Amelia, so winsome and sweet. The single item on her Christmas list took her twenty minutes to describe, her halting lisp raising inside of Bill Tubbs a great warm feeling. Here was the innocence of childhood!
But Virginia. She sat next to her little sister, rolling her eyes and dropping sarcastic hints that questioned the very existence of Father Christmas at all. Two sisters. One was candyfloss, and the other with the heart of a sour prune.
Whatever had made him accept this invitation from an old university chum?
Early next morning, five nineteen in fact, and Bill left his room to creep downstairs. He toured all the ground floor rooms of that mansion to be sure that only he was stirring. And then…
Oh, that kiss of silk as his kimono whispered down the skin upon his arms and slipped to the floor.
Bill Tubbs: nude again.
He was now a fully-fledged exhibitionist. Not the weird, willy out in the park kind of a chap, but the kind who pranced in dangerous places, drunk on the threat that he might be caught.
Drunker still on the terror that he would.
He skipped into the sitting room to dance in front of the fireplace resplendent with empty stockings. He gasped with glee when he saw the Santa outfit laid out on one of the sofas. He donned the hat and beard with a giggle, then pounced on the treats left for Santa.
Sherry glass in one hand, mince pie in the other, Bill began to dance and spin once more, and so caught in the moment that it took him three full turns to comprehend the wide eyed little face gazing at him around an armchair.
Bill stumbled, dove for cover, stumbled two or three more times for emphasis, and then peered cautiously from the skimpy cover provided by the Christmas tree.
In a breathless lisp, Amelia said, ‘Why happened to your clothes, Santa?’
A flash of inspiration struck Bill. ‘The Chimney! To get down the chimney. Can’t get down the chimney in my suit.’
‘What about your pants? My pants are really little.’
Bill said, ‘Um…’ Another flash of inspiration. ‘They got caught on a protruding nodule of brick. Sad to say, but Santa’s pants are stuck in the chimney.’
Amelia nodded thoughtfully.
‘Off you go to bed now, Amelia. Otherwise you won’t get what’s on your Christmas list.’
Amelia squealed. ‘My dolly!?’
She disappeared. Bill Tubbs could hear the quick pad of her feet as she ran, and he sighed. This was it for Bill – no more nudey prancing. This resolution he made on all that was Holy, upon Elton John’s bathtub, and upon all the wizened bones that shook and growled for poor Scrooge that night he was shown his future self. It would be fine – a naked dancing Santa? Of course it was a dream.
When all was quiet, Bill began to sneak a leg past the bristling needle branches. He froze at a cough.
Virginia was sitting on one of the sofas regarding him with an evil smile.
‘Hi Santa. I’m sorry I ever doubted you were real.’
Bill shrank back into cover.
Virginia was smiling.
She said, ‘Do I still have time to write a Christmas list?’