything at the North Pole. The purpose of the inner circle was to protect the privacy of Mrs. Claus and to make sure she continued to control everything. The group was so secretive nobody even knew Mrs. Claus’s first name. Because of this, she was seen as mysterious by the elves. They loved her, and they protected her secrecy. It got to the point where this secrecy was symbolic of what she represented—the purity and goodness of the North Pole.”

The detective covers his face with his hands. “I’m wasting my time listening to this bullshit,” he says.

“Just wait,” I reply. “One day Darrin was with two elves, a male and female, bragging about his new job and how superior he was to others. But the elves teased him, telling him that communication courier was just a fancy name for someone who delivered mail and that he would never be part of the inner circle. No longer able to keep his composure, Darrin yelled profanities and threatened violence. Although the two elves were shocked, they continued to laugh. Finally, Darrin jumped at them, swinging his fists wildly, punching one elf in the face. They grabbed Darrin while falling to the ground. The elf who had been punched, shouted at Darrin, ‘If you’re so superior to us and part of the inner circle, then you should have no problem finding out Mrs. Claus’s first name.’ Darrin did not know how to respond to such a challenge so he ran away to the echoes of laughter.”

Just then a waitress interrupts by walking into the room. “Gentlemen, sorry for the wait. What would you like to drink?” she asks.

“Give us two cold beers, and also bring me that baseball bat behind the front door,” says the detective.

“Yes, sir,” she replies.

I look at him suspiciously as the waitress walks out of the room.

“Please continue with your story,” says the detective.

“The next day Darrin was deep in thought, wondering if the elves were right. He did not want to be ordinary but extraordinary. He wanted his life to have meaning, but most of all he wanted to be remembered forever. For several days, he thought about his life, what it meant and what the elves had said. Struggling with his thoughts, he finally decided how he could prove to the other elves that he had purpose in life and would be known forever. He would defile the goodness and purity of Mrs. Claus by penetrating the inner circle and discovering her first name.”

The detective rolls his eyes, shakes his head in disbelief. “This is ridiculous.”

“It’s important. Everyone must have purpose in life,” I say.

“Okay, finish.”

“Darrin knew the only way to discover her first name was through coercion, but if he used force he knew there would be no turning back, no forgiveness. For several nights, he pondered the idea, the consequences, and how it would change his life forever. His plan was simple. During the day, he would enter Mrs. Claus’s private chamber and force her to reveal her first name. Once it was revealed, he would shout out her name to every elf in the kingdom.”

“Wow,” the detective says. “But, please continue.”

“On October 31, Darrin entered her chamber. She was at her desk writing as he quietly tiptoed into the room and snuck up behind her chair. He quickly covered her head with a pillowcase, throwing her to the ground as hard as he could. She hit the floor, gasping for air as she pulled on the pillowcase with both her hands. She tried to yell, but Darrin covered her mouth with his free hand and jumped on top of her, pulled a small pocket knife from underneath his jingling hat and threatened to hurt her. She cried for mercy as he demanded her name. He said he would kill her. Afraid and scared, Mrs. Claus responded with her first name.”

“What was it? What was her name?” the detective asks.

I smile “Josephine… Josephine was her name.”

The detective rolls his eyes.

Darrin jumped to his feet, running out of the chamber with joy. He yelled at the top of his lungs, ‘Josephine! Josephine!’ But he was not so lucky. He slipped on the floor, hitting his head on the wall and knocking himself out. When he came to, he was tied up with every elf in the kingdom staring at him with shock and disgust. Without any remorse, Darrin looked at everyone, smiled and shouted, ‘I did it! Darrin the Elf will be remembered forever!’”

The waitress walks into the room with two beers and a baseball bat. “Here you go detective,” she says, placing the beers and the bat on the table.

“Thank you, and please don’t disturb us anymore,” the detective says. The waitress winks at me as she walks out of the room. The detective then grabs his beer and takes a drink. “So what happened to Darrin?” he asks.

“Well for Darrin, the night before his trial the two elves broke him out of jail. Outside of town, in a cold blizzard, they asked why he had done such a dreadful thing, but Darrin did not answer. The elf who had been punched demanded that Darrin speak the truth, but under cover of the blizzard, Darrin quickly jumped at the elves and stabbed them. As they fell to the ground, Darrin put his pocket knife back under his jingling hat and left the North Pole forever.”

The detective starts to clap. “Wow, what a story, Lawrence. That was ridiculous and a waste of my time. Now, what does your story of Darrin have to do with the murder of Leroy and Linda?”

I carefully grab my beer. I look at him, determined and fearless. “Darrin the elf killed Leroy and Linda,” I whisper.

For a moment, the detective stares into my eyes in complete silence. It is a checkmate, but then the detective quickly reaches for the baseball bat as I swing my left fist, punching him in the face. The detective drops the bat, knocking over his beer and falling to the floor. He reaches for his gun, but it is too late. I jump on him and stab him repeatedly in his chest and neck with my pocket knife. I feel his warm blood while he gasps for air, struggling to stay alive. The waitress runs into the room with a large black plastic bag. I yank it from her hand and start wrapping the detective in it. The game is over. He is dead.

“Sorry for getting blood on the floor,” I say.

“It’s okay.”

I grab her arm, pulling her toward me, kissing and gently biting her lip. She pulls away when she notices blood on her shirt.

“Sorry,” I say.

“You’ve always been a bad boy.”

“You like it that way.”

“Wasn’t he a distant cousin?” she asks.

I just smile and say, “See you next week.”

She opens the back door as I drag the detective’s body out of the café and throw him in my pickup truck.

“Goodbye my love,” I say.


I get into my truck and slap on my jingling hat. I smile at her as I drive off.

-The End-


Inspired by The Cask of Amontillado, Vidal started writing fiction about death, horror and suspense. In February 2017, he published his first novel: Walking in the Shadows of Death and the Supernatural. In 2020 he published his second book: The Art of Being Useful. He lives in Las Vegas, New Mexico which is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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