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  • Michelle Gill

Santa Claus's brother

The mountains never changed. Allen lumbered out, letting the screen door slam behind him. Cats scurried around his feet.

"Got any candy, Frances?", he asked my Gramma, his sister.

"No, Allen, not today."

Looking down he spotted me behind my daddy's legs. "Santa Claus come to see you?", he asked.

"No, not yet, Allen", daddy answered.

Trailing behind us, he came up the stairs into the kitchen, and continued to ask about Santa Claus. Gray whiskers framed his face; that silly grin showing his rotten teeth. His old baseball cap that matched the color of red paint on his what used-to-be blue overalls, sat atop his balding head. He wore a torn flannel shirt, which matched his green socks underneath his overalls.

Upstairs in his dresser were new clothes still in packages that he had gotten from "Santa Claus" all the years before. In the top drawer were every kind of candy that a person could imagine, three pocket radios (on which he used to listen to Glenn Miller for hours upon end, lying on his rusting rod iron bed, smoking cigarettes), handkerchiefs - never used, a pocket knife, some shoe strings, a few pieces of kindling, a chipped marble, a sketch pad and pencil. He used to draw Popeye and all the characters as well as the cartoonist himself. He still will draw them for me when I get the courage to ask.

He doesn't usually draw anymore or dream with the sound of the music. He just "fetches some more wood", "fetches the mail", and asks about Santa Claus. Sometimes I wonder if he is Santa Claus's brother, who got dropped in the country at great-grandma's house to help her out and no one ever knew.

Great-Uncle Allen Martin when he was young.

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