The Father had finally let it slip. “If you believe in him hard enough, then he’s real.”
“But Billy and Joey said he wasn’t real. They said that you made it all up. That you’re lying.”
The boy let out a heavy breath, as he fought back tears. The Father shook his head glumly. Billy and Joey were creepy little assholes. The Father knew it to be so, ever since watching them pick their noses and share their boogers, like an overzealous couple enjoying tapas.
“That’s because Billy and Joey don’t believe. They never believed hard enough. That’s why he’s not real to them.”
The Father knew he was taking his son down a treacherous path, that the boy was still too young, but nevertheless, the time had come, and now the issue of believing was at hand. The Fat Man had given the gifts, and now he would come to collect on a debt, years in delinquency.
When the Father was his Son’s age, he had believed. He had believed extraordinarily hard that year. And on the night before Christmas, all were asleep… and then the Fat Man showed up.
“Hello Boy!” the Fat Man bellowed.
The Father, only a boy then, jumped from his slumber, recoiling in fear. He screamed for his mother and father, but no one stirred, not even the mouse, who was currently trapped in a wall.
“Quit your whimpering!” growled the Fat Man. He leaned in closer, his milky breath hot on the boy’s face. “You believed, and now I’m here. And I have a gift for you.”
“Oh yes! It’s the badass BB gun you wanted!”
The Fat Man pulled the shining rifle from his bag and presented it to the boy, whose mood instantly changed from horror to delight.
“Nice!” Exclaimed the boy with a fist pump.
The boy reached for the gun, but the Fat Man quickly pulled it away.
“Whoa. Easy does it, you little shit.”
The Fat Man wore a fat grin, as he held the glorious weapon just out of reach.
“First things first, if you want this pretty little chipmunk-chopper, I need something in return.”
The boy eyed the fat man warily. He was now in the process of learning that everything had a price… especially gifts from imaginary fat men.
“Do I need to be good? Is that it?” The boy asked.
“Fuck no.” Replied the Fat Man.
“You can shoot fucking Bambi for all I care. No, I need something more important than that.”
“What’s that?” Asked the boy, slightly taken aback by the Fat Man’s propensity for f-bombs.
“I need to keep on keeping on, if you catch my drift.
“I don’t” said the boy.
The Fat Man let out a sigh of exhaustion. He was so very tired. Dealing with children was not his strong suit, and he really wasn’t a fan of them, when all was said and done. The fact that he needed the little beggars more than they needed him, just exacerbated his condition.
The Fat Man reached for the smoked venison in his pocket and tore into it. He spoke through mouthfuls of the salty meat.
“Here’s the deal, I give you presents and shit, and you don’t stop believing. Then when you have kids, you make sure they don’t stop believing. It’s kind of like a Journey song you have to listen to… forever.”
The boy gagged at the thought. The Fat Man dangled the rabbit-blinder in front of him once more. The boy was transfixed on the rifle. Its polished steel and rich wooden stock, hypnotizing him like a snake charmer with a red rider tattoo.
“O-okay. Y-you got a deal.” Stammered the boy, his eyes still locked on the raccoon-ripper.
“Thatta boy!” Exclaimed the Fat Man, as he shoved the rifle back into his bag.
“Hey! Don’t I get the–“
The Fat Man cut the boy off with a wag of his finger.
“Easy does it, kid. Tomorrow’s the big day. Tonight’s just the fine print.”
The Fat Man stood to leave, but before he could go the boy asked “What if I don’t believe in you?”
The Fat Man eyed the boy suspiciously.
“We have a deal, kid. You wanna know what happens if you pull out of a deal with me?”
The Fat Man’s eyes were suddenly fathomless pools, and in their dark universe, the boy saw a vision of the bearded giant, who stood atop a mountain of coal. He saw a horned beast in flight, its blood red nose aglow. Tiny elves danced savagely, their jagged teeth glimmering in the moonlight. And in the distance, there was a list with endless names crossed off of it.
In the doorway the Fat Man stood, looking down at his little believer.
“Remember kid, it’s the Journey song for you and yours.”
And with that, the Fat Man was gone… but his gift was not.