Jerry arranged the decorations just so. A cherished mix of family ornaments, knickknacks, and adornments he had collected over the years. Snow globes and tin soldiers on the mantel. Garland and a nutcracker on the end table. A motorized Santa, who had long lost his naughty or nice list, in the corner. Jerry’s eyes lit up and a childlike smile appeared on his face as he switched on the toy train and it began its cycle around the Christmas tree. Dozens of other ornaments, decorations, and trinkets looked on as Jerry all but skipped to his keyboards. He preferred an actual organ, but that was too impractical. Jerry had worked the dual keyboard setup just as well. The extra control over the sound, as well as the portability, had appealed to Jerry. Though it had meant purchasing stands, foot pedals, cables, amps, and the like, he had never regretted the decision.
Jerry sat on the folding piano bench and adjusted his large, thick rimmed glasses. A man in his 50s, he still had a bit of a youthful appearance about him. He attributed his boyish looks to the “magic and love of Christmas.” He was roughly six foot three and relatively athletic. His hairstyle and outfit had more of a conservative Liberace look about them. Jerry had admired Liberace’s showmanship, though he never went as colorful and extravagant. Jerry’s black, crushed velvet suit and slightly frilly white shirt were about as wild as he ever got. He had grown up watching all those old Christmas specials, and various performances from his mother’s era, and had taken inspiration from Jerry Lewis, Bing Crosby, and the like. He had wanted to learn to play the organ at the age of six, and his mother had obliged. Jerry was a natural, and took to the instrument quickly. Over the years, he developed his own take on the performance styles of his idols. Sure, there wasn’t much money in what he did, but it brought him joy, and Jerry figured that was enough.
Jerry had finished adjusting knobs and settings on his keyboards, positioned himself comfortably, and began to play. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” flowed from the amplifier as Jerry’s expert fingers danced over the keys. He swayed and danced in his seat, smiling. He added his own flourishes to the song liberally, preferring the jazzy, almost improvised, feel to music. He always liked to start off with something upbeat and fun, and this was a solid go-to. He pictured Rudolph, and Donner, and Dasher, and all the rest, frolicking in the snow to his music. His grin had grown even wider at the thought. He played through the song, finishing with a flourish, and a happy, satisfied little shake of his upper body and head.
Jerry made a few adjustments on his keyboard, readied himself, and started into his rendition of “Frosty the Snowman.” Fun little offbeat riffs and pauses for the drum machine. Jerry swayed excitedly until, about halfway through the song, he got distracted, causing his usually sure fingers to miss, making an off key noise. Frustrated, he slammed his hand down on the keys, which caused an unpleasant squawk to emit from the amplifier. Jerry stopped the drum machine and looked over at what had distracted him.
In the corner of the room, the woman had started struggling again and had let out an unintended whimper. Her husband was still out cold from the injection of Midazolam Jerry had given him. The two children had been easy to subdue. The family of four lay there, arms bound behind their backs, legs tied at the ankles, and gags in their mouths.
Jerry, quickly and aggressively, strode over to the woman and knelt down, his face mere inches away from hers.
“Stop. Please stop.” Jerry’s voice shook in anger and frustration.
The woman’s breathing had become more panicked.
“Just stop and enjoy the music!” Pleading had turned to demanding. “I’m just trying to spread some goddamn Christmas cheer!” Jerry removed a syringe from the case and brought it toward the woman.
She shook her head, eyes wide.
“Are you going to settle down and enjoy the music?”
The woman nodded. Tears continued to drip down her face.
“Good.” Jerry put the syringe away. “Santa will be here soon, and we need to be in the Christmas spirit!” His voice had switched back to his usual calm and happy sounding tone. Jerry patted the woman on the shoulder, tousled the hair of her son, and skipped back to the keyboards.
He started back where he left off with “Frosty the Snowman,” all the while smiling for his audience. He played a few more upbeat tunes, before eventually moving into the slower, religious Christmas songs. His somber approach to the slow songs was in stark contrast to the showy style of the upbeat ones. This went on for close to an hour, though Jerry did not concern himself with time. At one point, Jerry had gone back over to the woman, removed her gag, and asked her if she and the kids wanted to sing.
“Please let us go,” she pleaded. Her voice exhausted and terrified. “We won’t say anything. Please. No. No!”
Jerry replaced the gag and sighed. He looked at the woman with disappointment and sadness on his face. Jerry paused for a moment and returned to the music.
Eventually, after “Sleigh Ride,” Jerry looked up and around at the ceiling excitedly, a smile on his face.
“Do you hear that? I think he’s almost here!” He smiled and winked at his audience. “Here Comes Santa Claus” erupted from the amp, sounding as giddy and excited as Jerry was. He played through the entirety of the song and continued to play as he pressed a few buttons on the keyboard, and adjusted a few things on another device. The music looped as Jerry stood and clasped his hands together in exuberance. He smiled and left the room. The tune continued to repeat over and over. Jerry reentered the room, a Santa Claus costume over his black, crushed velvet suit, and a fake white beard over his face. Santa took a moment to appreciate the decorations and music before turning his attention to the family. With a sigh, he stepped toward them. The mechanical Santa moved its empty arms and watched on.