Book Trailer The Noble Train

Monday, November 24, 2014

Real Santa Chapter 26 (30 Days Until XMAS)

MRS. WORTHINGTON’S MOUTH turned down like the sun

going into total eclipse when she saw George, and she would have

banished him, but Megan held firmly to his hand.

“My dad has come to help with the party,” she declared.

“I think we have enough helpers today, Megan,” Mrs. Worthington

said like a ventriloquist, sending hate while commanding her mouth

to speak. The effect was like two people speaking out of both sides of
their mouth. One side said your father is an asshole while the other

side said I think we have enough helpers today. That was when Megan

teared up, and that was when George knew he had Mrs. Worthington.
“Alright, your father can read ’Twas the Night Before Christmas,

Megan, but I hope he reads it properly.

Daggers. Icepicks. Fileting weapons. That’s what her eyes said as

she moved off to command the other two mothers.

“I’m so happy you are going to help, Daddy,” Megan whispered,

then she ran off with her classmates to make reindeer.

George made himself useful helping the kids cut out their hands

on brown paper for antlers. He found it interesting the way girls

zipped through cutting out their hands and pasting on the antlers

while the boys sat around unable to cut out their hands and some

of them ate their glue sticks. His phone began ringing in the middle

of the reindeer project and carried over to musical chairs. They had

three days, and like all projects, the problems were coming to the
surface. McGruff was not used to anything more complicated than

having the kids touch his reindeer.

“One of the reindeer has started shitting blood. My question is,

do yer need all nine reindeer?”

This was said while George helped a boy who couldn’t trace his


“We need all nine. Can you get a replacement?”

“Aye, I can try. But three days before Christmas, it’s going to be

tough. We might just have to bring him along and hope he doesn’t

shit all over the place or croak.”

“Do what you can,” George murmured, feeling the flamethrowing

eyes of Worthington as she marched across the classroom.
“We don’t allow cell phones in the classroom, Mr. Kronenfeldt!”

George put it back in his pocket, but he couldn’t turn it off. His

father was having trouble with the union carpenters, who said they

built the two ramps to spec but his father said they had screwed it

up. And since Dean hired them, there was an issue of who had the

authority to fire them.

“It’s useable though … right, Dad?”

“That’s not the point, son! They did not follow the specs, and I

can’t vouch for the job.”

George hunched over, trying to hide his phone, whispering, “This

isn’t the railroad, Dad. We don’t have time to rebuild the ramps. If

they work, then we have to go with them.”

“I can’t vouch for the work.”

Mrs. Worthington glared across the room.

“Dad, I don’t care if you vouch for it or not. Are the ramps usable?”
His father grumbled the words assholes, morons, unions, then

grumbled he would call back. Mrs. Worthington swept across the

classroom again.

“What did I tell you about using your cell phone in class?”

“I’m sorry,” George muttered. “Business call.”

Mrs. Worthington raised her eyebrows.

“What is so important that you could not answer it later?”

“It was a Santa call,” he muttered.
“Either give me the phone or leave.”

George stared at her outstretched hand, the imperious shelf of
bust, the brooch, the hard grey eyes, the silver bowl of hair. What a

bitch almost came out of his mouth.

“I won’t use it again. Sorry.”

Mrs. Worthington stepped closer, her outstretched hand in his

I want your phone … now!”

The Black Sabbath ringtone started again. I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE AND I BRING YOU … FIRE!
It was Dean. George had to pick up the call.

“Hey, mate, Dean here. Listen, everything is going according

to plan. Had to hire a few more blokes to help with the snow machines

and smoke machines, and we’re going to need some trucks

to transport so yer better get in a little more in the kitty there so we

can finish the job.”

Mrs. Worthington breathed like a bull, eyes burning, nostrils

flaring, veins pulsing at her temples.

George nodded slowly. “Okay, fine. Let me call you back with a

credit card number,” he murmured.

“STUPENDOUS, MATE. This is going to be a stupendous shoot!”

George pushed the call off and looked at the seething, blood-filled

face of Mrs. Worthington.

“Sorry. Business call,” he mumbled.
“Give me that phone … NOW!”
All the kids were watching. Somebody was going against Mrs.

Worthington. George stared at this teacher, this master bull of every

matriarch the Midwest had ever produced. He shook his head. “No,

I’m not going to give you my phone.”

That’s when Barbara Worthington made her move. Tired of the

years and years of taking shit from men and boys, she lunged for

George’s BlackBerry. He held firm, and they started to dance. Mrs.

Worthington had half of his phone in her hand, and they looked like a

couple tangoing across the room. The class watched in rapt awe as the

phone went back toward George and then toward Mrs. Worthington.

“Give me your phone,” Mrs. Worthington demanded.

“Let go of my phone!” George shouted, feeling the outrage of the

boy who always felt wronged by detentions after school, trips to the

principal, and always for the same thing: asking inappropriate ques
tions. And yes, one of them had been, How could Santa survive in

the North Pole in Arctic conditions? Here was the woman who would

have sent him down to the principal for that one. Worthington was

gritting her teeth, pumping coffee breath into George’s face as her

color deepened to a raging purple. Like the old bull she was, Mrs.

Worthington yanked the phone free with all her might, but broken

free from his grasp, the old teacher of seventy-years-plus, due to retire

in the spring, fell back with the force of her effort, tumbling over

Charlie Blunkenfeldt’s desk in a back flip of support hose and a Playtex

girdle that hadn’t seen the light of day since 1965, and, like a mighty

tree falling in a forest, flipped backward with her floral print dress

rolling up over her shoulders and crashing among chairs, crayons,

rulers, calculators, and all the odds and ends Charlie Blunkenfeldt

had stashed in his desk.

Mrs. Worthington rolled on the floor with George’s BlackBerry

still clutched in her hand like a baton ready for the final dash to

victory. A mighty tree had fallen and the fourth grade class stared in

shocked silence as their teacher lay on the floor with her dress up,

girdle up, support hose over girdle, and George’s phone by her head,

like someone bent on making a final desperate call.

Then the Black Sabbath ringtone screamed out for all the fourth

grade to hear.

"If somebody doesn't make a movie out of this book, there's something wrong with the world. This could have been played as an out-and-out slapstick comedy, but instead the author approaches the story like a character study: a portrait of a man with the best intentions in the world watching those intentions collide with reality. It's a steamroller of a story, starting small, with George's idea, and getting bigger and bigger as George tries to put the elements together, as his obsession takes him further and further away from reality. Beautifully done."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                 David Pitts Booklist

"The author marries the everyday dramas found in the novels of Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby to the high camp of Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry. Adults looking for a funny holiday-themed tale that doesn't lose its sense of wonder in the face of realism will find a treat here. A lovingly crafted comedy about the madness that fatherhood inspires."
                                                                                              Kirkus Reviews

Best-selling author Hazelgrove (e.g., Ripples; Tobacco Sticks) captures the human need to believe in something good.  This book will satisfy readers looking for a happy Christmas story.-- Library Journal

"Hazelgrove's lively improbable narrative will appeal to the readers in the mood for holiday fiction."
                                                                                              Publishers Weekly

Books by William Hazelgrove