Fritz has run-in with the law + Week 1 clues

RaeLynn Ricarte
Editor, Statesman Examiner

Fritz was in a snit. Well, actually, he was heading for a full-blown tantrum if things didn’t turn around soon. And the humans he was surrounded with didn’t understand how catastrophic an elf tantrum could be. After all, it was elves who harnessed stardust to create an antimatter propulsion unit that enabled Santa’s sleigh to fly at warp speed. And elves had engineered the GPS system that allowed Santa to map out an efficient route around the world and not get lost in a fog bank.

One of Fritz’ more spectacular tantrums had been staged after Santa refused to allow him to “take the rig out for a spin.”

There had been shredded wrapping paper and knotted ribbons littering every surface of the toy workshop and across the frozen tundra outside. He had been a whirling dervish until the Not-So-Jolly Fat Man had sent the gnome security force after him.

Although gnomes were taller and bulkier than elves, they were not as fleet of foot. So, Fritz had led the band of tubby guards on a merry chase until they finally trapped him in a storeroom and, even then, it had taken 10 of them to get him under control.

The final straw with Santa, however, had been when Fritz reprogrammed the digital list that guided the manufacture and distribution of presents so everyone in the world was on the “naughty” side and getting a lump of coal. That had brought toy production to a screeching halt and the elves had been scrambling to find enough lumps of coal for seven billion people when Mrs. Claus intervened.

“How can everyone in the world be that bad?” she said. “I know that 2020 was a difficult year, but still...”

Apparently, Chewelah Police Chief Mark Burrows had learned about that little incident when he called Santa to express his concerns about Fritz being sent to Northeastern Washington to find the Gift of Christmas.

Santa had reportedly given Burrows and other local officials his blessing to “do whatever was necessary” to keep Fritz on track.

“You are not going to get away with any bad behavior under my watch,” said Burrows, who had “cuffed and stuffed” the elf to make his point.

Fritz hadn’t been appeased when the chief told him to consider the intervention as a little “tough love.”

“Gheesh! A guy couldn’t catch a break,” grumbled Fritz. And it wasn’t his fault that people wanted “money” in exchange for goods and services. In the North Pole, there was no such requirement. If you needed it, you just took it and marked it off the inventory list so the logistics elves would know that it needed to be replaced.

Oh sure, there were times when gum drops were in short supply, but everyone just shared what there was until the candy factory made up the deficit.

Burrows had educated him on the green paper thing and Fritz had phoned the Pole to arrange for a quick drop of “currency.”

“You will get arrested for shoplifting the next time you take something without paying for it,” warned Burrows.

“Alright, alright already. I get the point,” groused Fritz.

“Stow the attitude,” replied Burrows.

For a dark moment, Fritz wanted to kick the chief in the shin, but he could still feel the cold steel of the cuffs closing around his waist so he kept his mouth shut (a minor miracle).

Instead, he had pulled a wad of cash from under his hat to pay for the chocolate bar he had helped himself to at the local market. He had no idea what the cost of the candy was, but figured a few hundred would cover it.

He was astonished and delighted when the clerk gave him most of the money back. This exchange of “green backs” was kinda fun!

Since arriving in the region last week, Fritz had been camping out at the Statesman-Examiner office. After several days of emptying the ink out of pens used by reporters, “adjusting the numbers” in the bookkeeper’s logs and other little tricks, it had been suggested by the Powers-That-Be that Fritz visit the Stateman’s sister paper, the Deer Park Tribune, to get to know its staff.

The silly humans didn’t know that elves can scamper at the speed of light when motivated (and if powered with enough sugar) so Fritz had managed to almost be in two places at one time.

He enjoyed phoning the Tribune to let them know that he was heading their way, and then knocking on the door moments later. Sometimes he took a break in Chewelah, almost the midway point, to wolf down a few snacks and check out the lay of the land.

While he saw all kinds of possibilities for pranks, he also grudgingly accepted that he would never get to go home to the North Pole until he found the dratted treasure. He made a list of thrift stores and shops where a variety of merchandise was displayed as his first stops.

However, he quickly found that without the proper supplies, he was not prepared to really mount a thorough search. When you are 12-inches high, it becomes rather difficult to open a storage chest or to see what is on the top shelf.

Plus, he was tired of trying to sleep in the decorative mailbox the Statesman had provided for “his room.” That container was made to hold letters to Santa, not a full grown elf and he was tired of having to curl up inside when he wanted to shut the hatch.


Every week, Fritz will visit a business in the area and this column will provide clues about where he is hanging out. The first person to solve the mystery and send us a photo (email at the business with Fritz will win a prize.

Even though only one prize will be awarded each week, we will print or post all photos we receive of the actual smart people in town.

Fritz, who took great delight in making lists — and checking them twice — sat down and began to write out the things he would need to be prepared for any eventuality.

By the time he had jotted down the wide range of supplies that he required to scale the heights, burrow into the depths and construct a decent “bedroom,” Fritz knew there was only one place to go that was near the Tribune office in Deer Park.

“I’m gonna ace this!” he said, thoroughly impressed — once again — with his organizational skills.