The Santa Clause — A Christmas Tale.
Henry came in with the post, it was late–it was always late–and he always grumbled. “No wonder Royal bloody Mail are going tits up–they have the gall to charge forty odd pence for a bloody letter and then they can’t deliver it on bloody time.”
He threw the assorted envelopes on the desk as he always did and strode out still swearing as he went. It was my job as the office junior to open the post and sort it into different piles.
Henry was the office manager, Derek was my immediate superior and then there was Myra, she was the accounts clerk. I’m Alan, the general dogsbody. I was eighteen two weeks ago, so they have to pay me the national minimum wage. Henry joked about firing me and finding another work experience kid. I was so gullible that I believed him and burst into tears, showing myself up in front of the men and Myra.
She blasted him and hugged me until I stopped crying. She understood it’s my first real job and I want to make it work. I want to be a technical draughtsman, drawing blueprints and plans for patents and engineering firms. I love my work here, but I wear my heart on my sleeve, I always have. My mum says I’m too sensitive, easily upset and I tend to run away from trouble.
My Dad thinks I’m just a wimp, but I’m not–I just don’t see the point in getting hurt to make a point. I keep fit by running, so I’m not exactly wimpish–I do ten or fifteen miles a week and I’m a lot fitter than Dad is. He used to play rugby but now all he does is wrestle–usually with the pull ring on a beer can while he’s watching it on Sky sports. He must weigh easily fifteen stone whereas I’m not quite eight–okay I’m sparingly built, I’m five feet seven and a half and I’m going to do the London Marathon one day–that’ll make him eat his words. Wimp huh–I’ll show him.
I sorted the post and delivered it to the various desks, then I made the coffee and did the same with that. Myra, is the only one who ever has the decency to say thank you, so I take her a biscuit as well–the others have to collect their own if they want one. She always smiles when she sees me and that makes me feel good, even if she is my mother’s age.
I was chatting with her one morning and she let drop her daughter went running–she was training for some fun run or other. “I go running,” I said.
“What for a club?”
“No, just on my own–unless it’s peeing down–of course.”
“My Natalie is training for the local Christmas fun run. Have you ever tried that?”
“No, never thought about it–can’t be bothered with finding sponsors and collecting the money–people always let you down.”
“Yeah, Nat complains about that too.”
“Sometimes I think I’d like to have a go, but–I don’t know anyone who does it, so...”
Myra pulled out her mobile and showed me a picture of her daughter in her running kit–she was a real cracker. “Why don’t I ring her and see if you could go running with her lot–there’s four girls–I bet they’d be glad to have a man running with them.”
I felt my chest swelling–a man she said–usually they call me boy, because I’m young looking–no face fuzz and my voice is hardly Bryn Terfel. Thinking of Natalie running in that skimpy outfit meant my chest wasn’t the only thing that was swelling.
I left her to her call, mainly because I needed to point my trousers somewhere else before she saw them. I eased under my own desk nearly snagging myself on the keyboard drawer. It’s not that big–well, none of me is, but it works as far as I know–I felt myself blushing–okay, I’m a virgin but I’ve got quite a strong grip if you know what I mean.
I went back to doing the computerised plan I was working on before Henry interrupted things. None of the post was for me–I do the basic stuff for Derek–like this wiring chart for a fan heater.
After lunch, I usually go for a walk in the park and eat the sandwich Mum makes for me, and drink my water, I got back to the office and Myra came up to my desk. “Nat says she’d love to have you run with her group, can you do Friday evening?”
“What time?” My heart was beating almost as fast as if I’d been running.
“Seven, it’s dark so they go to the leisure centre and run round the outside track for an hour. In the summer they run alongside the canal.”
“Great, I’ll be there.”
“She said she’ll meet you in the reception area–she wears a pink tracksuit–you can’t miss her.”
“I’m sure I won’t. I’ll be there.”
And so it was. I met Natalie, who is drop dead gorgeous; Debbie who is a goddess; Lynsey who is a vixen and Cornelia who is just–wow. I think they were disappointed in me, they were hardly expecting Johnnie Depp, but when Edward Scissorhands turned up, they looked a bit disappointed. However, we ran and I kept up with them.
We met on Monday and did the same again, my kit was a bit smarter then–Mum couldn’t believe I’d actually bought some new trainers. We had a drink in the bar afterwards, and they decided they’d let me join their group.
I was over the moon, well wouldn’t you be? Me the wimp getting to be friends with four total babes. They told me they were doing the Christmas fun run–ten miles on Christmas day round the town–so I could hardly refuse could I? Of course I had to get sponsors, Mum took my card into her work and got a load to pay up two or three pounds each, so two weeks later I had a hundred quid–and they’d all paid in advance. The girls were impressed–I didn’t tell them that Mum got most of it for me.
We continued our training and having an energy drink afterwards when they told me we’d be doing the run in fancy dress. I wasn’t too keen on that–no way was I running ten miles dressed like bloody Father Christmas or worse Rudolph the red nosed bloody reindeer.
“Like what sort of costumes?” I asked.
“Something seasonal and we all wear something similar.”
“Eh–but you’re all girls.”
“Crikey–you noticed,” said Debbie sarcastically.
“Look, when you joined our group you signed up to train with us, I thought you’d made a commitment like the rest of us. If I’d known you were going to welch on the deal, I’d never have been persuaded to let a boy in.” Natalie roasted me.
I stood there looking at the floor and wishing a hole would open and swallow me. I’d blown it big time.
“I mean, it’s a charity event, everyone will be in costumes–it’s all part of the fun–looking silly and so on.”
“Okay, Okay, I’ll do it–just don’t make me run round looking like a Christmas pudding.”
“Oh no, we like to wear costumes which won’t stop us running–so don’t worry, we’ll get something that allows us to do that.”
Phew, I’d recovered my position. I hadn’t realised how important these girls were to me. I didn’t know many I could talk with, and being an only child, well I was pretty shy, especially round girls–so this was really good for my confidence–or they were.
On Christmas day the run was supposed to start at ten and finish by midday. We’d be done by half eleven at the latest especially as we’d upped our training speed for the last two sessions.
I was told to go round to Nat’s for changing into our cossies and I wondered what they’d arranged, but I felt pretty good, my mum and dad had bought me a new digital camera–a Nikon–ace or what and my grandparents got me a telephoto lens. Couldn’t wait to use it–so silly costumes–well bring it on.
I rang the doorbell and Myra let me in. I was wearing my trackies and trainers–all freshly laundered and my shoes sparkling clean and new white socks. I felt quite pleased I’d made the effort.
“Nat, Alan’s here.” Myra called up the stairs.
“Send him up.”
I scrambled up the stairs not sure what was awaiting me, but with these four babes, it would be bearable.
It was nine when I got there, at half past I was fuming, and felt a real dork. “Come on, Allie, let’s do your wings.”
We were all wearing pink leotards and tights with tutu like skirts, a pink sparkly headband and we were to carry a wand with a flashing pink star on the end. Nat was busy strapping wings to my back while Cornelia finished my makeup and Lynsey did my nails.
“You’re such a good sport, Alan,” commented Myra while she lined us up to take a photo, “not many boys would have the guts to dress like a fairy.”
“She’s Allie for the rest of the race, Mum, we’ve entered as a female group. I think she’s turned out quite well, don’t you?”
I hadn’t mentioned the bra and padding had I? Yeah, I had pretend boobs as well.
I was very worried that something might show through the tights, but the control panties and skirt stopped that and once we got running it shrivels up anyway. At the start we were given our numbers and registered as, ‘Santa’s little helpers’, jockeying for position with assorted elves and snowmen. I felt very self conscious, especially when a short sighted snowman tried to chat me up, much to Natalie’s amusement.
The mayor waved the flag and off we went. The serious athletes, those in normal running strip, shot off and then the fun runners trotted on behind. We were fitter than many, and our plan was to stay together, which we did.
It was hardly the London Marathon, and none of our group was Paula Radcliffe budding or otherwise, but Natalie drove us on and we took the prize for first girl team.
My parents, Dad complete with camera took my picture without realising who I was, he was snapping pics of scantily clad girls, and I just happened to fit that category.
The girls were so pleased to get the prize, Nat took the trophy and we all got medals and shield each. Not sure where I’ll be able to display it, Christmas Fun Run 2011, winning female team. Before we left Natalie’s–I’d changed back to my regular stuff and washed the makeup off in the shower–and when the girls asked me about the Easter fun run–I nodded my agreement–we were a team, and for the first time in my life I’d actually won something sporting–even if I couldn’t show my dad.
Not only that, but the way Natalie kissed me before I left, I think, I might suggest some team bonding for the next training session.
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