A Visit from St. Nick
By Kelli Stanley
(with apologies to Clement Moore)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and alone in the room
The writer sat facing a deadline of doom.
Note cards were hung by the PC with care
In hopes for a sentence or even a pair.
The household was nestled, all snug in their beds
but the writer paced onward with crime in her head
And try as she might, no keys could she tap
To write her way out of a vicious plot trap.
When out on the roof there arose such a sound–
Like old fashioned type keys that pound-pound-pound-pound!
Away to the window she flew like a tweet,
Remembering how typewriters used to sound sweet.
The moon on the pavement was noir, black and white
While rain dripped down windows, no snowmen in sight
And just as she turned, her hopes again dashed,
Came a strong whiff of bourbon and another loud crash.
A wizened old elf, on the roof top he sat
Drinking Old Taylor whiskey and wearing a hat.
His fingers curled over a giant machine,
While he typed on the keys and cursed loud in between:
“Now Chandler, now Hammett!
Now McDonald, now Cain!
On Parker, on Woolrich,
On Mickey Spillane!”
“To the end of the page!
To the end of the book!
Forget about writing for Kindles and Nooks!”
His fingers flew over the keys like a train,
And the paper caught fire despite all the rain.
A curse and a shout and he looked up to see
The writer’s face–frightened–and he chortled with glee.
Then, in a heartbeat, she heard from on high
The banging and pounding of keys from the sky!
Like thunder they sounded, the claps and the drums
And down the poor chimney came the wizened old bum.
He was dressed in a trench coat from head to his feet,
With a stogie clamped firmly between yellowed teeth.
His voice–how like Bogart’s! His nose–like Durante!
And he gave out a wink and said, “Call me Santy.”
Not as chubby as Greenstreet or pop-eyed like Lorre,
His fingers were gnarled and his gray hair was hoary,
But his fedora gleamed gold and his eyes twinkled too,
And the manuscript under his arm looked brand new.
All in all, he looked a noir-jolly old elf,
and the writer smiled at him in spite of herself.
A wink of his eye at the cookies and cream,
he pulled out a bottle–this time old Jim Beam.
He drank down the whiskey and went straight to his work,
Sitting down in the chair with his stogie and smirk.
His fingers flew faster than coursers that night,
Filled with noir magic and pulp writers’ might.
Then laying a hand on the swell of his girth,
He burped up the whiskey, and cackled with mirth.
And placing a finger on broken-veined nose,
He doffed off his hat and up the chimney he rose.
“Keep writing your books! Crime fiction lives on!”