Lucifer was dreaming about Bambi’s girlfriend Faline again: her gangly legs, her white wiggly paintbrush tail, and below—what Disney dared not draw—her puckered anus and the sweet wet furrow along which Lucifer eased the tip of his buckhood.
But then the stable door’s sharp creak and the harsh gleam of Gregor’s lantern robbed him of his cartoon lover. He looked up in annoyance to see Santa all suited up; Mrs. Claus in bathrobe and slippers; Prancer and Blitzen poking their heads over the sides of their stalls, blinking in curiosity; Fritz standing alone, looking stunned; yonder, Gregor lifting a saddle out of an old trunk and wiping the dust off it. All of them were bathed in the soft glow of magic time.
What in blazes was going on?
“Lucifer, old friend,” came Santa’s voice, with an edge of desperation that frightened him. “I need your help.”
At once, new vigor came into the lead reindeer’s limbs. He rose from his straw bed and cocked his head.
In the glow of Lucifer’s antlers, Santa’s face shone like a violent blush. “The Tooth Fairy has taken Wendy. We’ve got to find them and get her back, and it must be done quickly.” Fumbling in his pocket, Santa brought out a bunched handful of red silk and lifted it to Lucifer’s nose. “Can you track her from this?”
The reindeer shut his eyes and inhaled.
He had once thought it strange when Wendy carried her kittens into the stable one morning, teasing them with a catnip mouse Mrs. Claus had stitched together from scraps of calico. It had amused him, how they dizzied about their prize, sniffing it and batting it and pouncing upon it. Now he understood. Now, with the aroma of the immortal seductress rising in his flared nostrils, by God he understood.
Great Christ, his antlers flared at once into aflame, straight out to the tips. Down below (Jesus in a manger, how embarrassing) his sex suddenly stiffened, her fairy hand stroking him there. His hoofs beat out a tattoo on the stable floor and seed shot from him in gleeful jets and spurts.
“Gregor, for God’s sake, help me hold him! Anya, stay where you are!”
Strong elfin arms steadied him. His brain felt energized, as if there were networks of bright white Christmas lights everywhere agleam along its folds and runnels. He shook his great antlers and snorted. Then, looking at Santa, he nodded sharply.
Santa smiled. “Good boy! All right, Gregor, saddle him up. Make haste. Watch where you step.” While Gregor placed a blanket across his back and cinched him into the jingling saddle, Lucifer watched Santa exchange a parting word and an embrace with Mrs. Claus by the door.
Then they led him outside into the sleeping snowscape, where he caught her scent, faint but unmistakable, in the air by the cottage.
With Santa riding him, he bounded away, speeding southward, tracking his prey on her zigzag path through the night, down across the frozen reaches of the Yukon, swooping low over sleeping cities sprawled the length of British Columbia and Washington and Oregon, straight on toward the gleaming heart of the Sacramento Valley.
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