—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

541 773-3373

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Home, at the North Pole, Santa had a hearty dinner last night, and this morning an even heartier breakfast, diet be damned. He was going to need every ounce of energy when Rudy and crew brought him down.

It was nearing sundown when Rudy took them low, in a fly by of the Pechersk Lavra, which he liked to refer to as the Monastery of the Caves. Probably because he preferred to think in English. He sighed, as he remembered flying over it when it was being built, a little shy of a thousand years ago.

But he put those memories out of his mind as Rudy was setting down just outside of town, behind a barn in a small farm. He unharnessed the reindeer, something he’d never done before, but this day, he had no choice.

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About a half hour later, he was walking past a farm close to a main road, where he could catch a cab when a young girl shouted out, “Hey, it’s you!”

“I’m just a man in a Santa suit on the way to the city.”

“Don’t be crazy,” you’re Santa Claus. You can’t fool me and you’re not going to fool anybody else.”

“You believe?” She seemed too old.

“Doesn’t everybody?”

“Alright, Elaina, that iPhone you’ve been wanting will be under your tree.” He laughed. “Wait, you have to get a tree if you want the iPhone. It’s like a rule.”

“I was gonna get one.” She smiled, the way only someone who really believes in Santa can.

“Taxis come by here often?” He pointed to the road up ahead.

“Yes, but you’re not going to fool anybody.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“I’ll walk with you to the road.” And she did and a few minutes later a cab came by.

“Independence Square,” he told the cabbie as he climbed into the back.

“Straightaway, Santa.” The cabbie looked at him in the rearview. “No charge.” He winked and Santa smiled back, thinking there were more believers in Kiev than in the average city.

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For reasons, he couldn’t quite understand, he drew inspiration and strength from the stature of Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv and their sister Lybid in Independence Square. Maybe it was their Viking valor, he didn’t know, but it was his first stop, every time he visited Kiev.

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Leaving, Independence Square, he headed to an out of the way back ally pub, where young men hung out, drank beer and bragged about their conquests. Truth be told, they weren’t so tough, they didn’t really drink all that much beer and their conquest were, for the most part, imaginary.

In the pub, he found his friend Willis, at his usual table, with his usual beer in hand. Unlike the kids at the bar, Willis really was tough, he could hold his liquor and he didn’t brag. He didn’t have too. Besides, it was his pub.

Santa came up behind him and got right to the point. “Where is she?”


“The Irish Pub?” It was a tourist spot and a place for expats. It had been years since Santa had been. He liked Liam O’Grady, even though there had always been something a bit off about him.

“Yeah, the Irish pub. The Big Guy know you’re here?”

“Devil’s got him blocked. You know the deal. Good and evil and all that?” Santa took the seat opposite Willis.

“I figured.” He took a swig of his beer. “Lucy know you’re coming?”

“He must. God can’t and I can. So, yes, I’m guessing he knows.”

“So he’ll be ready.” Willis said. It wasn’t a question.

“What about O’Grady?” Santa said.

“I heard he sold his soul to get the bar, years ago. Well, not the bar, but a pretty bar maid that came with it. Anyway, he wanted out of the deal and Lucy gave him his soul back for the bar.”

“That’s not like Lucy. Once he’s got you, he tends to keep you.”

“It’s like the Witchy Woman in London, only more Dark Angels, more powerful minions and more bad juju than you can shake a stick at. So, I suppose he figured getting it was worth giving O’Grady back his soul.”

“That’s not good.” Santa raised a hand and the bartender brought him a Corona. Willis always kept some in the cooler, incase Santa dropped in. 

“You’re no match for them and I can’t help. I’ve got kids.”

“That’s alright, I can handle it.”

“Not unless you have a secret weapon you can’t.”

“Maybe I do.” Santa drank his beer, then said goodbye to his friend. He didn’t blame Willis for not helping, only a crazy man would walk into certain death, followed by an eternity of fire.

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At O’Grady’s, Santa walked right in and right away he knew Willis had told him true, for three of Lucifer’s Darkest Angels, Morgan, Maude and Maven, were behind the bar, about to suck the soul right out of an unsuspecting tourist.

“Hey, you! Johnny Williams from Long Beach, California,” Santa shouted. “Turn around.”

“What?” Johnny turned around.

“Do you know who I am?”


“Your wife would like to wake up tomorrow morning with you by her side. If you stay here that won’t happen.”

“I’m going.” And he went straight for the door and was gone.

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“Why, Santa,” Morgan said, “ you frightened him so much, he left without paying his bill.”

“I’ll cover it.” The bar was empty, save for the Dark Angels, but it would fill up soon. Santa was patient. He could wait. “Maybe I’ll have a drink.”

“We don’t have Corona.”

“O’Grady used to carry it.”

“We don’t. Not anymore.” She gave him a fake smile. “Why don’t you let me make you a couple of my specials?” Now her smile turned devilish. “You could tell me what you think of them.”


And she did.

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Santa went to the table, where she’d set the drinks, bent low and studied them. She could have put enough poison in them to kill an army and it wouldn’t hurt him. But a devil’s spell, a little of Lucy’s power, if she’d done that, it could be bad.

Relax, the drinks are safe. I call the yellow one a Stingray Poison and the red one a Devil’s Blood.”

“They look girlish,” Santa stood up.

“Oh, they’re not.”

“I think I’ll pass. What do you have in a bottle.”


“It figures. I’ll have one.” 

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An hour later the pub was packed, all Dark Angels or Devil’s Minions, save for one gentleman and his three lady friends. Santa was in trouble deep, of that he had no doubt.

And then in walked the Devil himself, with Willow on his arm. She had an iPhone in her hand and Santa wondered if Lucy had her contacting and converting her human friends. He was never satisfied, never, but then he was the Devil.

“Santa, we meet again.” Lucifer had a large, professional Canon camera in the hand that wasn’t attached to the arm that was wrapped around Willow’s waist.

“I wish I could say it was a pleasure, Lucy.”

“Lucifer, you’re in my place, you should show some respect.” He held the camera to his eye. “How about a picture of you and Willow.”

And without a word, Willow came to his side and posed with him, while the Devil took the picture.

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“Hey, Santa,” the man with the three lady friends said. “Can we have a picture with you?”

“Sure.” Santa scooted in with them and Lucy took the picture.

Right after Lucy made the photograph, Santa turned to the four young people. “In a few minutes a lotta bad shit is going to happen here. If you don’t go and go now, you will die.”

Santa got up. I’ll see you safely to the door. And at the door, he held it open and the humans went out. And straightaway after, nine reindeer flew in.

Nine reindeer, all more powerful than even the darkest angel or the most evil minion. Santa had been teaching them for generations and they were way more than ready. Dark Angels cast worthless spells, then cried in agony as razor sharp horns sliced into them. Minions were down. Dark Angels were down. In seconds, that seemed like an eternity, they were all dead and they were very had to kill.

“Noooo,” Lucifer wailed. He was crying.

“It’s time for you to go.” Santa looked to Rudy. “Kill.” And the reindeer attacked, ripping the Devil apart, till he was nothing more the dead meat and bones.

And Willow was free.

“Quick, we gotta go, before God brings him back.”

And out the door they ran.

“On Dancer’s back,” Santa said and Willow climbed on. Santa took Rudy and they were off. 

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Santa and Willow road bareback over the Pechersk Lavra and then the reindeer picked up speed. Not long after they were in Santa’s living room and Santa was bracing for the call from God.

And it came.

“You killed Lucy,” He said. “Do you know how much that upset him?”

“And you?” Santa said. “How much did it upset you?”

“I heard from Willis. You saved Willow and I see she’s with you. So, I suppose I’m not all that upset. But Lucy is raving.”

“And he should be'” Santa said. “We have these rules for a reason. But he went too far with Willow. He was challenging me, wanting to test his power and he saw mine. I think he’ll be good for awhile.”

“I think you’re right,” the Big Guy said.

“What about the Dark Angels and the Minions.”

“Them, they stayed dead. Lucy has to learn his boundaries.” God laughed. “Besides, I didn’t like any of ‘em.” He laughed again.

And Santa laughed too.

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