Molly shrieked. The man had thrown several furs on her clean kitchen table. “Trader Mike get your disgusting furs out of this kitchen and out of this town. You know that I can’t stand it when you bring them in here.”
Molly hacked at a cabbage she had been shredding for cabbage rolls. Her face was bright red and she murmured under her breath. Whack! She slammed the cleaver into the butcher’s block.
Trader Mike laughed and Jessie examined him from under the table. The man was very tall with a mustache. He wore hide pants and a hide jacket. He had wide brimmed boots that left smudges on the floor and a warm sheepskin hat that he had pulled down low over his ears. There was something odd about the man that Jessie didn’t like. If Molly didn’t like the man, then Jessie didn’t either.
Jessie backed out from under the table and hurried to Santa’s office. She nudged Santa who was writing in a journal.
Santa looked down and frowned. Jessie’s fur was ruffled and she was staring out the door. A low growl came from her throat.
Santa was puzzled. He had never heard her react to anyone or anything in that way. Santa looked out the door and saw Trader Mike sitting in his favourite chair with his feet on the coffee table. Mike was smoking a cigar and trailing the ashes across Molly’s grandmother’s woven rug.
“Mike, I might have known. I had forgotten that you usually come this time of year. What can I do for you” Santa grimaced and then petted Jessie’s head as he walked into the living room. He stood between the dog and Mike.
“I’ve come to see if you’ve changed your mind. Come on man. Don’t let the old woman tell you what to do. With your distribution channels we can sell your reindeer in Europe and Asia. I’ve put some of my domestic samples in the kitchen. Just to give you an idea of what we could do.”
Santa blanched. He hurried into the kitchen followed closely by Jessie. Santa grabbed the furs off the table and quickly backed away from Molly. She was now mashing potatoes so hard that sticky mounds flew from the bowl and landed against the cedar walls.
“Mike, I’ve told you never to bring furs here. We do not deal, and never will trade our deer. Now, take your furs and go. ”
Mike laughed again and flicked his wrist. A trail of ashes fell downwards onto a pile on the carpet. “Don’t be so hasty Santa. We could make a lot of money with those flying deer of yours.” He rubbed his hand across his face and looked dreamily into the distance.
“Don’t even think about it Mike. Now,leave!” Santa’s voice cracked and his jaw was clenched. “Leave now Mike or I will have you escorted from town.”
Mike just laughed and rearranged his feet on the table. He blew a smoke ring, and sat staring at the blue smoke.
Jessie couldn’t stand it any longer. Any man who made Santa angry was not a friend of hers. Her growl became more pronounced. It rose in crescendo until both Santa and Mike stared at her. Jessie’s teeth were barred and she barked at the man inching him forwards towards the door.
Mike froze and looked at the dog. He pulled his feet off of the coffee table and leaned forward. “Now, who’s this? Here girl. I like dogs. I’ve got several of my own. Come here girl. Now!” He struck out at Jessie with his big hands. Jessie dodged his slap and backed away until she was out of his arm’s reach. She began growling even louder.
“Let me introduce you to Jessie to you Mike. She lives with us now. I don’t believe she likes you. I think you’d better leave before she really gets angry.” Santa opened the door and threw Mike’s furs out onto the snow. He held the door waiting for Mike to leave.
Mike rose and slowly backed away from the dog. When he was sure he was out of Jessie’s range he nonchalantly walked past Santa. “I’ll be back. Someday, we’ll do business Santa.” He walked out the door, strode to a dog sled, and took off away from town.
Santa returned to the living room and searched for Jessie. Once Mike had left she had jumped on the couch. Jessie was now sleeping soundly.
Santa was proud of the dog. At the same time he was startled by the ferocity he had seen in his gentle companion. He wondered what she encountered on the streets while she was homeless to encourage such a response. If Mike returned Santa knew he would have to watch her closely. Mike wouldn’t think anything of hurting the dog and if anything happened to Jessie both Molly and him would be heart-broken.