Pete took one last look at the green gift tissue he had once donned as a cape, then turned and ran hurriedly from the parking lot, which lay empty save for the body of a forty-three-year-old man. Pete had fulfilled his destiny as Gift Bag Man, and the cape, like Pete’s alter-ego, was no longer needed. Pete picked up the pace as the sirens approached. He may have thought himself the hero of the day, but he wasn’t crazy, and he knew the police wouldn’t see things from his point of view. It may have been Christmas Eve, but he knew the holiday spirit only went so far.
The dead body he’d left behind was that of a balding gift wrap store owner named Norm, or as Pete had taken to calling him, the Wrapper. Norm’s store was little more than a kiosk in the mall promenade. He stocked various papers, tapes, ribbons, and bows. Or rather, he had stocked them, before Pete beat him to death with a glitter-covered wine bottle gift bag with three billiard balls inside.
Pete smiled as he recalled how, earlier that day, he’d rushed to Norm’s kiosk looking for a rapid and effortless gift wrapping solution for the Shake Weight he’d purchased for the office white elephant party.
The Shake Weight, he knew, was the perfect gift to liven up the party. His colleagues would be practically eating each other to trade for the hilarious novelty item Pete had painstakingly selected from the crowded shelves at Spencer’s. Fuck, the accounting chicks will eat this shit up, Pete assured himself, thinking of how he’d downplay his genius gift selection when the inevitable female horde questioned how one man could find such an impeccable gift for under the set limit of fifteen dollars. It was 17.99 plus tax, truth be told, but no one had to know.
Pete had politely requested a gift bag for his purchase, and Norm had laughed in his face.
“I don’t sell such pedestrian items here,” Norm scoffed. “A man of true taste knows nothing compares to a well-wrapped box.” With this unspeakable insult, Norm had outed himself as the Wrapper, enemy of reusable present packagers everywhere, and Pete knew what he had to do.
Norm had gestured toward several wrapping papers as if he were presenting them to Pete, but Pete had battled his share of Mall Wizards in his time, and knew the beginning gestures of a Spell of Binding. Norm began the incantation “I’m sure I can show you a paper you’ll love…” but it was too late, Pete had already sprung into action.
“You’ll not trap me today, sorcerer!” Pete shouted, and planted a firm kick on Norm’s shin with his steel-toed boot.
“Ow!” Norm cried. “What the hell, man?”
Pete had already bolted, making haste towards the parking lot. “Nice try, villain! The Gift of Justice will find you in the night!”
“Weirdo!” the Wrapper had called after him, no doubt trying to hide his true warlock nature behind a guise of bewilderment.
Later that night, Pete lay in wait in the parking lot, crouched behind an ’82 Bonneville, sky blue. He’d taped green tissue to his back as a cape, a large gift bag with two eye holes cut out served as his mask (to protect his loved ones from those that would do him harm). HAPPY BIRTHDAY was written upside-down on the bag. Pete hummed “I’m Getting’ Nothing for Christmas” quietly as he swung the bag with the billiard balls inside back and forth.
Pete saw Norm exit the mall service door, and he knew his moment of vengeance had come. As Norm approached, Pete jumped dramatically from his hiding spot. “Hold it there, Wrapper! Your day of reckoning…er…WRAPPENING has come!”
Norm sneered in confusion. “What the f-“ was all he was able to manage before the 3-ball struck him in the mouth and knocked out three teeth. The 6-ball that rested atop the 3-ball hit Norm squarely on the nose, and blood spewed from his left nostril.
“Happy Bir- er- DEATHday, villain!” shouted Pete, and commenced to raise the billiard balls over his head, then bring them down on the top of Norm’s skull. Norm fell in a heap onto the wet pavement. Pete brought the bag over his head again and again, each time bringing it down with meteoric force on Norm’s cranium.
When Norm’s head was little more than a bloody mush on the asphalt, Pete nodded in silent observance. “You were a worthy foe, Wrapper. Your blood is a lovely shade of Christmas red…er…DEAD.”
Pete ran from Norm’s still-warm body, dropping his tissue cape behind him. He’d done a good thing. As he ducked and dodged through the back alleys behind the mall, a sudden moment of realization overtook him, and he confirmed his eureka moment to himself by speaking out loud.
“Man, that Shake Weight is gonna get me laid so hard.”