The elf showed up when I least expected him to. But isn’t that always the way with elves?
I was in the stall with my horse, Lucy, putting the curry comb to her to loosen up all that dead autumn hair and make way for her winter coat to grow in. We’d been on a long ride and I’d already given her a bath; it was beginning to get dark outside. I was alone in the barn, just me and the horse, when I heard his squeaky voice.
Only my students call me that, and I wasn’t at the university, so I thought I was hearing things. But Lucy’s ears were pointed straight forward like radar, and she let out a soft nicker.
“Is somebody looking for me?” I asked. “I’m in here.”
“I know,” a voice said from outside the stall.
Lucy’s stall is solid planking for three feet, with iron bars making up the top half of the stall and the sliding door. I couldn’t see anyone out there until I walked right up to the bars. Then I saw the gold bell on the top of his green hat.
It was E.J. Elf, all right. I’d met him two years earlier when Santa had crash landed the sleigh near the Everglades and Lucy had to pull him out.
The fact is, I’d often questioned whether or not the incident had ever happened or if I’d just fallen off the horse and knocked myself into dreamland, but Lucy still has the special set of beads that Santa had given her that night, so I had no choice but to believe it had been real.
“Well I’ll be!” I said to the elf. “I never thought I’d see you again. What brings you here?”
“I wanted to ask Lucy if she’d pull the sleigh again this year,” the elf said.
“You want Lucy to pull the sleigh again?” I asked. “Why? What happened? Don’t tell me you put the jet engines back in and crashed again.”
“No, no,” the elf said, petting Lucy’s nose. “The sleigh’s fine.”
“And you got rid of the GPS?”
“Yeah. That wasn’t working out either. No, we got rid of all the new gadgets.”
“Then why do you need Lucy?”
My horse was listening intently the whole time. The elf had told me that Lucy could understand me, and I know that horses are psychic. Lucy and I have been together for over three years, and now I can understand what she’s thinking too. I knew the horse was just as confused as I was.
“It’s that ‘Occupy Wall Street’ thing,” the elf said. “It’s spread to the North Pole “Who’s occupying the North Pole?
Have the elves gone on strike?”
“No. It’s the reindeer. They won’t work. They’ve given new meaning to the phrase ‘reindeer games.’ That’s why we need Lucy to pull the sleigh.”
Lucy pinned her ears back and let out a long whinny. It was clear to me that she wasn’t about to cross a reindeer picket line, even if she did want to pull the sleigh. I patted her on the withers to reassure her.
“The reindeer,” I said. “That makes no sense.”
“Yeah, well, you tell them that,” the elf replied. “They’re mad about the banks and corporate greed.”
“Well, I’ve got to say I’m not too happy with the banks myself. Now they want to charge me fees just to use my own debit card. I’m going to have to go back to the old days of cashing checks and carrying around cash. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I’ll pay someone else to let me use my own money. And let’s not even talk about the yo-yo that’s my pension fund! And the fact that CEOs are getting raises and firing the workers!”