HO HO HO Merry Murder!

There's nothing quite like a department store before Christmas. A crisp feeling of excitement flows through the air as hundreds of busy shoppers hustle from display to display in search of the perfect gift. The melody of "Jingle Bells" and "I'll be Home for Christmas" play over the loud speaker and harmonize with the sounds of holiday conversation and unhappy children to create the sounds of the season. All are abuzz with holiday cheer and excitement.

At the center of it all is the one and only man of the hour... big ole Mr. Cringle himself: Santa Clause. Seated smack dab in the middle of the store he sits greeting children one by one and asking the age old question "what would you like for Christmas?" The line typically wraps around Santa's village and into the perfume department some 30 people deep, but they wait. All of this just to catch a glimpse of the man in red... and maybe snap a picture or two.

All are abuzz with holiday cheer and excitement... all that is except me. My name is John Gallagher, detective John Gallagher with the NYPD, and I was cheerful and excited. Honest I was; I left the department on Friday for a week’s vacation with the wife and kids looking forward to these last few days before Christmas. Since Christmas falls on a Thursday this year I thought I would take the whole week off leading up to and the day after. Spend some time with the kids; help the wife with pre-holiday chores around the house. I was looking forward to it! Now however, one day into my vacation, I'm called in to work a case.

I drove up to O'Grady's department store, the main entrance, and parked behind the other 4 or 5 police cruisers already on the scene. The place was a mad house, panicked shoppers lined the sidewalk yammering to get in and finish their holiday shopping. I waved my badge at the uniform watching the door and went in. The store was eerily quiet. No kids playing in the toy department, no women trying new looks at the makeup counter and no line to see Santa Clause. I started up the isle towards the group of officers and officals hovering around Santa's village.

Santa's home in Ogrady's department store is called Santa's village and takes up a large amount of floor space in the center of the store. Large white and blue pillars formed a circle of arches around Santa's throne. Usually you could peer through from any angle and see the jolly red elf, but now all the archways had been covered with plastic. Something was amiss and I was starting to wish the family and I had chosen to do Christmas in Florida.

As I approached the scene George Halifax, our short and pudgy crime scene investigator, met me half way.

"Hey John... aren't you supposed to be on vacation?" he said peering through his thick prescription specs.

"Yes I am and I expect to be BACK on vacation very shortly! What's goin on here?"

"It's quite something really; I imagine we are going to be getting some press coverage on this one."

I put on some latex gloves and followed George as he pulled back the plastic and entered the scene. I've been a New York City homicide detective for 12 years and in that time I have seen a lot of things. I would rather not go into detail here, but let's just agree that I've seen a lot. A whopping 12 years on the force and it still wasn't enough to prepare me for the scene in Santa's village.

I followed George to a body covered with a plastic sheet just in front of Santa’s throne. We both knelt down and George pulled back the sheet. It was at that moment that I knew my Christmas vacation was over. I had been pulled in to investigate the murder of Santa Clause.

The End

6 comments about this story Feed