Christmas morning arrived, and the two boys tore downstairs to see what Santa had brought. Cason began wailing, and Turner chimed in with a muffled sob. “See?” said Cason. “Santa didn’t come! I’m sorry Santa!”
He threw himself down on the ground and began crying so loudly that it woke up Pops, who came grumpily down the stairs with Mom in tow. “What are you crying for?”
“Santa didn’t come!” Cason wailed. “I’m sorry, Santa! I’m sorry! Please come back, Santa!” He ran over to Pops and grabbed his leg. “Tell Santa to come back, Pops, tell him, please!”
Turner wasn’t crying as loudly, but he was equally inconsolable. Santa had skipped them all because of that firecracker. “Oh, Santa!” he cried. “We’re sorry, Santa! Cason won’t throw no firecrackers on Pops no more! I’m sorry, Santa!”
“Calm down for a minute,” Pops ordered. The two boys were so distraught that in their hour of need the only voice they could hear was Pops. They looked at him in hopeless misery. “Santa came last night,” he said.
Cason looked in disbelief, stunned. “He did?”
“Sure he did,” said Pops. “But he was none too happy after that firecracker stunt.”
“But he didn’t bring us anything, did he?” Cason softly moaned.
“Of course he did.”
“He did?” Turner hardly dared believe it.
“What did he bring us?” asked Cason.
“Plumbing supplies,” said Pops somberly.
Cason immediately broke out into a second round of wailing more piteous than the first. “I don’t want plumbing supplies!” he cried.
Turner had no idea what plumbing supplies were, and he figured that Cason didn’t either, but it sounded mysterious and actually kind of fun. “Maybe it’s like fishing supplies,” he thought. “I love plumbing supplies, Pops!” he said.
“I hate plumbing supplies!” Cason sobbed. “I hate you, Santa!”
“Now looky here,” said Pops sternly. “I won’t have anyone hating on Santa Claus in my house. He was pretty tired from his trip and was in a pretty bad mood when he dropped off the plumbing supplies. I put them in the shed out back. Before you decide you don’t want ’em, you owe it to Santa to at least have a look-see.”
“I’m not gonna!” Cason wailed. “I hate plumbing supplies!”
“I don’t hate ’em!” said Turner. “I love plumbing supplies, Pops!”
Cason turned on him. “You stupid dummy idiot!” he said. “You don’t even know what they are! You’re gonna hate ’em! I hate plumbing supplies!” Now he was hysterical.
Turner started to get worried. What if plumbing supplies were as awful as Cason was making them out to be? This could be a disaster of a Christmas. He started to sniffle again.
“Cason,” Pops admonished. “You don’t know if you hate plumbing supplies. You don’t even know what they are. You might like them. I took a look at them and they’re some of the nicest plumbing supplies I’ve ever seen.”
“I hate them!” Cason moaned. “I hate them plumbing supplies!”
They had reached the shed and Pops fiddled with the combination lock. By the time the shackle fell away, Turner had made up his mind: He liked plumbing supplies, he was glad Santa had brought ’em, and he was going to play with his plumbing supplies like nobody’s business. He would catch the biggest old plumbing anyone had ever seen, and mount it on the wall like Freddy Tatum’s dad with deer and moose and big fish. He was so excited when Pops pulled open the creaky door that he could barely contain himself.
The morning sunshine flooded in. There in the middle of the tiny storage shed were two brand new bicycles, replete with training wheels.
It took the boys’ breath away. “Bicycles!” yelled Cason. “Santa brought us bicycles!” His despair was transformed into a kind of heavenly, radiant, overwhelming joy. He pushed Turner aside and grabbed the larger bicycle, which was naturally his, and yanked it forward.
It was gold with white trim, the most beautiful bicycle ever made in the history of the world. Cason began doing a little dance around it. “Pops! Santa brought us bikes! Santa brought us bikes! I love Santa, Pops!”
Pops turned to Turner, who was standing there bewildered. “What’s wrong, Turner? Look! Santa brought you a bike!”
Turner put his face up against Pops’s leg and softly started to cry.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mom.
“I wanted plumbing supplies,” he said, crying. Then he looked up at Pops. “Pops?” he said.
“What are plumbing supplies?”