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Tim Dorsey

When elves attack

I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.

— SHIRLEY TEMPLE

Prologue

My name is Edith Grabowski. I’m ninety-three years old, and I’ve decided to stop having sex.

I guess you just reach a certain age.

There are only so many positions. Even fewer with the medical equipment. And the scares are more and more frequent. The guy shows up and smiles, “I brought my little blue pills,” like it’s the funniest romantic line ever. An hour later, his eyes bug out. “My heart! My heart!” And just before we hit the Life Alert button, “No, wait, another false alarm. Where were we?” Then he thinks we just simply pick up where we left off. You get old enough, you realize that’s the difference between men and women. Stopping to grab the nitroglycerin tablets is a definite mood-kill.

Oh, and venereal disease. All these TV stations now reporting that some of the highest rates of STD in Florida are at senior citizen communities.

That’s true, look it up on the Internet.

It’s usually those places that have clubhouses and aqua-therapy swimming pools and newsletters with calendars of things to do. And I’m here to tell you they ain’t listing everything.

So anyway, here we are backstage. Me and my girlfriends. Again. Another round of the TV shows. I mean what are the odds? It’s the third time in our lives we’ve landed in the middle of a major news event.

Make that four. But the first time doesn’t really count. It was more of a feel-good story. Fifteen years ago, me and the girls started a little investment club during our morning coffee klatch. Something to do while knitting. And we blew away like ninety percent of the mutual fund managers. What’s the big deal? We just read those glossy financial magazines with profiles of CEOs and picked companies run by the hottest hunks. But then the media got ahold of it and went bonkers, like us old people can do nothing but sit around playing pinochle and pooping our pants. There are three of us besides me: Eunice, Edna, and Ethel. So they dubbed us the E-Team, without even asking. We said bullshit on that alliteration. We all have grandchildren, and renamed ourselves the G-Unit. It’s what they have to call us. It’s in the contracts.

But back to today’s story. That’s why we’re at the TV studio. It’s a Christmas tale. Except not one you’ve remotely heard before. Like the other times we were in the news, it all swirled around our neighbors, the Davenports. Mainly Jim Davenport. And he’s such a mild-mannered person you can’t help but feel sorry for him. I don’t see how he holds up. In just over a decade, three weird blowups of violence and mayhem. Again, what are the odds?

Here are the odds:

Serge.

He started hanging around Jim again during the holidays. They say Serge is a serial killer. I didn’t get that vibe. He’s just another Florida lunatic, hyperactive as they come. He has this sort of offbeat charm, and not too hard on the eyes if you ask me. I said I’d given up sex, but I’d let him eat crackers in my bed.

So now we’re back on the TV circuit. And even though it’s a great story with enough action for three movies, the TV people still just want to ask about our sex lives, especially the VD angle at the senior centers. They have such a knee-slapping good time bringing it up and joking about those commercials for “Active Retirement Communities.” Last time they asked, I turned to Eunice: “Tell ’em how you gave us all the crabs from the sofa where we play pinochle.” Talk about your screeching halt. The show’s anchor acted like his head had just burst into flames, and they cut to a commercial. They don’t ask those questions anymore.

Hold it, the TV people just gave us the signal. We’re on in five minutes.

All the stations have these spunky hostesses. Supposed to tend to our needs backstage, patronizing us because of our age. Smiling and using a singsong voice like you’d talk to a toddler: Would we like juice and cookies? No, vodka. They’re mostly blondes with fake boobs. Sluts.

So here’s what we do: When the hostess says we’re at the two-minute mark, one of us gets a funny look, stands up, and turns around. “I just pooped myself. Hurry up and wipe me before we go on. We only have two minutes!”

The woman usually turns white and runs off.

And then me and the girls giggle our fucking dentures loose.

Here we go. One minute to airtime. The hostess just ran off. We can hear the audience applauding.

Story time again. It all started just over a month ago, right before Thanksgiving…

Chapter One

A bulbous head popped up from the backseat of a 1972 Chevelle. Bloodshot eyes. Hair staging a riot.

“What time is it?”

“Right before Thanksgiving,” said the driver.

“I mean time of day.”

“When you usually get up. Sunset.”

“Oooo, don’t feel good.” A hair-of-the-dog flask went to the passenger’s lips. The Chevelle raced east across the Gandy Bridge.

A hand went up in the backseat. “Serge?”

Serge looked in his rearview. “Yes, you in the rear. Coleman has a question?”

“Where are we?”

The Chevelle came off the bridge with a bounce, and Serge pointed a digital camera out the driver’s window. Click, click click… “See that welcome sign?”

“Yeah?”

“Any clues?”

Coleman shook his head.

“ ‘Welcome to Tampa’ generally means we’re not somewhere else.”

“We’re back in Tampa?”

“I’d like to see a flashier sign, though. Something with lightning bolts, titty bars, and sandwiches.”

“Are you off your meds again?”

“Yes.” Serge chugged a thermos of coffee. “This place has some of the best Cuban sandwiches in the country. We need a slogan, too. And not the old slogan. Know what the old slogan was? I’ll tell you!” Serge tossed the thermos over his shoulder.

“Ow.” Coleman rubbed his forehead.

“The old slogan was this: ‘Tampa: America’s Next Great City.’ I’ve heard of playing the politics of low expectations, but what the hell?”

“It’s not a good slogan?”

Serge made a skidding right on Westshore Boulevard. “Coleman, the slogan is so bad that the human brain

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