He didn’t look anything like the Santa Frankie was expecting. He was skinny. So skinny that Frankie thought to toss him a cookie, had he not already eaten them all while waiting. His beard was only partially white down the middle. The rest of it was the color of burnt straw. He wore are gray hoodie pulled down over his eyes. Even his sack wasn’t its classic velvet red, but a black plastic trash bag.
Frankie put both hands on the revolver. “Where’s your red suit?”
Startled, the man backed into the door. “Whoa, kid. What the hell are you doing up?”
“I said, where’s your red suit?”
“Do you even know how to use that?” He pointed at the revolver.
Frankie cocked the hammer with his thumb. “Do you wanna find out?”
“Ok, ok.” He waved his hands to get Frankie to lower the gun. “Let’s not get trigger happy here.” He scratched at his beard. “My suit, well.” He shrugged his shoulders and weakly laughed. “Santa forgot to do his laundry.”
“And why are you so skinny? And why do you have a trash bag?”
“Economy, kid. Even Santa has to cut back.”
“So you come to my house with no presents?” He closed one eye and aimed the gun at Santa’s head.
Santa stumbled back and crossed his arms over his face. “Easy there, kid! Did you forget Santa has magic?”
Nervously, Santa stepped to the side to avoid the path of the gun. “See, it wouldn’t make sense for me to lug around a big, heavy bag filled with all the presents of the world.” He nodded to make sure Frankie was following along. Frankie only stared. “You see, the bag…the bag,” Santa stuttered, “the bag is like, like a portal. Yea, a portal back to my shop. I wave my hand in front of it and poof!” He snapped his fingers. “Presents under the tree.”
Frankie turned to the tree. Sure enough there were boxes stacked on top of each other, star-shaped bows stuck to the sides, shiny gift bags reflecting the bright lights from the tree, colorful tissue paper spilling over the tops. Frankie shook off his astonishment and raised the gun to Santa’s head again.
“How do I know they weren’t already there?”
“Did you see them already there?” Santa asked hesitantly.
Frankie squinted his eyes. He remembered looking at the tree, but not the presents. He was so focused on the door, shooting Santa the minute he walked it. He bared his teeth, angry at himself for not sticking to the plan. He pointed the gun, pressed his finger against the trigger. “Where’s my present?”
“Well…I’m sure it’s there,” Santa stammered.
“No, it’s not.”
“You didn’t even check.”
“Don’t have to. My present’s too big to go under the tree.”
“What on earth could be too big to go under the tree?”
“A monster truck.”
“A monster truck?” Santa bent over and laughed. “How old are you? Seven?”
“Eight and a half!”
“You’re not even tall enough to drive a monster truck.”
“Doesn’t matter. I still want it.”
“And a Hotweels toy won’t do?”
“That’s for babies. Now give me my monster truck or I’ll shoot!”
“Look, kid. Santa doesn’t have a monster truck.” He began to talk fast as Frankie came closer with the gun. “How about an Xbox. And a game? Grand Theft Auto! That’s like driving a monster truck.”
“Let’s see it.” Frankie held out his hand.
“I-I don’t have it.”
Rolling his eyes, Frankie again pointed the gun at Santa’s head. “Ok, you die in three seconds.”
“No, no, no! What I meant to say was that I had just delivered my last one to the previous house.”
“Sucks for you. Two!”
“Wait!” He was pressing his back against the door now, as if doing so would flatten his body and make it harder for Frankie to aim and fire. “How bout we go to the store and buy one. I bet Wal-Mart’s still open. What do you say?”
Frankie pondered the idea then dropped his arms and put the gun in his back pocket. “Ok. Your sleigh on the roof?”
“I have a pick-up.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Don’t believe the fairytales, kid. Eight reindeer pulling a sleigh screams animal cruelty to the cops every time.”
Day 12 of 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans