The holiday spirit lit up Mud Lick, Alabama like the warm glow of lights from a Christmas tree. This was Sheriff Roy’s favorite time of the year. Though snow wasn’t common that deep in the South, all the residents took great care in meticulously decorating their homes and storefronts. Holiday music rang through the speakers at the local Value-Lot.
A modest Christmas tree sat in the corner of the Sheriff’s Department bullpen. Sheriff Roy bought doughnuts with red and green icing that morning, and he nibbled on one as he wrapped his Secret Santa present: a copy of Scott Adams’ “Win Bigly.”
Sheriff Templeton’s festive mood was suddenly jolted by his phone ringing. It was Deputy Miranda.
“Got a tip from one of the Cocke Brothers you might be interested in, Sheriff.”
“Hannity’s coming to town.”
Sheriff Roy’s mouth practically hit the floor at this news. “Sean Hannity? As in the loudmouth from the Fox News? How did he find us? Why is he coming?”
“That annual ‘War on Christmas’ segment, Sheriff. Apparently we’ve got dueling press trucks en route to the Mud Lick Library. Some sort of protest your niece Cindy’s organizing about the evils of capitalist Christmas or something like that.”
“Sweet mother of Bear Bryant, Cindy’s got no idea what she’s done. If the trucks actually broadcast from Mud Lick…”
Sheriff Roy’s thoughts trailed off. He had a plan coming to mind.
“Deputy Miranda, this is an all hands matter. Get the geolocation scrap trucks from Garage 13 to intercept the news trucks. I want them stripped within the next eight hours. Detain Hannity and any other talking heads you might recognize. Bring them to an Interrogation room. Make sure the rest of the ‘news’ people are unharmed, but remain outside the county line. Leave them a clear message they’re not welcome here. Copy?”
“Loud and clear, Sheriff. Enjoy your doughnut. I’ll let you know when the news people are ready for you.”
One of the best hires I’ve ever made, Sheriff Roy thought with a smile as he hung up the phone.
After a couple of hours, Deputy Miranda poked his head through the door of Sheriff Roy’s office. “They’re waiting for you, Sheriff.”
“Thank you, Deputy.”
On arrival to Interrogation Room B, Sheriff Roy immediately recognized Sean Hannity, handcuffed to the table and mouth covered with duct tape that read “MORON.” The bald fellow seated next to Hannity was similarly cuffed, but his mouth bore tape reading “BUTTERBALL.”
Deputy Miranda did enjoy his subtle touches.
“Good evening, gents,” Sheriff Roy began. He proceeded to rip the duct tape from each man’s mouth, sending a small gasp of pain from both men. “Mr. Hannity, pleasure meeting you. Your bald friend, I’m afraid I don’t reckon I know him from anybody.”
“I’m Brian fucking Stelter from fucking CNN, you goddamn hillbilly fuck! Why are we detained? Where’s my truck and crew?”
“Ease your tone, Mr. Stelter,” Sheriff Roy growled. He pulled out a toolbox bearing the stamp of “IRON BOWL EMERGENCY TOOLS.” “I’d hoped we could keep this civil.”
Hannity’s eyes widened. “Brian, I know we’ve hardly been fast friends in our careers, but this is Alabama, and from the look of what’s on that toolbox I guarantee you there’s no way you want to know what’s in that box. Pipe down.”
Hannity turned to Sheriff Roy. “Sheriff, Brian’s got some good questions. I don’t understand why we’re handcuffed, and it would be nice to know where our crews and trucks are.”
“All good questions, but I’m not sure city folk like the two of you would understand the answers. You see, here in Mud Lick we don’t have a ‘War on Christmas,’ regardless of what your friends at Fox News might tell you. We like Christmas here. It’s a wonderful holiday and we celebrate it just fine.”
Sheriff Roy turned to Stelter next. “And I’d imagine you’re here to call Mr. Hannity ‘Fake News’ and puff yourself up as doing important ‘journalism.’ I’m afraid that’s not going to happen here.”
“We have rights! Give us our trucks! I want a lawyer!” Stelter sputtered.
Sheriff Roy sighed in disappointment. “I guess this isn’t going to be a civil conversation after all. Here’s the deal, gents. There’s no war on Christmas or any other holiday, because you folks make up all that crap to make folks angry and yell at each other. I’ve never been a fan of the drivel about changing coffee cups or disappearing nativity scenes. All of it’s just nonsense you rattle off to get more eyes on your stupid programs.”
“Christmas is alive. It’s about the joy in a child’s eyes on Christmas morning. It’s about being together with family and realizing how blessed you are in life. It’s about the magic of understanding that sometimes, the smallest of miracles are worth celebrating with all our spirit.”
“Now since the two of you wanted to try and fling your crap in my town, I’ll be privately escorting both of you to the County line. Feel free to sell your ‘War on Christmas’ garbage elsewhere. You’ll not speak of your time in Mud Lick to anyone, and we can all have a merry Christmas together. Sound good?”
“What if we say no?’ Hannity asked.
Sheriff Roy shook his head. He took out his cellphone and dialed a number. “Deputy Tyrone, I’ve got two perps in Interrogation B that I need you to question. Take your time.” He hung up the phone. “You gents brought this on yourselves,” Sheriff Roy said as he left the room.
Brian Stelter and Sean Hannity were found on a dirt road near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, tied together like one would be bound in a three-legged race. Both men were wearing only crimson boxer shorts, and had “I’M WITH STUPID” painted on their backs with arrows pointing at each other.
Hannity from that day forward would refuse to go near the state of Alabama. Stelter involuntarily shat himself whenever he saw the University of Alabama’s logo or heard the words “Roll Tide.”
And on Christmas morning, Sheriff Roy smiled as Roy Junior opened his presents, knowing that while the end didn’t necessarily justify the means, he’d kept Christmas magical and all that “War on Christmas” stuff out of Mud Lick for one more year.