Nice to be so Naughty

Don't think Dalila Caryn has a sense of humor? Discover the answer

 Sneak Peek:

Eight Tiny Reindeer


“There were, in fact, nine tiny reindeer on my desk when I left work for Thanksgiving weekend last Wednesday; now there are only eight!” Gabriella Anjelica Cruz, one of Santa’s very favorite helpers, strives for a light tone as she responds to the film crew behind her. 

Gabriella was not exactly on board with the concept of this film when emails came in from her company’s CEO saying a group of college students would be doing a documentary about the doll company. Nope, she was decidedly opposed to it and sent a flurry of emails to the human resources department about the sensitive nature of the work done in IT. Until the company, in what they considered a great show of consideration, gifted all the IT workers with protective screens so their work couldn’t be filmed. 

It was about then while researching the film crew on her own time that Gabriella realized she was in over her head trying to get out of it. One of the “producers” of the piece—Kristen Kringle—was the only daughter of the company’s CEO. Not being one to bite her nose off to spite her face, Gabriella gave in and threw herself firmly behind the documentary. But deciding to be helpful and professional has yet to make her comfortable with cameras following her around or the sense that her every secret is being exposed. And now, to add to that discomfort, someone is playing pranks on her. It’s too much. Politeness can only extend so far.  

“So fine,” Gabriella sighs dramatically, resisting the urge to roll her eyes, but just barely. “Some people think a full week before Thanksgiving is too early to decorate for Christmas. But that is no excuse for theft. And he did it so blatantly too!”

“He?” Kristen inquires blandly; she knows full well who he is: Jack Hilary Drummer. The man on the opposite side of Gabriella’s cubicle wall. 

This interview came up because Kristen saw the pair arguing. But she needs to lead the conversation back where she wants it. This is the most promising sign of life in this office so far. She knows there is workplace tension. There has to be, and she is here to capture it, but no one has opened up about anything in the two weeks she’s been here. If she doesn’t get something soon, this project won’t even be worth a C, and she’s after an A. She won’t settle for less than an A. 

If she has to create the drama herself, she will have her A! 

Gabriella rolls her eyes at the younger, but really not that much younger woman, well aware of Kristen’s manipulative intents. It annoys her to be sure, but in later moments, away from perfect Kristen’s perfect teeth, perfectly smooth skin, bright, vapid smile, condescending laugh, and BMW, really a BMW! Anyway, in later moments, she will admit she sort of respects the girl’s drive. Gabriella also never settled for less than an A. Well—once. But she still considers it unfair that any grade in a college class can be weighted that heavily on a group assignment.   

“Yes, he. I’m about ninety percent sure the thief is Jack.” Wisely, Gabriella restrains the comment that the other ten percent of her would bet Kristen stole the deer herself to stir up conflict.

But the smile on Kristen’s face might lead one to believe that she reads minds. 

This is not accurate. However, Kristen is entirely able to extrapolate the remains of Gabriella’s calculations from her facial expressions alone.

Kristen would do it too. She just didn’t have to. All she had to do was flirtatiously complain to Jack after wrapping up for the day last week that everyone was too nervous about the cameras to do anything but work stiffly. And she wished she could see the real people. Really, men are so easy.  

“It’s always Jack,” Gabriella finishes. “He’s like a five-year-old.”

At this exact moment, the five-year-old in question, Jack Hilary Drummer, chronologically aged twenty-nine, though it has been remarked before that men are allowed to mature much slower than they age, is eves-dropping with a broad smile. A playful smile. An imps smile. With the sort of immature thoughts running through his head that have landed many a more mature man on the naughty list before. 

Jack looks into the eyes of the pilfered reindeer and places a finger against his lips. Then, apparently unsatisfied with the complete silence of the figurine, Jack takes things a step further. Shaking with silent laughter Jack places a tiny sliver of scotch tape across its mouth assuring that the inanimate object won’t give him away. 

It is worth wondering if he would have done the same had he known that Santa was indeed watching. And that Santa does not forget. But Jack, rather sure of his own maturity and thus having long since decided Santa is not real, does not know. And is far more concerned with his own amusement than he is with the consequences of his actions. Thus he continues to bask in the entertainment he has provided himself by riling Santa’s model citizen. 

“It’s not as if he stole Rudolph, who wasn’t a part of the original octet, so I might not have noticed right away,” Gabriella continues to the film crew. She feels internally, but does not stop to examine, the strangeness that is how much more comfortable she is with the film crew today— while angry. She is more herself. Concerned, but less so, that she appears at all times normal. She speaks with passion and playfulness even a bit of self-deprecation and feels very much herself, all because she can’t really focus on anything other than her missing reindeer. 

Were she to have a tech call come in right now, even if it were a challenging one, half of her mind would be focused on her missing reindeer. She would be shuddering from the invasion over her walls, literal and metaphorical. She would be fighting off the urge to clean the desk. The walls, her phone and all her decorations. She would be fighting the need to kick Jack Drummer in his little drummer boys as if that would drive into his thick skull that it isn’t okay to invade other people’s space! But instead of doing any of that, she’s talking about it. Trying to make light of it.

“Nooo!” She goes on, managing quite well, she thinks, to sound playful though she is, in fact, angry.  “He stole Vixen!”

Kristen giggles softly, a giggle she knows annoys sweet Gabriella. And she is just as sweet as a gumdrop. Too sweet. So Kristen riles her in the hopes of finding Gabriella’s bitchy side.

“You know their names? Their order?” Kristen knows those answers. But she is quite pleased and amused to know that Gabriella knows them as well. And even more pleased when she watches the other woman’s eyes narrow and all but feels Gabriella clinging to her friendly smile with sharp, angry teeth. 

“Of course, I know their order. It is basic logic. Santa speaks English, so presuming an English education, he would call them from left to right,” Gabriella says instructively, with a condescending smile of her own. “Starting with the deer furthest from his sleigh! The perpetrator stole the second furthest deer on Santa’s right. Vixen!”

Kristen has never liked her better. And to think she expected this assignment to be no fun at all. But ooh, look how perfectly prepared Gabriella is for her upcoming job title shift. 

This, you see, is the story of Gabriella Anjelica Cruz and what she made of her world in the twenty-five days in the year two-thousand-and-eighteen when she became, for lack of a better name, and with a few limitations, Santa Claus.