From: Spadework by Bill Pronzini, Crippen and Landru, 1996.
The Nameless Detective's girlfriend Kerry drags him into playing Santa Claus for four hours at a gala charity benefit.
The crime portion of the story begins when an ornery nine-year-old named Ronnie punches Nameless in his pillow-padded stomach, then refuses to get off his lap. Nameless threatens to stuff the pillow down Ronnie's throat. Ronnie goes and gets his father, whom Nameless recognizes as a thief he helped send to San Quentin for grand larceny.
Even at his most curmudgeonly, Nameless's narration is appealingly anecdotal, a treat to read.