The taxi driver pulls up to a crumbling brick apartment building in Brooklyn Heights and I think to myself that surely a being as menacing as Krampus must have a greater reward than a fourth-floor walk-up without a river view. I arrive at his door huffing.
“I know… right? The effing elevator is out again!” Krampus frowns and opens the door wider, motioning me inside. I hug my messenger bag close to my body and manage to pass him without touching. He smirks at me.
I lucked into the interview assignment from the arts newspaper because the last guy bailed and no one’s heard from him in months. I’m grateful that Krampus wanted to meet at his apartment for the interview. His Hieronymus Bosch collection is rumored to be the largest in the world. He tells me has yet to decide who will be the eventual beneficiary of the collection. I’ve heard that both the Met and the Louvre have been quietly soliciting Krampus for years, but when I try to press him on this, he refuses to reveal his estate plans. He lights a cigarette and waves at “Fall of the Damned into Hell.”
“The one in Venice is a copy. I had to have the real deal,” he explains. “It’s my favorite. And not just because my great-great cousin Wilhelm is in it. See, right there?” He moves his lit cigarette too close to the painting, pointing at a screaming face. I don’t see a family resemblance, but I don’t say anything.
The one person Krampus doesn’t want to talk about is Nicholas, and I get that. There are a lot of people I hate too. When I push him again about the whole Christmas thing, Krampus considers me for a moment. “It’s not about the kids anymore, man. I mean, what do they know? I’m in it for the adults now. And this is the perfect place.” He stretches out his arms and does a small twirl in his cramped living room. “I can do Wall Street first thing in the morning, grab the Acela to DC, hit up Congress, and grab a drink at the Mayflower Hotel before heading home. All in a day’s work.” Krampus crushes out his cigarette while I set my messenger bag down and take out my microphone and recorder.
“Well, shall we begin?” I ask, fiddling with the sound adjustments.
“Yes. We shall.” Krampus grabs the recorder out of my hands, puts it on the side table next to his ashtray, and pulls a bundle of birch sticks from behind his back. I back away, finding myself up against the rattling single-paned windows overlooking Montague Street.
“Sometimes, I even get to work from home.” He lightly taps the sticks in his left palm and, for the first time that afternoon, smiles.
Stacy Murison is a writer and educator in Flagstaff, AZ. She was demoted from playing Mary to a sheep in her 1st grade Christmas play because she talked too much. Her work has appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and The Rumpus, among others.