Every family has its black sheep, and the Claus family was no exception. But families also stick together, no matter what color their members are. That is why Travis Claus, a first cousin of the big man himself, had a job in the family business, even though he didn’t like following rules. He was working in the transportation department, which was a fancy way of saying that he was taking care of the reindeer. But, like every other member of the Claus clan, he also had full access to the company’s computer network, including the lists of who was naughty and who was nice.

One hot evening in July, after mucking out the stables, Travis was browsing the long lists of all the boys and girls that his cousin would be visiting during that magical night in December. He was paying special attention to the naughty boys and the naughty things they had done. Every now and then, he copied one of the entries into a text file. Eventually he was satisfied with his own list, printed it and left the office. It was time for a night of partying!

Back in the stables, Travis hitched two of the reindeer to his own personal sleigh, the one with the chrome spoilers and the flames painted on the sides. Donner and Blitzen were a little surprised about this unexpected trip, but they knew and trusted their caretaker and thus didn’t make any fuss. The travelling magic wasn’t limited to the boss’ big sleigh, and so Travis arrived at his first stop in virtually no time at all. The magic also ensured that nobody would be able to see him when he landed on the roof, even on a bright summer night.

Checking his list again, Travis silently thanked ESPN, the Elf Surveillance and Probing Network, for their extensive research. They really knew everything about these naughty boys. The first guy on the list was a notorious bully who took the lunch money from the smaller kids in school. That money was now hidden in the boy’s sock drawer, in a pair of knitted stockings that he had gotten as a Christmas present from his grandma several years ago. Travis didn’t bother with the chimney and instead went in through the open window. The boy was sleeping, snoring softly, covered with a thin blanket. Travis was tempted to pull the blanket off, but he didn’t have time to play right now. So he just went to the dresser, found the bundle of small bills exactly where the report had said they would be, and replaced them with a big lump of coal. Family traditions are hard to resist.

The next boy on the list probably had a stash of money too, but that wasn’t what Travis was after. The kid was selling pot, the good stuff, and he always had a good supply of weed and rolled joints hidden under a loose floor board in his closet. With a click of his tongue and a flick of the reigns, Travis got to the roof of his second target and quickly made his way inside. This naughty boy was asleep as well, sprawled out on top of the blanket. Travis stood at the foot of the bed for a moment, just enjoying the view. Then he helped himself to a handful of joints and a big bag of weed and went on his way again.

Travis’ next stop was at a farm somewhere in hillbilly country, where yet another naughty boy was helping his father to make moonshine in the barn. The barn doors were locked, but a Claus rarely used the door anyway. Travis entered through the hayloft window and went straight for the large stash of homemade whiskey. He put several big jugs in a bag that he had borrowed from his cousin, along with a couple of big buckets. Now he was finally ready to fly to his final destination of the night.

When he landed on the roof of the building and parked his sleight right next to the big ‘Boys, Boys, Boys’ neon sign, Travis could already hear the music coming from inside. Donner and Blitzen would get impatient if he left them alone for too long, but Travis knew exactly how to keep those two naughty reindeer happy. He fed them both a handful of the weed, then filled the two buckets with moonshine. Reindeer just loved whiskey. In fact, old Rudolph’s nose was so red because he was constantly drunk.

Now that the animals had been taken care of, Travis had one final look at the last entry on his list. This naughty boy really liked to show off, and he had lied about his age in order to get a job at the all-male strip club. Travis lit up a joint and took out the roll of cash. He had enough to buy quite a few lap dances, and plenty of small bills to stuff into skimpy underwear. Tonight was really going to be like Christmas in July!

Published January 2, 2016

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