Everywhere Johnny went he saw the consumer culture of Christmas. Little trees, lights, bows, toys and more electronic gadgets than he could conceive. None of it seemed to have any point. All he could see was the mindless masses striving to collect more junk. He resolved to lock himself in his house over the next few days and wait out the holiday. It was Christmas eve, he was alone and making every effort to keep it that way. No work for the next few days and plenty to read as well as plenty of painting to do. Johnny always dreamed of being able to quit his day job and just live off of his art, but never seemed to be able to make enough to accomplish this. He plugged along with his writing and art when he got the chance and a few days off work seemed like the perfect time to do this. Christmas landed on a Friday that gave him Thursday off for Christmas eve, Friday off and then Saturday and Sunday to focus on getting stuff done.
He sat at his easel with an empty pallet for hours. All he seemed to do was get a few horrible sketches on the canvas. The plethora of ideas he had during the workweek as he plugged away mindlessly seemed to escape him. He started to get frustrated. As noon approached he figured that a little lunch was all he needed and he would be back at it. His masterpiece was going to come. He was convinced that what he would paint would be a masterpiece if only he could spit it out on canvas. All he managed to do was dread the coming work week. He just couldn’t manage to accept the moment and use it as he intended. Johnny seemed to be spending more time chain smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee on his front porch than sitting at the easel.
He wondered to the kitchen and threw together a quick sandwich, ate it and was back to the canvas. By dinner time he was famished and still had only put a dab of burnt umber on the pallet failing to put any on the almost white canvas. All he felt was frustration at the time he had wasted staring at his blank canvas. He managed to jot a few ideas on paper but it all looked like crap. Nothing was coming together. He was hungry but convinced he would put something to the canvas so he dipped the brush into the paint and started trying to sculpt an image on the surface of the white canvas. The more he pushed color into it and the more he moved the paint across the surface the more frustrated he became. It was beginning to look a bit like a comical daemon, which was not his intent. He realized that he had smoked almost two packs of cigarettes on his front porch. The coffee was stale and burnt.
Frustrated, Johnny went to the kitchen and rummaged through his fridge trying to find something to eat. He threw away a molded container of leftover spaghetti. Johnny ended up frying up some old fish he found in the kitchen and leaving the greasy mess on the stove before spending the rest of the night with a fresh pot of coffee and many more cigarettes. By the time midnight approached he was wired. Too much coffee and he was antsy to go out, but it was midnight, Christmas Eve and knew everyone was at home with family sleeping nicely ready to wake up and rip open packages of crap made in china.
Then, a sound came from the chimney. Like a scratch. Soot fell into the fireplace as he saw a pair of black boots appear, and out came Santa. Johnny just started to laugh. This is absurd he thought. It’s midnight and Santa Just came down my Chimney. Santa turned to look at Johnny as he leaned against the bare undecorated mantle.
“Are you here to give me presents?” He asked Santa.
“Ha Ho” Santa belted. “You Johnny, have you been naughty or nice?”
“Well, I haven’t been particularly nice but I’m not really doing anything naughty really that I know of.” Johnny said as he heard more scratching from the chimney and saw even more soot coming down. “Is that an elf or an reindeer or something?” The smell of sulfur spilled into the room.
“No Johnny, that’s my friend Krampus.” Santa said as a hoof appeared in the fireplace. Slowly a claw reached down as the demon pulled his horned goat head through the opening and emerged. A large horned hoofed hairy demon now stood before him right beside Santa in Johnny’s living room. “Krampus likes to take the naughty little girls and boys and put them in a bag and hit them with a stick.”
Johnny thought for a moment and responded, “I don’t know what is more absurd, your presence or the fact that I am just standing here responding to it as if it is an everyday occurrence. Do you want some cookies or hot cocoa?”
“I’d love some cocoa , but krampus only eats meat and drinks blood.” Santa said.
“Well I can accommodate you with cocoa, but I don’t know if I have much meat or blood to offer.”
Krampus smiled as he grumbled in a low voice “Oh, you have plenty of meat and blood.”
This made Johnny uncomfortable. “I will just go start that cocoa.”
“Thank you Johnny” Said Santa.
“So, I imagine you guys are on a tight schedule being Christmas Eve and all.” he called back from the Kitchen.
“No, we have plenty of time.” Santa responded.
“What about all the presents and children and the beatings Krampus has to give and all that?”
“Well, I don’t do many presents for children really these days. The parents are out spending their money on cheap trash made in China, so nobody really misses me these days.” Santa called back.
“What about all of the stuffing children into bags and beating them and all that Krampus?” He called back trying to keep up the conversation and somewhat hoping to get a feeling for what Krampus had in store for him.
“Oh, you know, there are enough parents beating their kids, cops beating young men and employers draining the life out of them. I really don’t feel that I am needed now days.” returned the daemon.
“That sounds terribly depressing. How do you feel about that?” asked Johnny.
“Oh, wonderful. I am just glad your culture has turned into one that is consuming each other. Which brings us to the problem of you Johnny.”
Johnny who was walking out with a fresh microwaved cup of cocoa kind of stopped a bit scared. “So this isn’t just a friendly social call?”
Santa smiled. “Now Johnny, how often does Santa and Krampus just drop in on someone?”
“Well, I kind of assumed you went to a lot of houses on Christmas Eve or something.”
“No, we don’t really, not these days. The world has little use of us. I make my living through licensing. I get good royalty checks each year for the use of my name and likeness.” Said Santa. “They sell me. Those that can afford a Santa get it, those that can’t are working away in their assembly lines making me rich and making Christmas for the good little girls and boys. I see them more as my elves for the new millennium.”
“So, who exactly are the good little boys and girls?”
“The ones whose parents can afford for them to be good little boys and girls. A good little boy spends plenty on toys, clothes, sugary foods and whatever is being advertised on saturday morning cartoons. You Johnny, chose not to buy a single thing this year though didn’t you?” Said Santa.
Johnny thought a moment. “Yeah, I didn’t do the whole Christmas thing this year. I was going to paint, but it hasn’t been turning out so well.”
Krampus licked his lips and responded “Well that’s good. At least you aren’t making use of your time. You are also not giving back to the owners of the means of production who have provided you with this wonderful opportunity to buy, but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem because we have millions that do.”
“So you’re not going to put me in a bag and beat me with a stick?” Johnny asked Krampus.
“Oh, I never said that.” Krampus said with a smile.
“My Cocoa?” Santa said nodding to the cup of hot microwaved cocoa that Johnny was still holding. The whole conversation had concerned him so much that he completely forgot to give santa his hot cocoa.
“Oh yeah, here.” He said as he handed Santa the Cocoa.
“Good boy.” Santa responded.
“Why do you have to beat people?” Johnny asked Krampus.
“Well someone has to beat you now don’t they?”
“Because someone has to do the beating, you know, to keep power over you, keep you in your place, keep people in line.”
“But why does someone have to do that?”
Krampus responded. “Well if someone didn’t you all might not submit to our little arrangement we have going on. It keeps some on top and those on top like being there. Just ask Santa, how are those royalty checks working out for you?”
“Ho, ho, ho…” Santa responded jubilantly.
“So, I have to eat it so that you can stay rich?” Johnny asked Santa.
“Pretty much, but don’t think you are special, everyone has their place mine is just a little more at the top than yours.”
“Oh” Johnny said softly as he looked to the ground. “I think this pretty much shatters my perception of you.” He paused for a moment.
Krampus interrupted, “So Johnny, about your meat and blood.”
“I don’t get it.” Johnny replied. “I thought you put people in a bad and beat them with a stick, not eat their meat and bones.”
“Oh, I do put people in a bag and beat them with a stick. It tenderizes the meat.” Said Krampus as he licked his lips.
“You’re going to consume me?”
“Yes, we are here to consume you.”
“But won’t that kill me?”
“Oh, nobody gets out alive Johnny.”
“Just can I have a little time to paint? Like maybe come back Sunday night when the weekend is over so I can paint before I go. I want to finish that masterpiece.” begged Johnny.
“But we don’t have time to give you the time you want Johnny, it’s not about you. We are consuming and you are going to be consumed. It’s not about what you want or need or dream of. It’s not about the beautiful happy wonderful thing you perceived us to be it’s about our hunger and consumption. Besides Johnny, what have you done so far? You wasted time smoking on the porch. You won’t paint. You will blow a few fags on the porch, drink another pot of coffee and just be consumed on Monday morning after you’ve done nothing all this time.” Krampus explained as he pulled out a large burlap sack from the chimney.