Minnie left the house at 4:30 on her way to meet Danny at the Christmas tree lot. She pulled the front door shut and cut across the front lawn to the corner, kicking the dry leaves fallen from the giant sycamore. She had a smile on her face. The weeks before Christmas always made her happy. Minnie took a deep breath, relaxing into the cool autumn southern California evening, while she waited for the ‘walk’ signal. Tall palm trees lining the boulevard detracted a bit from her holiday mood, but the long red and white candy canes she fingered in her pocket brought the good old yuletide feeling back.
As she crossed the wide roadway Minnie smiled at the sight of Christmas trees on the tops of cars and wreaths with red bows on front grills.
Minnie arrived at the tree lot before Danny, so she sat down to wait on a bus stop bench, watching the traffic and the sunset. Presently a bus came along and disgorged some passengers. The last person to swing down from the back door was a man wearing a black top hat, a red muffler, green tennis shoes and nothing else. Minnie drew in her breath.
The bus pulled away. Top Hat stood looking up and down the street, not more than six feet from Minnie, as if deciding which way to go. He was very thin, tall, and hairy. Minnie started to rise and back away, but found her path blocked by a trash receptacle. Drivers in passing cars began to slow to a stop. Some of them honked their horns, some of them whistled. The naked man took no notice, but turned on his heel and looked right at Minnie. Her heart sank. She tried to make herself smaller, thinking the man would pass right by. She was the only other person around except for people in their cars.
He started to sing Jingle Bells as he approached the bench, in a high-pitched child-like voice. Minnie looked around, hoping to see Danny, or someone else who could help her. The man sat down next to her, on the probably very cold bench, and grabbed her left wrist in both of his hands. He leaned over to plant a kiss on the back of her hand. Minnie let out a yelp, and tried to jerk her hand back.
“Let go!” she yelled, and swung her right fist, smashing her candy canes into his face, knocking his hat off. “Help!” she screamed.
A siren blared across the street, and a voice coming over a loud speaker commanded: “Don’t move anyone, stay right where you are.” Minnie saw an officer running in between stopped cars heading her way. Shaking, Minnie pulled and twisted her arm, but to no avail. Now, singing “Oh Holy Night”, Top Hat held on to Minnie’s wrist with one hand, and was reaching for his top hat with the other, when the cop cuffed him.
Startled, the naked guy released Minnie. She slumped to the sidewalk, rubbing her abused wrist, tears streaming down her cheeks. Another cop helped her to her feet. Top Hat was escorted to the patrol car singing Frosty the Snowman, while his top hat blew down the street. Danny arrived just then, took in the scene, and wrapped his warm arms around Minnie.