By David Madrid
Illustrations by Vincent Rogers
The day of reckoning had finally arrived. It was time that Rufus the Snot-Nosed Reindeer be taught a lesson and removed as head of the herd.
Since he took over the Reindeer Corps, slovenliness had set in, and a certain red-nosed reindeer was going to put a stop to that.
All Rudy needed to do was defeat his smug cousin Rufus in a wrestling match. Oh don’t get him wrong; Rufus was the most unsmug reindeer of all, except when it came to wrestling.
Put Rufus in a wrestling ring and suddenly the snot-nosed one developed a swagger. So what if Rufus wrestled polar bears? Rudy wasn’t impressed. Rudy led Santa’s sleigh for 20 years. By comparison, wrestling polar bears was a piece of lichen cake.
Since that fateful day when Rufus publicly challenged Rudy to wrestle –- what could he do but accept? –- the red-nosed one had trained hard.
Rufus would get the whupping of his life, and no polar bear could save him. Rudy would never, ever allow those undisciplined albino bears to pull Santa’s sleigh again; that was a job for the elite Reindeer Corps.
Once Rudy returned to his rightful place as head of the herd, he would ship those reindeer into shape. Count on it.
Rufus didn’t like leading the Reindeer Corps or playing stupid reindeer games. Give him an 800-pound polar bear and he would pin him to the mat or go down trying.
The snot-nosed one was legendary for his hand-to-hand prowess and his refusal to quit regardless of his opponent’s skill or tenacity.
Although the bears enjoyed hauling Santa’s sleigh around the world last Christmas when Rudy and the Reindeer Corps fell ill due to an attack of the swine flu, once in a lifetime pulling the jolly, and heavy, old elf was enough for them.
The polar bears wouldn’t weep if Rudy beat Rufus, but they knew Rufus wouldn’t lose, not even to get out of reindeer responsibility, which he hated.
Rufus wrestled to win, and that was why the polar bears loved him. Rufus was the rarest of breeds: a fierce reindeer. Otherwise he would have been polar bear lunch by now.
The big day arrived with Rufus in top wrestling shape. Rudy was in top sleigh-pulling shape.
It would be an epic battle. Everybody who was anybody in the Arctic was there. Santa Claus and the missus were there. The elves, taking a break from building toys, were there.
The Reindeer Corps was sloppily assembled. The reindeer were milling about with no visible organization in the ranks. The slackness irritated Rudy.
The polar bears, who answered to no one, hung out together. The carnivores were relaxed but hungry, and more than one stomach was heard to grumble.
The ferocious Arctic wolves made peace with the other spectators for just one day. Occasionally they howled just for fun.
Santa kicked off the proceedings with an introduction of the combatants, and a summary of what was at stake, which was the leadership of the Reindeer Corps.
The jolly old elf signaled the bell keeper with a hearty “Ho Ho Ho!” and he sat down with Mrs. Claus at ringside to watch the fun.
The bell rang and the bout began.
The cousins circled one another. Rudy’s nose was not shining, which was odd. He loved to show off that bright and legendary schnoz. Rufus’ nose was green with snot as usual. The reindeer engaged. They locked bodies and crashed antlers. They hoofed. They snorted. They butted. They grappled.
The wrestling match was all the spectators had hoped it would be, except nobody threw a chair. The wrestlers rolled in the snow raising clouds of white dust.
“Ho, ho, ho,” Santa laughed.
“Growl, growl, growl,” the polar bears roared. “Grumble, grumble, grumble,” their stomachs complained.
“Howl, howl, howl,” the Arctic wolves sang.
Oh, it was the match of the ages. The din of the crowd grew louder and louder, but the two reindeer didn’t hear a sound, so intent on winning were they.
“Ooomph,” grunted Rudy.
“Umph,” replied Rufus.
Rufus, with his superior wrestling skills, dominated. He put Rudy in the guillotine and applied pressure. It was the most pain Rudy had experienced, but Rudy was a legend for a reason.
When all seemed lost, Rudy escaped the painful hold. Rufus wasn’t able to apply the hold again no matter how hard he tried.
Yet Rufus pressed the action. Slowly but surely, Rufus wore Rudy down. It was time for Rudy’s not-so-secret weapon. Rudy lit his nose up like a lighthouse lamp and blinded Rufus and everyone else watching the bout.
“Arrrggghhh!” Rufus screamed as he recoiled. “Arrrggghhh!” all the spectators screamed as they recoiled in temporary blindness.
Rudy attacked and kicked Rufus with those strong reindeer legs muscled by years of pulling the chubby Santa’s sleigh. Rata-tat-tat. Rudy’s hooves dotted Rufus’ head. Was that legal? Rufus hadn’t expected boxing.
Rufus was forced to unveil his secret weapon. He took a slather of snot from his nose and poked the green goo into Rudy’s eyes. Rudy screamed more in disgust than pain. The spectators, whose eyesight had by now cleared up, also screamed in disgust.
Rudy was temporarily blinded by boogers, so he was easily swept off his hooves. Down he went in a heap. Rufus pinned him to the mat.
There the bout should have ended dear readers. But Rufus thought of Christmas Eve night and Christmas morning leading a bunch of ornery polar bears across the sky. Sure he sat in the sleigh with Santa, but it was still a lot of work.
Then he imagined leading a pack of sloppy reindeer around the world. He probably wouldn’t be able to sit in the sleigh with Santa, but he would have to actually run around the world.
Finally, he thought of the greater good. Would the children of the world be better off with him or Rudy leading the sleigh?
In the second it took for those thoughts to cross his mind, Rufus considered the unthinkable: he could throw the match. It went against everything he believed in, against his very being, but he had to decide fast. Rudy was beaten; that he knew.
So it was that Cousin Rudy felt Rufus’ hold weaken. The change was so slight, so subtle, that he almost missed it. But Rudy never passed an opportunity to press an advantage, so he flipped Rufus into the air. When Rufus hit the ground, Rudy jumped on him and pinned him. One. Two. Three. The match was over.
Rudy was once again leader of the Reindeer Corps.
The polar bears instantly knew that Rufus threw the match, but they didn’t complain as they hungrily eyed the inattentive puffins nearby.
The sloppy reindeer, who had grown lazy in the absence of Rudy’s discipline, were disappointed because their vacation was over.
Santa and Mrs. Claus and the elves were happy that no undisciplined polar bears or slovenly reindeer would be responsible for Christmas. The Arctic wolves also eyed the puffins, who began to notice hungry stares.
So it was that Rudy, the reindeer of the shiny nose, won back his coveted position at the head of Santa’s sleigh leading a highly-disciplined Reindeer Corps.
And Rufus? While the snot-nosed one didn’t go down in history, he earned something much more important than fame. He earned honor because he sacrificed for the greater good.
None of the millions of kids who have received presents from Santa since the wrestling match on that day of reckoning know of the sacrifice Rufus made for them.
But Rufus knows. The polar bears know. And though he won’t admit it, Rudy knows. And most importantly, Santa knows.
So sleep well children. Now you know the story of the unselfish reindeer who sacrificed for you and for Christmas. What would you sacrifice for Christmas?
© 2010 FabulousFables.com
Email: David Madrid
Also read Rufus the Snot-Nosed Reindeer
Thank you to Xavier and Damien Guzman, wrestling technical consultants.