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That Year Rudolph was in Rehab / JD Clapp

The vein running down Santa’s forehead thumped like a subwoofer in the trunk of a low rider.


“What the fuck do you mean Rudolph fell off the wagon again? I told you worthless little shit stains to watch him around the clock!”


The twinkle in Santa’s merry eye, turned psychotic twitch. He looked ready to throttle his poor lead elf, Clarence.


“We’re so sorry Santa… Herbie was on watch and was hitting the nitrous tank from his dentist office again. He fell asleep… and when he woke, Rudolph was on his 27th eggnog. Herbie sent him straight to Betty Ford.”


Santa’s jolly milk-white face burned, his alcohol damaged capillaries turned to bright red stripes, turning his face into a giant pissed off candy cane.


“You got 7 hours to fix this shit. If you don’t get me another flying reindeer, I’ll jam a bottle rocket up your little elf ass and you’ll be guiding the sleigh! You got that you tiny fucktard ?!!”




Clarence and Herbie went to work looking for a replacement. They grew sullen when the buck they had been recruiting for their stud line was already booked doing a Krampus themed slasher flick in Koln.


“We got one last chance…” Clarence said. Herbie shook his head, not wanting to make the call. Clarence handed him the phone.




Herbie dialed International Reindeer United (IRU). A few years back when Vixen gave Prancer and Cupid a nasty case of the clap at the Christmas office party, IRU sent over two pains in the ass substitutes who demanded breaks every two hours and then had the brass balls to report Santa to OSHA for labor violations on Boxing Day. Santa, a diehard Republican, hated unions to begin with. But desperate times…


“No shit? A couple hunters shot your entire heard. Wow! Jesus…sorry to hear that.” Herbie hung up.


“We are so fucked. This is like finding a goddamn unicorn,” Clarence said.


“That’s it! You’re a genius!”




Twenty minutes before take-off, Clarence and Herbie were frantically fitting Sparkles with a harness and decorating her mane with bells and mistletoe.


“Watch the extensions! Jesus, they cost a freakin’ fortune,” Sparkles snapped.


Herbie began mounting an LED red light on her twisted horn. Sparkles’s front paw was bouncing up-and-down and side-to-side in a chemical fueled motion that appeared to be the Crip Walk.


“Be careful—That is a veneer. I was lucky enough to find a cosmetic dentist with a unicorn fetish. He won’t do another one for free. Word of advice—stay away from Mountain Dew,” Sparkles, said.


“Hold still, are you fucking tweaking?” Clarence asked.


“Honey, when you called, I was booked to do seven Only Fans sessions for a bunch of My Little Bronies. You try doing a naked hot yoga session, then switching to a dominatrix scene, then having to shoot a rainbow of Skittles out your cornhole for an hour. So, yeah…I’m fucking tweaking.”




Mrs. Claus kissed Santa on the cheek and handed him his magic flask.


“Now Santa,” Mrs. Claus whispered, “you took your Xanax, here’s a flask of Mescal. I even put a 200-milligram gummy worm in it for you. Now nut up, stop pouting, and do the gig! I’ll be waiting for you when you get back with those two little stacked elf twins you like…We can do the thing we did last week again? OK? Now get this bitch flying!”


Santa took a pull from the flask and stuffed into his coat pocket. He took a last drag off his Camel and flicked the butt at Herbie who sat in the sleigh’s passenger seat wearing an elven dunce cap. He looked up into the stary sky, then climbed up onto the sleigh. Let’s do this shit.


Santa, looked at his team, shook his head then yelled, “On Sparkles, on Comet…”f


JD CLAPP writes in San Diego, CA. His work has appeared in The Milk House, Rural Fiction Magazine, Wrong Turn Literary, Revolution John, The Whisky Blot, among several others. He has forthcoming work in A Common Well Journal, Fleas on the Dog, and Literally Stories. His story, One Last Drop, was a finalist in the 2023 Hemingway Shorts Literary Journal, Short Story Competition.

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