When the movie ends, I click off the television and rise from the couch. “It’s late. I’m going to bed.”
Fleegle remains on his donut bed curled by the fireplace. Hanging above him from the mantle are the giant stockings with our names embroidered on them waiting for Santa to fill them with Christmas goodies. He looks up past them at the plate of cookies and glass of milk I put on the mantle for Santa. “I’m staying here,” he says.
“No stealing Santa’s cookies.”
“I wouldn’t do that. I’m going to ask him to share.”
“You want him to fill your stocking and share his cookies?” I say and go to bed, figuring I’ll get up in a of couple hours after Fleegle has fallen asleep and adjust the scene of Santa’s visit accordingly, but when I do eventually wake up, it’s from Fleegle jumping on the bed.
“Did you get tired of waiting for Santa?” I ask.
“No, not at all. He was really nice and gave me all the cookies but kept the milk for himself. He said climbing up and down chimneys was thirsty work. Next year he wants a beer instead of milk, a heavy, frothy German beer. He was very specific about it not being a light beer, and Mrs. Klaus thinks he might be getting lactose intolerant and he hates soy.”
“You’re in charge of remembering that,” I say sleepily. “No mess then?”
“Nope, except for some crumbs. Santa didn’t lick his plate.”
When the sun rises and I finally get up, I find Santa’s plate and milk glass where I left them on the mantle, but bare and empty. Fleegle is tall when he stands on his back legs and puts his front paws up on things. The kitchen counters are all within range of his tongue, but I’m puzzled how he could reach the mantle above the fireplace. And there are cookie crumbs still on the plate, something Fleegle would never leave behind.
Then I notice our stockings are chubby and full, mine with assorted candies and gummy bears, and Fleegle’s has a rawhide bone sticking out of the top of it.
I hear Fleegle’s nails on the floor behind me. “Santa made me promise not to chew on it until you were there to watch. He said I shouldn’t chew it all in one sitting.”
I turn and look at him. “Santa?” As far as I know Santa never got out of bed to stage the scene.
“Yeah, Santa. Big guy, red suit, smells like reindeer poop.”