The older, heavyset man is the evening janitor at Hammonton Regional Hospital. Night after night, his long white hair, and bushy beard bounce gently as he sweeps, and mops the waiting area of the Trauma/ER department.
He carefully empties the discarded coffee cups; takes the abandoned rosary beads to the chapel on the fifth floor; and lovingly collects the forgotten stuffed animals and other toys. If they’re not claimed by the original owners, he usual offers them to the kids in the pediatric ward.
As he moves about the room, most people don’t even notice his quiet, steady presence. But his bright eyes take in everything. For decades, he’s watched families ride the roller coaster from shock to hope to despair. Sometimes the ride brings them all the way back to joy. Sadly, he’s also seen many get out at the stop labelled grief.
Tonight, his attention is drawn to two brothers in the corner. He saw them come in, clinging to a stretcher bearing an older man with a bullet wound to the head. Fear and sorrow are etched on their faces. He watches the dark-haired one jamming his thumb into his left palm, over and over again. Meanwhile, the other is pacing back and forth, as if he could step away from this pain, and into a different future.
A doctor arrives to talk to the pair. As they walk away, a piece of paper falls out of the short-haired man’s pocket. It flutters softly to the ground. The cleaner picks it up, intending to return it. But the men have already left the room.
He knows he shouldn’t. He knows it’s an intrusion of privacy. But, he does it anyway. He unfolds the letter, and begins to read…
My name is Dean Winchester. I’m 32-years old and for Christmas this year I would like...
What a joke. Me writing to you. I haven’t written you since 1983. Remember that letter? I asked for a red fire truck, and for Mom to come back.
I didn’t get either.
That’s when I stopped thinking you were real. Too bad, because you were doing a great job up to then. The year before, Mom and I asked you for a baby brother. It took you awhile, but you sure delivered on that one.
You kinda let me down after that though. So, over the years, I found lots of other things to believe in - werewolves, vampires, demons, and ghosts. Lots and lots of ghosts. But not many nice ones like the dudes in “A Christmas Carol”. (Don’t laugh. I read!! But yeah, I’ve seen the movies too.) You know I’ve even spent the holidays with some pagan gods who dressed up in your outfit.
But now, I’m sitting in this hospital waiting room, surrounded by pictures of you, and it’s got me thinking. I bet if I was talking to Sam about this, he’d pull out that “Yes Virginia” bullshit. (Some teacher made me memorize it as part of my detention in high school. Now I can’t forget it, no matter how hard I try.)
“Santa exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy… The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see... Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”
But that’s kind of the problem. I have seen Fairies. (The little Tinkerbells kidnapped me.) And since I’ve seen them, I know they exist. I’m the kind of guy who needs proof before I’ll believe in something. Like Cas for instance. I needed to see the wings, and a little more, before I was convinced he was some Angel of the Lord, sent to raise me from Perdition.
Of course, Cas is gone now. All we have left of him is a beat-up trench coat, and that’s not enough. It’s just NOT enough. I’m pissed as hell (mainly at myself) because he died without knowing I’d forgiven him. Forgave him the instant he tried to send all those freaking monsters back to Purgatory. He said he was sorry, and I knew he was. I should have just said “It’s okay man”. But, there are so many moments in my life that I’d do over. That’s just one more.
You know what the bitch of the whole thing is though? In the finest Winchester tradition, Cas sacrificed himself, but it didn’t work! Goddamn Leviathans still got out. That means Sam, and Bobby and I have to try to save the world again. And what’s the price this time? Saving the world has already cost us so much. Look at Sam. He’s still walking around with Lucifer as his brain buddy. I see how hard he’s working to just hold on to whatever sanity he’s got left. But frankly, I think he might be coping better than I am.
I’m pathetic. I drink too much, and I act like I don’t care anymore. But that’s not true. I still care. It’s just all so big, and so hard, and I’m so tired. That Horseman Famine wasn’t nearly as smart as he thought he was. He said I was empty. Don’t I wish! This... inside me... I wish I couldn’t feel anything. I’m trying man, I really am, but it’s getting harder and harder to put my game face on.
A couple of days ago, Bobby told me to find something to get my head back in the game. It’s ironic that he should talk about heads. He’s the guy lying in a hospital bed with a bullet in his brain. In his freaking brain! And I’m talking to people who want his organs!!! And that’s bullshit! Because Bobby is NOT going to d… He’s NOT!!
It’s not fair. Why is it always our job to save these people? Why do we always have to be the heroes? What about us? Sammy’s just supposed to walk around every day with a cracked up coconut? Bobby loses his house, his books, maybe his life? Why do we have to sacrifice everything?
You know, the only thing that ever mattered to me was saving people. I figured our family was so screwed to hell, I thought maybe we could help some others. It used to makes things a little bit more bearable. But that was back when Dad was still alive, and I thought all we had to do was kill some Yellow-Eyed son of a bitch.
I once told Sam there would always be something to hunt, that evil monsters were just going to keep spilling out of the Volkswagen. Didn’t realize I was the psychic one with that little comment.
I just want us to catch one little break. Is that so bad? Is it wrong to want to be able to hold on to someone, instead of always having to say goodbye? No matter what Bobby says, hunters are still just people.
So, it’s confession time Santa. And this may be a sign that the lid is about to pop on my own friggin’ lead marble box… But the truth is, even though I told Sammy that you don’t exist, I don’t not believe in you. (And if you ever tell anyone about this, I will find my way to the North Pole, and hunt you down.) I mean for years I never believed in angels, but they exist. I never thought Sam and I would be the vessels for archangels, but we are. And I never thought I could die so many times, but never be allowed to rest. But, here I am.
Now, I just want to believe there’s something good and positive out there. (Of course, my luck you’ll turn out to be some evil Immortal, who runs a demon strip club. I mean c’mon. Your reindeer? Vixen? Dancer? Those are stripper names dude! On the other hand, now that I think about it, might not be a bad way to spend eternity! )
So just for the moment, I’m gonna assume you’re real. Here are my Christmas wishes:
For Bobby: If he’s really de... gone... then I know you can’t bring him back. I learnt that lesson with Mom. But maybe you can bring him peace. Based on my experience, he’s probably had a visit from a reaper. I kind of hope it was Tessa. She can be a real bitch, and a hard-ass, but I know she’s good at her job, and Bobby deserves the best. I can’t say I’ll be fine without him. I mean I told the man’s voicemail I’d kill myself (and Sam) if he was dead. But he doesn’t need that burden. I know he’ll think he needs to stay, and keep watching out for Sam & me. But that would just trap him here, and turn him into some wandering spirit that we’ll likely have to kill one day. That’s not the way he should go. Of course he shouldn’t be going at all. Not now. Please, not now.
But I swear this to you Santa. I am going to hunt down that smug dick, Dick Roman. And I will find a way to kill him. He is not going to hurt us or anybody else again.
You know what I think Bobby really needs? A new baseball hat. Maybe one of those classic John Deere Tractor ones. I know he secretly always kind of liked them.
For Sam: I know you can’t rebuild the wall, or erase his memories of Hell (which reminds me... Please be extra good to Lisa & Ben this year). But I wish you could. The hits have been coming at him since he was 6-months old, and he still keeps getting up. I’m so proud of him. Gotta admit it hurts when he says he doesn’t need me anymore though. All I’ve ever been is Sam’s big brother. All I’ve ever done is protect him, and watch out for him. It’s been my whole life. What am I supposed to do now? Who am I supposed to be now?
Sorry. I drifted off topic. (Must be this shitty hospital coffee.) Back to my brother. I think he’d really like one of those e-reader things. You know how Sammy loves his books, and research. Plus, it’d be easier to carry around in The Impala. (I sure hope my Baby’s okay. I miss her so bad.)
As for me: I know I’m not getting anything Santa, because I know I don’t deserve anything. As a recipient of Hell’s Torturer-of-the-Year Award, I probably have star billing on your Naughty list. That’s okay. I get it. Just please put Sam & Bobby on the Nice list. They deserve that, and so much more.
Okay. Enough of the chick-flick moment. I gotta get moving. Hospital chairs are a pain in the ass.
Take care of yourself Santa,
The janitor slowly stands. He carefully refolds the letter and slides it into his pocket. Then, he pulls out a handkerchief and wipes his eyes, blows his nose, and gives his glasses a swipe.
“That reminds me” he says to himself. “It’s time I started making a Christmas list”, and he goes back to his cleaning.
But, at the end of his shift, just as he’s putting away his bucket and broom, he spies a small red fire truck, tucked away on the top shelf of his supply closet. He picks it up, and turns it over in his hands. “I think I know a little boy who might like this one”, he says to himself, with a smile. And he heads out into the night, and the falling snow.
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