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REUNIONS

As Patch revels in the awesome power of his first journey aboard his new Patchmobile, Santa and his team of reindeer continue their own Christmas Eve journey. Up to this point, the Patchmobile has spent intervals zooming past the sleigh at literally the speed of light... and the Knight of Christmas has, at least for the moment, batted an unexpected zero. But not in the eyes of at least one kid. That kid --- Joe, of course! --- is standing on the rooftop of a presumably abandoned building, determined to rendezvous with that magical conveyance he rode upon only a year before. Now, young Joe waves upwards, shouting "Santa!" For he can clearly sense that his dream is about to be fulfilled.

Barely hearing Joe's call, Santa just smiles. A little. "At least somebody down there likes me," he tells his faithful deer; and, in a perfect three-point landing, the team stops directly in front of the boy.

For a moment, there is silence between the legend and the boy. The year has been hard on them both. "Hello, Joe," Santa finally says.

"Hey, how's it goin'?"

"Not bad. Yourself?"

"I'm all right, I guess," admits Joe. "I was afraid you'd forget about me."

And suddenly, both their hearts too full of emotion, Santa and Joe tenderly embrace each other. How wonderful it is, Santa thinks, being able to give love to others the way I have all these years! Out loud, though, he comments, ruefully, "Well, at least I still have one good friend left."

"You kiddin'?" laughs Joe. "I'm your pal for life! Honest! By the way, there was this weird guy on television --- some patch-natch-scratch ---"

"Uh, I know all about that," says Santa. "That's all right."

"Then it's cool, then?" "Yeah," smiles the Knight of Christmas.

Joe now pauses to greet his three favorites among Santa's eight reindeer. "Hiya, Blitzen! Hey, Donner, how's it goin', man? Hey, Comet!" Of course, Blitzen, Donner and Comet are equally happy to see Joe as well. "Coming?" asks Santa, already ready for takeoff.

"Neat!" smiles Joe, not needing second bidding. He's waited all year for this moment. Hopping on board the sleigh, he begins to smile, but something soon dawns upon him. "What about Corny? I mean, uh.... that little girl," he admits again.

"You two seeing a lot of each other?"

"Actually, yes. Actually," says Joe. In fact, Cornelia had been feeding him, leaving out any additional leftovers, giving him some of her old clothes, etc. --- for virtually the entire past year.

"Well, of course, she's gonna get a present," Santa smiles once more. "She writes a nice letter. Asked for a toy piano!" Joe nods, even if he isn't exactly into classical music. "Well, c'mon!" Santa now prods the boy.

"Huh?"

"What about the, uh..... 'Yo!'?"

"Oh, yeah. Right!" says Joe. "YO!" he commands the deer --- and in moments, the team takes off, Santa happily cheering them on. Patch may have won things this round --- for now, anyway --- but one thing is for certain: for Joe and Santa Claus, Christmas Eve is back, and back to stay!

THE GREAT EQUALIZER

Christmas morning looms large yet again --- and, back at Cornelia's townhouse, we find her playing the aforementioned toy piano that Santa left her. Miss Tucker had refused to purchase the real thing. And also waiting for Corny under her tree: one of those repulsive patchwork lollipops from last night's horrendous commercial. Miss Tucker now tries to coerce Corny into taking it. "But don't you even want to try it?" she asks.

"I certainly do not," insists Cornelia.

"Well, it would be a shame to let it go to waste," Miss Tucker sighs wistfully. "Do you mind if I take it?" "I don't care," mutters Corny.

And Miss Tucker unwraps the glittering present, revealing the incredible puce lollipop within. Taking one good lick, she partakes of but one small taste. Without warning, she begins to drift up from the floor --- and suddenly finds herself hovering between it and the higher ceiling! Cornelia stares up at her nanny as she flaps her arms like wings. She's laughing giddily for the first time that either of them can ever remember! "Oh, look at me! I feel just like Mary Poppins!" In her own secret dreams, Miss Tucker has long had visions of herself as that ultimate nanny --- so incredibly perfect that she is capable of performing magic. Yet she has never had a magical thought, much less a magical moment, in her life. Until now.....

And it is only the first of what will prove to be many magical moments.

Item: the South Bronx. Two 6-foot basketball all-stars are in the middle of a heated game of one-on-one, as an envious 8-year-old observes from behind a chainlink fence. Seeing his chance, the kid darts out from behind the fence and steals the roundball on a bounce pass. One six-footer attempts to block the shot, but just at that second, the little pipsqueak soars past him --- and springs five feet into the air with a reverse twist and slam dunk! The ball shoots through the net and lands on the ground; but the two older boys are already frozen in their tracks..... because the kid's already disappearing across the empty schoolyard --- and still won't come down!

Item: Brooklyn. A boy and a girl, both aged 12, stroll side-by-side along a high wooden fence. "You're cute," says the girl, who never thinks to look down at his feet ---which are hovering more than a foot off the ground!

Item: Queens. A mother gasps in astonishment, as her tousle-headed 5-year-old son successfully filches a cookie from his mommy's cookie jar --- indeed, the entire cookie jar itself!

Throughout New York and all the world, scenes like these are repeated in thousands of households. The media begins having a field day, for Patch's Puce Pops have become the embodiment of every child's fantasy. Indeed, the majority of the English-speaking newspapers put the topic in proper perspective: PUCE POP CONQUERS THE WORLD!

THE PRESS CONFERENCE AND CHRISTMAS II

Without knowing it, Patch has become the hot story of the century. Indeed, Patchmania explodes into a fever pitch, forcing B.Z. to call a press conference the very next day. Nothing but all-natural ingredients, the toy mogul explains in reference to the lollipops. No additives whatsoever. At one point, one reporter asks if Patch has been contacted by NASA. "Who?" wonders the Elf. "The astronauts," another reporter explains. "Well, they'll have to write to Santa Claus just like the other boys and girls," replies the confused Patch.

"What we want," B.Z. finally sums up, "is to bring joy and happiness to all the children of the world. Which is why I'm proud to announce that, as of today, my pal Patch here is EXCLUSIVE with B.Z. Toys!"

The conference is abruptly cut short when a third journalist asks about the Senate Subcommittee Hearing we saw earlier. Finally, Towzer hastily shuts the door of B.Z.'s office, leaving the toy mogul alone with Patch --- who is not entirely pleased by all that he has heard in the last couple of minutes --- including "that business" about B.Z.'s "future plans." "The future is ours, Patch!" the toy mogul smiles.

"But I'm going back to the North Pole!" Patch responds.

"Says who?"

"Well, nobody yet," explains Patch, "but now that Santa Claus has seen what I can do, I'm sure he's gonna send for me to come home."

"Why would you wanna do that?" asks B.Z. "What does the North Pole have that New York doesn't? Ice and polar bears....."

"And Santa Claus. And my friends," Patch mutters sadly.

"OK, tell you what. Just do me one favor before you go."

"What is it?"

"Oh, it's not for me, Patch," B.Z. explains. "It's for them. Something .... something for them, Patch. Something for all the children of this .... miserable ol' world...."

"Well, what is it?"

"This stardust, this reindeer cornflakes --- whatever it is that made the children walk on air," says B.Z. "What would happen if you were to juice up the formula? Y'know, make it stronger."

"Well, it's elf-explanatory," responds Patch. "It would make them fly."

"FLY?"

"Yes, fly --- as in 'fly high in the sky'," says Patch.

"And could you do that --- before you go? Wouldn't take you too long, would it?"

At that point, Patch begins to brainstorm. "Lollipops?"

"No, we did that already. That's yesterday's news," says B.Z. "The consumer's always looking for a new model."

"Candy canes?" suggests Patch.

Now, it's B.Z.'s turn to brainstorm. "PATCH! You are some terrific Elf!" he smiles.

"Well, I could convert the machines to put out candy canes in a week or two, and then I suppose ---"

"We can launch the ad campaign tomorrow, strike while the iron's hot," says B.Z., as he starts to take a few notes. "And I can promise delivery in, say, three months?"

"THREE MONTHS???" repeats a surprised Patch. "But it's a year to Christmas!"

"When you've got a hit like we have, Patch," replies B.Z., "the people don't wanna wait a whole year! They're dying for a sequel!" And then, the idea really hits him --- spawned by every known sequel in and out of show business and beyond. "That's it, then," he says. "We'll bring it out on March 25th --- and we'll call it...." (big dramatic pause here, folks!) "....CHRISTMAS II!"

"Christmas II?" wonders Patch. He's not sure if a Christmas sequel will work --- but, then again, who knows?

Click here for the exciting conclusion!

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