by Kyle Curcio
A Christmas lesson in behavioral economics...
A brilliant flash of light wracked the stillness.
A giggle came out of the darkness just before the boy, holding aloft an old Polaroid he could barely wield. He pulled its blackened tongue from it and shook it as purposefully as if he were strumming a guitar.
"I got you, Santa! The world's only photo of you! Let's talk."
Criminy! Not again. Globetrotting, even for the beloved man in the red stocking cap, tended to take its toll. Luckily, he had about 1700 years on this kid.
He rolled his eyes before turning around to greet the ambitious child with a smile as bright as that camera's flash.
"Ho! Ho! How are you, Timmy?"
The kid glanced down at the pic, now emerging from a milky haze.
"Good, Santa. Hope this doesn't put me on the 'Naughty List'."
"Not this fiscal year, Timmy," Santa replied, still all asmile.
"So, how much will you pay me for this?"
"Glad you asked! Shall we bargain?" Santa motioned for the boy to sit on his lap. "I'll start by telling you what a picture like that is worth."
Timmy's eyes widened.
"I'll give you," Santa paused for effect, "a pound of coal for it."
The boy looked at the big man sideways.
"Don't write it off so quickly, Timmy," Santa continued, "I'm willing to commit that amount every year for the next fifty years."
"F-fifty..." Timmy stammered.
"After which, you will have one cubic foot of coal. Now, there are 100 cubic feet in a ton of coal, which fetches about $60."
Santa took a breath. The child having glazed over in the meantime.
"....So," he continued with a grin, "your photograph will be worth that $60. In 5000 years."
"Forget it, Santa. What'd you bring me?"
"First," the old man smiled, "that picture."