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Nick's Christmas Wish by Matt McHugh

An actor lands his dream job, but it's more than just another role. It's a chance to bring joy the hearts of children everywhere. Fuggedabowdit!

The full text of the story is available free online for individuals to read and share.

Nick's Christmas Wish

       Nick's "Ho" was a deep, resonant thing. Pushed from his diaphragm with a tantric exhalation, it went through his voice box like a tuba blast, finally to be shaped into a warm tone in his carefully rounded cheeks. He ran the "Ho's" together—blurring the "H's"—so that it sounded truly like laughter and not just three nonsense syllables blurted on cue. Nick rehearsed his "Ho" until it was a spontaneous explosion of mirth from a vast, jolly old man who gave into laughter with childlike abandon.

       His beard and belly were counterfeit for practical reasons, but of the highest theatrical quality. His fat suit was silicone sewn into a Lycra unitard interspersed with water-filled pouches to give it a jiggly heft believable to both eye and touch. His beard was human hair harvested from an insanely expensive wig and dyed snowy white with a hint of gray visible in the underbrush. It was mounted on a non-elastic strap that ran over the top of his head—under his custom-made snowy white hairpiece with bald crown—and meticulously latexed to his skin along the edges. He estimated that it could have held the swinging weight of a fifty-pound child. Subtle makeup added highlights of age to his face. The rest, he did with expression.

       Of course, his suit, hat, belt, and boots were perfectly realistic. Well-made of sturdy, albeit faux, material and weathered just enough to suggest a long history of wear and fastidious care. However, these were just the external trappings of the icon. To really sell it, Nick knew he had to reach the heart of the character. He crafted an extensive backstory and did Meisner exercises for weeks to get the motivation right. He found a signature voice (a hint of Finnish accent) and postural cues (Alexander method crossed with a bowl full of jelly) that implied the mind of the man with every small detail. It was his mission to ensure that every child who sat on his knee, every parent that stood behind the camera, and every shopping passer-by would see him as nothing but 100% Santa Claus. But his investment in this job went beyond professionalism.


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