Crack Kills
Jonathan Postal

Crack Kills

A blithe middle-age white man on a red bicycle zooms across the intersection of NE 78th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. He is dressed in a pair of denim shorts, a black polo shirt, white Converse sneakers, and a black baseball cap. Tinted glasses conceal his wide, piercing blue eyes. The headphones around his cranium pump cacophonous hip-hop beats into his ears.

A leggy black prostitute in a red tube-top dress stands near the south end of 75th Street and yells at the nocturnal rider as he cruises past: "Yo, Santa Claus!" He removes the headphones, glances back, and hollers: "Whassup, mama!" At first blush the runty, bald cyclist does not evoke the traditional jolly old St. Nick, unless you can envision a crack-smoking, beer-guzzling, prostitute-loving, homeless Kris Kringle who shares his minimal wealth with those who show him empathy and respect, but who never lets his charity turn him into a punk. "Out here hustlers, dope fiends, and whores in the game know me as Santa Claus," he says. "That's because I give out presents. Sometimes they're good. Sometimes they're not so good."

Santa Claus is one of 827 people roaming City of Miami streets, according to the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust. He arrived in South Florida five years ago from Wilmington, Delaware, where he was a perennial inmate of the state corrections system. He uses several aliases, but Miami-Dade Criminal Court records identify him as Anthony Gregory. Many years have passed since he's answered to his real name, which actually is Nick. On the streets they call him Tony or Santa Claus.

These days Santa resides at a vacant, overgrown lot near Biscayne Boulevard. He leads an inert and somewhat solitary existence, except for the sporadic company provided by the transient souls who straggle into his open-air lair. His visitors include fellow homeless drunks, street hookers, and drug addicts too scared to venture west of the boulevard to cop crack. Tony is fearless about going alone on drug runs, and is rewarded for his efforts with free drugs and loot. An enterprising street hustler, Santa recently scored a color-screen cell phone that retails at $159 in exchange for two nickel bags of crack. He then "flipped" the phone for $40. He also earns cash from local merchants for performing odd jobs such as handing out flyers to passing motorists. From time to time Santa makes enough to pay the monthly service fee on a Metro PCS cell phone.

Tonight Santa pedals his bike south along Biscayne on a routine mission to one of the many places between NE Second Avenue and NW Seventh Avenue, from the Upper Eastside to Model City, where he can buy crack. Neon storefront signs and streetlights illuminate his path toward 71st Street, where he makes a right and heads west. Santa whizzes by the Popular Mini Mart convenience store on the corner of North Miami Avenue. He passes pastel housing projects and single family homes nestled in a dimly lighted neighborhood before parking his bicycle outside a chain-link fence.

A few minutes later he emerges from a wood-frame house and quickly rides off, watching vigilantly for Miami police cruisers and "them Jump Out Boys," the undercover vice cops rolling in unmarked rental cars. Within fifteen minutes Santa is back at the patch of land where he lives. On this particular jaunt Santa has copped four nickel bags to complement the six-pack of Schlitz Malt Liquor he purchased earlier. He sits on the green folding beach chair that serves as his bed. He takes a swig from a sixteen-ounce Schlitz in a brown paper bag and then packs a rock into one end of a slender, four-inch-long glass pipe. Santa lights the stem and takes a toke. He exhales a billow of white smoke. After another swig and another hit, he proceeds to repair the handlebars on one of the three other bicycles he owns.

Here in the darkness he explains why he finds comfort in this uncontrolled, uninhibited reality. "There is an element of excitement to it all. I like the thrill of the chase. Man, at three, four o'clock in the morning I'm the only fucking white guy riding on a bike through the hood, jamming to 99 Jamz or 103.5 the Beat on my headphones. Fucking Ray Charles could see me coming."

By the age of eighteen Santa had already experimented with heroin and cocaine. Drug abuse led to burglary, forgery, and petty theft, crimes mostly committed against the people closest to him. "I was a no good, thieving, lying, cheating idiot," Santa recalls over a cheeseburger at Jimmy's Eastside Diner. "I was in and out of the Delaware prison system for approximately fourteen years of my adult life. The last time, I got popped for burglarizing my ex-wife's house."

In January 1998 Santa was charged with two felony counts of burglary and faced the possibility of a life sentence as a habitual offender. He caught a break when he testified in 1999 against an affluent Wilmington attorney who was subsequently convicted of murdering his mistress, the scheduling secretary for Gov. Tom Carper, who is now a U.S. senator. Santa met the disgraced lawyer while the two were in protective custody.

Santa says he and his fellow inmate spoke through a space at the bottom of their adjoining cells. The accused murderer asked Santa if he knew anyone who could burglarize the house of his other mistress, who was testifying for the prosecution. According to Santa, the man gave him a diagram of the woman's house, a list of valuable items she owned, and the code to disarm the burglar alarm. "I don't know what was going on inside this guy's head, but he was the embodiment of fucking evil," Santa says while munching on his burger. "He is scarier than any crack monster I've ever met. So I wrote a letter to the prosecutors and told my lawyer about the information I was obtaining."

Thomas Foley, Santa's defense attorney at the time, remembers he initially dismissed his client's claims. "I blew Nick off when he first told me," Foley says during a telephone conversation from his Wilmington office. "But when I went to visit another client the next day, I stopped by to see him and he had some convincing pieces of evidence. Next thing I know, he's the star witness. The jury absolutely loved him."

Foley says the prosecutors did not promise Santa any deals in exchange for his testimony. However, the lawyer notes, Santa's sentence was reduced to one year after he testified. Upon his release, Santa dropped out of sight. "I never heard from Nick again," Foley says with a tinge of sadness in his voice. "He's always been very likable, very capable, and very bright. If you run into him, send him my best."

On a Thursday during the winter holidays, Santa is engaged in one of his favorite hobbies: disassembling and reassembling one of his bicycles. In a couple of hours, using parts from his other bicycles, Santa has added reflectors to the frame and replaced the spokes, brakes, handlebars, and seat of a Cannondale racing bike. A boy's dirt bike and another racing bicycle are locked to the trunk of a tree. Two bike frames and three spokes, as well as inner tubes, tires, and empty beer cans, litter the ground around Santa's workspace. Earlier in the day, he brags, he made a $15 profit from the sale of a Fila bicycle that cost him $10. "I flipped that motherfucker to one of the look-out boys down at the dope hole," he says. "Those Who Dats love to buy name-brand shit."

He stops fiddling around with his bicycle and plops down on his beach chair. Santa is wearing mismatched sneakers: a Nike cross-trainer and a Phat Farm low-top. He's dressed in a "Vote or Die" T-shirt and cargo shorts that expose a kaleidoscope of scars and scabs on his legs. He has a tattoo of a heart over a cross on his right forearm and a tat depicting a prowling leopard on his left biceps. "Last week I invited this slut puppy over and she turned out to be a monster," Santa says about one of his encounters with a neighborhood prostitute. "Her boobies looked like wrinkled pancakes. It was some nasty- looking shit. At first it was cool. But then she got so fucked up she didn't wake up for two days and I didn't get any pussy."

After the hooker regained consciousness, Santa says, he regretted letting her come over. "Her hair was like the Bride of Frankenstein," he says, holding his arms above his head to simulate the movie monster's towering coif. "It was like she had just stuck her hand in a fucking electrical socket."

He pulls a cancer stick out of a pack of Lider Cigarettes, lights it, takes a drag. "When it comes to the whores, my dick does its own thinking," Santa continues. "I end up losing shit. I'll go hustle, make some money just to keep the bitch there. After a couple of days, though, they usually leave. That's when I lose shit. I can't tell you how many times these slut puppies have stolen my cell phones and other shit. I allow it to happen time and again."

Santa is suddenly distracted by Cindy, a gawky blond prostitute born in Brighton, England, but now in the game in Miami. Santa couldn't believe Cindy was English. "I thought she was a fucking hillbilly to be honest with you," he cracks. "For some reason, she doesn't turn me on. But brother, I'll fuck a black chica in a heartbeat."

Cindy is wearing coochie cutter shorts and a white tank top. Her legs and arms are covered with black-and-blue bruises. She has a fresh cut on her lower lip. "Do you got a fag?" she asks Santa in her Cockney accent. He hands her a cigarette. "Thanks, love," she replies. "I've got to get going now. See you later."

Once she is out of earshot, Santa starts ragging on Cindy. "You know that cunt gets beat up regularly by her man," he says. "She has a östay away' order on the motherfucker, but she keeps coming back to that asshole. She wants me to feel sorry for her. But what's the point of feeling sorry for her when she keeps going back to get her ass whupped?"

An hour later a prostitute sporting a set of gold caps on her front teeth wanders into Santa's compound. Lucy Anne, as she calls herself, is a lithe, disheveled mess in a black miniskirt, black blouse, and worn black flip-flops. Despite her haggard look, Lucy Anne retains some of her natural attractiveness. The day before, Santa had taken Lucy Anne to meet up with Kenny, a crack user who allegedly is making money from the sale of several properties he inherited from his deceased mother. "Kenny is a real scruffy-looking dude," Santa says. "He has a raggedy-ass ponytail and walks like a duck. But the dude has got some money and he likes to mess with black girls. I told Lucy Anne that I would take her down there so she could make some money and then we'd have a nice time when she got back."

Lucy Anne, however, has no money upon her return. She looks irate. Apparently, Lucy Anne and Kenny partied and had sex until the wee hours after Santa took her to meet him. Around 9:00 a.m., she says, Kenny called a cab and they went to the Bank of America branch on NE Second Avenue and 79th Street, where Kenny withdrew close to two thousand dollars. "The cab waited for us and then drove us to the dope hole," Lucy Anne hollers, flailing her arms as she tells her tale. "When we get there, Kenny get out, and get his ass whupped by one of the look-out boys there who take his money."

Turns out Kenny told the cab driver to go back to the bank's drive-up teller, where he tried to withdraw another four thousand dollars, Lucy Anne claims. "Well, fifteen minutes go by and they're making Kenny sign all these papers and shit," Lucy Anne rambles on. "The cops show up and tell Kenny to get out the car. After they run his name, they find out he got a bench warrant and took his dumb ass to jail."

Lucy Anne asks Santa for a cigarette. He tells her he doesn't have any. She tries to sit down on the lounge chair, but he blocks her path. "Come on Santa, I'm tired," she begs.

Santa won't budge. "Bitch, you need to go wait for Kenny to make bail because you get nothing here," he growls. "You were supposed to get paid for whatever you did when that motherfucker first went to the bank and he had all that withdrawal money. Then you were supposed to get the fuck out of Dodge and come back here. Not ride with Tommy Trick to the dope hole waiting to get paid. Now you got nothing. And you call yourself a whore? Get the fuck out of here!"

Lucy Anne gives Santa the middle finger as she skulks away.

After a few minutes, Santa hops on his bike and heads to one of the dope holes. He runs into Cindy, who is sitting on a bus bench. "You got anything?" she asks Santa. "I ain't got a motherfucking thing," he responds angrily. "You're the one out here selling pussy. What the fuck is wrong with you?"

By May of 2000 Santa was entrenched in the homeless population of Miami Beach under the alias Dominic Perrone. On the evening of May 3 he ran into fellow drifter Phillip "Phil the Jew" Waterman on Seventeenth Street and Washington Avenue. At the time, Phil was dating a 28-year-old homeless woman known among her peers as Jolene (real name: Jan Becerra). Phil rented an apartment at 1055 Pennsylvania Ave. Near the end of each month, Waterman would receive a government check in the mail. "He'd go find Jolene, who would be all filthy and dirty, bring her back to his place, and hose her down," Santa says. "Then they would party and have sex until he would run out of money."

Santa says Phil invited him to his pad for some beers that night. "He told me he needed a favor from someone he could trust," Santa recollects. When they arrived at the apartment, his host began acting strangely. "It was real cold in his crib and he asks me: öDoes it stink in here?' I told him I didn't smell anything and asked him what was up. However, there was some funky ass odor in the joint. Then he tells me: öYou would never know how many times it takes to hit a bitch in the head with a hammer to kill her.' For a second, I couldn't believe what he said."

Inside the apartment, Santa says, Phil apparently had bludgeoned Jolene, then covered her body in a plastic tarp and a blanket. He says he saw Jolene poking out of Waterman's closet. "Phil tells me, öI shut the door, but it keeps fucking opening. I don't think the bitch is dead,'" he says. "I guess she had started to bloat, and that caused the door to become ajar. That's when he asked me to help him dispose of her body in a Dumpster later that night. I said okay, but that I wanted to make a beer run before we did anything. He told me to come back at two in the morning."

According to Miami Beach Police Sgt. Paul Marcus, head of the violent crimes unit, Santa went straight from Waterman's apartment to police headquarters on Eleventh Street and Washington Avenue to turn Phil in. He took Miami Beach police officers to the apartment where Waterman was waiting for him. Santa stayed in the patrol car while police went to knock on Waterman's door. "Waterman lets the police officers enter his apartment," Marcus says over coffee at police headquarters. "They immediately detected the odor of decomposition and saw what appeared to be the body sticking out of the closet, so they brought him in for questioning."

Waterman eventually confessed to killing Jolene. He pled guilty to second-degree murder on April 10, 2002, and is currently serving a twelve-year sentence. After the investigation, Santa developed a friendship with Marcus, who marveled at the homeless man's ingenuity. "A couple of years ago, a two-year-old boy was murdered by his mother's boyfriend in an apartment on Pennsylvania Avenue," Marcus recounts. "Family, friends, and neighbors set up a shrine in the kid's memory. Tony was riding his bicycle one day and was so moved by what he saw he became the shrine's keeper. He would keep it clean and made sure no one stole the stuffed animals and the toys left behind as mementos."

Marcus feels pity for Santa, but the 25-year police veteran also realizes that Tony, as he knows him, chooses to stay on the streets. "He enjoys the freedom of not conforming to normal society."

He gave Santa clothes, food, and even a couple of used bicycles. "Whenever he'd get arrested," Marcus says, "I would check the criminal court database and call him on his cell phone, when it was turned on, to let him know when he had to show up for a hearing."

Marcus and Santa have not spoken in three months. "I guess his cell phone is turned off," Marcus says, looking glum. "Hopefully he's doing alright."

Santa wound up on the Miami side of the John F. Kennedy Causeway in 2003. He says he had been sober for almost a year and had been given a free apartment by a Miami real estate investor he won't name. "I was living over by 71st Street and Palm Bay Lane," Santa says. "I just met the guy one day and he asked me if I wanted to get off the streets. It was beautiful. He bought me linens. He paid for everything. I thought he was setting me up for some gay type shit, but he never asked me to do anything for him, other than help maintain his properties." Santa would paint walls, mow the lawn, pick up garbage, and do other handyman's chores. "But then I started drinking and smoking dope again, so he kicked me out," Santa says.

Back on the streets, Santa found shelter at the vacant lot where he currently lives. The lot is behind a now-defunct auto repair shop where Santa met Gabriel, a car mechanic who has become one of Santa's few close friends. "That's my Cuban brother right there," Santa says on a chilly Wednesday afternoon in January.

Gabriel, a tall, burly man with a receding hairline and a massive beer gut, has stopped by the lot to drink a few cold ones with his pal. Gabriel remembers when he first saw Santa in the empty lot and asked him if he wanted work. "I got the shop owner to pay him $50 a day to pass out flyers a couple of days a week," Gabriel says. Santa didn't complain: "For a homeless monkey like me, that's a lot of money. I could have all the booze, dope, and pussy I could buy. I was in seventh heaven."

Eventually Santa became the shop's watchman. Whenever the shop owner picked up junked cars for spare parts, he would park the vehicles in the vacant lot and allow Santa to sleep in them. Gabriel still comes by to visit Santa. "He's always been straight with me," Gabriel says. "He's treated me better than some of the Cubans who I came over with. I hate to see him living out here. If I had money, I'd help him get a trailer."

The area along 79th Street from NW Seventh Avenue to the John F. Kennedy Causeway is a dangerous place to live on the streets. In November of last year, Santa got his first taste of the violence when he was riding on 79th Street. Some mook in a passing automobile struck him on his back with a blunt object. "My ass went tumbling to the ground and all I heard was: öGot that cracker!'" Santa says, lifting up his shirt to reveal a surgical scar in his abdominal area where doctors removed his ruptured spleen. "I ended up in the emergency room at Cedars Medical Center. I almost died."

A week later Santa was stabbed in the back and arms by a man who stole his bike. "I've got no feeling in my left forearm and wrist because of the cuts," he says. "Like Mr. Macho, I chased after the guy. I ended up getting the short end of that stick."

Joining the party is Joe, an old friend of Santa's from Miami Beach. Joe is a 53-year-old homeless cat with white-blond hair flowing down to his shoulders, a bushy mustache, and ornate tattoos covering his arms. He speaks with a slight lisp because he doesn't have any front teeth. Joe left Miami Beach because, he says, police were making life miserable for the homeless there.

"I went to jail four times in one week for an open container," Joe grouses as he stares at his beige work boots. "Cops are down on anyone who is a ragamuffin or a bum," he adds. Joe recently served a stint on a domestic violence charge after he and his wife fell off the wagon. "She came home drunk one day and started throwing shit at me," he explains. "But I'm the one who went to jail."

Santa tells Joe he's better off. "They didn't arrest you," he quips. "They rescued you from that crazy cunt. Ah, there's nothing like a trip to the gray-bar hotel."

Like his buddy Joe, Santa is quite familiar with the bed-and-breakfast accommodations of county jail. According to Miami-Dade court records, he has been arrested under the name Anthony Gregory on charges of assault and battery, cocaine possession, drinking in public, indecent exposure, obstructing street traffic, petty theft, and panhandling, among other charges, since 2000. He was convicted on the cocaine possession, petty theft, and panhandling charges. A rock in his pocket won him 45 days in the county pokey.

Recently he served three days on a felony charge of attempting to purchase cocaine. In September he was arrested for resisting an officer without violence, a misdemeanor. A few days ago he was picked up on a bench warrant for failing to appear at his arraignment hearing. He was released after one day; time served.

The cat-and-mouse game he and other street people play with the cops is a topic that gets Santa's brain percolating. "It's kind of weird how every dope fiend in this neighborhood knows Tuesdays and Thursdays the Jump Out Boys are coming. Yet a lot of them get busted anyway. What the fuck is wrong with that picture? If you know there is a good probability the Jump Outs are going to be at the dope hole, it just doesn't make sense to go there."

By now Santa is routinely stopped by vice squads when he goes out on his bicycle trips. Whether the cops can find drugs on his person is a different matter. "A couple of nights ago, me and my boy went to a dope hole and we saw this short, scrawny-looking nigga waiting to buy some shit," Santa says. "He makes eye contact with me and says öwhassup' as we're walking out of the hole."

Santa says several blocks later an unmarked police car pulled in front of him and his cohort. "Just as the car stops, I'm putting the shit in my mouth," he says. "One of the cops tells me to open my mouth. I didn't open it fast enough so he slammed me down to the ground. I end up swallowing the shit. He picks me up, yelling: öI know you swallowed it motherfucker!' That's when another car full of pigs shows up," Santa says. "Guess who comes out?" Santa asks before answering his own question. "The little nigga who said öwhassup' to me at the dope hole. The son of a bitch was a fucking undercover cop."

The cops had to let Santa go. "They had nothing on me," he says. "By the time they catch up to me, that shit is either on the ground or down my gullet." Sometimes, however, Santa will use some levity to get by with the police. "When they ask me if I am a veteran," Santa says, "I tell them I was part of the war on drugs. I couldn't say no to that draft.

"It really irritates me that the cops will wait for someone like me to come out of a dope hole so they can catch me with drugs and transport me to jail," Santa complains. "They know who is selling and supplying the shit, but they let these Who Dats run dope holes for months. Well, if you know where the crackhouses are at, why don't you just lock them down? Why do they allow the dope holes to stay open for so long? What do they accomplish by arresting dickheads like me?"

Dusk on December 4: Santa, as usual, is knocking back a Schlitz and tightening a bolt on his bicycle. He's wearing a black Zoo York T-shirt with a picture of an M-16 assault rifle underneath the words "Gotham Gun Club." Joe is lying on Santa's beach chair. "Yo Joe!" Santa barks. "It's six o'clock, man! Get your ass outta here because I have to go."

Earlier in the day Santa received a free ticket to attend Bakapalooza, a hip-hop concert being sponsored by a local radio station. "Man, it's been a long time since I've gone to a concert," he says. Before hitching a ride to the University of Miami's Coral Gables campus, where the concert is taking place, Santa plops down for a quick smoke. The smell of burnt plastic fills the air. Santa lets out a brume of gray smoke from his mouth. He repeats the cycle three, four times. He is wide-eyed and ready to go.

Approaching the UM Convocation Center, Santa spies two young women sitting on the rear of a late model Buick inside the Metrorail parking lot. "I don't know about you, but I'm going to try and get me some young clean pussy tonight," he says. "Yo, what up baby doll?" Santa says, strolling over to the ladies.

"Y'all want a beer?" Santa says.

"Sure," replies Amy, a heavyset fair-skinned curly-haired blonde.

Theresa, a petite strawberry blonde with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, doesn't say anything. Santa hands two bottles of Heineken to the women. Amy pops the cap and starts chugging away. Theresa just puts her bottle down on the trunk of the car.

"Yo, woman," Santa snaps. "I just gave you a beer. You ain't going to drink it?"

"I don't drink," Theresa replies.

"Then give me back that beer," Santa snarls. "What the fuck you taking the beer for if you're not gonna drink it?"

"I was going to give it to her," Theresa replies, pointing a finger at Amy.

"Fuck that shit!" Santa yells, snatching the green lizard back.

"See, this is why I hate coming to Miami!" Theresa screams, looking at her pal in disbelief. The two girls get up and leave.

"You can't let little bitches like that run game on ya," Santa lectures. "Fuck that. Let's go. I want to see Jacki-O. That is one fine little black bitch."

Once inside, Santa leaps over the side railing separating the upper level seats from the front of the stage and the VIP section. He ends up in front of a security guard. Santa hugs the short black man. "Whassup dog!" Santa hollers. The guard lets him stay. Within minutes Miami rapper Jacki-O and her posse take the stage. The crowd goes wild. Santa goes apeshit. He starts bouncing around, putting his arms around the security guard, chanting Jacki-O's name.

By the time Miami rapper Pitbull finishes his set, Santa has broken through another security barrier so he can shake hands with rap star Ludacris, who is mingling with fans in the VIP section. "Yo, Luda!" Santa screams as he waves to the Atlanta recording artist, who stops to shake hands with Santa. Security arrives and escorts Santa back to his designated seat.

When the Ghetto Boys finish their set, Santa is ready to roll. On the way home, he drops by a dope hole near NW Seventh Avenue. A lone man talking on a cell phone stands outside a house secured by a chain-link fence more than six feet tall. Santa enters the property and greets the guy on the cell phone with a loud: "Yo! Yo!" The man chastises Santa. "Hey man, don't be yelling like that! Keep that shit down!" Santa just nods affirmatively and goes in the house. He buys four nickel bags and leaves.

Later, after smoking his dope, Santa finds himself reflecting about his place in society. "I should be dead after losing my spleen and getting stabbed last year," he says as he drinks a sixteen-ounce can of Colt 45. "But God said it wasn't my time. He still has me here for some reason. So now I just try to do to others as I want done to me. I help people out without expecting anything in return."

Out here, alone, with no place in regular society, Santa finds it difficult to accept that he is just another bum in the eyes of the police and others. "When I got stabbed and got the shit kicked out of me, the cops didn't do a damn thing," Santa says somberly. "Why? Because I'm fucking homeless. I never saw a detective. I don't matter. I don't exist. I'm like the fucking prostitutes around here. You never see anything written about them when they turn up dead. If I was a faggot living on Miami Beach, then I would have legions of cops working the case. It would be all over the papers."

A rail-thin woman in a pair of shorts and a shirt with matching blue stripe patterns makes her way into Santa's lot. It's Marie, a former Winn-Dixie cashier who lives in an apartment off NE 80th Street. Marie met Santa shortly after he moved into the area. "She was one of my first friends," Santa recalls. "She let me use her bathroom to take showers. If I was hungry, she would cook me Southern food: collard greens, chitlins, corn bread, and all that good stuff."

Marie walks over to Santa to relay some bad news. Marie began losing her voice about a month ago. She is so hoarse she can barely make a sound. It turns out Marie has been diagnosed with throat cancer. The news hits Santa hard. He throws his hands up as his eyes well with tears.

"What you want honey?" he asks her. "Do you want some beer?"

"Yeah," she responds softly.

"Okay, I got some money," Santa says. "I'll get you some beer."

She smiles and closes her eyes. "It's all we can do, right?" Santa tells her before grabbing her and hugging her tightly. "Oh baby, baby, baby, baby. I love you so much," he says between sobs.

Marie lets Santa go and walks back toward her apartment. Santa gathers himself, counts out the last of his money -- five one-dollar bills -- and unlocks a bicycle. "This is one of the best times to be Santa," he says, regaining his composure. "I'm gonna spend all the money I have left and get her some beer. There is not a whole lot else I can do for her. She wants to get drunk. Who the fuck am I to say no to her? Obviously God has a plan for her. With any luck, she'll make it."

Santa pedals off on his bicycle.


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