Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Are You a Thief?"

"Santa Up Against It."
By R. N. Wall (?-?).
First appearance: Top-Notch Magazine, December 15, 1922.
Short short story (8 pages).
Online at Pulpgen (HERE).

Does being down on your luck justify stealing? A department store Santa faces a supreme test of character that could cost him a lot more than Christmas dinner . . .

~ John Sloan:
  "Through the merry crowds the man trudged endlessly up and down Broad Street, clad in a red suit with white fur trimming, his thin, tired face half hidden by false white whiskers and its paleness made ruddy with paint. As he walked along he rang a little bell and on his back he carried a bag full of toys."

~ Myrtle, Sloan's daughter:
  "Her bright little face was flushed from bending over the kitchen stove, and the big gingham apron which she wore down to her shoe tops gave her a quaint, old-fashioned look. She was thin, and her big eyes looked hungry, but they were very loving, and she hugged her father hard as she led him through the dank hall to the kitchen where the one fire did double duty for warmth and cookery."
~ Mr. Harmon:
  ". . . because Harmon was at heart a kindly man and because Sloan could play Santa well enough with one hand and was willing, by reason of his incapacity, to work for a dollar and
a quarter a day, Harmon gave him a job."
~ Mr. Cranch:
  "In sharp pursuit came a pompous, purple-faced, pop-eyed gentleman in a frock coat and
silk hat, who continued to bellow 'Stop thief!' at the top of his voice."
~ The traffic policeman:
  "What about it? Did ye swipe the gemmun’s leather?"
~ Detective Duffy:
  "Don’t think for a minute you can put my eye out. I could vag you and get you thirty days on suspish, but I dunno why the city should board you. You just fade out of town. If I see you here after twenty-four hours, you get a nice warm job making small ones out of big ones on the pile."
~ Joe the Dip:
  "I took a quick think when I slammed the bundle in your pouch, an’ I knew it was safe as in
a church. Come across with it an’ we’ll split fifty-fifty."

- This FictionMags thumbnail is all we know about our author: "Lived in Richmond, Virginia"; Wall's listing of just over two dozen stories runs from 1913 to 1924.

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