Lucy and Kelly didn’t plan to have a big one that night. It was just meant to be some celebratory food and drinks to toast their decade long friendship before Kelly moved her life to Scotland the next morning. The flight was booked, bags packed, and “last night” plans ready to go.
Things went without a hitch. Dinner at Terroni on Queen – their favourite spot – then a drink at Kalendar on College to remember the plethora of first dates the girls had to trudge through at what has been called the “best first date” place in the city. To hear the girls’ experiences you would think the opposite, but that was more the quality of their partners for those nights then the restaurant itself.
Things ramped up when they hit Remingtons for a couple drinks and thought after that if they were going to go to a strip club, they probably should have just hit Filmores for its dirty diveness. The girls were less creepy than the guys as well.
The night would end, or so they thought, with some Korean karaoke on Bloor, but that was only just the beginning.
As the taxi approached they didn’t give its vintage esthetic much of a thought, the drinks obviously playing a role. Once they got in though, they wondered what part of the galaxy they had entered. Flashing Christmas lights from a bad ‘80’s holiday movie were strewn about and the interior appeared much larger than it did from the outside.
“Is this the cash cab?” Lucy said.
“Is this even a cab?” Kelly countered.
“Where you ladies headed?” the driver said pulling the car away from the curb.
Lucy and Kelly stared quizzically at each other when they noticed their driver didn’t have his hands on the wheel.
“Ah, are you not – ”
Lucy was interrupted by the opening of the Jose Feliciano classic “Feliz Navidad”, which unlike the song that played before it, blared through the taxi.
“I love this song!” the driver said. “Best Christmas carol ever!”
He threw his hands in the air and began swaying with the music.
“Come on girls!” he said, looking back at them. Even as he danced the cab kept moving at pace, weaving in and out of traffic, slowing and speeding with seemingly zero influence from its driver who what to their wondering eyes appeared to be Santa Claus.
“What the – ” Lucy started.
“Sweet hell?” Kelly finished.
“Sweet hell isn’t as sweet as this tune!” Santa said.
“Are you?” Kelly said.
“I am,” Santa said. The taxi pulled over to the curb and the volume lowered on the song.
“Prove it,” Lucy said.
“Your name is Lucy Ramirez. You were born on September 26th, 1985. You have a dog named Frank and an apartment on Sorauren. All you want for Christmas is for your best friend Kelly Shapiro to stay in Toronto and not move to Scotland tomorrow,” Santa said. His hands were clasped around his wide mid-section and he faced forward.
Lucy and Kelly stared at each other, mouths agape.
“Seriously? Where’s the camera? What the hell is going on?” Lucy said.
“You also wished you went to Filmores instead of Remingtons because, as Kelly so eloquently put it, the dangling dicks were disgusting.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Kelly said.
“Where did you want to go?” Santa said.
“No! Out of this cab!” Kelly said.
“I can take you, literally, anywhere,” Santa said.
“Prove it,” Lucy said, as Kelly grabbed her arm and shook her head with vigor.
With the blink of Santa’s eye, Lucy and Kelly found themselves sitting in beach chairs surrounded by golden sand and staring at a bright blue body of water. They were wearing familiar bathing suits. Santa sat next to them in a crimson red speedo. He could have been confused for being naked as his girth covered much of the suit.
“Puerto Vallarta, the site of your trip seven years ago. You both got ditched by your respective boyfriends and decided you needed to get your grooves back. You didn’t really know each other well at this point, but this was the trip that cemented your friendship,” he said.
The girls took in the scene and then each other with concern.
“So you really are Santa then, or the devil?” Kelly said.
“Or we are just really drunk? Or you gave us ‘shrooms or acid?” Lucy said.
“I am the former, I promise,” he said.
“Drunk?” Lucy said.
“Yes, that too,” he said.
“So then why aren’t you up getting ready for Christmas?” Lucy said.
“Because I’m cancelling it this year. The elves are assholes.”
“What happened?” Kelly said.
They heard the snap of Santa’s fingers and found themselves back in their winter gear and inside the taxi. Instead of being at the curbside in Toronto, they were floating a few hundred feet above an idyllic winter town.
“You see that group of elves marching with their stupid signs outside of that ridiculous building with the smoke stacks?”
“Barely,” Kelly said.
“That’s what happened. Mittens croaked and things went entirely bollocks. They can’t get their shit together and I don’t want to deal with any of it. They broke my window, so screw them! Feliz Navidad!”
The cab cut a quick turn and zoomed away from the North Pole as the song blasted from the speakers. Santa resumed his dance and the girls sat in a stunned silence, though Lucy was tapping an index finger to the beat.
In what seemed like a minute, the girls found themselves back on the familiar Bloor Street strip where they had been picked up. Santa seemed subdued and was now driving in the traditional way.
“So you are just going to bail on the whole holiday? That seems pretty irresponsible,” Lucy said.
“I truly haven’t decided, but it’s looking that way.”
“But so many people are relying on you,” Kelly said.
“One day a year they rely on me, and then the others, they forget. The elf stuff aside, what the hell happens to all that goodwill the other three hundred and sixty four days?”
Lucy and Kelly had no answer for him.
“So let’s go for one last jaunt and then I’ll get you guys home,” he said.
Kelly knew exactly where they were as soon as they appeared. Her bags were at her feet and her confused best-friend by her side. Santa sat in the taxi that idled by the curb a few feet away.
“Where the hell are we?” Lucy said, turning a confused three hundred and sixty degrees.
“So, this is going to be my new home,” Kelly said. She felt a twinge of guilt. “I’m sorry for leaving.”
“Why are you sorry? This is amazing for you,” Lucy said.
“Yes, but – ”
“Yes, but nothing. I am obviously going to miss you and we won’t see each other as much, but modern technology and all that, we’ll be fine. Plus, I have a free place to stay in Glasgow,” Lucy said.
“I know, but he said,” Kelly motioned her head toward the taxi, “that you wanted me to stay.”
“Of course, but that’s for my own selfishness.”
Lucy stepped to her friend, took her in her arms and squeezed hard.
“Here’s to the magic of the future, and apparently tonight as well,” Lucy said and stepped back.
“Maybe he isn’t done with the goodwill of the season after all,” Kelly said.