By Jeff Couch

It was a bright and sunny day. As I stepped through the shiny door of the Holitown diner, the bell on the spring gave a hopeful ring. I was hopeful too. Maybe, finally, this was the right place and time. I stepped up to the counter and spoke to the waitress. She pointed to a booth in the corner. There was a man there, eating alone. He had on a beat-up leather jacket that had seen better days. It was impossible to tell how old he was; he could’ve been a mature 25 or a young 45. It wasn’t until the waitress walked over to his table that he glanced my way and I saw his eyes. His eyes said old—real old. His eyes said he had been alive too long, seen too many things. He gave me a nod and I walked over.

The waitress stepped aside, and I slid into the booth opposite him. The man gave me a once-over, taking in the trench coat, ball cap, and sunglasses. He gave me another nod and then began to speak.

“So, you want anything to eat?” He went on without giving me a chance to say anything. “Calli, they’ll have a double flapjack stack. Two slices of bacon, extra crispy. Two eggs, scrambled, hard. And a side of grits. Sweet, not savory. Oh, and from the looks of ’em, coffee, light and sweet.”

“So, a Cupid special? Right, gotcha honey. You want anything else?”

“Just the orange juice. Keep ’em coming.”

“Sure, sweetie. You be nice now, okay?”

“Yeah, sure. Nice.”

And with that, the waitress sauntered off to get what he’d ordered for me. I looked across the table at this weathered man in a young man’s body.

“So, Kristen says you are looking for stories. Yeah, I’ve got a few. Seems like all I got these days is stories. Got nothin’ better to do but tell ’em. I guess someone should hear ’em.” He seemed to be trying to convince himself. He stared at his half-eaten plate of biscuits and gravy covered in black pepper. After a beat, he sighed, straightened his shoulders, and looked me in the eyes.

“All right then, the name is Cupid, it rhymes with stupid, and if you don’t think love makes you act the fool, then you haven’t been paying attention. You want a story, then listen up, cause I ain’t gonna say it twice. It’s bad enough that I had to live through it. This is the story of what happens when people go missing here in Holitown.”


It was a Monday morning, February the 7th, and I was slumped down in my office chair with my fedora over my eyes. I was trying to keep any trace of brightness out of them ’cause I’d been trying to get drunk the night before, but all that Pat was serving at The Clover Club was Rabid Pink Squirrels on account of the holiday. I have no idea what was in those things, something like peppermint schnapps and Bailey’s Strawberry Cream. All I knew is they were nasty, tasted like Pepto-Bismol, and took an ungodly amount to get wasted. I had finally asked for a bottle of ouzo and gone to the office to drink it alone. It was my first night alone and I didn’t want to see the empty house. I wasn’t sure how she could’ve left me, but I really didn’t want to think about it. I had just come to with the bottle in my left hand, the cap in my right, when the door to my office opened. I dropped the empty to the floor and peeked out under my brim.

She walked in the room like she belonged there. Not there actually—more like anywhere she was, that was where she belonged, and we were there because she let us. She wasn’t hot, not by any means, but she was what men meant when they said a woman aged like a fine wine. She looked like your grandmother if your grandmother had been the most attractive 20-year-old in the world 50 years ago and now just wanted to sit you down and offer you milk and cookies. Her face was also bright red and streaked from crying. No face that looked like that should ever look like that. I stood up, straightened my tie, and offered her a seat. She preferred to remain standing.

“Mrs. Claus, what can I do for you?” I wasn’t sure what she wanted, but I knew one thing. Women didn’t walk into my office looking like she did because they wanted to buy cologne for their boyfriends. I prepared myself for the worst, and I got it.

“Santa’s gone. I mean, I don’t know where he is. He hasn’t been home in days and I’m starting to worry. What am I saying—I’m not starting to worry, I am worried! It’s been three days and I haven’t heard from him. I don’t know what I’m gonna do. He’s never been gone this long before. I just have to find him.” Her eyes got all watery and she took a handkerchief out of her pocketbook. It was embroidered along the edge with poinsettias. I took the opportunity to speak up.

“Hold on there, Mrs. Claus. Maybe it’s not so bad. Some guys just need a little space from time to time. Maybe he is just out taking a…a… “spiritual retreat” in the woods. Ya know, camping, getting in touch with nature?”

“Oh dear, of course, I know that. Do you know how many years we’ve been married? We give each other space all the time. It’s not that, it’s just…yesterday was our anniversary. In all the years we’ve been together he’s never missed our anniversary—at least not without letting me know what was going on. The first couple of days I wasn’t worried; he had said he was going out for a little while. But then when he didn’t show up yesterday, well, I started to worry. There’s this elf, you know, at work. She’s been getting into trouble, falling asleep on the job and causing issues, that kind of thing. I thought, maybe Santa went to have a talk with her. If he got her to change her ways, then I figured maybe he had posted about it on social media. Santa is always trying to celebrate when someone switches from one list to the other and loves to post about it. It encourages morale, you know? So, I googled “Santa and the Naughty Elf.” And that’s when I saw…I saw…” She started tearing up again.

Now, I’ve been Cupid a long time. I’m actually a god of physical love, among other things. Trust me when I tell you, you do NOT want to google “Santa and the Naughty Elf.” There are some things you just can’t unsee. Unfortunately, I had been in this business long enough to know that when a spouse misses an important date like this, the wife usually has reason to worry. I was afraid this wasn’t going to turn out well. Cheating spouses were my bread and butter. I just wish it wasn’t this one, but as I had recently learned, you never knew what people were capable of. I grabbed my coat off the rack and told Mrs. Claus I would take the case. I knew just where to start looking.


We headed crosstown in my beat-up Chevy Celebrity. It wasn’t much to look at and the inside looked like I lived in it, ’cause half the time I did. I had brushed some fast food debris off the passenger side and offered Mrs. Claus a seat. To her credit, she hadn’t batted an eye, just sat down like it was the finest chariot she’d ever been in. I admired the old broad; she had nerves of steel, never mind her leaking eyes. I was afraid what we were going to find would soon test her resolve.


We pulled into the lot of a modern factory, all glass and steel, and double-parked behind a Prius in a color they call “Sea Glass Pearl.” I knew the owner and didn’t want her to try to make a run for it when she saw us coming. If what was going on was what I thought was going on, she wouldn’t be too happy to see my client. She was never happy to see me, at least not since that incident in ’87.

I breezed past the protests from the kid at the desk and into her office. There she was, standing at the floor-to-ceiling window, looking over the factory floor. She was dressed in a pair of expensive tan riding breeches that looked like she had been poured into them, with knee-high boots hugging her like she was the reason they had been made. To be honest, with the money she raked in at this place, they probably had been custom-made. That was topped by a tight white blouse that hugged her in all the right…Okay, wait. I know. I sound sexist. I get it. It’s the modern age and we aren’t supposed to talk about women this way. It’s just…she was just…let’s just say…let’s just say there are some women that when you see them you thank God you are a man. Looking at her made me glad I was single again. She was some hot bunny.

“Oh, it’s you.” She gave me the same look she always gave me. The one you give the months-old mystery meat surprise you find in the back of the fridge when you are cleaning it out before the in-laws come over. Then she looked over at my client. “I must say, I’m a little surprised to see you with…him. I would think you would keep better company than…him.” There was that look again.

“Look, Ettie baby…”

“It’s Esther.”

“Right, Esther, listen babe.”

“Don’t call me babe. Nobody gets the right to call me babe, especially not you.”

“Right, listen, uh…Esther, Mrs. Claus here has a problem.”

“You can call me Doris, dear.”

“Huh? What?” I turned to face Mrs. Claus.

“Doris, dear. It’s my name. You can call me Doris.”

“Oh, thank you.” I turned back around and struggled to regain my train of thought. “Esther, listen. Doris here has a problem. Her husband, Santa Claus, I think you might know him? He seems to have gone missing. I know the two of you spend a lot of time together. I was wondering if you know where he is.”

The look she had given me before was one of disgust. The look now was fury—pure hot lava. I had seen that look once before and had hoped to never see it again. You would think she would start screaming or stammering or something, but not this chickadee. When she got mad, her eyes might turn hard and her face get red, but she got cold, frosty cold. Her next words fell like ice crystals to the floor.

“And…you…came…to…me. She came to you for help, and your first thought was to come here. I should have expected as much. Do I know Santa? Yeah, I know him. He has been in this business a lot longer than some of us and the man has incredible advice. He is the nicest guy I’ve ever met and the first to lend a helping hand. I can’t think of a bad word to say about him; the guy is a saint. But if you think that I would take advantage of him in any way…! I am NOT the kind of girl that messes around with married men. I don’t need that kind of stress in my life.”

“Well, there was the time when you and…”

“I am telling you, I don’t fool around with men that I know are married. I can’t help it when they lie to me. Do you really want to bring that up now? No? I didn’t think so.” Just then an employee walked in with a clipboard and an anxious look on his face.

“Mrs. Bonney, I’m sorry to interrupt, but there’s been an incident in the chocolate room. It looks like there are supply-chain issues with our cocoa beans and they have sent us a lower grade than we ordered. Do you want us to go ahead and process these beans or should we wait for a resupply to get in? They say it could take 6 to 8 weeks.”

“No Pascal, we can’t use low-grade beans, and that timeframe will never work. It looks like we are going to have to dig into the emergency silo to get it done in time. Get me Ovid on the phone and I’ll get the ball rolling.”

She turned back to us, “If you will excuse me, Doris, as you can see, I have a business to run. I am sorry that your husband is missing, and I truly hope you find him. Really. He is a wonderful man. Unlike some I know. All I can say is, be careful who you trust.”

And with that she was gone, and her assistant was ushering us out the door.


We were back in my car, driving in circles, trying to think of what to do next. Esther had been a memory of things best left forgotten, but one thing she had said was right. I had been wrong to think Santa was cheating. That wasn’t his thing. I had let the craziness of the Internet cloud my thinking. No matter what was going on, it wasn’t another woman. There was some other reason Santa had missed his red-letter date.

Maybe I had been right to begin with. Maybe he had just been looking to blow off some steam. I mean, no one can be that jolly all the time. Maybe he had just been looking for a place to let loose and let go. As we passed Jake’s Fireworks Emporium I tried to think of where I would go if I wanted to find a non-stop blow-out bash. That’s when it hit me. I took a right on State Street and headed out to the overpriced part of town. I had a friend there that was always in a party state of mind.


I was a little surprised when we pulled up outside his white-columned mini-mansion. The Ford F-450 Limited in Atlas White with a custom American flag hood was there. I winced as I parked behind it and saw all the obnoxious bumper stickers splashed across the back windshield and tailgate. They covered all sides of the political spectrum, just for good measure. The eyesore of a truck was expected, but what really surprised me was how empty the lawn looked. I had thought I would see beer cans and lawn chairs and bodies sprawled across the hedges. This place was usually what set designers meant when they said, “Make it look like a frat house!” Instead, it looked surprisingly placid. I warned Mrs. Claus of what to most likely expect inside, and then we went up the path.

When my friend opened the door, I knew immediately something was wrong. His eyes were bloodshot, his nose was bright red, and he was coughing and hacking up a storm. He kept raising a ragged tissue up to his face to wipe it off, and where he had missed there were dried streaks in his long white beard. He was wearing a ratty robe over boxer shorts and shivering violently. He spoke with a rattling wheeze.

“Hey man, what’s up?” He tried to drag a smile onto his face but lost the battle and it ran down into his tissue with everything else.

“Hi, Sam. Hey, you don’t look so good. You okay, man?”

“Ahh yeah, I’m fine, dude. No worries. It’s just a little cold, at the worst the flu. It’ll be over in a couple of days. Nothing to see here, man. We’ll be back to partying in no time! You think the ol’ ball ’n’ chain will let you come over?” He bent over at the waist, barking as if he had a furry animal caught in his throat.

“Umm, yeah. I, uh, guess ya hadn’t heard. I’m pretty much on my own right now. I can come over whenever I want.”

“Ahh, that’s great, man! Party-time!” He tried to fist bump me as he bent over, hacking again.

“Yeah, uh, party-time?” I waved my fist at him but did not make any actual contact. “Speaking of party-time, I was wondering if I could talk to any of the people inside?” I tried to push past him, but he put his arm out to stop me.

“Ah, there’s no one here, man. They all left a couple of days ago. Guess they were afraid of a little bug. No worries, I’ll be fine in a couple of days, and they’ll all come running back, begging to get in. It’s gonna be the greatest rager yet. You’ll see!” He leaned out the doorway and yelled past me. “Guess you find out who your real friends are when you get sick! Real friends don’t abandon you over a little cough! Real friends hang tight and have fun! See if I invite you to the Mega-Bash! I’m canceling you, ya hear! Y’all are canceled!” He leaned on my shoulder and breathed into my face. “Not you though, man. You can come. You are absolutely invited. We’ll have fireworks and a marching band and everything! Bring your friends! Bring your girls! Everyone is welcome!” A line of snot drooped from one nostril and began stretching towards my hand. I put my sleeve over my face and backed away quickly, pulling Mrs. Claus with me.

“Sounds great, Uncle Sam.” I moved a little faster. “Sammy ol’ pal…” We were down the sidewalk. “Ol’ pal o’ mine…” and at the curb. “Sounds awesome! Just let me know when you’re feeling up to it and I’ll come over. Hope you get to feeling better. Thoughts and prayers!” I gave him a thumbs-up before jumping into the car and peeling out of there. My throat was starting to feel dry and scratchy, and I needed to find a place to get a drink.


I wiped the mustard from my face and tossed the empty burger wrapper to the back seat. Mrs. Claus had been busy packing away a surprising number of “Suds Slaw Dogs” and I was glad I’d brought her to my favorite drive-up. I took another pull off my “Freezy” Root Beer and turned up the radio. “As Many Candles as Possible” by The Mountain Goats was playing and it was one of my favorite songs. We weren’t any closer to finding her missing husband, but good food in my belly always brightened my outlook. It also helped me think a little clearer. If he wasn’t cheating or partying, where could he be? I was starting to suspect foul play. Who in town would I suspect of doing something shady? That’s when it came to me. 


We pulled up in front of a small cottage-style house in a part of town I never visited. It wasn’t a bad part of town, per se. The people there just creeped me out. I always expected to leave cursed or possessed or missing a body part. Still, if something bad had happened to Santa, this was most likely the place. I parked on the street in case we needed a quick getaway. There was a black 2010 Hyundai Equus sitting in the driveway. We opened the gate in the little fence and went up to the door. Eerie music spilled out from the windows and onto the lawn. When I rang the bell, the music came to an abrupt stop.

The woman that opened the door was tall and exceedingly thin. Her skin was pale and bloodless. She was dressed impeccably in a dark three-piece suit featuring a gold paisley vest with a matching black and gold tie. She held her head in her hands at waist height.

“Good day, how may I help you?” She spoke in a deep contralto that sent shivers up and down my spine.”

“Excuse me, ma’am, sorry to bother you.”

“No bother. I seldom get visitors this time of year. It’s nice to see a friendly face.”

“Yes, well, it’s nice to see your face too.” I stood there trying not to glance at her headless neck. Look her in the eyes, look her in the eyes! 

“So, may I help you?”

“Um yes, um well, you see, this is Mrs. Claus.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Claus”

“Doris. You may call me Doris.”

“Nice to meet you, Doris. I am…well, it has been a long time since I had a name, I’m afraid. Most of the living simply call me The Danse Master.”

“Nice to meet you, Danse Master.”

The pleasantries exchanged, we all just stood there, staring at each other. I was starting to forget what we had come here for. I didn’t know where to look.

“Well, thank you for the introduction. If that is all, I really must be going. I am working on selections for this year’s Danse. I really must get this wrapped up; our preliminary planning stage has nearly expired.”

I found myself staring at her hands. Her fingernails were long and pointed and were painted a deep black. Onyx. That color was Onyx. They were wrapped around her face and her eyes blinked between her index fingers.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but…good day.” She reached up with one hand and began to close the door. That broke the spell and I put my foot out to stop her.

“Santa Claus has gone missing. Maybe you’ve heard of him?” Seen him. I meant to say, “Maybe you’ve seen him.” I mentally kicked myself.

“Why, of course I’ve heard of Santa Claus. Wonderful man. He stops by every year for a preview and gives us notes on our show. Very gracious man, we value his opinions immensely. He is always careful to be uplifting and constructive in his criticism. The Danse Macabre is much better as a whole due to his contributions. I am sorry to hear he is missing.”

“When was the last time you saw him?” If he came around here, I figured this creepy lady might have had something to do with his disappearance. 

“It’s been quite a few weeks, I’m sure. We had our performance, then took a few weeks off to recover. Of course, then he had his season to attend to. I think we had some drinks a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t seen him since.” 

I was distracted for a minute trying to understand how The Danse Master drank anything with her neck up high and her head down below. I shook it off and pressed on.

“Can you account for your whereabouts for the last three days?”

She gave me a harsh look. “I am sure I don’t appreciate the suggestion. If you must know, I have been here, listening to composers for our upcoming setlist. I have been particularly taken with Anaïs Mitchell’s work; have you heard of her?”

I wasn’t familiar with the artist, but I didn’t think she was lying. I took one last stab at her.

“Is there anyone that can vouch for what you’re telling us?”

The Danse Master’s face became even more still. Goosebumps leapt up on my arms. I understood what it felt like to be prey in the claws of a deadly predator.

“May I remind you that you are a guest on my property? I am not someone you want to trifle with, Lovey. You may be an old Greek god, but I am as old as humans themselves. Eventually they all dance to my beat—no one escapes. Do not tempt me to try my hand at a tune for you. As for an alibi, there were some ghouls here working on blocking with me this weekend. It’s a little early for them now, but they should be awakening soon. I would suggest the cemetery at sundown. I hope you find your husband, Doris.”

With that, she firmly shut the door in our faces. A few minutes later I heard the eerie strains of her music bleed through the curtains again. We wound our way back down the path to the car. This was it. We had reached a dead end.


Dejected, I slowly drove back to the office. I didn’t know what to say to Mrs. Claus. She was a nice lady and just wanted her husband back. I had exhausted all of our options. He wasn’t cheating, wasn’t partying, no foul play. He had just vanished. What would they tell the kids? I pulled up in front of my office building and swore. That cursed Orpheus in 2C had taken my parking space again. That kid didn’t care about rules or seniority or anything. I paid extra with my rent each month for a parking space in front. Now I was going to have to feed a meter on a side street somewhere. 

I sat there fuming until the traffic behind me honked and I began to move along. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bumper sticker on the back of Orpheus’s bright yellow Beetle. That’s when I knew. I knew where Doris’s husband was.


We turned into Elysium Estates Trailer Park right as the sun was beginning to set. We meandered down the roads between the semi-permanent homes where our elders rode out their twilight years. The people along the lanes stopped puttering in their gardens or putting on their lawns to watch us go by. An oversized tricycle paused and the driver stared at us as we rolled along. I turned onto Tartarus Terrace and parked in front of the last house at the end of the lane, number 101. A beat-up two-tone gold and white 1970 Chevy Silverado was sitting out front. Surprisingly, for this time of the year, the grass on the lawn was bright green and there was even a 5-by-5-foot patch of corn that towered above our heads, ripe and ready. I opened the screen door and rattled on the aluminum one, then took a step back and waited.

The man that came to the door was a big beefy fella. He had the dark, tan skin of someone that had worked their whole life in the sun. His hands were thick and callused. He was wearing overalls with one side unbuttoned over an athletic shirt and had a 6-inch pretzel stick hanging out the side of his lips. He grabbed it between two meaty fingers and reached out with his other hand.

“Eri, so nice to see you—come in, come in.” He called me by my old nickname from when I was just a kid and shook my hand vigorously, being careful not to crush it. With the sun setting behind us, he hadn’t seen Mrs. Claus yet.

“I’m not here alone, I’ve got someone with me.”

“Well, bring them too, come on in.” 

He ushered us into the surprisingly spacious interior, past the kitchen table, and into the back room. As we passed, I saw a stack of his handmade bumper stickers, “Keep the Saturn in Saturnalia!” Just like on the back of the Beetle. 

“Come on back, my boy, come on back. Let me deal you in. You bring anything with you that you’re willing to lose?”

He sat down at a low table and picked up his cards. Across from him was the man we had been looking for, with his pipe clamped between his teeth and a glass in his left hand. There were three cards laid out on the table and stacks of Girl Scout cookies for chips. Santa had just raised two Thin Mints and was looking expectantly at Saturn. He smiled as I walked in.

“Welcome, Cupid, you came at a good time. I’m about ready to clean this old fool out. We needed some new blood.” Everyone was smiling and in a good mood. Then Mrs. Claus walked through the door behind me.

“Nicholas…what…what are you doing here?”

“Doris, honey. What’s wrong? You didn’t have to come all the way down here. I told you not to wait up.”

“Not to wait up! Nick, it’s BEEN THREE DAYS!”

Santa looked very confused. I tried to stand out of the line of fire. I stood there and watched it hit him. Slowly, the look on his face changed, and he turned to our host.


Saturn looked quickly back and forth between the two Clauses. Finally, he slumped his shoulders in defeat.

“I’m sorry, Santa, it was no big deal, really it wasn’t. It’s just… it gets so lonely out here and you’re the only one who really understands. We have so much fun when you come and visit.”


“Oh no! I would never do that. I learned that lesson years ago. I simply messed with your perception of time. I made it so you felt like only a few hours had passed.”

“How many days did you say it had been? Did you say three days? Wait, what day is it?”

I piped up, “It’s Monday, sir.”

“MONDAY! Oh no, honey, our anniversary! You must’ve been so upset!”

He rushed over and pulled Mrs. Claus into a warm embrace.

“It’s okay, dear, I’m just glad it’s over and you’re okay. I was so worried.”

“Let’s go, we’ve got a dinner to get to.” He turned to Saturn, “I’ll deal with YOU later! And young man,” he looked at me, “thank you for bringing my sweetheart back to me.”

The two of them walked out a back door I hadn’t even seen and a few minutes later, a candy-apple red Miata convertible roared past the window. I turned to go.

Saturn put a hand on my shoulder to stop me, “I really didn’t mean no harm. Really, I didn’t. Hey, I know! We could play! Would you care for a hand or two?”

“Maybe another day,” I said. I didn’t want to lose who knew how many days to eternal cookie poker. I took his hand off my shoulder and shook it, then I headed back out to my car and rode away into the setting sun.


“So that’s how I rescued Santa and reunited two lovebirds.” Cupid dropped his head and took a bite of his congealed gravy. “I can’t believe she just forgave him that way. In all my time working on these cases I’ve never seen anything like it. Sure wish my wife was more the forgiving type. I guess forever is just too long to be married.” He took another swig of his orange juice and stared forlornly out the window.

At that point, I had had about enough of his moping. I took off my hat and sunglasses and looked him right in the face.

“Look mister, first of all, you’ve only been “working these cases” for a couple of weeks. I don’t understand where you get off acting like you’ve been some sort of hard-boiled gumshoe for decades. Second of all, I didn’t leave you. I took some time to think about things. As it turns out, those poisoned arrows of yours aren’t permanent; they just take a very long time for the effects to wear off. As we are the first two immortals to be struck by them, we are the first to live long enough to come out from under the spell. Lastly, you’ve been cheating on me for years, and I have forgiven you, every single time, so don’t start with that ‘Oh, woe is me!’ business!”


“Yes, it’s me, your wife, Psyche. Get your jaw out of your lap.”

“I thought you had left me!”

“I did leave, for a minute. Look, when I realized that our entire marriage had been the result of one of your arrow’s love spells… well, it made me reevaluate some things. I had to take some time off to think.”

“And have you? Have you had time to think?”

“Yes, I have. I’ve taken a couple of weeks to try and get my head wrapped around what is going on and decide what I am going to do.”

“And what have you decided? Will you come back to me?”

“Well, yes and no. I mean, come back to the way things have been? No way. I’m not going to be your longsuffering little wife that keeps the home fires burning while you go gallivanting around seducing every little bunny that comes hop-hop-hopping your way. If, and that is a big if, if we are going to make a go of this relationship, we are going to have to work on it. It needs to be an equal partnership based on mutual respect. Eternity IS a long time to be married, and we are going to have to work TOGETHER to figure out how our marriage can function. This can’t be a one-sided affair anymore. I can’t be the only one working at it.”

“I gotcha, that makes sense. I’m sorry. I haven’t been the kind of husband you deserved. What about now? Should we go home now and talk more about this in private?”

“Thank you for the apology. More talking would be great, but not now. FIRST, what you have to do is get over to the armory and have a talk with the Erotes. Himeros called me in a panic this morning saying he couldn’t find you and you hadn’t been showing up for work. That’s the whole reason I came looking for you.”

“But I can’t go back to work! I thought you just said you didn’t like me using my arrows. You said they were “poisoned.”

“Yes, I did say that. But not all your arrows are manipulative. Some promote kindness, some promote friendship, some just enhance the feelings that are already there. Have you been paying attention to the mortal world lately? While you have been moping around, things have been going downhill. From the looks of it, you have been avoiding your responsibilities for longer than a couple of weeks.”

“Yeah, I have been kind of slacking off for a few years. I guess I got a little bored.”

“Well, if you expect to ever have a chance of us getting back together, you need to get out there and get back to work. Their world needs kindness and friendship, and they need to relearn how to get along with someone they disagree with. You’ve got your work cut out for you, Buster. And after THIS Valentine’s Day, I am going to expect some training. From now on I am going to be your Valentine, and we’ll be working together.”

Cupid smiled. “That actually sounds great. In that case, I guess I better get going.”

“Yes, you get on out there and bring some love back to the world!”

And that is the story of how Cupid saved Santa, and I saved Cupid.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody, and be kind to each other!

About Jeff

Jeff Couch has lived everywhere from Colorado to The Canary Islands. He now resides in Indiana with his family and their beloved dog. He is working on perfecting his Spanish hot chocolate recipe and is looking for easy turrón recipes.  His book of interconnected children’s stories, “The Nicholas Tales”, will be available next Fall. You can read his blog at and his Facebook page can be found at