X Pat: Do not release until Xmas
Outside my cell, Willy Winker had placed a sign which read: “Do not open until Xmas.” Clanking my tin cup against the chocolate bars, I yelled out: “Hey you, Winker, you can’t keep me here. Let me out!”
Then it hit me. I didn’t need to dig my way out with a teaspoon like a member of some Great Escape escapade. All I had to do was to snack between meals – don’t try this at home, children – and eat my way through the chocolate bars.
“This is the most delicious fix I’ve ever been in,” I mumbled while gnawing my way to freedom. As I was stepping out of my cell, loud alarm bells went off and burly prison guards rushed to cuff me in chew-proof fudge.
“Just as I expected,” Winker told me in his high-tech control room. Winking conspiratorially, he added: “The bars contained an experimental drug to convince you to join my grand scheme. I am building the world’s largest chocolate Saint Nicholas.”
“That will make a lot of children happy. I am at your service,” I consented robotically. Not being a chocol’artist, I was left to tend to menial tasks on the building site of the massive Santa whose size would rival a colossus built by the great Ramses II himself.
But the face was not that of the goodly saint – it was Willy Winker’s glib mug, complete with fiendishly blinking eyes. “I cannot be part of this megalomaniac’s sordid designs,” I determined through my tryptophanic trip.
I managed to give my minders the slip while we were out procuring essential building blocks: cocoa and sugar. I resolved to inform the authorities of Winker’s scheme. On the streets, I soon realised that, in the weeks I had been locked away, anarchy had broken loose. The mobs were pillaging and looting shops.
“What has happened,” I wondered as I wandered through the ransacked wastes of a famous clothes shop. “It’s really the rag trade now,” I reflected out loud as I picked up a crumpled and frayed blouse.
“Pardon, monsieur,” a young lady in the tribal markings and piercings of urban warfare said. “Voudrais-vous cette blouse?” No, I replied, handing it to her. This is an exceedingly polite member of the mob, I thought.
Suddenly, I noticed that it was not just her, but all the looters were behaving oddly. Each one of them was queuing up patiently and paying for his or her spoils.
“Ahh, they’re Christmas shopping,” it dawned on me. Realising there wasn’t much time left to buy gifts to put under the tree, I joined the fray.
Later, I was intercepted by a tribal elder, albeit of a different clan to the urban warrior I’d met in the clothes shop. “You must discard this superficial material life,” he urged me, knocking the heavy shopping out of my hands as if to emphasise the point.
“Jesus is calling you,” Elder James continued passionately.
“You are an elder? But you look so young,” I noted, examining his unwrinkled boyish face.
“Son, this is the beauty of an unburdened Mormon soul. Let Jesus carry your woes. Find Him.”
“I know just where he is,” I exclaimed, seeing the light of my getaway. “But I must hurry.”
“Bless your dedication.”
True to my word, 10 minutes later, I found Jesus…
And Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, a few shepherds and some live sheep in the nativity scene on the Grand Place/Grote Markt. I then wondered through a fairytale realm of enchanted carousels, floating luminous cows, ethereal music, ice skaters and the aroma of mulled wine and wintry food.
My arms aching, I hung my shopping bags over my shoulder. On seeing my burden, Winker’s comic-issue ‘prison’ overalls I was wearing and my unshaven face, a little boy’s eager eyes lit up. “Are you Santa Claus?” he asked happily.
“No, Saint Nicholas died hundreds of years ago,” I replied as a simple matter of fact.
“Mummy, he’s dead,” I heard the boy say through his sobs.
“Don’t believe that nasty tramp,” she consoled her son as she swung me around with a surprising show of strength.
“You must be one terrible parent,” she condemned, knocking me cold with her rucksack before I could protest my childlessness.
Next time, X Pat witnesses a labour of love in a maternity ward and gets a crash course in parenting.
By Khaled Diab
This article appeared in the November 2006 issue of (A)WAY magazine.
Episode I – X Pat: Quantum leaps, beer and knitting
Episode II – X Pat and the chocolate factory
ã2006 K. Diab. Unless otherwise stated, all the content on this website is the copyright of Khaled Diab.