The fat man scrunched his grizzly white beard. “If I may speak…” he started.

The Honourable Judge Barbara Bluth sternly interjected. “No, you may not.”

“…but I only have tonight to deliver…”

“Another peep and you’re heading to the slammer. It’s bad enough I have to be here on Christmas Eve.”

“…but you don’t have jurisdiction…”

“You were subpoenaed in New York, Mr. Klaus, not the North Pole.”

An instant murmur travelled around the gallery.

The gavel came down hard on the block. “There will be silence in my court.”

Mr. Klaus flipped the end of his hat impatiently. A musical tinkle echoed through the room.

The judge’s keen grey eyes scanned the summons. “These are serious charges indeed, Mr. Klaus. How do you plead?”

“My client pleads…” started a squeaky voice and trailed off into a grunt as its owner struggled to push open the large wooden door.

The guard obliged. A tiny elf in a smart green suit strutted inside. “Not guilty, your honour. Mr. Thavron, counsel for Mr. Klaus.”

The judge leaned over to get a better look. “Very well, then.”

“Miss Rose, you have accused Mr. Klaus of putting your name on his naughty list for no good reason,” the prosecution attorney said, smoothing the black robes floating about his generous waist. “Am I right?”

“Yes, Mr. Wolf,” a waifish eight-year old nodded from the witness stand, causing her tiny auburn pigtail to give a little jump.

“And how did you know about this list?”

“It mysteriously appeared on the Internet yesterday.”

“Miss Rose, have you been a naughty girl this past year?”

“Oh no, Mr. Wolf,” Miss Rose sniffed. “I have eaten my greens, fed stray dogs and done all my chores.”

“And yet,” Mr. Wolf pleaded, staring into the eyes of the jury, “my poor client’s name was dragged into this preposterous naughty list.”

“Mr. Klaus,” Mr. Thavron said, “why is Miss Rose’s name on this list?”

“She stole…”

Mr. Wolf shot out of his seat. “I object, your honour.”

“Do you have proof, counselor?” Judge Bluth raised an eyebrow.

Just then, a tiny elf ran over and whispered in Mr. Thavron’s ear. His face turned white. “Uh…no, your honour. Our central server was hacked this morning and some footage, including the evidence against Miss Rose, was stolen.”

Miss Rose glanced sideways and nodded, ever so slightly. A shadow left the room.

“Objection sustained.”

“Guilty, your honour,” the wrinkled old lady droned.

“Mr. Klaus, you are hereby ordered to place Miss Rose on the nice list,” Judge Bluth blurted, hammering the gavel and grabbing her purse. “Court adjourned.”

“Congratulations, Miss Rose,” Mr. Klaus said, heaving himself up.

“Humph,” Miss Rose said, sticking her nose in the air. “You know where to deliver my present.”

Mr. Klaus scratched his head. “What does she want?”

“A pink elephant,” Mr. Thavron answered, checking his Wish List app.

“I think that can be arranged,” Mr. Klaus smiled. “And yes, next year we start our itinerary from London.”

A trumpeting sound shattered the early morning peace.

The windows flew open. A pink elephant stood tied to the parking meter outside the Rose family house.

“What did you ask for?” a much harrowed Mr. Rose cried.

“A pink…I mean a stuffed pink…oh no,” Miss Rose wailed and ran to her room.

Mr. and Mrs. Rose looked at each other.

“The elephant feed,” Mr. Rose cried.

“The neighbours,” Mrs. Rose wept.

“Not to mention the lawyer’s fee.”

“And the animal rights groups.”

Mr. Rose sat down. “I’ll write to Santa. You tell her she’s grounded for a year.”

© Copyright Prashant Pinge 2014. All Rights Reserved