The Cookie Eater

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
If you ever hear a story that someone swears is true, no matter how outlandish, do you believe it? Well, this story is a true one, I it heard from a teacher I had when I was younger.

Submitted: November 04, 2018

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Submitted: November 04, 2018

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Games and Toys

Rockport, Texas

December, 2014


 

There are a lot of good stories that are being written and have been told all over the world. Stories of history, tales of war, yarns of mystery and fables of wisdom. These stories have captivated millions of people over the years but I'm not really sure why. Good stories are a dime a dozen if you ask me. Personally, I prefer to tell great stories and I tend to shun tales that are merely referred to as 'good'. What makes a great story, you ask? That's a good question, friend, so I'll give it to you straight. A story can go from good to great based on one simple fact: whether its true or not.

Are all the stories I tell true? To be honest, if a story isn't true I, personally, wouldn't bother telling it. You have to understand just how many stories are floating around in libraries, blogs, editorials, websites, articles and so forth. I mean, think of the last time you heard a really good tale, one that you thoroughly enjoyed based solely on the plot. There are plenty of fictional stories about adventure that will get your blood pumping, about love that will warm your heart and about horror that will turn you white as a sheet. Just how many of those stories do you think are true?

Have a seat at my bar and let me make you a drink. Just step right up and make yourself comfortable. No, the first round is on the house, friend. I have a good feeling about you and I always trust my instincts. Don't worry, you'll love it. It's a specialty of mine. Yeah, you're right. I do have the perfect job don't I? I make great drinks and I tell great stories.

There you go, friend, my specialty gin and tonic. Wet your whistle with that. It's good isn't it? I knew you'd love it. I'll let you in on a little secret: I make my own quinine. That's the trick to a great gin and tonic, the best quinine, good gin, fresh line juice and lots of ice. Even though its cold out, that gin and tonic will warm you right up, trust me.

You want to hear one of my stories? Really? A positive true story? Well, I'm here to tell you, I have a story that is perfect for the holidays. Of course its true! By the end of the story you might not believe its true but I will swear on a stack of bibles that it is.

Before I begin my tale, I have to ask you a question. I want you to really think about your answer before you give it. You have to be honest with me or the story won't be nearly as good. Here it goes-- what's with that nervous expression? Having second thoughts already, friend?

I'm not trying to put you on the spot or anything. There's no right or wrong answer here. I just need you to be honest with yourself and as insightful as you can be. It's very important to the story. Ready? My question for you is, how old were you when you stopped believing in Santa Claus?

Don't look at me like that, friend! I'm being completely serious. Think back to when old Saint Nick, in your youth, was a real as the mailman. Me? I was about eight when I stopped believing. No, no. You're misunderstanding the question, friend. I didn't ask when you found out that you're parents were putting the gifts under the Christmas tree. I'm asking, how old were you when you actually stop believing?

About seven years old you say? No, that's fine. You want to know if I'm about to tell you a story about Saint Nick? Now hold your horses, friend! Lets not get ahead of ourselves. I just had to set the mood. This story requires it and believe me, you'll understand why.

The story starts right here in town. No, really it does! If you spin around in your bar stool and look out the big windows to the south, you'll see a bright little store called Games and Toys. They sell everything you can imagine there, I'll tell you what. They even have a great big hobby section where you can buy gliders, rockets, miniatures, role-playing games, trading card games and R/C vehicles. They've got reasonably prices there too.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Games and Toys was almost sold by the owners years ago. They were going through a divorce, you see. Their names are Miles and Kate Brandon.

How long ago did they divorce? Bear with me, friend, I'm getting around to that. The divorce isn't so important. What's pertinent to the story is that the Brandons had been married for over ten years and they had two children: little Myra and Jacob who were fraternal twins. The twins were around six years old at the time.

No, actually it wasn't a bitter divorce. The Brandons were splitting up over what you might call irreconcilable differences. Overall, the divorce was amicable although very expensive. They agreed to joint physical custody 50/50 but couldn't agree on legal custody. They both wanted to have more influence on the children's lives but the other wasn't willing to grant it. The lawyers swooped in and started ranting on and on in court, draining the Brandons out of their savings.

Miles Brandon was a great man, I'll tell you what. He designed and built his own toys, you see. Amazing, yes but more to the point, his profits were astronomical. He carefully placed all of the money he made from his toy sales into buying materials to design and build even more toys. As far as business men go, I think Miles was one of the most brilliant I have ever seen.

Miles wasn't very attentive to his pretty wife, but he was an outstanding father. Myra and Jacob saw their father as a super hero beyond any reproach. Whenever he spoke to them, they stared at him in awe and hung on his every word. They placed him on the highest pedestal within their hearts and minds. Their father could do no wrong, think no wrong or say anything wrong as far as the twins were concerned.

How do I know all this? They used to stop by here all the time. This is a diner after all. The bar is secondary to the food. By the way, if you get hungry, here's our menu. We'll whip you something up in a jiffy.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Kate Brandon was also part of the business. No matter how awesome the toys were, large amounts of sales were impossible without proper marketing and advertisement. I'm here to tell you, Kate was an expert at both. She ran the numbers, kept track of all the expenditures, profits, took care of payroll, paid all their taxes and oversaw all merchant payments.

Besides being completely immersed in the business, Kate was an exceptional mother. She was very nurturing, patient and affectionate with her children. Anytime things went wrong or the kids needed help, Kate was there for them. She kissed the bruises, bandaged the scrapes and sang the children to sleep every night after their father read them a bedtime story.

They do sound like the perfect family, don't they? There was no malice or resentment between Miles and Kate. They just stopped being in love or at least that's what I was told. No, that isn't a rumor. I heard it directly from Miles himself.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Falling out of love happens a lot to couples as they grow bored with one another. I believe that marriage is fueled by friendship. Being the best of friends is one way to make sure that the marriage never goes sour and that you never fall out of love with one another. Well somewhere along the way, Miles and Kate stopped being friends and the love they felt for each other dried up.

Another strain on the Brandon's finances was the fire. They suffered massive fire damage to Miles' workshop and Kate's office due to a faulty wire. The timing of the blaze couldn't be worse. The Holidays was the busiest time of year for Games and Toys. The Brandon's had to spend all of their profits on repairs.

At that time, they lived in a very expensive house just outside of town. The divorce and the repair costs forced them to sell their beautiful home and move into the small apartment directly over Games and Toys. When two people are divorcing, it's best that they stay apart as much as possible, am I right? Well, the cramped little apartment forced Miles and Kate to deal with each other on a regular basis which didn't help matters much.

The Brandons never argued or yelled at each other. They were basically cordial with one another and stayed out of each others' way. For the kids' benefit, they put on happy faces and tried to act as though nothing was wrong. The last thing Kate and Miles wanted to do was ruin Christmas for the kids with their divorce. Even though the kids were very young, they still noticed that something wasn't right between their parents.

Yeah, you can only lie to children for so long. Kids can be quite perceptive and are sometimes underestimated by adults, especially the really sharp youths. Myra and Jacob were not only sharp and bright but since they loved their parents very deeply, they couldn't help but notice the wall that seemed to grow between their mother and father.

I don't really agree with keeping anything from your kids. I think children are much more resilient and adaptable than a lot of people think. Strife and a little suffering only makes them stronger. Prepares them for adulthood, in my opinion. Coddling and over protecting them makes them weak and they will fall apart when they run into problems later in life.

You want another gin and tonic, friend? I know they're good but you have to milk them a bit. You drink too many and you'll fall right out of that bar stool. Seriously. Okay, I'll make you another one. There you go. All set? Good.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. For several months, the toy store wasn't making a profit. They were basically breaking even with only enough money left over to pay their bills and put food on the table. Being great parents, Kate and Miles made sure that the twins never went without even if they had to make personal sacrifices.

The problem was, it was December which meant Christmas was right around the bend. Both Kate and Miles were worried that they wouldn't be able to buy the kids very much for Christmas.

Why didn't they just give them some of the toys from the store? That's a good question, friend. I like it when you ask me to clarify things like that. It lets me know you're paying attention. You see, the twins served as the testers for all of Mile's new ideas and designs. Basically, Myra and Jacob had already owned, at one time or another, every toy that Miles had ever created.

Yeah I know. The toy industry has really shrunk over the years. Video games and smart phones have really reduced kids interest in toys but this happened about thirty years ago. People still had pagers back then and had to find a payphone just to return a call. Toys, hobbies and sports were what all the kids were into at that time.

The twins were still at the age where toys ruled most of their playtime. Miles and Kate both knew that they were going to have to scrape just to buy the smallest things for the children. One night, Miles finished reading the kids their bedtime story. Kate began to sing the kids to sleep and Miles stood in the doorway listening. He loved to hear Kate sing because she had a lovely voice. Unexpectedly, Myra asked her father if Santa Claus was real.

Now, this was a pretty serious question for Miles to answer. He was always as honest as he could be with his children. His desire was to instill the twins with honor, integrity and pride. As such, he always conducted himself in a manner as to set a good example for them to emulate.

Can you imagine the pickle he was in when Myra suddenly asked him about Santa Claus? No. Have a little faith, friend. You really think Miles would drop a bombshell on his children and tell them Santa was a figment of their imagination? Miles Brandon did no such thing. As I told you before, the man was brilliant and a superb father. Miles sat down on the bed and told his children, with complete sincerity, that he believed Santa Claus was real.

How could he lie to his children like that? Now give the man some credit, friend and please bear with me. An explanation is needed as you can tell and I'm about to give it to you. Miles took his children into his arms and held them close. He said that he believed in Santa Claus with all his heart but that he didn't believe in the traditional Saint Nick. He told them that Santa Claus was the spirit of Christmas that made people so festive during the holidays. Santa Claus was the spirit of generosity and goodwill.

Good answer? Yeah I think so too. I sorta believe the same thing. During the holidays, people seem to change a little. Usually its for the better and very seldom for the worse. Overall, I think Miles hit the nail on the head: Santa Claus is the very spirit of Christmas.

The children were thrilled. You see, they had been told by other students at school that Santa Claus was fake. Armed with their newly acquired knowledge, the twins announced that they would set the record straight among their fellow students the very next day.

That night, Miles made sure to tell Kate about how lovely her voice was as she sang to the children. Kate actually blushed and thanked him. As he turned to go into the guest bedroom, she remarked about how impressed she was that he told the children Santa Claus was real. Kate said that was one of the sweetest things he had ever done for his children and that she appreciated it.

No, they didn't get back together. They still weren't in love anymore. It was just a small moment of appreciation that they shared is all.

Back to the story. Christmas was only a few days away and the Brandon's finances were still in the toilet. They managed to get a few really cheap items for the twins but not much. Kate and Miles were sick with worry. They brainstormed, trying to find a way to put great toys under the tree for their children. They could only come to one conclusion. They were going to have to postpone the divorce proceedings.

Even though Miles and Kate didn't hate each other, they were still very uncomfortable staying married when they weren't in love. Both wanted to get on with their lives so postponing the divorce was a very difficult decision. They both agreed that the children's Christmas was more important than their own needs.

Unfortunately, the repairs to the shop proved to be even more costly that the Brandon's had realized. They had no choice but to put all their money into repairs so that they wouldn't miss the Christmas seasonal sales. Even dime they brought in was put right back into the renovations. Postponing the divorce became moot at that point.

This was a particularly difficult time for the Brandons. Whenever money gets tight, it's natural for a married couple to be stressed and to lash out at each other. Kate and Miles did everything they could to keep wearing their happy faces for the children's sake. They maintained a very cordial and friendly relationship.

Kate begged Miles to find a way for the twins to have a good Christmas morning. They just needed one present, just one good present to make them happy. Miles didn't know what to say. He couldn't pull any money away from the repairs at all. That money was already tied up, in fact, the Brandon's were in debt.

Let me wipe the counter off for you, friend. I guess you need a new coaster for your drink. Oh you want another gin and tonic? Coming right up. Glad to hear you're taking a cab home. I was concerned a bit. There you go, friend. You need anything else before I get started again? No?

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Christmas Eve finally arrived. That night, the children left out milk and cookies for Santa Claus and the Brandon's stayed up late watching Christmas movies together as a family. The Brandons tucked the kids in, Miles read them a story and Kate sang them to sleep as usual. Then both she and Miles tearfully put the few meager gifts that they were able to afford under the Christmas tree.

For the first time in over a year, Miles took Kate into his arms that night to comfort her but also to comfort himself. They held each other, each praying for a miracle. Even though they didn't love each other anymore, the love they felt for the twins was very strong so it was equally painful for them. They needed each other just to get through the tough night, both of them feeling terribly guilty at failing to provide for their children. Fully clothed, the Brandons finally fell asleep in the same bed, still holding each other, desperately hoping that the children weren't too disappointed in the morning.

Later that night, Miles was awakened in the middle of the night. There were strange noises coming from the living room. In a dream-like state, he got out of bed and retrieved the loaded pistol in a lock box he kept under the bed. Armed, Miles crept down the hall and peeked around the corner.

At first, the living room seemed deserted until he heard the distinct sound of crunchy chewing. Someone was standing just out of his line of sight eating the cookies the twins had left. Miles could barely see the back of the person, but he could make out that the intruder was wearing a red coat, black boots and a red cap.

There was a rush of emotions that bombarded Miles at that moment. The first feeling that crept over him was shock because he couldn't believe what he was seeing. The second thought that hit him was suspicion. What if this were a prowler dressed as Santa Claus to rob them? Standing there in the hall, he felt a strange warmth in his heart and a fluttering in his stomach that he hadn't felt since he was a child lying in bed on Christmas Eve, waiting for morning. The third emotion he felt was reverence.

Miles decided that he didn't want to see who exactly was standing in the living room. He just knew who it was. He was convinced of it. Something magical was happening that he wasn't meant to witness. Sheer instinct told him that he shouldn't look no matter how curious he felt. Even though it was his home, Miles felt as though he was in fact the intruder here, not the one busily munching on the cookies. Miles silently went back to the bedroom and got under the covers, mentally thanking this spirit of Christmas for visiting their home.

The next morning, Kate and Miles were awaken by the twin's laughter. They saw that under the Christmas tree, there were two big plush teddy bears, a pink one for Myra and a blue one for Jacob. The twins loved them.

After putting on happy faces for the kids, Kate and Miles retreated to the bedroom again a few minutes later. Kate was so happy with Miles that she hugged him tightly like she used to. She wanted to know where on earth did he find such wonderful teddy bears?

Being a man of honor, Miles couldn't take credit for something that he didn't do. He just looked at Kate with a confused look on his face. He was speechless, not knowing exactly what had happened the night before. Kate wanted to know what was bothering him. She put her hand on his cheek, her soft and loving hand. There was a look of admiration in her eyes, a long lost gaze of affection and warmth.

Miles still found himself unable to articulate what he had witnessed. After he stammered for a few seconds like an idiot, Kate just smiled at him and then laughed. She actually kissed him on the lips, just a little peck, but it was the most affection she had shown him in a very long time.

Going back out into the living room, Kate announced that the milk and cookies had been eaten. The twins cheered and once again Kate looked at Miles with adoration. She thought he was responsible for everything.

Kate finally got a good look at the teddy bears and marveled at how beautiful they were. They looked handmade. The stitching was perfect, the material very plush and soft. Whatever the teddy bears had been stuffed with was very fluffy. She checked both teddy bears for a tag and couldn't find one on either. She thought that was very strange.

Look at you! You're on the edge of your seat! Glad to see you're so into the story. It's a good story to tell during the Holidays. Just sit in front of a warm fireplace and tell it to your children someday. They'll love it, trust me.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Miles finally told Kate about what had happened the night before. After a few seconds Kate smiled sweetly at him. She reasoned, if he didn't want to tell her where he got the teddy bears, that was fine with her. Miles was adamant. Maybe the intruder, the one wearing the red coat, black belt and boots, left the teddy bears for the children. Perhaps Santa Claus or some higher power had heard their prayer and answered accordingly, he explained.

Now, Kate had been married to Miles for a very long time. She knew when he was being serious and when he was playing around. She could tell by his grave expression that he was telling her the truth. She asked him if he ate the milk and cookies and of course Miles said no. There was a look of wonder in her eyes as she gazed at her husband. Could it really be? Was it possible?

Little Myra called to them from living room. She had found a letter under the empty plate where the cookies were. It was addressed to Miles.

The envelope was red and large, as if it was a Christmas card. The lettering on the front was written in beautiful cursive. There was no postage or any other markings on the front. Turning the card over, Miles saw that there was no return address either.

Jacob asked his father to open it. He couldn't wait to see what Santa had written.

With shaky hands and a lump in his throat, Miles opened the envelope.

Inside was a beautiful card. The scene on front of it looked like the North Pole, something you'd see in a kid's cartoon about Santa Claus. Nothing but snow-covered cottages with a warm yellow glow coming from inside each one. The street signs looked like candy canes, there were Christmas lights strewn on everything and in the center of the small town was a large Christmas tree. Strangely enough, one would expect such a lovely scene to be a painting but this one was, in fact, a photograph.

Inside the card, in the same beautiful cursive writing, there was a short note: “I hope you and your family have a lovely holidays. Let me give you some advice. If we ever doubted our marriage, we would try to remember when we were both a lot younger and would take the time to recall all of the reasons we fell in love in the first place. Maybe you should try it. I hope everything works out for you and your family. Marriage takes work and remember that love never dies. You just have to rekindle it and if you can't, then true love was never really there to begin with. Merry Christmas!”

In stunned shock, Miles saw that the letter was signed by Mrs. Annalina Claus. Kate carefully took the letter from her husband and read it several times, her eyes filling with tears. This has to be some sort of joke, Miles thought. They didn't tell the children what the letter said, only that it was from Mrs. Claus and that she wished them a Merry Christmas.

Kate and Miles retreated to their bedroom again so that they could have privacy. You see, they hadn't told anyone about their plans for divorce, not even the children. Only the judge and the lawyers knew about their court proceedings. No one in their family and none of their friends knew either.

I know what you're thinking. Miles set it all up to get back together with his wife, right? Or maybe it was Kate who was trying to win back her husband? No, it couldn't be Kate. How could she know about Miles' dream? Was it Miles then? If so, that still didn't explain where the wonderful teddy bears came from.

Back to the story. The Brandons sat in silence together, contemplating everything that had happened. They were both very emotional, happy that their prayers had been answered. Tearfully, Miles once again took his wife into his arms. He told her that through all of the problems and all of the stress, he did finally remember the reasons he fell in love with her in the first place. She asked what they were. He told her it was because she was always supportive of him, no matter what risks he took. Also that first thing in the morning, right after she woke up with her hair a mess, no make up on and her face sleepy, she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever known. Smiling brightly, Kate confessed that she fell in love with him because he was always such an honest and hardworking man. She always felt safe and knew no matter what, he would never lie to her or intentional hurt her. Realizing that their love wasn't dead, they decided right then to try to rekindle it.

The next day, the phone rang, it was the bank calling. Apparently, Games and Toys was insured against fire by a previously 'overlooked' clause in their property agreement. All of the money that they were spending on repairs was going to be reimbursed twice over. Kate and Miles took this as a sign: They had made the right decision to stay together.

The next year, the children left out a plate of milk and cookies for Santa. Kate wrote a letter and slipped it under the plate. The letter simply said, thank you for everything.

To this day, Games and Toys celebrates Christmas with a huge collection of lights, candy canes, toy trains, miniature villages, fake snow, pet reindeer, a sleigh and all the children gather to visit Santa Claus, who always makes an appearance in the parking lot next to the store.

Yeah the twins, Myra and Jacob are running the store now. Miles and Kate both retired a few years ago. They have been married for well over forty years now. Everywhere they go, everyone they meet, they make sure to spread cheer, love and happiness. Whenever they can, they share their wonderful story to anyone willing to listen.

Anyone hearing this story is supposed to pay it forward. This is the story as it was told to me and now I expect you to pass it on whenever you get a chance, friend. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. I warned that you'd have problems believing this story but I will swear on a stack of bibles that it's true. If it wasn't true, then I wouldn't have bothered telling it to you!


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