Miracle at Laurel Falls by Muffy Chapter 1

Republisher’s Note: The Mannyfield Players take on Miracle on 34th Street. This was originally published at (07/08/01 13:25:07).

Author’s Note: Muffy–Miracle at Laurel Falls–PG13

Miracle at Laurel Falls by Muffy

“Uncle Danny, c’mon…c’mom…Look! It’s Big Bird!!”

The angelic little girl tugged at the sleeve of his charcoal overcoat, pulling him along the parade route. The Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Springfield was in full swing. Inflated cartoon characters filled the sky. Vendors selling everything from candied apples to cappuccino were lining the streets. In just a matter of minutes, Santa Claus would make his appearance down Main Street heralding the beginning of the Christmas season.

Daniel Santos couldn’t help but smile at his niece as she pointed skyward to her favorite Sesame Street hero. Her elfin features were lighted up brighter than any Christmas tree he had ever seen. He had been reluctant to be her escort to this overly commercialized attempt by Chamberlain’s Department Store to rope in Holiday business, but his sister Pilar was at home suffering with the flu and her husband, Jace, was on duty at Cedars. He had been little Megan’s last hope to attend the festivities.

He had never liked Springfield to begin with. This was where his father had been killed all of those years ago. And for what? Another Family flexing their territorial muscles had caused him to lose the most important person in his life. He would never forget or forgive the members of Springfield’s polite society that had snubbed their collective noses at his family and their way of life. So, it came as no surprise when at the age of 14, he seized the opportunity to live with his uncle in California. Even at that young age he had realized why his mother was anxious for him to make the move out west. It wasn’t safe for him in Springfield. His older brother Mick should have been the heir-apparent but everyone knew that one day Daniel would take the reins of the Santos business and would rule with an iron fist into the next millennium.

**************************

Mick Santos spent his days in violence and his nights in a drunken or drugged-out stupor. He lived a crude and vulgar existence and made use of the Santos name and resources at every turn when it suited him. His penchant for collecting debts was well-documented throughout the inner city area. He was despised and hated and most certainly feared.

Today was going to be very special, indeed. He shielded his bloodshot eyes from the bright sunlight as he secured another layer of padding under the over-sized red suit. His thermos was close by, filled to the top with “the snake that bit him” so to speak….one part coffee and three parts Jack…just what the doctor ordered.

His plan was conceived and had then taken form just a week ago when his mother had requested that he take a couple of bottles of wine from their cellar to his sister’s house. When he arrived, dreading the pleasantries he felt sure that would follow and formulating a plan to ensure a quick get-away, he had been greeted by the most beautiful creature he had ever laid his eyes on. Long, blond hair, huge chocolate brown eyes, and a body to die for…yes, this little errand was turning out to be quite the surprise. She was a medical student whose current rotation was in Orthopedic Surgery under Dr. Serrano and she was helping out while Jace and Pilar ran a few errands. She had just put Megan down for a nap and would he like to come in.

**************************

With a clipboard in hand, Michelle checked off the elves as they lined up around Santa’s Sleigh. Each year she delighted in volunteering for the parade…. the looks of wonder and excitement from the children lining the route, made the long hours in preparation worthwhile.

This year had been particularly challenging, however. Santa’s entrance was the highlight of the parade. When Billy Lewis, her best friend’s father, had informed her that he wouldn’t be able to “pad” himself and play Santa…well it was up to her to find a last minute replacement. She had been helping out Dr. Serrano that afternoon when she heard a knock on the front door. She had never met Pilar’s brother, but couldn’t imagine he was anything but nice since Pilar herself was such a lovely and kind person….. She had invited him in and at that moment her cell phone had rung. It was Bill with the bad news regarding his dad. As she hung up, he had asked her if there was a problem. ‘Santa Claus is leaving town,’ she had replied. She then explained her dilemma. Much to her surprise he had offered to be the replacement. ‘By the way, my name is Mick.’

************************

Megan was thoroughly enjoying the parade. With each passing float, band, or clown her eyes grew wider and wider.

“Hey, how’s my princess?”

“Daddy!!” Megan screamed. Jace Serrano picked up his three-year-old bundle of joy and pressed a kiss to her rosy cheek. “How’s my girl doing?”

“Oh Daddy…It. .. it’s wonderful..” Megan replied breathlessly as she pointed to everything all at once.

Danny took in the scene between father and daughter. He hadn’t been too thrilled when Pilar had wed at what he considered a very young 18, and to someone quite a bit older than she, but he had to admit, Jace was a devoted husband and father.

“Listen, Danny,” Jace turned to his brother-in-law, “thanks for doing this…really…I think the munchkin here would have just died if she couldn’t have seen the whole parade. Have you seen Mick anywhere?”

“Mick…” Danny laughed. “Jace, this parade is the last place my brother would be. He had some kind of a hot date, said he wouldn’t be home for a couple of days….I can just imagine what she…” Looking toward Megan, Danny left off the rest of his thoughts.

“No… You didn’t know? Mick surprised the hell out of us when he volunteered to play Santa this year. Your sister’s hoping that maybe he turning over a new leaf.”

Danny gave Jace an incredulous look. He had no such illusions regarding his brother. What had once been a very close relationship between older and younger brother had deteriorated over the years to one of barely tolerable. Mick was a low-life. But no sense in getting into that now.

“No, I guess he forgot to mention that…since it looks like you have things under control here, I think I’ll go see how ‘Santa’ is doing.” Danny gave Megan one more smile as he walked through the mass of onlookers toward the beginning of the parade route.

—————————-

‘Time to get Santa on his sleigh.’ Michelle murmured as she hurriedly looked about for the Jolly Old Elf.

After Mick Santos had volunteered his services, she had instantly been struck by an eerie feeling… and over the past week, she had the feeling of being watched. She had chalked it up to it being an overly emotional time of the year. Rick, Abby, and her Aunt Meta had made plans to visit her Dad in Europe for a few weeks, leaving her alone in the house…which really creeped her out.

She spotted the tip of his red hat on the opposite side of the massive sleigh. The ‘elves’ were lined up in all of their finery, very anxious for their part in the festivities to begin. As she approached him she was distracted for a moment by a portion of the sleigh that had become loose. As she quickly secured it, two strong hands grabbed her by the waist.

“Guess what Santa wants for Christmas.” His hands were moving in a direction that was totally inappropriate and his breath reeked of alcohol.

“What do you think you’re doing….you…you’re DRUNK!” she hissed angrily. Michelle was mindful of the children lining the float. Their eyes were on this man who they idolized as Santa Claus. “Get your filthy hands off of me…Now!” she seethed through clenched teeth.

“Is there a problem?.” Mick instantly let go of her. As she turned around, she met his eyes for the first time. She was immediately struck with their coldness, emptiness.

The man in the cashmere overcoat lifted his right hand in sort of a two finger salute. Out of nowhere, two very imposing men appeared and lifted Mick easily from the sleigh and they disappeared in the crowd of people.

“Wha…what…who?”

“Never mind that… are you alright?”

“Ye…yes…I’m fine, thanks. Oh no…….No Santa.”

“Ummmppphhh….excuse me, but I think we’re holding up the parade.” Danny and Michelle both looked around and saw a gentleman stroking his white beard and then securing his red hat.

“Who…how….what…

The older gentleman waved away her questions.. “We’ll have time to get acquainted later, Michelle. Right now there are thousands of anxious children waiting for their first glimpse of Santa Claus.” His jolly laugh rang out as he patted each elf on the head and got into the sleigh, took the reins in his hands, and signaled for the procession to begin.

**************************

“Oh shut up,” Michelle grumbled as she reached for the alarm clock waking her from her nap. What a day it had been. First the disastrous Mick …then the replacement Santa had appeared and as the sleigh has started its journey down Main Street, Michelle had hastily walked beside it for several blocks. She had no idea who this man was and wanted to make certain that no harm would come to the children. It soon became apparent that all were mesmerized by Santa and she counted her lucky stars that he had appeared when he did. But who was this man??

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