This was my entry for the heart warming winter tales competition. It got 2nd place, after Legacy's story. I'm just re-posting it now that the competition is over so that you guys can comment on it and let me know what you think.
Hope you enjoy it =)
Crime Doesn't Take a Holiday
(International title where applicable: Crime Doesn't Take a Vacation)
Giovanni drummed his fingers against the table in frustration. It was Christmas Day, supposedly the most wonderful day of the year but nothing was going wonderfully for Giovanni today.
“When is Santa getting here?” yelled Giovanni’s six year old brat, Silver, for about the hundredth time in the last hour.
“He’ll get here when he gets here,” growled Giovanni in response, “Eat your dinner.”
Giovanni had given his son everything he could ever have wanted and more but never got any thanks for it – all he received for his efforts were demands for more. Half the time Silver didn’t even know what it was that he wanted, he just knew that he didn’t have it.
“Thank you for making this meal more enjoyable, Giovanni,” hissed Giovanni’s wife, Ariana venomously.
Giovanni clutched the glass of Pinot Noir at his side so that he didn’t slam his fist on the table in anger; he just had to be careful not to break the glass. He didn’t bother responding to his wife, he knew it would only start an argument. Instead he paused for a moment then tried to change the subject.
“How are you two enjoying the dinner?” asked Giovanni with a genuine attempt at sincerity.
Ariana’s look said everything. She was used to big Christmases with aunts, cousins, grandfathers and nephews and nieces but this year the grand dining table in the Varisco household was occupied by just three guests – Giovanni, Ariana and Silver. Not the magnificent dining room they sat in, nor the ornate cloth on the table, nor the solid gold candelabra in the middle of it could make up for the lack of people in the room.
“It’s lovely,” replied Ariana with no attempt at sincerity.
“I hate it!” yelled Silver, throwing half of the contents of his plate on to the floor.
The price of what Silver had just thrown on to the floor was triple digits. Giovanni calmly placed his hands flat on to the table in an attempt to keep his cool. Unfortunately, looking at the back of his hands, all he could think about was the fact that Silver had just done the equivalent of flushing the solid gold ring adorning Giovanni’s little finger down the toilet. Giovanni told himself not to get angry – the boy didn’t know any better, he had never been taught. Giovanni and Ariana locked eyes. Neither of them wanted to tell Silver off but both of them wanted Silver to be told off. Giovanni believed it was Ariana’s responsibility but Ariana felt that was a sexist, archaic viewpoint and refused to do it on that basis. Over the years it had just become the case that no one had really made any effort to discipline Silver, he’d pretty much just been allowed to do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.
“When is Santa getting here?” screamed Silver again, “I’m tired of waiting!”
Ariana shot a look at Giovanni.
“Yes, Giovanni,” she hissed, “You said he would be here an hour ago.”
Giovanni looked at his phone. Still no calls.
“He’ll be here soon,” grumbled Giovanni, “Eat your dinner.”
Petrel had been so eager to play Santa at the Varisco family Christmas that Giovanni couldn’t say no. Petrel, although often unreliable, had always been faithful and ‘playing Santa’ didn’t seem like that important a role in Giovanni’s mind. Of course, when he had broken the news to his wife she had been of a different opinion. She couldn’t believe that Giovanni had asked that useless twit to do anything for him, particularly not something as important as that – little Silver’s innocence was pinned on everything to do with Santa working out alright. Giovanni had assured her that everything would turn out fine and he had lamented Petrel on the importance of this task multiple times but apparently his assurance was misplaced and his lamentation was ineffectual. Petrel had been due an hour ago and Giovanni had not been able to get in touch with him all day – had he forgotten? Giovanni swore to himself that if that twit messed up this day for him, he would make him regret it. He didn’t even know how he was going to punish the man yet, he just knew it was going to be horrible.
“So, Silver,” addressed Giovanni, still attempting to make things better, “What do you think Santa will bring you?”
“I want a Pokémon!” cried Silver, “Like yours! I want a Rhydon!”
Ariana rolled her eyes.
“Why did you have to ask that?” she snapped, “You should have known he’d bring that up again.”
“I don’t think you’re old enough for a Pokémon just yet,” said Giovanni, choosing again not to respond to his wife, “Maybe in a few years time.”
Silver began to prepare some sort of whiny response but was drowned out by Giovanni’s phone ringing. Petrel’s name flashed up on the screen. Giovanni stood up so fast that his chair flew out from underneath him. Silver laughed and imitated, chucking his chair to the floor. Giovanni ignored this and fled to the other room to take the call as Ariana picked up Silver’s chair for him.
“Petrel!” snapped Giovanni down the phone, “Where the hell are you?”
“Ho ho ho!” came the jolly reply.
Giovanni hated talking to Petrel when he was in character.
“I want to talk to Petrel not Santa,” stated Giovanni with murder in his voice, “I don’t have time for this crap now – where are you?”
“I’m sorry, Boss,” started Petrel, doing his best to speak normally but unable to remove every trace of Santa from his voice, “My car broke down this morning.”
Giovanni couldn’t believe this. Of course it wasn’t Petrel’s fault that his car broke down but if he’d only let Giovanni know earlier, Giovanni could have organised someone to go and pick him up. Instead Petrel had just given up and not even bothered to tell Giovanni until it was way too late!
“You’re not coming!?” exclaimed Giovanni furiously.
“Oh, don’t worry about that, Boss,” assured Petrel, “I know how important this is! I rang up a co-worker and got them to give me a lift! Only... there’s been a bit of a situation...”
Co-worker. That meant another Rocket. There were so many incompetent members of Team Rocket that Giovanni was scared to imagine what had happened.
“Which co-worker?” demanded Giovanni.
“Proton,” answered Petrel obediently.
That answer made Giovanni wish that Petrel had chosen someone incompetent. Why Proton of all people? That man was nothing short of a psychopath. Giovanni was sure that Proton was going to kill someone one day – maybe he already had. Nothing that Proton did would ever surprise Giovanni.
“What’s the situation?” asked Giovanni grimly, knowing that he would hate the response.
Giovanni barely listened to Petrel’s reply, he could fill in the blanks. It played through his head like a movie.
First Proton stops over at Petrel’s house to pick him up just as they agreed. Everything’s going according to plan, it’s the happy part of the movie where it looks like nothing could go wrong but everyone knows something has to.
They’re driving for a little while and still everything seems fine. Proton probably says something crazy or gets angry with Petrel for being useless but then who doesn’t get a little angry with Petrel for that? The dramatic tension is building up, the audience know the characters now – they’re dealing with an idiot and a psychopath, classic comedy duo.
It’s snowy out and it looks like there could be a car accident, especially with a psycho like Proton behind the wheel. Thing is, Proton knows how important it is that he doesn’t crash so he’s being extra careful and driving slowly. Crisis averted. It looks like there’s not going to be a car accident after all. But wait – the car behind starts honking.
“Hurry up! I’ve gotta get home, grandma!” or something like that is shouted.
Proton tries to take it in his stride but the guy just can’t deal with heckling. He speeds up a little bit to try and get the other driver to shut up because he knows he can’t screw this up. Now the audience know that he’s gonna do something crazy, it’s just a waiting game.
“What a jerk, eh?” says Proton to Petrel with a forced laugh, in an attempt to vent some of his rage in a healthy way.
Of course, just like any comedy duo, the pair just make things worse for each other. Petrel’s already dressed as Santa so he’s already in character.
“They’re being very naughty!” responds Petrel, “No presents for them this year!”
This isn’t good, that just makes Proton angrier.
“I said speed up!” comes another angry yell accompanied by a series of bursts on the horn.
Proton stops the car. Here it comes.
“That’s it,” growls Proton.
Petrel sits in the car curiously, watching what Proton is about to do but making absolutely no effort to stop him. The car behind is also forced to stop. The other driver gets out of the car, ready to shout at Proton. Proton sends out his Kangaskhan and has the Pokémon lift the other driver’s car above its head and throw it back down on to the road the opposite way up. Petrel gets out to try and diffuse the situation but, being Petrel, he just makes things worse.
This was enough for Giovanni to know that he was needed. There was no way that this was going to work out without Giovanni getting involved.
“I’m on my way,” said Giovanni down the phone.
Next Giovanni hung up and walked back into the dining room.
“When is Santa getting here?” screamed Silver again as soon as he saw his father.
“I’m going to pick him up now,” replied Giovanni.
That shut the brat up but it just made his wife more curious.
“Oh Lord,” sighed Ariana, “What’s happened now?”
“His sleigh broke down,” snapped Giovanni in response, “You two eat your dinner. I’ll be back soon with Santa.”
“Hooray!” cried Silver, “He’s going to bring me a Rhydon because I’ve been good all year!”
Giovanni sighed and didn’t bother to respond to this. As he left he could hear his wife making some vague attempts at correcting the boy’s misguided hopes but he didn’t care. He put on his black winter overcoat and hat and ventured into the great outdoors. He grumbled incoherently for no one’s benefit but his own about having to drive in the heavy snow. He walked over to his black Cadillac Eldorado, opened it up, got in and drove away.
As he drove, Giovanni thought about Team Rocket and was, as always, shocked that it was not only profitable but profitable enough to make him one of the richest men in Kanto. Team Rocket was essentially a single genius, Giovanni himself, orchestrating a confederacy of dunces and lunatics into something that vaguely resembled a half competent organisation. He never heard the end of it from his wife – she always said that she could do a better job, that under her Team Rocket would be a well oiled machine but she never truly appreciated the sheer level of incompetency in the organisation. Of course, he never gave her the opportunity to experience this for herself as Giovanni did everything he could to keep his home life and his work life separate, which meant that his wife was allowed nothing to do with Team Rocket. That didn’t stop her planning though – under Ariana every idiot and maniac would be fired but what she didn’t realise was that that this would leave the organisation with just three members – and that’d be including both Giovanni and Ariana themselves.
Giovanni clasped his fingers tight around the steering wheel as he thought about how much stress everyone else in the world caused him. Team Rocket was living proof of the saying that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. The only assignments that Giovanni had actually been completely satisfied with the execution of were ones that he himself had carried out. Giovanni was painfully aware that he hadn’t made a note of the exact location of the incident that he was heading towards but, thankfully, there was no need to – not even the most incompetent of all the members of Team Rocket could have missed the episode that was playing out on the road ahead of Giovanni.
Petrel’s Pokémon appeared to be battling Proton’s Pokémon, presumably to stop Proton having his Pokémon literally kill people. At the same time, a group of people were trying to hold Proton and the other driver away from one another. On closer inspection, it was not just those two that were being held, there was in fact a fairly large number of angry drivers present who had been prevented from getting to their intended destination on Christmas Day thanks to the situation on the road. Giovanni got out of his car and walked over to the unfolding incident.
“Proton,” growled Giovanni threateningly.
Giovanni saw the man stop struggling, turn to face Giovanni and his eyes light up with fear. Giovanni was glad he could inspire that level of terror in his minions – he considered it the cornerstone of good leadership.
“I’m sorry, Boss,” wailed Proton, “I just lost it! I’m sorry! Please don’t be mad!”
“Give me your keys,” commanded Giovanni, paying no attention whatsoever to Proton’s pleas.
The people holding Proton quickly let him go and he rummaged through his pockets, unquestioningly obeying Giovanni’s demands for his keys.
“Who’s car is that?” demanded Giovanni, pointing towards the upturned wreck.
“Mine!” yelled the irate driver.
“Don’t yell at me,” commanded Giovanni coldly.
“It’s mine,” said the driver again, still angry but more civilly.
The people holding him began to let the other driver loose as he calmed down.
“Take his car,” ordered Giovanni, throwing Proton’s keys to the man.
“Are you serious?” checked the driver.
That driver was a lucky man. Proton’s car was at least ten times as expensive as the piece of crap that his Kangaskhan had turned over.
“Hey!” yelled Proton, “What about me?”
“You can have the Eldorado,” stated Giovanni, nodding towards his own car, “I’ll buy a new car.”
Proton was lucky too, the Eldorado was much more expensive than Proton’s car.
“What about the wreck?” asked Petrel, with almost no hint of Santa Claus in his voice, “The road is still out of use.”
The driver who the wrecked car had belonged to was already driving away; it seemed that he had already collected the things he needed from the lump of metal that was once his car and wanted to leave before Giovanni and Proton changed their minds. Giovanni grabbed a Poké Ball from his belt and sent his Rhydon out on to the road.
“Get rid of it, Rhydon,” ordered Giovanni calmly.
He wasn’t really calm, he just knew how to control situations. Inside Giovanni was furious, but he knew that letting that out would just make things worse.
Rhydon nodded in response to his trainer’s command and picked up the wrecked car by holding on to the back of it. Rhydon swung the car above its head a few times and then let go of it, sending it flying into the distance so that it could cause havoc somewhere else. No one present seemed to mind that much; they were far more concerned with getting home to their loved ones for Christmas Day. Giovanni threw Proton the keys to the Eldorado and walked back to the car, beckoning Petrel, still dressed as Santa, to come with him.
“You’re driving,” Giovanni told Proton.
Proton nodded obediently and got in the driver’s seat. Giovanni and Petrel got in the back.
The drive home was a sombre affair, not one of the three of them said even one word the whole way back. When they got out of the car, Proton attempted to return Giovanni’s car keys to him, just in case the man had offered him his car with a particularly subtle tone of sarcasm that Proton had failed to detect.
“How are you going to drive your new car if you give me the keys?” asked Giovanni with a smile.
Proton fumbled with words for a few moments before finally opting to stay silent and put the keys back in his pocket. Giovanni opened the front door and the three of them traipsed in. Strangely, there was no noise; silence had been a rare occurrence in the Varisco household since little Silver had been born. Giovanni, followed by Santa and Proton, cautiously wandered into the living room to investigate further. There he saw his darling son, asleep on the settee, being filmed by his loving wife.
“Isn’t he sweet?” smiled Ariana.
Giovanni nodded with a hearty grin. Just then, Silver began to stir and it was as if with his little nap he had shed his bratty behaviour from earlier and had, instead, adopted an aura of sweetness.
“Santa!” exclaimed Silver in excitement, beaming with joy.
“Ho ho ho!” greeted Petrel, eager to play his part.
Ariana put down the camera and beckoned the three men into the living room. Petrel placed his bag on the floor and opened it up so that dozens of wrapped presents spilled out. Proton stood up and took a big deep breath in as the most delightful scent entered his lungs – he felt like he could’ve just eaten the air around him.
“Hey, what’s that smell?” he asked.
“That’s the Christmas dinner I spent a fortune on,” informed Giovanni, “Apparently my son didn’t appreciate it.”
“Is there any going spare?” asked Proton cautiously.
Giovanni nodded and guided Proton to the food, happy that his efforts to make the Christmas dinner special didn’t go completely to waste.
“Oh kid,” said Proton to Silver with a smile, “Can you look after this for me while I eat please?”
Silver looked up at the man curiously as he was handed a Poké Ball.
“It’s my Kangaskhan,” explained Proton, “You’re good to hold on to it for a few hours, right?”
Proton turned and gave Giovanni a wink before stuffing his face with the Christmas dinner that the boy had rejected. Silver shrieked with happiness – he was delighted to have a big Pokémon like his father’s Rhydon to play with. It didn’t matter that he was only going to be able to play with it for one day.
Giovanni smiled, it was nice to see the dinner being appreciated and that his son was happy. He turned to see how Petrel was, but he needn’t have – as long as Petrel was allowed to role play as someone, he was happy; he seemed to be having the time of his life playing Santa Claus. Finally, Giovanni turned to his wife, Ariana.
“Are you enjoying yourself, dear?” asked Giovanni.
“It’s wonderful!” she exclaimed in response, “It was so good of you to bring all of these people! It’s just like having family here!”
Giovanni looked around, she was right – it was like having family over. He took a seat by his wife and just enjoyed the rest of the day. And so, as he sat by the fire in the living room with his spoilt, six year old son, his nagging wife, a moron dressed as Santa and a psychopathic chauffeur, Giovanni went on to have what he would later describe as the happiest Christmas Day of his life.