Merry Christmas Showbiz
The moon climbed steadily through the trees lining Big Hill Rd. As Showbiz rode quietly toward the top in the passenger seat of a 1970 pinto wagon that smelled like wet dogs and damp unwashed clothes, just like home he thought to himself.
The driver had seen him thumbing for a ride on Sawmill Flat, picked him up and was now trying to strike up a conversation Showbiz didn’t want to have. The fact was that he was in the area to steal Christmas presents for his kids and he didn’t want to be remembered should anyone start asking questions. As the car neared the old mill Showbiz said "This is good right here, thanks" and jumped out before the car even stopped rolling. He moved into the shadows and waited for his eyes to adjust to the light before heading toward the house he’d picked out earlier in the week.
He chose this particular house for several reasons: it was fairly secluded; it appeared the residents were gone, possibly visiting family over the holidays, and most important…they took their dog with them! Showbiz liked dogs as much as the next guy but they always took it so personally when he was trying to break into a house; he’d been bitten several times over the years and had the scars to prove it.
Showbiz moved stealthily through the shadows to the corner of his target house. From his earlier reconnoitering he knew there was a sky light on the roof that would provide a convenient point of entry. He also knew there was a fenced back yard where he could stack up some lawn furniture high enough to climb onto the roof. As he entered the back yard he saw the large dog house over in the corner. He was considering dragging it over to the back wall of the house when he noticed a ladder lying on the ground on the back patio. "Jeez", he thought to himself. "Don’t these people know it’s dangerous to leave ladders lying around? I coulda hurt myself!" he snickered as he laid the ladder against the wall.
Within seconds he was on the roof and making his way toward the skylight when he realized he had forgotten to bring any tools to pry open the cover. He looked around the roof but the only possibility was a TV antenna on the other end. "Well", he thought, "That’s better than nothing" and walked down the ridge of the roof and yanked the antenna out, trailing about twenty feet of wire with it.
After twenty minutes of trying unsuccessfully to use the antenna as a pry tool, Showbiz resorted to beating on the sky light with it but only succeeded in weakening it by causing a network of cracks all over the surface. He now realized he would have to go back down the ladder and break into the garage for some tools. Disgusted with the situation, he quickly stood up and turned toward the ladder…and that, folks, is where things began to go seriously wrong for Showbiz McFarland.
As he turned, he felt something tighten around his right leg. Looking down he saw the TV antenna wire had wound itself around his leg as he turned into it. But, he was in a hurry and rather than bend down and untangle himself he tried to kick the antenna and the wire away from himself. The kick caused the antenna to jerk the wire tighter and then, reaching the end of the slack, it swung in a tight arc around his ankle, momentarily roping his legs together like a rodeo steer. He was already slightly off balance from trying to kick the antenna away. Now that his legs were tied together he began to topple backward and as luck would have it, the only thing behind him to brake his fall happened to be the sky light. Showbiz hit the skylight square in the middle and because he had weakened it by trying to smash it with the antenna, he blew through it like it was tissue paper.
He landed hard, flat on his back in a carpeted hallway. When he could breathe again, he slowly opened his eyes. He was looking up at the skylight and though still stunned from the impact, he could see the antenna up there dangling on the sky light frame from one of its receiving tines. He tried to move but found his limbs were still too heavy to respond. And at that moment the antenna fell. He uttered a strangled yelp and watched it fall. Just before impact he turned his head and squeezed his eyes shut. He heard the antenna land and when opened his eyes again he saw it formed a cage around his head but didn’t touch him at all.
When he could finally stand he limped off toward the living room becoming more and more aware that he had twisted his left ankle somehow during the fall. He went straight to the Christmas tree and started opening gifts in the hope of finding something good for his kids. About the time he was knee deep in wrapping paper he stopped abruptly and held his breath. He could have sworn he heard something outside. Carefully he made his way in the darkness to a window facing the front yard. The drapes were drawn and ever so slowly he pulled them aside until he could peer outside with one eye.
Mr. Lance Anderson lived about a hundred yards from the house Showbiz was burglarizing. He had fallen asleep on his couch when the late night infomercials started but woke suddenly to the sound of repeated hammering and then a loud crash and boom. The neighborhood geography was such that noises from up the street tended to funnel down a draw that ended at Lance’s house. He knew his neighbors up the street were out of town and thinking quickly; he called 911 and reported a possible burglary in progress to the Sheriff’s Office.
He then decided it would be a good idea to go help the cops. He grabbed his six cell flashlight and a toy gun and headed off toward the neighbor’s house. Everything looked normal from the front yard so he approached one of the front windows. As he stood on tip toe trying to peak inside, he noticed the drapes moving almost imperceptibly. And as he watched, an eye appeared, darting rapidly left and right. Suddenly, Lance’s adrenaline level shot straight up while his ability to think clearly dropped clean out of sight.
Showbiz had just enough time to realize there was some one looking in the window he was looking out of when his left eye was subjected to a 50,000 candle power blaze of intense light that caused a sharp pain all along his optic nerve. He lurched backward into the Christmas tree, and fell with it landing on top, shattering glass ornaments and tiny light bulbs by the dozen, and smacking his forehead on a bookcase as well.
Showbiz regained consciousness moments later. Slowly he became aware of the sharp scent of pine needles, especially the ones that were jabbing into his face. He also heard some maniac outside pounding on the walls and yelling various insults, challenges, and promises that the cops were coming. Showbiz knew he had to get out fast and with a sigh he untangled himself from the tree and limped toward the back of the house, his head and ankle pounding heavily. He could also feel the stinging of hundreds of tiny lacerations all over his body caused by the broken ornaments and light bulbs. He reached the back door and saw that it was secured with a double keyed deadbolt that couldn’t be opened without the key.
About this time, a young bobcat that routinely came around to finish off any left over dog food lying around, sauntered across the backyard toward the dog house and, finding the dog not at home, let himself in. He could hear a man yelling out in the front yard but wasn’t overly concerned, he was used to people and their strange ways.
Meanwhile, Showbiz cursed his bad luck. The only window in the back room was barely big enough for him to fit through but once again, he was in a hurry and wasted no time deliberating. The maniac with the killer flashlight was still out front yelling his head off and might make his way around back any time. He opened the window to its fullest, removed the screen, climbed onto a small table in front of the window, and leaned out to look around. The little table had rubber feet covering the tips of its legs and they made a horrible screech as they skidded across the vinyl floor, dropping Showbiz onto the window sill. At this point he was a more out than in and being a little dizzy from the previous impacts, he lost the struggle and fell out of the window leaving a fair amount of skin on the rough stucco all the way to the ground.
Bleeding, limping, and dizzy, Showbiz made his way across the backyard intending to disappear into the woods behind the house when he saw a flash of light somewhere to his left. He darted a glance in that direction and was surprised to see a piece of glass ornament sticking out of his shoulder and reflecting light from the maniac’s flashlight that was clearly making its way around to the back of the house. He looked down at himself and saw that he was covered with silver tinsel and hundreds of sharp shiny glass fragments of all colors that made him stand out like a human disco ball. He had to hide…fast. The back yard was nearly empty except for the ladder and the large dog house, and having no where else to go, he made a quick decision and ran for it. The bobcat looked up just in time to see a huge sparkling mass coming straight for him and before he could get out, the sparkly thing lunged into the dog house with him and the fight was on.
Showbiz wasn’t really sure what was happening to him but he was pretty sure there was no such thing as a blender that looked like a dog house. But that’s what it felt like. It only went on for thirty seconds or so until some one shut off the blender but by that time he was all out of gas and collapsed in the dog house doorway.
Deputies arrived shortly thereafter to find Lance standing over Showbiz pointing his flashlight and toy gun at him in case he made a break for it. Showbiz was taken to the hospital and then to jail where he spent the rest of the holidays and plenty more after that.