[Truths you intensely sense later]
His name used to be Alan Bowden, but right now he’s only pretending to be Alan Bowden. He’s actually Andy the Elf underneath. Right now he’s studying Alan’s mail, trying to get a grasp of his mundane existence, to help fit in. No PAST DUE notices at the moment. Alan’s a pretty responsible human — or, rather, he earns enough money and keeps his spending low enough to be labeled “responsible.” “Reprehensible” may just as well apply, but Andy’s not quite sure about that yet. In any case, Andy the Elf is indeed reprehensible, to a fault. He’s wondering what happens if Alan gets a phone call, a visitor, etc. How should he play along? Should he even put on the pretense, or just get right to the twisted thrills?
Andy doesn’t wish to lose at this game, so he decides — without much further ado — that he’d better continue his research. He looks at Alan’s books for a window into his mind, his life, his way of thinking. There are mostly serious academic books, books on finance, a few on medicine, some highbrow classic novels, and no readily available smut. ‘This guy is either normal or he’s trying too hard to look it,’ Andy thinks. ‘When I used to be human, I didn’t read like this. I knew how to read, but seldom did.’
One thing Andy’s happy about? He no longer has to stand on a box, possibly ever. If he can just keep hold of this body — this vessel — he can feel tall as a mighty oak, at least compared to his former height. Then again, he hates thoughts like that. He hates the idea that his height matters at all. He wants to believe that height does not matter, that what matters is what one does with it. In a way that’s true, but just not entirely so. When Andy was a pre-elf human, he knew that he was tough, even though he was short even then. He would not let taller people intimidate him. It’s not that Andy was muscular. It was his stubbornness. He would not be dominated like some pack animal. No alpha male bullshit here!
Thinking like this, Andy ponders his growing murderous impulses. Can he control them? Is that really why he set out and about? Couldn’t they just be a limit to his freedom? It seems there was more to his getting out than that. Sure, he might follow those impulses, but it seems another purpose may guide him as well. World domination? Fame? High finance? Those all seem potentially more valuable than simple murder. Also, the fact that he thinks this means he’s gained control, composure.
What if he is to kill? Isn’t it just a cheap thrill? Don’t murderers often get caught? What’s to prevent him from getting caught? Self-doubt versus a very real possibility of self-annihilation — because that’s what it is when you do get caught. With that, Andy ponders moving to another country with shorter prison sentences. All kinds of thoughts race through his little brain — his brain which isn’t as feeble as everyone (including himself) had previously though. It’s almost as though independent thought was the true reason Andy escaped. If he thinks, maybe he can become his own person again! Maybe he can do better this time, with this body.
As Andy looks down, he realizes he’s been cutting his fingers a bit with a steak knife. He likes the self-inflicted pain. What of it? He used to have pain and murder on his mind, and that has not changed entirely. The feel of the knife, the delightful sting of pain on his fingers. Ooh! Also, he likes the idea of a trail of dead, and how flies might compile on their eyes, doing whatever disgusting things flies do. Yes, that’s their business, thanks in part to his business. What a bold business partnership! Will business be booming?
It’s almost too deviant to be considered thought at this point. It has a lot more to do with physical, bodily pleasure. The morbid signal that called him out is communicating again, seemingly not as an alien force. It seems like it’s his own mind doing the talking, the thinking, the cutting, and the potential killing and evading.
Also to his advantage now: Andy thinks differently, and looks and smells differently. Suave and cunning is his new nature; No Santa in the world could know it’s him now! Jerry Falwell himself could show up and not know who this handsome devil is. Confidence is the number of the beast, and the number is #1.
[Your truths that you’re sensing right now]
Have? What do you have? No sensible leads and a hideous blood-streaming nose. The porno book was a bad idea! Bad! You can’t even look inconspicuous out here. You’re forbidden from changing uniforms. You also know it’s unwise to leave New York City. You are now looking for littered newspapers to stem the blood flow from your sinful nose. You find a piece of cardboard in a trash bin. You apply it.
A tourist takes pictures, probably to gleefully post on social media; “Look at the gross, homeless Santa Claus suit guy!” You can’t judge too much — you would have been that person often enough, pointing at some weirdo like yourself and laughing. Most of those aforementioned well-meaning folks never face adversity or highly unusual situations, so they don’t know how to properly react. If they knew the kind of power Santa-kind possesses, they’d be running like hell.
Still, it serves you right to be ridiculed. That was a stupid plan earlier, and it went nowhere. Unfortunately, there are so many nowheres out here, and so few somewheres. Where could Andy have gone? You can’t sense him at all. He is cloaked, and very well. He doesn’t want to be caught, and won’t be if he can help it. He may be an elf, but that doesn’t mean he’s stupid. It’s not like he will be sending e-mail taunting you — e-mail which would be traceable. You wonder, ‘Why can’t God make this easier, for God’s sake?’ As if heeding your call, your blood nose stops and even your little headache. ‘The system works!’ you think, semi-sarcastically. ‘Now, what of humanity?’
As you wander out of the park, you see more of humanity. It’s not all bad, to be sure. Still, it’s not entirely different from bad. You knew that even before you had these Santa senses. You have made your way to a city street, and you smile at the steam rising from a manhole. Movies and TV shows tend to depict it as something sinister, but you know it’s just water vapor. Harmless, right? Maybe, but you’re still not walking close to it.
Meanwhile, in the back of your mind, you’re computing the meaning of that message: “…The briars underneath my window to cave in…” You’ve already considered giving up on that, but it’s your only lead at this point. You look at the sky, like looking into a priority well. It seems so endless, like the parent of meaning. Are you compatible with this world?
You think about Andy himself. You know he’s not even the most vicious elf, but apparently one of the most susceptible to hate-waves. You imagine him like an alien presence out here, like the Predator, and you laugh at the idea of being Arnold Schwarzeneggar. Will you track this beast down before it kills for sport? On that note, you try to assess how Andy would proceed. Would he be out here destroying the first person, place or thing that he sees? No, he isn’t a rampaging Godzilla. He will try to play it cool, familiarize himself with the outside world again. He might even relax, to the extent possible. Being an elf takes its toll, to be sure. R&R would make a lot of sense, even for a psychopath. By no means is elfhood an ordinary, casual existence. It’s a burden.
The Predator sees in pseudo-color in the movie. It sees in heat signatures. You wonder if Andy sees in hate signatures and if that’s what you can pick up on psychically. Surely, in his highly unique situation, Andy would give off highly unique hate signatures. “Hmm,” you say aloud. “What’s all this nonsense about?”
You suddenly see two kids — no older than 10 — calling each other names like “asshole” and “motherfucker.” You think, ‘Next time I write about little Ashlyn and Jake, I’ll write that they are assholes and motherfuckers. That will surely solve the problem.’
Suddenly, you transform dynamically into the best, jolliest Santa Claus you can be, and tell the kids not to use such harsh language, and that they’re being added to your naughty list this year. “Fuck off!” says little Jake, while Ashlyn laughs, showing some missing teeth. You feel like asking Ashlyn, ‘Would you like all of your teeth to go missing for good, little girl?’ but you realize that it’s too Andy-like. You are specifically out here to halt such behavior. Plus, your nose would bleed for a very, very long time after that, assuming you wouldn’t be culled from the Santa populace. Still, you think about where the body might be dumped, and you know Andy isn’t feeding you his hate signature. This is pure you.
“I hope you don’t mean that, little boy!” you tell Jake. He laughs, says “You smell like goat shit!” and runs off to his future abandonment — unswayed by naughty lists or mere thoughts of anybody’s future, including his own. He is nothing. He will become nothing. Goat shit.