Miss Snippet felt she'd done very well not to laugh until she was back in the privacy of the staffroom. Then she'd thrown back her head and howled with laughter until tears ran down her face and her stomach ached like she was on her period. She'd staggered over to a lounge-chair, her shoulders shaking with the effort of holding the laughter in, sat down in it and laughed again, bringing yet more tears to her eyes. Finally she ran out of laughter, and wiped her eyes with a tissue she found in her pocket that only had eye-liner on; naturally her waterproof mascara had run.
"It wasn't that funny," said Miss Devonport, without any of her usual reproof.
"Oh come on!" said Miss Snippet, finding her colleague standing in front of the coffee cups holding what looked like a half-bottle of Scotch. "Santa just died out there in our nativity play! It's just like that story you told me about, everyone dies at Christmas."
"It wasn't a story, it was an essay," said Miss Devonport, "and the last line of it was, it's not Christmas until everyone's dead."
"Well, I was close enough," said Miss Snippet. Her sides hurt as well as her stomach. "And it was funny."
She'd been sat near the back, on a chair that wobbled, trying not to yawn through any of the speeches or obviously be checking her iPhone while the third year students put on a Nativity play. Despite her objections Mary, Joseph and Jesus were all played by white kids, and the donkey, Shepherds and one wise man were played by kids with other ethnic backgrounds. Despite Miss Devonport's objections, Santa was also one of the wise men, and despite both of them objecting, Santa was played by some gluttonous nephew of the Headmaster, demonstrating once again his easy grasp of nepotism. That his nephew was in his thirties was apparently unimportant, with the Headmaster saying that the man looked the part far better than any of the students. Miss Snippet had been tempted to point out Mark Andretti in the fifth form who had five o'clock shadow by ten o'clock most days and an impressive physique that bodybuilders would admire, but had resisted. She was certain the only way he could be doing it was to be stealing insulin from the diabetic kids and growth hormone from Freddy Glazer who was medically a midget. She was so certain that one of them would sooner or later either have to tell on him or die that she'd got a hundred pounds riding on there being a death-due-to-bullying story in the papers by the end of the year.
Santa had turned up to the play drunk, and Miss Devonport had immediately called security to have him thrown out. Instead, the Headmaster had turned up and given her a stern talking to about respecting other members of staff, leaving her bemused and near tears. Santa had gone on stage anyway, two scenes early, and urinated in one of the pots for the potted palms, starting angry whispers among the parents. Once again, Miss Snippet suspected that the whispers would have been far less angry if it had been Mark Andretti getting undressed on stage.
And then. And then in Santa's actual scene they'd reached the Hilton Stable where Mary and Joseph had elected to spend the night in the King-size Deluxe stall with house-trained oxen, self-heating manger and 24-hour room service and Santa had collapsed, pushing the non-white wise man off the stage and into the orchestra pit and falling on top of the manger. While people were scampering about trying to pick the unfortunate wise man up and make sure that he was alright the manger overheated underneath Santa and set fire to his beard. That was made of polyester, as was his hair and his jacket, so in a handful of seconds Santa was a butter-ball of flame, barely conscious yet trying to stand up. The terrified children had retreated, and many of them were screaming at the sight of Santa burning up. The Headmaster had left for the evening, so it was up to his illegally imported janitor, Lupo, to run on stage and throw a mop-bucket over him. There was a spectacular hiss, most of the flames went out, steam billowed across the audience and everyone started coughing and choking from the quantity of black-market bleach that Lupo had had in the bucket. Realising that he'd effectively tear-gassed the audience, Lupo had attempted to save the situation by pointing dramatically at Santa and shouting, "He lives!" at the top of his voice. As he did so, and people struggled to clear their eyes to see this heroism, Santa vomited a large quantity of red-wine all over the stage, which predictably enough everyone took to be blood.
The ambulances took away most of the parents first, largely because Miss Devonport had shut Santa in the men's toilets and was getting the parents seen to. When she 'remembered' that Santa had gone to the toilets, the ambulance staff found him with his head in the sink in four inches of water, so close to dead as to make no difference.
Miss Snippet thought it was the best Nativity play she'd seen in years.
"We'll never have our Yule celebration now," said Miss Devonport unhappily. She added half-a-cup of Scotch to her coffee. "Why did Santa have to die?"
"Oh yes we will," said Miss Snippet. "I have plans!"