Tonight’s writing prompt, courtesy of our gracious host Martha, was to describe a conversation in a store aisle between Santa Clause and the Headless Horseman about the fact that there were Christmas decorations for sale in early October. My take:
“Clean up in aisle 5,” droned a voice over the store loudspeaker.
“Look, once again, I am truly sorry for what Rudolf did in the middle of the aisle, though I saw what your horse did over by the bakery. Now, I know you’re upset about Christmas stuff being out in early October. I get that. But you have to understand — my marketing people are dealing with a retail crisis. They have to put this stuff in front of people as early as possible.”
The headless horseman made a gurgling noise, and pointed at a Santa Claus snow globe.
“You know that shelf space is premium real estate in retail. And it’s not like we completely knocked the Halloween merchandise off the shelves. This is a competitive environment and you’re just going to have to get used to sharing space. But hey — we both are riding the pumpkin spice wave. So we have a lot in common! Why, look right there: a doll from the film ‘Nightmare before Christmas.’ See, Tim Burton gets it!”
The headless horseman raised his axe and a plastic Frosty the Snowman head went rolling down the aisle.
“Now you listen here, Mister!” Santa barked as he reached for his riding crop. His reindeer all took a step backward.
Santa raised his hand, aiming for the horseman’s exposed shin, when a voice from below suddenly cut him off.
“Clear out, fellas — and take all your crap with you!”
Santa and the horseman watched as a bunny placed a box of pink marshmallow peeps on the shelf.
My piece, on the same prompt:
The greeter at the front of the “grocery” side of Walmart froze. The shoppers nearby stopped in their tracks, and more than one jaw dropped into “awestruck” position.
“Clop, clop, clop,” the noise preceded the black silhouetted image – the shoppers scattered from the vestibule as the black figure shimmered into the store. Suddenly the shoppers, clerks, managers, and greeters, erupted into screams and wild howls as they ran in all directions away from the specter.
Seated atop the shimmering black horse was an equally shimmering, equally black figure, precisely human in every detail, except for the absence of a head. The figure stood in the stirrups, drew a sabre and began to wave it in all directions.
“Ho, ho, ho,” came up the aisle from the back of the store. “What are you doing here?” The red-suited fat guy ambled up the cookware aisle, hands in the pockets of his red pajamas, brown stains on the corners of his ragged beard.
The horseman leaned in Santa’s direction and waved the sabre. It began to pulse and hum. He waved it even more energetically, and the hum became a voice. “What am I doing here?” the sabre sang. “What are YOU doing here? It’s October.”
Santa nodded. “Time flies, don’t it?”
The sabre spun rapidly at the end of the horseman’s arm, and said “How can I prepare these kiddies for Halloween when you’re here prepping them for Christmas?”
Santa nodded, and thrust his hands deeper into the pockets of his red pajamas. “So, you think it’s time to scare the little folks?”
“Well of course,” said the sabre, “that’s what Halloween’s all about isn’t it?”
Santa nodded again. “Well, sir, having no head and all, I guess you can’t see me, but if you could, you’d see a beatup old leftover fat guy in red pajamas, a nasty scraggly beard with tobacco-juice stains all over it, bloodshot eyes, …”
“Stop!” sang the sabre as the horseman’s steed began backing away. “You’re scaring me!”
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Well done, Sir.!