Alvin Rex loved Christmas until he caught his mother in bed with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. He just wanted to tell his parents about the jingling bells he’d heard coming from downstairs. Instead of his mom and dad peacefully sleeping away to visions of sugar plums, there was Santa, buck naked except for his red hat and black boots, pushing himself into Alvin’s mother like too many toys in an overstuffed stocking. Alvin screamed in terror and ran back to his room, slamming the door and climbing into bed before he stopped to wonder why Santa kept his boots on.
The lousiest part of it all was the next morning when Alvin rushed downstairs, pretending the horrible image was just a dream, only to discover empty stockings and a plate of uneaten cookies.
When his parents came down to see what all the crying was about, Alvin yelled, “I hate you, Mom!”
“Don’t talk to your mother like that,” his father said, the clueless fool defending his adulterous wife.
“She ruined Christmas!”
“And how did she do that?”
“She had sex with Santa so he didn’t leave any gifts.”
Alvin didn’t stop to think about why Santa wouldn’t leave gifts at the house of the woman who pleased him.
His parents looked at each other. A smile spread across his dad’s face. Alvin wasn’t sure why he would smile at such news. His father was now a cuckoo. He knew because he heard his friends at school say this after their own mothers slept with the mailmen and the milkmen and the pool boys and all the other service industry types.
“I think you misunderstood what you saw,” Alvin’s dad protested after a supportive nod from his wife.
“Yes, honey, you didn’t see what you thought you saw.”
And then they told him the truth, that there was no Santa Claus, that it was all a fiction made up to spread holiday cheer.
“Then who was on top of you in the bed?” Alvin asked.
“That was your father. He was dressed like Santa Claus. You see, sometimes mommies and daddies like to dress up.”
“You mean like Halloween?”
“Sure,” his mother said. “Like Halloween.”
“So where are all the presents?” Alvin asked.
“We just forgot to fill the stockings. That’s all. You still have all these presents under the tree.”
“But the stockings are my favorite part,” Alvin whined.
“Honey, it’s okay. We’ll make it up to you.”
Alvin refused to accept her unstated apology, and he refused to unwrap any of the presents, except for the one that said it was from his crazy grandmother who lived in Arizona. It was an ugly sweater that didn’t fit, just like it always was.
“Honey, you have to open your presents,” his mother protested later in the day.
“Never,” he told her. “I’m giving them away.”
Alvin tried very hard to go through the day without opening the gifts. They were so tempting, sitting under the beautifully decorated tree with their shiny bows and unwrinkled wrapping paper. Somehow Alvin stayed strong, refusing to give into his mother’s lies and bribery. He didn’t believe any of that nonsense about Santa not being real. He knew what he saw. That man on top of his mother was not his father. It was the real Santa Claus, and his mother was a liar.
When it came time for bed, Alvin refused, saying he was going to sit on the couch all night and stare at the presents. His parents shrugged and left him alone. When he was sure they were asleep, he tore all the paper off the presents. Everything he ever wanted was under the tree. This was the haul of a lifetime, but Alvin felt no joy. The presents were all tarnished with lies and cheating. He threw them in the dumpster outside until the container could hold no more. Then he ripped the stockings off the mantle and threw them in the unlit fireplace. He pulled all the ornaments off the tree and tossed his mother’s favorite crystal snowflake into the garbage disposal. His wrath against Christmas continued well into the night until he dropped on the couch in exhaustion after stabbing out the eyes of the figures in the nativity set.
Hours later, he was awoken by jingling bells. Above him stood an intimidating man dressed in a red suit that resembled Santa’s.
“Santa, what are you doing here?” Alvin asked.
“I came to tell you that your parents were right. I don’t exist. Everything they told you was true.”
“If you don’t exist, how are you here now?” Alvin asked.
“Call it a Christmas miracle,” the Santa mirage said. “Now get all your presents out of the dumpster and play like a real boy.”
The Santa mirage walked over to the pantry to fix himself a nice plate of cookies.
Seeing Santa inhaling the cookies, Alvin’s love of Christmas rekindled and he rushed outside for his toys. When he flung open the dumpster lid though, he saw nothing but old garbage. “Where are my toys?” he asked aloud.
He ran back inside, hoping Santa had recovered them all. There were no toys inside, and Santa was gone, a plate of cookie crumbs left behind on the counter.
Alvin rushed upstairs to tell his parents about his encounter with Santa. When he burst into the room, he found his parents sleeping soundly, cuddled next to each other like spoons. He decided not to wake them up. He sulked back to his room, his eyes filled with tears. When he entered, his room was filled with Christmas toys and overstuffed stockings. He flicked on the light and rushed to the pile of unwrapped presents. There was a note in the center of it all.
Sorry for all this. I may not be real, but sometimes magic trumps reality. Love, Santa.
Alvin played the rest of the night, forgetting all about Santa’s deviance and his parents’ lies.
Nathaniel Tower is the managing and founding editor of Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine and Press. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 online and print publications. In 2014, Martian Lit will release his first short story collection, Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands. He is a former high school English teacher and the former world record holder for the fastest mile running backwards while juggling. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter.