A VERY IMPORTANT LETTER
Dear Santa, wrote Jo-jo, I know I've not been the kindest man on the planet and I did deliberately reverse over my own cat not once but twice the other day, but I do need a very special Christmas present...
A rumbling noise came from the witch's cauldron next door as he paused in his letter, a grotesque noise accompanied by a medium-loud cackling and the sound of something sizzling.
He, scowled, tut-tutted and wrote, and that witch next door, she does everything in her power to upset me, what with dropping a pitchfork through my foot and then encouraging me to self-amputate the leg with a rusty saw...
“That was your own stupid fault,” rasped a voice from the other side of the garden fence. “I've never seen anything quite so idiotic in all my life! Right, I suppose my own remedy, a nice boiling pot of Earl Grey Tea poured over the festering wound might have stung a bit, but to saw the leg off like you did? Crass stupidity!”
“You mind your own business, witch!” howled Jo-jo, and Hilda Badwoman (for it was she next door) cackled aloud.
Jo-jo picked up his pen again. What I need is a brand new leg, he wrote, and to help you, my leg measurement is 29 inches. That's for trousers, but I guess you can work out the flesh and bone measurements from that. Please send me a new leg ASAP as the remains of the existing one are going green and beginning to smell like pork does if you leave it in a cupboard and forget to cook it, which is something I did once, and it nearly made me sick...
“What he needs,” mimicked Hilda next door, “what he needs is a brand new brain! And, I suspect, a cure for gangrene and just about every other infection he's picked up in that cesspit of a house he calls home!”
Her face appeared in his doorway. She had leapt over the dividing fence (without recourse to her broomstick) and was leaning on his open doorway, staring at him.
“I can still cure you,” she giggled. “I can still wrap your stump in a salve that will make it go nice and pink and healthy, and with a bit of luck and the judicious application of a few stem cells I can make your leg grow again.”
“I'm having no more of your nasty cures!” he rasped, remembering vividly the pain from the Earl Grey.
“If you'd just let it sting for a bit longer you'd be back to normal by now,” she observed, “and it was your fault, dropping that pitchfork so that it penetrated your entire foot with both of its prongs. Plain careless, that's what I call it.”
“It was you and your pesky magic, making a dangerous implement like a ptchfork materialise in my hands when I was least expecting it!” he complained.
“You still dropped it,” she reminded him. “Now, do you want me to mend that leg of yours or are you going to let the gangrene that's already stinking like old poo surge through your body and still your beating heart?”
“Sod off,” he said unkindly, and she sodded off.
I've been told I might die if it isn't replaced soon, he wrote, so dearest Santa, please send me a new leg and do it as quickly as you can. Then I'll be forever grateful and believe in you and tell all the brats in the neighbourhood that you're real, which they don't believe because they think you're some kind of paedophile who goes around doing rotten things when nobody's looking.
“That's not true. They don't think that at all,” squawked the voice from over the fence.
“Are you reading what I'm writing, witch?” he shrieked.
“No. I just know the way your lousy little mind works,” she replied, with a catch in her voice.
“You've got to be casting some dreadful spell to know what I'm writing when you can't see,” he complained. “And that's not fair, using magic against an ordinary bloke like me.”
“You shouldn't be so predictable,” she told him. “Anyway, do you want me to post the letter for you? I mean, you can't walk with only the one leg, and I'm going to the post office to fetch my pension any day now!”
“All right,” he found himself agreeing. “It's a nuisance, only having the one leg. I should have thought of the problems I'd encounter before I hacked quite so much of the other one off.”
“You didn't think at all,” she said, disdainfully. “You were off with the fairies, going about things like some junkie with the shakes!”
“You were pouring tea over my foot,” he reminded her. “And Earl Grey at that,” he added.
“Earl Grey Tea is infused with oil of bergamot and that would have done wonders to your pus-filled flesh,” she told him. “You'd be surprised at the curative properties of a nice teapot full of Earl Grey Tea. But no – you had to get your hand on that rusty old saw of yours...”
“Post it, then,” he spat at her, and launched his letter towards her as if it was a paper dart. Much to his dismay she made no effort to catch it in her gnarled old hands but blew at it with a great exhalation of near toxic breath, and as it passed the whiskery end of her nose that letter soared high into the air and vanished in a puff of smoke.
“He'll have it by now,” she smirked.
“Ho ho ho!” came a voice from the street, a loud, rather scary voice.
“Santa!” gasped Jo-jo when he saw the red suit and white beard of an extremely, some might say unhealthily so, fat man. “That was quick! It's what I call good service! Have you brought me a new leg?”
“Ho ho ho!” repeated the jolly fat man. “Ho ho ho!”
“My leg,” squawked Jo-jo. “Where is it? Is it in your sack, with all the other toys? I need it pretty pronto or I'll never walk again...”
“Ho ho ho, you'll have to come with me,” boomed the fat man, “You'll have to come to my hospital at the North Pole! There are nurses in tiny uniforms and doctors with stethoscopes galore! Then I'll attend to your request. You'll see if I don't.”
“See,” smirked Hilda, with a squawk and a leaking nostril, “I told you you'd be all right.”
“And, ho, ho, ho,” beamed the fat man, twirling his moustache,”you can bring your own nurse with you,” he said, grinning at Hilda who was already packing a suitcase and preparing to go. “We'll get that leg seen to in a jiffy, you can be sure of that. Christmas has come early for you, eh?”
© Peter Rogerson 28.11.13