Christmas GI Joes
By Larry Hodges
“Enough denial,” said the president of the United States in his most commanding southern drawl. “You’re the only one with the needed worldwide delivery system. We need you to load up your little sleigh and save the world.” Santa wondered how he’d gotten his personal cell phone number—probably the CIA.
Throughout the millennia Santa Claus had never had to make such a decision. And now the weight of the world, its very survival, rested on his red shoulders. He was used to shouldering huge bags of goodies, just not the ones they wanted him to deliver Christmas morning. But the world was relying on him, so what was he to do? There were no superheroes to come to the rescue, just him—a tired, chubby old man.
“I’ll do it,” said Santa. That was two months ago. Since then the occupation had only gotten worse. And now he was loading the sleigh for the annual trip. The launching room was kept warm, but he felt cold inside. The air smelled of hay and candy cane.
“It’s a mistake,” said Bernie in his deep voice, waving his arms in frustration. The short, green-clad, pointy-eared head elf wore a Greenpeace shirt and a peace necklace. He and Santa had originally laughed at the nonsensical idea. It was only when governments all over the world pleaded for help that they realized they were serious. Before the call from Washington he’d also received calls from Moscow, London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo, Ottawa, New Delhi, and many others. When the Russian president threatened to nuke the North Pole if he didn’t deliver, Santa had slammed the phone down in rage, forgetting it was a cell phone. As if bombing a toy factory would solve anything.
“I know it’s a mistake!” cried Santa, his face flushing red. Prancer snorted as he and several of the reindeer stared at him. “But adults and children everywhere are pleading for these to fight those bug-eyed invaders from Tau Ceti. They’d rather have these than a Hasbro Pie Face game, or Legos, or GI Joe action figures. I’m not sure I can blame them.”
“What good are these against alien pulsars? We’re supposed to spread joy, not suffering and death.”
“There is no joy without survival,” Santa said, continuing to load the sleigh.
“There is no survival without joy,” said Bernie.
Santa’s shoulders sagged. If humanity woke up Christmas morning armed with GI Joe action figures, instead of the guns they so badly needed so they could become GI Joes, he’d be the most cursed name in the world. He’d resisted, but when every major news media joined with the governments and the masses in begging him to come to their aid, what could he do?
The bidding process had been intense, but Kalashnikov of Russia and Glock of Austria had won out over USA’s Smith & Wesson and Colt, and Italy’s Beretta. And so the sleigh was loaded down with seven billion guns—AK-47s made by Kalashnikov for most adults, and Glock 17s for smaller women and kiddies under 15.
“Are we set to go?” asked Santa. At one point they had considered doing the deliveries earlier than usual, but by the time the guns were delivered to the North Pole and packaged for worldwide delivery it was already Christmas Eve. The reindeer were already harnessed and stomping their feet, anxious to get started.
Bernie sighed. “I think so. But I had to feed the reindeer more than I expected because the sleigh weighs so much. The 5.5 billion loaded AK-47s weigh about 8.5 pounds each, so 47 billion pounds. The two billion loaded Glocks weigh about two pounds each, so another four billion. That’s 51 billion pounds. Add in the extra ammunition and accessories—holsters, range kits, lanyards, flash suppressors, camouflage kits, etc.—that should bring it to 70 billion pounds. But the sleigh weighs over 100 billion pounds. What’s all the extra weight?” Santa stared at the loaded sleigh for a moment, knowing it would be far heavier when they returned, not to the North Pole toyshop, but to the morgue they’d built nearby as part of the project. A tear rolled slowly down his face as he finally whispered, “Body bags.”