Christopher Moore: The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror

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Christopher Moore The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
  • Название:
    The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
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  • Жанр:
    Современная проза / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2004
  • Язык:
    Английский
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    4 / 5
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Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe. 'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit. It is the hap-hap-happiest time of the year, after all. But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he's not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn't run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead. But hold on! There's an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It's none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say "Kris Kringle," he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen. Only Christopher Moore, the man who brought you the outrageous lost gospel and the hysterical fish tale could have devised a new holiday classic that tugs at the heartstrings and serves up a healthy slice of fruitcake to boot. Move over, Charles Dickens — it's Christopher Moore time.

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The Stupidest Angel

A HEARTWARMING TALE OF CHRISTMAS TERROR

by

Christopher Moore

This book is dedicated to MIKE SPRADLIN who said: "You know, you oughtta write a Christmas book."

To which I replied: "What kind of Christmas book?"

To which he replied: "I don't know. Maybe Christmas in Pine Cove or something."

To which I replied: " 'Kay."

Acknowledgments

The author wishes to acknowledge those who helped: as always, Nicholas Ellison, my intrepid agent; Jennifer Brehl, my brilliant editor; Lisa Gallagher and Michael Morrison for continued confidence in my ability to tell stories; Jack Womack and Leslie Cohen for getting me in front of my readers and the press; the Huffmans, for preparing a landing pad and a warm welcome; Charlee Rodgers, for the careful reads, thoughtful comments, and just putting up with the process; and finally, Taco Bob, from whom I joyfully (and with permission, which almost ruins it) swiped the idea for chapter 16.

Author's Warning

If you're buying this book as a gift for your grandma or a kid, you should be aware that it contains cusswords as well as tasteful depictions of cannibalism and people in their forties having sex. Don't blame me. I told you.

Chapter 1

CHRISTMAS CREEPS

Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe.

Pine Cove, her pseudo-Tudor architecture all tarted up in holiday quaintage — twinkle lights in all the trees along Cypress Street, fake snow blown into the corner of every shop's windows, miniature Santas and giant candles hovering illuminated beneath every streetlight — opened to the droves of tourists from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Central Valley searching for a truly meaningful moment of Christmas commerce. Pine Cove, sleepy California coastal village — a toy town, really, with more art galleries than gas stations, more wine-tasting rooms than hardware stores — lay there, as inviting as a drunken prom queen, as Christmas loomed, only five days away. Christmas was coming, and with Christmas this year, would come the Child. Both were vast and irresistible, and miraculous. Pine Cove was expecting only one of the two.

Which is not to say that the locals didn't get into the Christmas spirit. The two weeks before and after Christmas provided a welcome wave of cash into the town's coffers, tourist-starved since summer. Every waitress dusted off her Santa hat and clip-on reindeer antlers and checked to make sure that there were four good pens in her apron. Hotel clerks steeled themselves for the rage of last-minute overbookings, while housekeepers switched from their normal putrid baby-powder air fresheners to a more festive putrid pine and cinnamon. Down at the Pine Cove Boutique they put a "Holiday Special" sign on the hideous reindeer sweater and marked it up for the tenth consecutive year. The Elks, Moose, Masons, and VFWs, who were basically the same bunch of drunk old guys, planned furiously for their annual Christmas parade down Cypress Street, the theme of which this year would be Patriotism in the Bed of a Pickup (mainly because that had been the theme of their Fourth of July parade and everyone still had the decorations). Many Pine Covers even volunteered to man the Salvation Army kettles down in front of the post office and the Thrifty-Mart in two-hour shifts, sixteen hours a day. Dressed in their red suits and fake beards, they rang their bells like they were going for dog-spit gold at the Pavlov Olympics.

* * *

"Give up the cash, you cheap son of a bitch," said Lena Marquez, who was working the kettle that Monday, five days before Christmas. Lena was following Dale Pearson, Pine Cove's evil developer, through the parking lot, ringing the bejeezus out of him as he headed for his truck. On his way into the Thrifty-Mart, he'd nodded to her and said, "Catch you on the way out," but when he emerged eight minutes later, carrying a sack of groceries and a bag of ice, he blew by her kettle like she was using it to render tallow from building inspectors' butts and he needed to escape the stench.

"It's not like you can't afford a couple of bucks for the less fortunate."

She rang her bell especially hard right by his ear and he spun around, swinging the bag of ice at her about hip level.

Lena jumped back. She was thirty-eight, lean, dark-skinned, with the delicate neck and finely set jawline of a flamenco dancer; her long black hair was coiled into two Princess Leia cinnabuns on either side of her Santa hat. "You can't take a swing at Santa! That's wrong in so many ways that I don't have time to enumerate them."

"You mean to count them," Dale said, the soft winter sunlight glinting off a new set of veneers he'd just had installed on his front teeth. He was fifty-two, almost completely bald, and had strong carpenter's shoulders that were still wide and square, despite the beer gut hanging below.

"I mean it's wrong — you're wrong — and you're cheap," and with that Lena put the bell next to his ear again and shook it like a red-suited terrier shaking the life out of a screaming brass rat.

Dale cringed at the sound and swung the ten-pound bag of ice in a great underhanded arc that caught Lena in the solar plexus and sent her backpedaling across the parking lot, gasping for breath. That's when the ladies at BULGES called the cops — well, cop.

* * *

BULGES was a women's fitness center located just above the parking lot of the Thrifty-Mart, and from their treadmills and stair-climbing machines, the BULGES members could watch the ins and outs of the local market without feeling as if they were actively spying. So what had started as a moment of sheer glee and a mild adrenaline surge for the six of them who were watching as Lena chased Dale through the parking lot, turned quickly to shock as the evil developer thwacked the Latin Santa-ette in the breadbasket with a satchel of minicubes. Five of the six merely missed a step or gasped, but Georgia Bauman — who had her treadmill cranked up to eight miles per hour at that very moment, because she was trying to lose fifteen pounds by Christmas and fit into a red-sequined sheath cocktail dress her husband had bought for her in a fit of sexual idealism — bowled backward off her treadmill and landed in a colorful spandex tangle of yoga students who had been practicing on the mats behind her.

"Ow, my ass chakra!"

"That's you're root chakra."

"Feels like my ass."

"Did you see that? He nearly knocked her off her feet. Poor thing."

"Should we see if she's all right?"

"Someone should call Theo."

The exercisers opened their cell phones in unison, like the Jets flicking switchblades as they gaily danced into a West Side Story gang-fight to the death.

"Why did she ever marry that guy, anyway?"

"He's such an asshole."

"She used to drink."

"Georgia, are you all right, honey?"

"Can you get Theo by calling 911?"

"That bastard is just going to drive off and leave her there»

"We should go help."

"I've got twelve more minutes on this thing."

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