I was sitting in my office at the OA Building one afternoon when there was a knock on the door. “Enter at your own risk!”
Pistis, my secretary, opened the door and came inside. “I see you’re in a pleasant mood today,” she said dryly as she closed the door.
“Did you come in here to bust my chops or do you want something?”
“I came to remind you that today is the day for you to keep your yearly promise,” she said, a huge grin on her face.
Groaning, I put my elbows on my desk, resting my head in my hands. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Nope,” Pistis replied. “I’ve got everything ready for you in the usual spot. They’re waiting on you to arrive.”
“Well, they can just keep waiting. I absolutely refuse to do it this year.”
“You say that every year, and you always go anyway.”
“Yeah, well, this time it’s different.”
“Why is it different?”
I tried to come up with a good answer and failed miserably. “It just is, damn it! Now get out of my office! I have important work to do.”
Pistis walked over, placed her hands on the edge of my desk, and leaned forward. “There is nothing more important than this, especially this time of the year. Now get your butt in gear and get over there!”
Sighing, I got up and walked toward the door. If I didn’t do it, Pistis would silently stand in my office, glaring at me, until I conceded. We’d been doing this song and dance for decades, and it always ended the same way.
As I left the OA Building and made my way to the big department store in town, I thought back to the day this whole mess started. It was shortly after the end of World War I. Back then, my office was still located on Mt. Olympus. Going over our monthly figures (I am also the God of Commerce, for those of you that don’t know that. I love drachmas more than my money-grubbing brother, Zeus), I noticed there was a serious drop off in toys. That didn’t make sense to me, because December has always been a big month for that department.
As I continued going over the figures, I noticed that there was an uptick in materials, but only for one area: the North Pole. Who in the blue blazes lived up there? Too bloody cold for my tastes. I called Pistis into my office. “What’s the deal?” I said, holding out a sheet of paper for her to look at. “Someone is muscling in on my profits here.”
Taking the paper from me, she glanced over it. “Yeah, and…?”
“What do you mean, ‘and’?” I snapped, glaring at her. “Less profits means you don’t get a pay raise. Have you considered that?”
“You don’t pay me; your brother does, and he pays me a lot to put up with your crap,” she retorted, tossing the paper back on my desk.
“Why has there been an increase in materials being sent to one area?” I wanted to know.
“And who is Noel?”
“A very nice man who doesn’t need any of your grief.”
Sighing, I rubbed my temples. “Pistis, does Noel live in the North Pole?”
“Oh yes, he has a lovely house up there.”
“Is that why he requested all these materials?”
“Oh no, those are for the children.”
Looking down at the numbers again, I looked up at her. “He has that many children?”
I sat back in my chair, my mouth hanging open. Millions? I mean, my brothers got around in their younger days, but even they didn’t have millions of children. “Perhaps you should clarify that statement, Pistis, because it is not possible for one man to have fathered millions of children.”
“I didn’t say they were all his.”
No one would blame me if I strangled her to death. The only problem was she was immortal. Sighing again, I said, “I’m probably going to hate myself for this, but just how many wives does this man have?”
“Just the one.”
She’s dead to me. “Pistis…” I said, a warning tone in my voice.
“Hermes, you have absolutely nothing to worry about,” she said in a soothing tone. “He is a very nice man who makes toys and gives them away to children all over the world every year.”
“Gives them away?!” I yelled, my blood pressure rising. “What do you mean he gives them away?”
“Just what I said. He flies all over the world in one night, leaving toys for each boy and girl.”
“Well, this is the biggest load of…” Pistis gave me a warning look. “How long has this been going on?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know, years?”
“This man is cutting into my bottom line, and you never bothered to mention it to me before now?”
“I thought you knew. You never complained about it before.”
I stood up. “Well, I’m complaining now. I’m going to the North Pole to have a word with…” I waved my hand at her, “…what’s his name.”
“Noel Klaas. But the children call him Santa Claus.”
“What the hell kind of name is that?” I stormed toward the door, grabbed the doorknob and threw the door open.
“Are you going dressed like that?”
I looked down at my clothes. I was wearing Bermuda shorts and a blue “Visit Mt. Olympus” t-shirt. “What’s wrong with what I have on?”
“Well, it’s not exactly business attire, and Noel does live in the North Pole. It’s a bit cold up there, and you’re more of a warm weather kind of guy.”
Growling, I stomped out the door. “I’ll go home and change first. Hold my calls until I get back!”
As I headed for my house, I grumbled and muttered under my breath, drawing looks of concern from people on the street. “Giving away toys…undercutting my bottom line. Who does this idiot think he is? Zeus?!”
No one takes drachma from me and gets away with it.
Not even “Santa Claus”.