It could have been a setup for a joke, “A Pollack, a Mexican, and a Frenchie walk into a bar…” but we didn’t walk into a bar.  What we walked into was far, far worse.

           “2 for $1 Big Macs?  Ho-ho-holy crow!  Let’s see how much today’s little venture raked in!”  Bean, my rather vast and jolly Mexican friend, said as he dug through the rusted-red pot stuffed with cash.

           Gene, the diminutive Frenchie, adjusted his green elf hat and made a gesture knocking lint off the fluffy white trim fuzzing around his sleeves.  I’m not sure what made us think that spray painting a plastic Halloween jack o lantern candy holder a rusty red colour would help us pass it off as a Christmas collection pot. Maybe it was a stroke of genius on our end or just a lack of willpower to remove the Halloween decorations.  Either way, that thing was filled to the brim with green American money and the occasional Canadian Looney.  Damn Canadians. 

           “$37.50,” Bean said.

           A child tugged on Bean’s svelte Santa suit and the child’s mother, or maybe it was just a random stranger, grabbed the boy away before Bean could get out a “Ho”.

           “Santa!”  the child cried.

           Bean turned to wave at the child as the woman pulled the kid towards the door.  “Ho ho ho!”

           “Mommy!  Santa!”  the kid yelled and made his little feet run in place and then in the air while the mother picked him up.

           I wasn’t sure what the mother said, but it sounded like, “That’s not Santa, hunnie, that’s a Mexican.”

           “Ho-ho-ho-ly hell?  Did she just say I couldn’t be Santa because I’m Mexican?”  Bean took the red and white Santa hat off and wiped the sweat coming off his brow.

           “Don’t listen to her,” I said.  “She’s a nut.  A fruitcake.  The kid probably wasn’t even hers.  We’ll call the cops later.  Big reward.  I can see it now.  Saint Nick saves child from evil woman!” 

           “Jolly Saint Nick already did that when he filed for divorce, white boy,” Bean said, and it was true. 

           “I mean, really, Santa has to be a Mexican—who else would work one day a year and take the rest off?”

           Before Bean could make a comment, a voice from our hips cried out, “Lil’ help here, guys.”

           I turned away from Bean to see Gene trying to wrangle in a tray stacked with Big Macs.  Apparently, he ordered enough that when stacked end to end, they would be taller than he is.  That number, as I counted in my head, was 24.

           “32 Big Macs coming your way!  Take this so I can grab the other tray!”

           I meant 32, not 24.  24 would obviously be a ridiculous number to stack Big Macs up to see if they are taller than Gene.  Bean took the tray as I got some ketchup.  I liked working the pumps and often pretended that the ketchup I pumped out was blood and the cups were a menstrual cup.

           “Take this, toxic shock syndrome!” I shouted a bit too loud between the last pump.  A woman put her hands on a little girl’s ears and turned her head away from me.  “Hey, you will thank me later when Dracula starts asking the bartender for a glass of hot water!”  The response didn’t make sense to the woman, but Gene caught it.

           “We’ll make some tea later; I need to get something in me before we bang those whores tonight.”  Gene said, and the woman alternated her hands from the child’s ears to the child’s eyes.

           “Oh, like the kid never saw an elf talk about fucking whores before,” Gene said and timed a wave at the kid between the mom’s windshield wiperesque hand protection. Gene blew a kiss to the kid and the mother put her daughter’s face into her bosom then proceeded to walk to her table with a small cup of ketchup and the kid’s head shoved firmly into her chest, each ear covered by a breast.   

           “And they say we’re the weird ones?” Bean said as he directed us to the table he secured with our food.  The Big Macs were piled to one side of the booth and whatever Gene bought for himself was on the other.  A smell of cheesy funk hung in the air.

           Bean’s Santa beard was covered in special sauce.  His eyes were a bit glazed over from the cholesterol doing its job to clog up his mind.  I could barely lift my hand to the next box containing a Big Mac.  The cheese on the box started to harden at room temperature and whatever temperature Bean’s front teeth were.  Some of it actually got warm enough from the chewing motions he made to start oozing down, but then solidified part way.  Always part way.

           “So, you ordered a bunch of fried cocks?”  Bean said looking at Gene.

           “You wish!  These aren’t fried cocks; these delicious things are the McBratwurst!”  Gene held one up to the light.  It looked like a shriveled Mexican cock.

           “It looks like a shriveled Mexican cock” Bean said, and I had my suspicions verified.  “There’s no way this can beat my Chorizo!”.

           “You never tried this McBrat then!  Come on, Santa Clause!”  Without any prompting from me, Gene leaped up on the table and dangled the McBrat in front of Bean’s face.  The cheese at the end (the hell?  Why would that come with cheese?) dripped off and started to fall to the table until Santa Bean caught it with his tongue.  A splotch landed on his tongue ring; the effect made me recall the time a hummingbird ran into dog shit thrown from the rooftop. 

           “Eat it Santa!  Eat it!  Put it in your mouth!  Take it!” Gene, still in his elf costume, started to shout.  I became aware that we should start cutting back on spiking his sports drink when Gene’s hand grabbed the back of Bean’s head.  The black brillo hair tangled up in the fuzz of Gene’s elf costume. 

           I heard, “Mommy, why is the elf playing Dambles with Santa?”  I could only assume “Dambles” was a code word the mother taught her kid when the kid walked in on her performing a similar act sans the cheese.  I thought I heard more, but terror was blocking all auditory stimulation. 

           I’m not sure when I got up from our table and started to stutter towards a few booths past ours.  I think I was trying to make it to the ball pit.  I thought if I could just cover myself in the orange and yellow balls that this would all be over.  Then I made the mistake of looking over towards Bean and Gene.  Gene had both hands firmly around Bean’s head, and the sausage was nowhere to be seen.  He let go suddenly and Bean came away with part of the fake beard still attached to where the sausage was just moments ago.  His face—covered in grease and cheese—had a vague smile plastered on like he remembered a fond holiday long dormant.  The clicking of his tongue ring against his teeth set me on edge, but it was the way Gene, still dressed as an elf, let out a bestial cry of victory—both little arms waving in the air while yelling for “Santa” to “suck it” that haunts me even today.

           It was at this moment that I buried my head between the woman’s breasts.  Her mole came at my eye and drew tears.  The last thing I could hear was Bean’s “Ho ho ho!  The reindeer will be flying high tonight!”

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