Wednesday, November 23, 2016

City of Weird Contributor: Brian Reid

A few of the stories I chose for City of Weird I chose for their pure, unadulterated fun, and Brian Reid's "How I Got this Job" was one of them. The story is also very weird and very Portland:

It's SantaCon day, and Phil is a cop on the beat, charged with keeping the peace at the corner of Burnside and 23rd. What's SantaCon, you say? Well, maybe you don't say, but in case you do, let's let our narrator, Phil, explain:

What it’s supposed to be is a protest against corporations, false icons, and mind control of the masses—it’s a Portland thing. 

What it is, is three hundred or more drunks dressed in filthy Santa Claus costumes, invading strip clubs, running out on bar tabs, and riding bicycles into cars, through pedestrians, and off bridges—it’s a Portland thing.

As you can tell, Phil isn't too fond of SantaCon. And he seems to have a bit of a hard-boiled attitude about Portland as well. But in the course of this particular day of festivities, who does Phil happen upon, trailed by a crowd of revelers in Santa suits, but the one true Santa!

OK, not quite like that ^. On SantaCon day in Portland, St. Nick is a little different. Here are Phil's words again, and what you need to know about the scene is that Phil and his partner Chauncey are sitting in their patrol car with the lights flashing as the crew of Santas ascends:

Maybe it’s just that all the other Saint Nicks are so dirty, but this Santa is so clean, it’s like he’s glowing. The little sack he’s got slung over his shoulder doesn’t have a wrinkle in it, like it’s been pressed. Even his black belt is shiny. The guy’s so clean, you’d think, ‘Hey, maybe it’s his first SantaCon; maybe he’s new to the game,’ but all the other Saint Nicks are clapping him on the back and jostling each other to get closer to him—this guy’s the head Santa. 

Well, shiny Santa sees our flashing blue lights and holds out his arms to keep the rest of the Santas back. He looks right at us and, swear to God, he’s got a twinkle in his eye.

“Hey, boys,” he says to his Santa minions. “On Christmas day I give toys to all the good girls and boys. What do I do the other three hundred and sixty-four days a year?”

“Raise hell, Santa,” they all start shouting. “Raise hell.”

Santa smiles benignly, motions the common Kris Kringles back behind him, and reaches into his little sack.

Chauncey and I reach for the door handles.

Santa, looking right at us, calls out, “Here’s a present just for you!” He pulls a can of beer out of his sack, hefts it, winds up, and hurls it. We’re out of the car in time to see the beer can in the air. His aim is off, it’s too high, but it stops in mid-air, then shoots straight for the car, and damn if the thing doesn’t accelerate as it goes. It smashes into the windshield so hard, it sets off the airbags.

A beer-toting renegade Santa Claus with super-human strength? Reading submissions blind, I didn't know until the stories were chosen who wrote what, but when the blind was removed, I wasn't surprised to find that "How I Got this Job" was written by Brian Reid. I knew him from my Dangerous Writing fiction group, and he can be very, very funny. Though I hadn't recognized his voice while reading submissions, I was very pleased to find that he was the writer of this very weird and funny story of holiday mayhem with a film-noir-esque narration.

He'll be reading from "How I Got this Job" at the Corkscrew Wine Bar for the Plonk Reading Series' Christmas/winter-themed City of Weird event. That's coming up on December 7th. 

Here's an octopus in a Santa hat.

And Brian's very interesting bio below. Look for more weird and funny stuff from him in the future.

BRIAN REID was weaned on the acerbic dry humor and innate storytelling of the Scottish Highlands. His childhood in Australia colored his writing with a love of the ridiculous and a dedication to irreverence. As a teenager he moved to Chicago, where he learned how to take a punch. He worked at the Federal Reserve Bank for almost twenty years, which taught him perception is more important than reality. Brian escaped the Fed and moved to Oregon to pursue his life-long dream of writing fiction. He plans on writing many novels.

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