By Dylan Newitt Allen
‘Twas the month before Christmas and all through town, people were putting up decorations and blow-up Santas from Walmart. There were also balloon Grinches and inflatable Mickey Mouses, fat toy trains and snowmen, too. But one person was not amused: the serial popper.
This individual made the front page of The Daily Record when Marcia Peterson of 110 River Drive reported that her Rudolph had been stabbed three times in the neck.
“It was terrible,” she told the ABC 11 News reporter in her long, Southern drawl thick as mashed potatoes and gravy. “I woke up, and he was deflated!” She added, “My children started screaming and crying!”
Cut to the scene where Rudolf is a puddle of vinyl in the front yard of the Peterson’s double-wide. Below the news clip reads: Serial Popper Claimed Fourth Inflatable.
“What kind of person would do such a thing?” Mr. Peterson asked. He wore a crimson flannel and a green and yellow John Deere hat.
The first victim of the serial popper was this tacky, eight-foot-tall pre-lit AT-AT walker from the Star Wars franchise. This robotic cow full of air stood outside the bungalow of Greg and Kathy Anderson, two sci-fi nerds who collected anything Chewbacca-related. They had purchased this eyesore from Target a week before Halloween. On November 1st, they put it up and aimed an obnoxious spotlight on the balloon robot. When they awoke the next morning, they looked out the window to find that it had been popped.
According to Mrs. Lapena, the Andersons’ next-door neighbor, she saw someone walk onto their lawn the night before. She told investigators that the deranged individual wore all black and hid their identity with a rubber Donald Trump mask.
“Mrs. Anderson,” the police officer asked Kathy, “do you know of anyone who personally hates you?”
The Star Wars mother brought a hand to her chest and replied, “I can’t think of anyone who hates me.”
“Not one person?” the officer prodded. “Maybe a scorned lover?”
Kathy gasped. “Greg is the only man in my life!” she exclaimed.
“I think you should leave,” her husband stated coolly. “Now.”
For a short while, it was theorized that the Andersons popped their own yard decoration for attention. However, a similar incident occurred that following week.
Sarah Barefoot of 78 Oakwood Lane called the police and reported a drive-by shooting. She told authorities that an El Camino rolled by her McMansion at two p.m. on November 8th. It was then the driver’s side window rolled down, and Mrs. Barefoot saw the puckered lips and tangerine face of the 45th President. The person wearing the mask then took out a pistol and blasted two caps into the face of Kevin, her yellow, candy cane-wielding inflatable Minion.
Later that evening, Sarah Barefoot could be seen on the five o’clock news. Rivulets of mascara poured from her eyes, giving her face a shattered look. Through snotty sniffles, she said, “I don’t know why someone would shoot my Minion! The last thing I remember is seeing the culprit flash me their middle finger before speeding off.”
On November 14th, Mitchell Lee, a retired Army veteran and grandfather, woke up to take his old beagle for a walk. When he stepped onto the porch, he noticed a note composed of magazine and newspaper clippings. Fonts ranging from Arial to Comic Sans to Times New Roman to Century read: DeaR aSsH0le, iT’s NoT XMa$ yEt… SiGneD, SoMeBOdY wHO hATes tHe PEaNUts!!!
Mr. Lee then looked up, and his jaw loosened. Someone had taken a nail gun and pumped nails into his airblown Charlie Brown and Snoopy decoration. The beagle began to bark.
“It’s a disgrace,” he told the press. “My grandchildren love Snoopy and Charlie. Now, what am I supposed to tell them?”
The serial popper became the fuss of the town. Who were they? Why were they wearing a Trump mask? Was this some political statement? Why the popping?
“Maybe they sexually get off to it,” Vicky gossiped to her friend at the Waffle House on Dorset. After taking a sip of coffee, she added, “That’s how these maniacs operate. You know, Bundy bit people. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sick bastard collects teeth.”
“He’s not a serial killer,” Diane corrected. “He’s a serial popper.”
Clutching her imaginary pearls, Vicky replied, “You don’t know if they kill people or not! One minute it’s inflatables, and next, it’s human beings!”
Rumors began to circulate through town. Is the serial popper a depraved murderer? Perhaps he’s like the Zodiac killer. Parents began telling their teenage sons and daughters to be home before the sun went down.
The ridiculous hysteria of the townspeople led to even more insane antics from the serial popper. For instance, citizens began to discover decorative cookie tins left on their front porches with big red bows stuck to the metal. The contents inside: feces. Lots of feces.
However, the final straw was when Mayor Winslow’s prized Pekingese was snatched from his yard. That night, the mayor received a phone call from the serial popper.
“Hello, Tom,” the crazed person growled. “If you ever want to see Mitzy again, you better outlaw inflatables.”
“I’ll do anything,” the mayor spat. “Anything, just please don’t hurt Mitzy!”
The sound of the Pekingese’s hot pink nails could be heard clicking on the floor in the background, and then a single yap.
“One more thing,” the maniac hissed. “Everyone must say Merry Christmas! Not Happy Holidays! If you don’t adhere to my demands, I’ll pop your fucking dog!”
To make a long story short, Mitzy was returned to her home in one piece. In exchange for the dog, the mayor signed a law that stated anyone who puts up an inflatable will face a thousand dollar fine.
That is how the serial popper ruined Christmas.
To this day, the twisted individual has not been found.