He tripped over the forgotten toy, his pajamas pulled down past his hips when the blue cuff of the bottoms slid under his foot. In one smooth motion, he grabbed each side of the waistband and hiked the legs up, jumping in the air so the blue cuffs would come back up over the heels of his feet. He could hardly wait to see if Santa took the cookies. He told his dad that Santa wouldn’t want cookies because everyone puts out cookies but his dad didn’t listen. His dad said, “Son if we don’t give Santa cookies, how will he be able to keep his belly fat enough to keep his suit on?” He rolled his eyes at his dad but didn’t argue. He knows not to argue with his dad, even if it’s about Santa who really isn’t real. Scotty jumped off the last step with a loud thud, Scamp flew out of his hand and crash-landed into the wall. Scotty fell to his knees and slid on the cold, smooth tiles. Scrambling to his feet, he looked back up the stairs to see if his jump woke ‘the bear’. He laughed at himself for calling his dad a bear because that’s what his mom says he is. He thinks his dad looks like a bear too because he is all full of hair and has a big belly like a bear. Scotty scooped Scamp up and tucked him under his arm where he always is. He skipped into the living room but came to a sudden halt, his eyes growing wide, as he stood there staring at the back of a large man dressed in a red suit. The man was bent over the table where the cookies were sitting. Not daring to breathe, Scotty watched as the man tipped his head back and drained the whole glass of milk in one large gulp. Scotty was pretty sure Santa isn’t real because that’s what JT told him and JT knows everything about everything. So if Santa isn’t real, who is this? JT doesn’t know everything!
Suddenly the man in the red suit swung around and faced him. Scotty took a few steps backward and dropped Scamp to the floor. The old man looked almost like the real Santa in the stories, except he didn’t have a long white beard and he was dirtier than Scotty could ever get, even when he plays with his friends in the rainy mud puddles. The scary Santa wiped the back of his hand across his mouth, sizing up the young boy, a large grin slowly spread across his face as he took two steps toward him. Scotty held the scary Santa’s gaze and backed up each time Santa took a step forward. Scotty looked down at Scamp for a brief second, the teddy bear’s black button eyes staring back at him as if Scamp was telling him to run. Scotty looked back up at the scary Santa before turning and running up the stairs to his parent’s room. He heard the scary Santa let out a loud laugh as he ran up the stairs, his legs pumping as hard as they could. Scotty turned around once he reached the top of the stairs, panting. He saw the man in the red suit, one dirty black boot on the bottom stair and one grimy hand on the banister. His mom is gunna be so pissed with the dirty boots in her house, he thought. He giggled nervously because he isn’t allowed to say piss, ever.
Scotty ran to his parent’s room and jumped on the bed, squishing himself in between his mom and dad, he slid under the covers. His dad’s loud snoring stopped for a moment and Scotty sighed with relief. His dad rolled over, his large belly trapping Scotty’s leg under it. Scotty grabbed onto his Batman pajamas and pulled as hard as he could but his leg was just plumb stuck. Scotty pushed as hard as he could on his dad’s big round stomach but it didn’t budge. His head snapped up toward the sound of the scary Santa’s boots slowly coming up the stairs. He squeezed his eyes shut and hoped that Scamp didn’t get hurt. He rolled over towards his dad’s belly and pushed with his closed fists. No luck!
“Dad!” Scotty whisper yelled. “Dad! Wake up!” Scotty pinched his dad’s belly button but even that didn’t wake him up. He heard the thud of a boot as it reached the top of the stairs. “Daddy! Wake up!” Scotty felt his dad roll off his leg and over onto his back again. His mom mumbled in her sleep but wasn’t moving either. Scotty rolled the other way and put his hand on his mom’s neck. “Mom! Mom wake up! Please wake up!”
“Scotty? What are you doing here?” His mom rolled over, her sleepy eyes staring at him, confused. Scotty pulled the covers further over his head. “Scotty! Stop that! Go back to your own bed now,” his mom’s voice became annoyed. Scotty was trembling, his mother pulled the covers off of his head and Scotty saw the yellow teeth glaring down at him. Scotty couldn’t scream, his voice felt stuck, and he couldn’t stop staring at the large yellow teeth grinning back at him. He pointed over his mom’s shoulders at the scary Santa, his arm trembling. His mom rolled over and hit the scary Santa’s stomach but she didn’t even notice she was touching him. The scary Santa let out a loud, bellowing laugh and Scotty watched the red suit jump up and down. He looked at both of his parents who were sound asleep. Scotty closed his eyes and wiggled further down into the covers, repeating to himself ‘it’s just a dream, it’s just a dream’. Maybe if he was sleeping too then he won’t see the scary Santa either. He squeezed his eyes as tight as he could and wished for the scary Santa to go away. Scotty felt two large hands grip him under his arms and he was lifted off the bed. Scotty screamed, he screamed and screamed but no one woke up.
“So what do you think?” Gary asked, holding up a box he just wrapped. Lenore stared at the box and shook her head.
“Honey, we go through this every year! Why not just watch a YouTube video on how to wrap Christmas presents?” she asked, gulping down the rest of her rum and eggnog. “Honestly, Scotty doesn’t care whether the presents are wrapped perfectly or not,” Lenore could hear the tv still droning on from the living room. Lenore held up the snow globe Scotty spied last week and she smiled. “I think he is going to love this,” She said, shaking the globe and watching the snowflakes fall around the town that was artfully crafted inside the globe. “I wish I could keep him this age forever. He is so smart and snuggly, I never want to let him grow up,” she said wistfully, as she put the globe back in its box.
“I am not watching a stupid video on how to wrap presents! Besides, this is a damn fine job if I don’t say so myself!” Gary held the box up and turned it over to admire his wrapping job. Finishing the last of his own drink, he held it up to Lenore and raised his eyebrows with a silent question to whether he would fix them both another drink.
Shaking her head, Lenore responded, “Not just yet. It’s Christmas eve and I gotta get our little man off to bed. Let me get him ready and I will be back to help finish things up.” Gary nodded and headed toward the kitchen, as Lenore went off to the living room to get Scotty ready for bed. Once he was brushed and washed, he gave his good night hugs and was tucked in bed.
“Okay now. Santa won’t come until after you have gone to sleep. So time to shut your eyes tight and dream of all the good things we are grateful for. Okay?”
“Mama, JT says Santa ain’t real and it’s just a lie people say to kids. Is that true?” Lenore looked down at the freckles smattered across Scotty’s nose and smiled. She brushed his red hair across his forehead and leaned down to plant a kiss on his nose.
“Of course not silly! Santa is real! JT just hasn’t ever seen him that’s all. No one has ever seen him because he only goes to houses where the good kids are sleeping. So if you don’t go to sleep then Santa’s reindeer won’t stop on our roof. It’s been a big day full of things we have done and tomorrow will be just as big a day, so close those tired eyes and dream of all your Christmas wishes.” Lenore pulled the covers up around Scotty’s neck and tucked him in, her eyes shining with love. She could see her son’s eyes fluttering, as he tried to fight sleep. “That’s it, Scotty. It’s sleepy time now. Sweet dreams and you know we love you to the moon and back.” Lenore got up from the edge of the bed and flicked off the bedside lamp.
“Me too mama,” he mumbled as his eyes slid shut. Lenore left the door open slightly and the hall light on, as she made her way back downstairs to finish the wrapping. Gary already had another drink ready for her and the two of them chatted idly about their plans tomorrow. Lenore last counted fifteen guests would be arriving around two o’clock. After wrapping the last of the gifts, they carried them to the Christmas tree and arranged them so all of Scotty’s gifts were up front. Lenore stifled a yawn, as she and Gary stood in front of the tree and stared at the lights.
“Well, that is a job well done,” Gary admired and gave Lenore a squeeze on her shoulder.
“Yes, it is!” She beamed up at him. Another yawn overcame her that she didn’t stifle. “I think it’s our bedtime now too, my love. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow.”
“I agree. You go on up. I need to put out some half-eaten cookies and drink a glass of milk,” Gary smiled. “Scotty told me not to leave milk and cookies because everyone does and he thinks Santa will be full.” They both chuckled, Lenore headed up the stairs and Gary went to the kitchen to get Santa’s snacks ready. Once the half-eaten cookies and a small bit of milk was set on the side table by the Christmas tree, Gary made his way upstairs, briefly looking in on Scotty who was sound asleep. Lenore and Gary climbed into bed and fell into a deep slumber.
He was too scared to open his eyes as he felt the scary Santa pluck him out from between his parents. He felt himself being lowered and his back was suddenly cold. Scotty squinted and opened his eyes just a slit to peer around him, the hands no longer under his arms. He looked up and saw the dark sky starting to lighten, snow falling on his face. He was lying on the walkway in front of his house. Scotty stood up and looked up and down the dark streets, lit only by the faint glow of a street lamp a few houses away. Brushing snow off his bottom, he climbed the front stairs and opened the door. He was scared, scared the scary Santa was waiting for him inside, waiting to eat him. Scotty slowly opened the front door and saw Scamp lying against the wall where he had dropped him. Scotty tiptoed to Scamp, scooping him up under his arm. He peered into the living room and saw the plate of half-eaten cookies, the empty glass of milk and the Christmas tree full of presents. The living room was empty, there was no sign of the scary Santa. Scotty tiptoed to the tree and looked at all the presents with his name on them. It must have been just a scary dream he thought. Santa is real and he was here already! Look at all the presents. Scotty soon forgot all about his bad dream and picked up a present, shaking it. Not hearing anything rattle, he put it back and went to pick up another present when the living room light flicked on. Startled, he turned around, all of the memories of the bad dream with the scary Santa flying right back into his mind.
“Well, he isn’t in here. Where would he be?” his mom asked, standing in the living room staring straight at him. Scotty jumped to his feet, excited, and ran to his parents.
“I don’t know but it’s time to open presents so I will go put the coffee on. Maybe he is hiding in his room somewhere. Why don’t you go look there and when I get the coffee started, I will look in the toy room.” Gary headed toward the kitchen to fix the coffee. Lenore left the light on and headed up the stairs again.
“Mom?” Scotty followed Lenore but she didn’t turn to look at him. “Mom!” Scotty shouted but she didn’t seem to hear him. Scotty ran up the stairs, past his mom and stood at the top blocking her path. Scotty waved his arms and jumped up and down, yelling at his mom but she didn’t look at him or hear him. Lenore reached the top of the stairs and walked straight through him. Scotty stared after her, feeling panic rise in his throat. Lenore stopped in mid-stride and looked around the hall.
“That’s weird,” she mumbled, “I swear I could feel you right beside me. Where are you, Scotty?”
“I am here!” he yelled and chased after her. Lenore went into his room and flicked on his light. Opening his closet door she moved things around and then shut the door. She got on her knees and checked under his bed before taking one last look around the small room and headed back downstairs. She could hear the coffee brewing and Gary rustling around in the toy room. Gary returned to the kitchen as she reached for some mugs.
“He isn’t in his room. Anything in the toy room?” She asked, pouring them each a coffee.
“No, nothing. He isn’t in the toy room either.” Gary took the coffee Lenore handed him and the two sat at the kitchen table, worry setting in on both of their faces.
“Maybe he wandered outside?” Gary suggested. Lenore shook her head in disagreement, sipping her coffee and staring at Gary over her cup.
“Why would he do that? He has never left the house in the middle of the night before,” Lenore argued.
“I know but he isn’t in the house. What else could have happened?” Gary looked at his wife, fear registering in her eyes. “I think we need to go outside and look then. Maybe we need to call the police?” Gary got up nodding in agreement and grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair.
“I will go look outside. If I can’t see any sign of him, we will call the police.” Gary slipped on his jacket. Scotty stood there staring at them both, tears silently rolling down his cheeks. Why can’t they see him? Why can’t they hear him? He watched his dad walk out the front door and his mom playing with the edge of the table cloth like she does when she is upset. Scotty pulled out a chair and moved it beside his mom. The chair scraped across the tile floor but even that didn’t get his mom’s attention. He sat there, putting his hand on his mom’s lap and waited. Scotty watched as his dad came back, looking worried, and as his mom called the police.
Scotty watched for hours as all the people came and went. The police asked all kinds of questions and he listened as his mom described the pajamas he was still wearing. The police looked through the whole house and Scotty followed them as they poked around in his room. He stood in front of everyone to make them crash into him but they just walked straight through him. Eventually, he gave up. No one can hear him. No one can see him. Scotty plunked himself in front of the Christmas tree and stared at all the unopened gifts Santa had brought. He grabbed Scamp and hugged him tight to his chest. He didn’t know what happened but he thinks he is dead now. Scotty sat still for a long time and listened to his parents cry from the kitchen. His mom had been crying almost all day now. His dad was stronger, hugging his mom each time a new surge of tears took over her. Scotty watched them walk into the living room and sit on the couch, staring at the tree. He walked over to them and sat on the floor in front of them, holding Scamp tight.
“Something isn’t right,” Lenore stated in between sniffles. “I can feel Scotty here. I can feel his presence. Can’t you?” She turned to Gary, tears streaming down her face.
“Yes, of course, I can. He is everywhere in the house,” Gary agreed, morbidly.
“No. That’s not what I mean. I mean I can feel him leaning against my legs right now. And earlier, earlier when I first went into his room, I swear I could feel him standing at the top of the stairs,” Lenore whispered.
“I know this is hard but we will find him. I promise.” Gary pulled Lenore close to him and she laid her head against his chest. After a few moments, Lenore got up and grabbed a gift under the Christmas tree. She brought the box back to the couch and let it sit on her lap.
“What’s that?” Gary asked, watching his wife stare at the box.
“It’s the snow globe Scotty wanted. He saw it a week or so ago and was so excited when he was shaking it. Old man Jefferson makes them every year and they are replicas of our town. He told Scotty there is a bit of magic in every globe that he makes and all dreams can come true if Scotty would just believe.”
“Believe? Believe in what?”
“I don’t know! It’s old man Jefferson! He’s as crazy as they get but his craftsmanship is so beautiful. Scotty was so excited with the globe, I just had to go back and buy it,” Lenore said sadly. She slowly opened the box and held the globe up in front of them. Lenore sucked in her breath, “Look! This even looks like our house! I didn’t see that before when I bought it!” Lenore moved the globe around to get a better look and Gary leaned over to see what she was pointing at. Scotty climbed on the couch and could see their house inside the globe.
A thought suddenly struck Scotty. He jumped off the couch, leaving Scamp beside his mom and ran out the door. Scotty stood on the sidewalk and jumped up and down, waving his arms and yelling for his parents. He heard his mom scream from inside. Scotty screamed in delight and ran back inside. He stood there staring at his parent’s horrified faces.
“Did you see him? Gary! Did you see him?” Lenore turned to Gary who looked like he just saw a ghost.
“It can’t be.” Was all he could think to say. Lenore looked around the living room and up to the ceiling.
“Scotty, if you are here and you can hear us. Give us a sign.” Lenore spoke to the empty room, overcome with hope and a deep sense of foolishness. Lenore gently placed the globe beside her on the couch and buried her face in her hands. Gary gathered Lenore into his arms once again, both of them lost in their thoughts and considering that their eyes are just playing tricks on them. Gary picked up the snow globe and peered into it, looking at the replica of their house. Scotty raced back out the door and jumped around on the walkway, waving his arms and yelling. He heard his mom yell from inside the house. Scotty ran back inside and both of his parents were staring at the front door like they expected to see him walk through it. He ran to the couch, his parents still staring at the front door, in confusion. He ran back outside and repeated his dance on the walkway, running back inside again, knowing his parents would see him this time. Standing in front of the couch, Scotty lost hope. His parents stared at the snow globe and back at the front door, then back to the snow globe.
“This is impossible,” his dad whispered.
“I saw him and you did too!” his mom squeaked, her voice barely audible. Scotty plunked himself down on the floor and tried to think about what he could do. He looked at his parents’ miserably and tried to think of how he got into this mess or how he could get out. He suddenly felt very scared and lonely, blaming the scary Santa. Scotty looked at Scamp sitting on the couch and he reached up to grab him. He got an idea. He would draw a picture of the scary Santa! He can talk to his parents through pictures.
Scotty took his scrapbook and his crayons and drew a picture of the scary Santa carrying him out of bed. When he was happy with his drawing he looked up at his parents who were both still peering intently into the globe. He carried his drawing and walked through the front door, not bothering to open it this time. Scotty stood in front of the door and held up his picture.
“Look Lenore! There he is again but now he has a picture!” Gary and Lenore both studied the picture of Santa carrying a stick person away from a rectangle. Scotty lowered the picture, his shoulders sagging, he walked back into the living room to listen to what his parents thought about the picture.
“Scotty,” his dad said looking up to the ceiling. “If you can here me and you are here, I want you to carry something outside and show us it. I want you to take a present from under the tree, a small one and hold it up in front of the door. Okay? Can you do that for me son?” Gary looked at Lenore and now he felt foolish. Lenore was staring at him like she was ready to call for a psychiatrist. Gary shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry honey. I feel like I am going crazy.” Gary hung his head as the tears slid down his cheeks.
“No, it’s okay,” Lenore whispered as she moved closer to Gary and leaned into him. Gary’s arm absently wrapped around Lenore’s shoulders and they both gazed at the snow globe in Gary’s hand. They both saw the movement at the same time and wiped their eyes to clear their vision. They squinted into the snow globe and saw Scotty on the front stoop holding a small present. Lenore quickly got up and raced to the front door, yanking it open.
“Quick! I can see him holding the present and he seems to be yelling “mom”. Lenore bring him inside!”
“I can’t! He isn’t there!” Lenore cried out, crumbling to her knees. “I know what’s happened! It’s all my fault and now we’ve lost our son!” she wailed.
Gary went to Lenore to help her up, “What do you mean it’s all your fault?” He asked gingerly.
“I might be crazy but old man Jefferson said there is magic in every globe if Scotty would just believe! I wished for Scotty to stay small forever and now he’s trapped in that thing!” Lenore lay down on the floor sobbing.
“No, no honey,” Gary soothed, “This is not your fault at all.”
“We need to talk to ole man Jefferson!” Lenore bolted up off the floor. “It’s his magic. He is the only person to bring Scotty back. Let’s go before he dies in that thing!”
……………………..to be continued (maybe)