You Ain’t Santa Claus
by: E Walk

(© 2009 by the Author)

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...

Chapter 3

The Living Tree



The boys were listening to me as I was on the phone.  None of them were making a sound, “This is Dr. Kirk Richter.  I was told to call Ms. Ginger Belton.”


I had put the phone on speaker, “Just a moment, Sir, I’ll connect you to the witch.”


That comment caught the three boys attention.


A different voice came on, “Why do you want to speak to me?  I’m busy.  Can’t you see that I’m polishing my nails?” 


I looked at the three boys and Nate and Ryan were cowering against Josh.


“I’m sorry to bother you ma’am.  This is Kirk Richter.  Your brother Barry Rogers told me to call you.”


The two boys were totally confused and Josh was smiling, “Well why didn’t you say so.  I would like to speak with the two brats at seven o’clock tonight and make sure that Doctor Thornton is there so I can see if the four of you are as ugly as my brother said.”


Josh started to laugh and Nate caught on that Ms. Belton was playing with our minds and yelled, “Lady, this is Nate Holloway and we have dates tonight.  We won’t be back until 7:15.”


The voice was quiet for a short period, “Is Ryan there, I would like to speak with him.”


Ryan gulped, “I’m here, ma’am.”


“You can’t be Ryan.  Everyone said that you couldn’t talk.  You’d better be able to tell me what happened to make it so you could speak when I get there at 7:07 and don’t be late.  Dr. Richter, please have some hot chocolate for us to drink.  I get irritable when I get tired.  I’ll see you all at 7:07 tonight.”


After I hung up, Ryan was almost crying, “Dad Santa, that lady sounds mean.”


Josh giggled, “Don’t worry, Guys, Aunt Ginger’s bark is worse than her bite.”


I looked at the boys, “Come on, guys, we need to take Joshua home.  Josh, would you be available to stay with the boys again tomorrow for about the same length of time?”


Josh shook his head no, “I promised my parents that I would take care of my two brothers while they finished their Christmas shopping,”


This was going to put me in a bind, “Josh, how old are your brothers?” 


Josh looked at the boys, “They’re the same ages as Nate and Ryan.”


“Why don’t you bring them along with you tomorrow and then Nate and Ryan will have someone to play with and you can do whatever 14 year olds do best, but make sure you lock the bathroom door first.”


The look on Josh’s face was priceless and he turned red.  He started to laugh, “When I tell my Dad what you said, he’ll probably ban me from ever stepping on this property again.”


“Guys, get your coats.  We have some errands to run after we drop Josh off.”


While Nate and Ryan were gone, I handed Josh $30.00.  “Why don’t you call your parents and see if your two brothers can come here with you tomorrow?”


Josh made the call, “Hi Mom …  Dr. Richter wants to know if I can bring Justin and Jordan here so I can sit with his sons again tomorrow? … Let me tell him. … Mother says the boys would be welcome to stay at our house.”


“Josh, I think it might be better if they stayed here, since we don’t know exactly what is going to be happening to the boys yet.”


“Mom, Dr. Richter would prefer that the boys stay here this time. … Okay I’ll tell him.  I’ll see you shortly.”


Josh nodded, “Mother said she was fine with the boys coming here.  She and Dad will drop us off in the morning.  I’ll just leave the games here so they’re here for tomorrow.”


As Josh was getting out of the car, he waved to the guys, “Be good for your dads tonight, guys.”


The boys and I stopped at the grocery store and I was surprised at how good they were.  They didn’t ask for anything and almost didn’t even want to pick out a box of cereal.  We had a cart full since I had no idea how much food we would need to hold us until after Christmas.  I decided that it would be better to be overstocked than to run out, especially since we weren’t accustomed to having two young boys in the house, and we had no idea how long they would be staying.


We were approaching a nursery on the way home, and I decided that we should stop to see if they had a Christmas tree that I could purchase.  We had put up Christmas decorations, but we decided that we wouldn’t do a tree this year because Dan was scheduled to work on Christmas day.  The families were going to be celebrating New Years day with us.


We looked at the cut trees and they were pretty much the leftovers and looked rather straggly.  Nate looked at me, “Santa Dad, maybe we could buy one of the live trees and plant it outside when it is a nice day.  We could make our own decorations for it and feed the birds and animals like in a story our teacher read to us last year.  We could call it the Santa Dad tree.”


Talk about shooting an arrow that played on the heart strings, Nate hit the bull’s-eye.  How was I to fight that suggestion?


The boys looked at all the living trees until they found the one they wanted.  I looked at the young man who had been helping the boys and asked, “Can I pay for this now and come and get it after I borrow the neighbor’s pickup truck?”


The young man shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know why not?  I’ll put a sold tag on it.  Where do you live?”


“We live at 726 Limerick Drive.”


The young man started to laugh, “I’ll tell you what I’m gonna’ do.  I’ve got a special deal for you.  If you will help me load it onto my truck, I’ll deliver it to you on my way home tonight.  I will be driving right past your house on my way home, since I live on Shannon Way.”


We loaded the tree on the young man’s truck and went to the building, so I could pay.  I handed the young man my credit card.  He looked at the name as he processed it, “If you’re the Dr. Richter who teaches Child Psychology at the university, maybe I’ll hold the tree as ransom to make sure that I get an A next semester since I'm scheduled to be in your class.”


Nate looked at him, “If you hold the tree for ransom, then Ryan and me will make sure that you get a zero.”


I looked at Nate, “Nathan, do you even know what ransom means?”


“Yep, Santa Dad, when we were in that home, there was an older boy who had been held for ransom because the bad guy thought his parents were rich and would pay the bad guy money, but the boy was an orphan, just like me and Ryan.  This guy is going to use the tree to get a good grade.”


Ryan stopped the fun, “Santa Dad, I need to go to the bathroom bad.  Can we go home?”


The young man who had been helping us pointed, “There’s bathroom right over there.  Nathan, why don’t you help Ryan.”


This guy was good, to have remembered the boys’ names.  I stuck out my hand, “It's nice to have you in my class no name student.”


The guy shook my hand, “The name's Brandon and my Dad owns this joint.  I’m just helping out over the Christmas holidays so he’ll spring for my tuition and books for the next semester.  It sounds like you have an interesting house with a Santa and two orphans.  It sounds like this could be a good case study for the course next semester.  Hey, Dad, come meet one of my professors for next semester.”


An older gentlemen came to where we were talking and Brandon started, “Dad, this is Dr. Santa Dad Richter.  He’s going to be my child psychology professor.  This is my dad, Tom Holland.”


I stuck out my hand, “My name is Kirk.  Your son has been most helpful.” 


I hadn’t realized that the boys were standing there until Ryan spoke, “Mister, will you make sure that your son doesn’t hold our tree for ransom?”


I smiled at Brandon, “I think you need to tell your Dad what that was about.  Come on, guys, we need to get the groceries put away.  We’ll see you later Brandon.”


The boys tried to be helpful.  I had Nate carry the light bags while I carried the heavy ones.  I had Ryan unloading the bags and putting the things on the counter so I could put them where they were to go.  The groceries were finally put away and I sent the boys to watch television while I started dinner.


The phone rang and Nathan answered, “Santa Dad, it’s Dad Doctor.  He wants to talk to you.”


“What’s up, Danny?”


“There was a fire at an a retirement facility and there were people who were injured, I may be a little late.  Were you able to get in touch with Ms. Belton?”


I was laughing, “Yep, she is scheduled to arrive at 7:07.  She sounds like a nut.”


“I’ll try to be home as quickly as I can.  Don’t wait to eat dinner.  Go ahead and I’ll eat when I get there.  Gotta go, the ambulances are starting to arrive.”


I had just hung up when the doorbell rang and Ryan called, “Daddy Santa, the tree is here.  The man needs your help to bring the tree in.”


Brandon looked at me, “Hey, Dr. Richter, nice house, where would your wife like us to put the tree?”


I didn’t know how to respond, but I figured if I didn’t tell him the truth, one of the boys would.  Before I could answer Nathan spoke up, “Dad Santa doesn’t have a wife.  He lives here with Dad Doctor, and he’s still at work.”


Brandon looked as if he was stunned, “Sir, I think we need to get the tree and put it where you want it.”


I grabbed my jacket and started to follow Brandon to the truck thinking, ‘I guess he has lost all respect for me.’


When we got to the pickup, Brandon just stood there for a short time and then he started to speak, “Dr. Richter, when did you decide that it was okay to let other people know that you were gay?  I know I’m gay, but none of my family or friends know.  Can I come talk to you sometime when there is no one else around?  I’m confused as to how to handle the situation.”


“Brandon, Dan and I would be happy to sit down and talk sometime, but I think that we'd better get this tree inside or there are going to be two little boys thinking you’re holding it for ransom.”


Brandon started to laugh and when we took the tree into the house, Nathan and Ryan were trying to figure out where to put it .  Ryan looked at me, “Daddy Santa, can we put it in front of that window so people can see it when they drive by.  Do you have any lights we can put on it so it shines to tell the people that Santa lives here?”


I nodded, “We have lights.  I’ll have to find them tonight after Ms. Belton leaves.  We’ll have to decorate it tomorrow after I get home from the Mall.”


Brandon looked at me, “That wouldn’t be Ginger Belton would it?  If it is, she will probably try to kidnap you two boys.  Aunt Ginger is about the meanest person I know.  She hates kids.  She has six sons and five thousand grandkids.  She’ll probably make you guys go and live with her so you can do her toe nails and finger nails.  She’s so mean that she even breaths fire out her nose.”


Nate wasn’t buying into Brandon’s spiel, “Mister, you’re lying.  Nobody’s that mean, except the people who worked in the home we ran away from.”


Brandon looked at me with a perplexed look, “Guys, when you’re ready to plant the tree, call me and I’ll come help you plant the Santa tree.  I need to get home or my Mom will make me eat stale toast and pig’s feet.  Talk to you later.”


We had just finished eating dinner when the doorbell rang.  I looked at the clock and it was only 6:45.  Nate went to answer and returned with a big plate of Christmas cookies, “Josh brought these; he said that we were to feed them to his aunt.  His Mother has put nice pills in them.”


I had just finished the dishes when Dan came in, “I’m exhausted.  Where are the boys?”


Ryan and Nate had heard him come in, “Dad, come see the Christmas tree that Daddy Santa bought.  We’re going to call it the Santa tree.  Next year we’ll name the tree the Doctor tree.”


The boys practically pulled Dan into the living room to see the tree.  I was listening to Dan and the boys talk as I was fixing Dan’s dinner.  I heard Ryan say, “But Daddy Doctor, we haven’t had time to decorate it yet. We’ll do it tomorrow before you get home.  I promise.”


Dan came into the kitchen and sat down and started to eat the warmed up meat loaf and the trimmings.  The boys were sitting talking to him when the doorbell sounded.  Nate looked at the clock and took me to answer the door.


When the door opened neither of was prepared to see the person who was standing there.  “My name is Viola Swamp and I’m here to straighten out the two young boys who are living in this house.  My sources tell me that they have been naughty and don’t deserve any Christmas presents.” Author’s Note:  Viola Swamp is a substitute teacher who makes students realize that they needed to behave or else.  She was really their regular teacher who was dressed in disguise.  She is in a series of books that young grade school children enjoy.


It was a good thing that Nate knew who Viola Swamp was, because I sure didn’t.  He didn’t back down.  Look Ms. Belton, your nephews warned us about you and said you were the meanest but kindest person in town.  Now get your, you know what, into the kitchen so we can feed you some nice pills and hot chocolate.”


I was impressed by Nathan’s maturity, “Daddy Doctor and Ryan, this is Viola Swamp, AKA Ms. Ginger Belton.  She’s the Grinch who came to steal our Christmas cookies.  She’s five minutes early.”


“Ms. Swamp, that is Santa Dad, AKA Kirk Richter,  and the man feeding his face is Doctor Dad, AKA Dan Thornton, and the handsome young  man sitting talking to Doctor Dad is my brother Ebenezer Scrooge and I’m Jacob Marley.  Now if you will sit down, we’ll see if we can get the ghosts of the Christmases past, present and future to come visit with you so it will make it possible for us to live with the two AKAs.”


I wanted to muzzle Nathan.  He was going to make it so we would never be able to be permitted to have the boys live with us, but my thoughts were interrupted by Ms. Belton.  What happened to the third AKA?  Don’t I count.”


Ryan caught everyone by surprise, “Nope, not until you say it is okay for us to live with Daddy Santa and Daddy Doctor.”


Dan finished his dinner and Ms. Belton asked if she could visit with the boys separately.  I showed her to the dining room which had doors.  She took the Ryan first and I was a little concerned but I figured that I needed to let happen what was happening. 


Ryan came out of the room smiling and announced, “Nate, Viola Swamp wants to talk to you.  She’s really mean, so be careful.”


Nathan and Ms. Belden came out of the room together and she announced, “The boys and I are going to be taking a tour of the house, so that I can determine if the house is suitable for them to live in.  Perhaps, you would like to join us.”


Ms. Belton noted, “I’ve seen the kitchen and the dining room and they seem suitable.  Let’s check the rest of the house, so I can make sure.”


We walked into the living room and she started, “Why is there a naked tree sitting in the living room.  This is the day before Christmas eve.  It should be decorated.”


Ryan was getting frustrated, “Ma’am, can’t you say anything nice about anything.  Brandon just delivered the tree before we ate.  Dad Santa said he would get the decorations for us after you left.”


I looked to see Ginger’s reaction and I noticed she took a deep breath.  When we got to the boys’ bedroom their bed hadn’t been made and their pajamas were laying on the floor.  She started on the boys, “Look, you two are old enough to make your bed and fold your pajamas so that people don’t think that you live in a pig pen.  What if someone came into your room and saw this mess?”


The bed was made in a flash and the pajamas were folded and lying neatly on the bed.


Ginger wasn’t satisfied, “Where do your Dads sleep.”


Ryan took her hand and led her to our bedroom and thank goodness I had made the bed.  She looked around and commented, “I don’t see their pajamas.  I guess they must put them under their pillow.”


Ryan didn’t realize the damage he was causing, “Nah, I don’t think they wear pajamas.  This morning when I woke Dad Santa he was naked.”


Ginger was looking at me, “And did you see all of him?”


“Yep, he forgot that he didn’t have any clothes on when I told him that Nate was trying to fix breakfast but couldn’t find anything.  He told me that I had to call his penis by the right name and that I could look but I could never touch.”


I was watching to see what Ginger’s reaction would be, but there were no overt reactions.  She instead looked at her watch, “I think it is time for the two of you young men to get bed.  It’s getting late.  Dad Santa, why don’t you get them into bed and join us in the kitchen?”


I started the water in the boys’ bathtub. “Guys, get undressed so I can wash your clothes since these are the only ones you have.  I’ll bring you some clean underwear and we’ll wash your pajamas tomorrow.”


I took the boys dirty clothes downstairs and I started the wash machine.  I looked at Ms. Belton, “These are the only decent clothes that the boys have, so I need to make sure they are ready for tomorrow when Josh, and his brothers arrive to take care of the boys while I’m at the mall, working.”


I had just sat down when we heard a voice, “Dads, we’re ready to be tucked in.”


Ms. Belton looked at us and pointed her thumbs to indicate that we should go take care of the boys.


After we had the boys settled, we walked into the kitchen and Ms. Belton was ready for us.  “Guys, I had two nephews call me tonight and chew me out before I came here because of you.  That coupled with the information I was able to obtain today leaves me no other alternative but to award temporary custody of Nathan and Ryan Holloway to Dr. Kirk Richter and Doctor Daniel Thornton.”


“Guys, I’m going to bury this case at bottom of my case files unless I hear reports that you aren’t doing right by the boys.”


We heard two voices saying, “Yeah, we’re going to get to live here with Santa Dad and Dad Doctor!!!!!”


I was surprised at how fast Ms. Belton could move.  “You boys, get your butts in here now, and I mean immediately or I’ll change my mind.”


Ryan approached Ginger, “Please, Ms. Ginger, don’t change your mind.  Dad Santa and Daddy Doctor are all we have.  Please don’t send us back to that awful home or I’ll stop talking again.”


To be continued...



Editor's Notes: Once again, we have another great heartwarming chapter of what I am sure is going to be an excellent story.  I have to say that I have yet to be disappointed in a story from E Walk, so I was not in the least surprised to find that I love this new one.  All I want for Christmas is more more more. Grin.


Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher  


Posted: 08/14/09