(This is part 6 of the Dinosaur Christmas story
for 2011. If you missed parts 1 - 5, scroll on
down and read them first!)
The Masked Man's Christmas (Part 6)
The match became a war that raged back and forth
across the ring, with the fans roaring the entire
And then -- it happened.
At the 40 minute mark, the two men separated,
bounced backward into the ropes and hurtled
themselves across the ring.
They hit each other with smashing force in the
center of the ring.
Dazed, both men swayed, waving their arms to keep
The masked man seemed to have gotten the worse of
it. He shook his head, trying desperately to clear
Seizing his opportunity, the champ dropped back
against the ring ropes, using them like a
slingshot -- and launched himself like a missile,
right hand raised to deliver a crushing blow.
The fans screamed in anticipation.
The champ swung with all his might --
The masked man ducked, and the powerful punch went
whistling over his head.
In the same motion, he drove forward, sliding behind
the champ -- and slapped on a sleeper hold.
The champ struggled wildly -- but the masked man held
him in a vice-like grip in the center of the ring.
"How much is he paying you to break my leg?" whispered
the masked man.
"Ack --gargh -- ughkk . . ." sputtered the champ.
"Whatever it was, it wasn't enough," whispered the masked
The champ waved his arms weakly.
"I should break your neck right now," said the masked
man. "But it's Christmas Eve, so I won't. Consider
The champ's eyes went wide with fear -- and then they
closed. His knees sagged, his body went limp, and the
masked man loosened his grip and let him fall to the
mat. He rolled him over, placed one huge hand on his
chest, and motioned to the referee.
The ref didn't know what to do. There was no way to
stopit. All he could do was sell it and hope the promoter
could work it out later on.
He dropped down and began the count.
And just like that, there was a new champion.
The referee walked to the side of the ring and motioned
to the time-keeper, who handed him the championship
belt. He turned and handed it to the masked man.
Pete and his fellow officers stepped close to the ring,
forming a human shield, and escorted the new champion
back to his dressing room.
This time there was no riot. The crowd was too stunned by
what they had seen. They sat in their seats, eyes bulging,
as the ring doctor worked frantically to revive the fallen
But the promoter knew what to do. He ran back to the
dressing room, grabbed Pete by the arm, and pointed
toward the door.
"Arrest that man!" he said. "He's trying to steal my
"Steal it? He won it fair and square! That's not stealing!"
"No, you don't understand. We had a deal! I have a contract!
He was supposed to lose!"
"Let me see the contract!"
The promoter handed the paper to him.
"Who signed it?" asked Pete.
"Are you sure that's his real name? I'm no lawyer, but I
know a contract's not binding if it's not signed with your
"Of course it's his name. Who else would it be?"
"That's the name of some kid that used to live here," said
Pete. "His parents died in a fire. He grew up in the county
home. Left years ago. No one's seen him since."
"Maybe it's him!"
"Or maybe not!"
"But what am I gonna do?" asked the promoter. "He has my belt!
Those are real diamonds, damn it!"
"Maybe if you ask nice, he'll give it back to you," said Pete.
The promoter threw the contract on the floor, cursed, and
stepped to the door.
"If you won't do anything, I'll handle this myself!" he said.
Pete waited until the promoter was just beginning to turn the
doorknob -- and then he spoke.
His voice was soft, his tone mild -- but his words cracked like
"You might want to reconsider," he said. "He knows you paid the
champ to break his leg."
The promoter stopped dead in his tracks. The blood drained from
his face, and his hand slipped from the doorknob.
"What did you say?"
Pete repeated it.
"I don't -- I don't know what -- what you're talking about,"
sputtered the promoter.
"I could always ask the champ," said Pete. "The old champ, I
"Ask him whatever you like," said the promoter. "He won't talk."
"He might," said Pete. "Especially when I ask him why he has an
envelope with an even thousand bucks in $20 bills in his suit
pocket. That sort of sounds like getting paid for some kind of
special job -- unless you're gonna tell me you paid him his
share of the gate already -- before you had time to total it
and add in the concessions sales -- and it just happened that
his percentage worked out to an even thousand clams."
"That was -- that was a Christmas bonus!"
Pete nodded slowly.
"Maybe," he replied. "We'll see."
The promoter sagged against the concrete wall.
"Look, you gotta help me get my belt back," he said. "Go talk
to him. Work out some deal. Tell him he can keep one of the
diamonds. Hell, let him keep two of the diamonds. I don't care!
I can replace them with glass. It doesn't matter. But I need
that belt back -- and I need him out of the territory --
right now. And we can all forget about this -- this
"Stay here," said Pete. "I'll see what I can do."
The kids in the county home always had oatmeal porridge
and dry toast for breakfast. Some of them couldn't remember
ever having anything else. Not even on Christmas. There
wasn't enough money for anything else.
But this morning was different.
They woke to the smell of bacon and eggs, ham slices, pancakes
with real maple syrup, and fresh buttermilk biscuits with real
butter and strawberry jam.
They threw on their clothes and raced downstairs -- and stopped
"What are those?" cried one of the youngest boys.
"They're presents!" said one of the girls.
Some of them had never had a Christmas present before.
They tore into the packages wildly, some laughing, some
crying, and some afraid to believe it was real.
You can buy a lot of presents (and a lot of food) with a
couple of small diamonds -- and you can even open a
bank account and make a nice deposit in an interest
bearing account that helps put food on the table for
a long, long time.
Pete stepped into the room, carrying a small yellow
puppy with a red ribbon.
"Who wants a puppy?" he asked.
"WE DO!" they shouted in unison -- and just like that,
the little yellow puppy had a new home and the biggest
and best family a dog could want.
One of the boys held out his hands, and Pete handed
the puppy to him. The boy smiled as he held the
puppy -- and then began to cry softly as the puppy
licked his face.
The other kids crowded around, each wanting to hold
the little bundle of fur.
The boy handed the puppy to one of the girls, wiped his
eyes, andlooked up at Pete.
"Thank you, officer," he said. "Thanks for everything!"
Pete paused for a second, not trusting his voice. There
was a lump in his throat the size of a piano.
"Don't thank me," he said. "Thank Frankie."
"Who's Frankie?" asked the boy.
Pete considered his answer for several seconds.
"He's just a little kid who went through some hard times
and came out okay," he said.
The boy considered the answer carefully.
"Did you know him?" he asked. "I mean -- did you
know him when he was a boy?"
"He was my best friend," he said.
"Did he live here?"
Pete nodded again.
"He lived here," he said. "So did I."
The little boy nodded in understanding.
"I thought so," he said.
"Ten years for me," said Pete. "A little longer for him."
The other children raced by, laughing merrily as they
chased the little yellow puppy across the room.
The boy looked up at Pete.
"Are you staying for breakfast?" he asked.
"Of course I am, said Pete. "It's Christmas!"
The boy held out his hand. Pete took it in his, and they
walked to the heavily-laden breakfast table.
(Note: That ends the 2011 Dinosaur Christmas story. I hope
you enjoyed it -- and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and
a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!)