In the careful what you wish for department, Scottie gets a lesson in keeping a weekly blog. As you may remember, back on the other side of the Christmas Holiday, I promised a sugar cookie of post, to give myself time to recharge my creative batteries and come out blazing in 2017. And so I posted tow installments of a story I wrote to brighten my sister KJ oh-so-many years ago... But as luck, scotch tape and gingerbread would have it (not to mention Cedar Planked salmon, Italian Brined Turkey, chestnut ildroast with tomato raisens, pinenut toffee, and every appa-teaser you can name - those of you who have read my book know, this is my time and me and my kitchen create a hurricane of food for those I love) where was I? Oh you I was making an excuse for not posting the rest of Rdy's adventures...
I'm sorry. Here it is. Merry Christmas -
It's going to be a big year for all of us - and for those, who once again, find ourselves getting further from the America that is promised by our hopes and dreams and Constitution, this is our time to answer the call. I will be there. With You. So, until then... a little more light for your holiday:
“Her Highness, the Empress of Grace...”
And so they did.
They crossed the ocean of dreams but were horrified to discover that the belief of all things magical was suffering a world wide epidemic. Fading refugees from all over the Kingdom of the Imagination clogged the golden streets, ghostly forms, indeed, wraiths of their former selves, clamored for an audience with the Empress. The Hallmark Posse' stared wide-eyed at each other, realizing that something was truly amiss. The normally bright sunny skies were clouded by gray fog and a stench had cloaked, okay, that's putting it nicely, when choked-out is probably more accurate, the fragrance from the sunshine tree blossoms that the Kingdom was famous for.
At once a winged horseman swooped down from the castle battlements and cornered the posse.
"Toothfairy, Cottontail and you darn leprechauns, zounds is that you?” For who could blame the horseman, their gangsta bling (they were taking this posse' thingy, like, literally) was blinding in the fog and gloom. “If you please, curtsied the Toothfairy, “We’ve come to kick-it with the Top Girl.” "Yeah, She needs to end the tentz brothers and pronto!" The Horseman scratched his plumed mane. “I, um... well I have no idea what language you’re speaking, but the the Empress has been expecting you, and summons you to her throne at once!"
The gates were opened and the guards dressed for battle stepped aside. The posse was escorted to her Majesty herself.
"No, it is not news what happening! But what is puzzling is how did you make back across the ocean? My entire Armada is stuck in port, nothing in or out." The Empress cried as she put on some cheap sunglasses, “Much better, “ she stared down at the posse from her throne.
"Oh, Girl you don’t know the half, Toothie here is so faint, she can't lift a quarter, let alone a baby tooth. And I couldn't heft a basket full of Easter joy for all the crunk in the world.”
"Yes, but none of that explains how you got past my outter walls"
"Well," said the leprechauns, "we had n reason to believe it was not possible."
" said the Toothfairy, "we had to get to you by the third act. Duh."
"Well, Santa might be able to help from his side of the pond. Go! The lot of you, before it's too late, if nothing else, he's got to be warned. If he fails at Christmas, all belief could be wiped out overnight and then think of the pickle we'd be in!" Oh... and take off that ridiculous costume jewelry, you look like the Home Shopping Network!”
And so they did.
“A Ray of Light?”
And as Bah Humbug continued to test his bars by throwing the day’s unlucky hobgoblin into the light, he noted that the power of his prison was dropping at a significant rate -- it was only a matter of time before even he could squeeze between the bars without touching and thus go free. Then, he would orchestrate the greatest assault on the Hearts of men ever staged by an evil genius. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, Ol Bah'sie became a master tap dancer as well -- smoothly side stepping Baba Raga's amorous advances...
And languishing away in Frostelli's grimy canvas-covered world, and despite the love of Hannah, Rudolph, our hero was really a mess. A lugging, slogging slug, who could drain the light from a noon-day sun with his, um, most folks call it, demeanor. Hannah would try to lift his spirits with reassurances of his greatness and chin scratches (which, he had to admit were very good) Eecko, however, finally found an un-challenging ear for all of his half-baked conspiracy theories. As long as he brought a nightly supply of half-eaten store-bought sugar cookies (you know the kind they sell in gas-station convenience stores, made in a country you can't pronounce and by a company you never heard of) and stale carnival popcorn, Rudolph could endure the barrage of Eecko's cock-a-maybe excuses for failure.
But now, even Frostelli’s freakshow was suffering from the gloom. The foggy storm had cut into everyone's business, and though, as we’ve said before -- when the going gets tough, the weak laugh at other's misfortunes -- nothing was able to flourish under the belching fog of the Mountain trolls. Finally, everyone kept indoors and to themselves.
At last, the posse' found their way to the heavy oaken door of Santa's North pole workshop. As they swung the knocker that banged against his door, they beat their arms against the cold. "I never got this whole north pole thingy,” shivered Peter Cottontail, “I mean his sleigh doesn't need this stuff when he goes to Hawaii."
"Who is it?!" Thundered the famous baritone from behind the door.
"Santa, it's Toothy, Peter and your friends, those darn Leprechauns -- we bring a message from her Highness, the Empress herself."
"I'm days before my big night and I can't afford to hand out with a buncha choke-artists, like you guys!"
"Us guys? Now that's a bit harsh, don't ya think?"
"Listen you overblown Coka Ad! Nobody talks to us like that!"
The Leprechauns weren't about to travel all that way to be denied. So up and into his chimney they flew and stumbled out onto his hearth. What they saw horrified even them. There, peeking out the keyhole and barring his own front door was Santa -- or, at least it used to be Santa, even he had become a fading memory of the beloved icon of belief and imagination.
"Why, you fading old fraud!" "Blimey, he's as bad as us!"
Santa whirled about and stared at the intruders. But instead of getting mad, his shoulders slumped. "Oh, what's the use," he unlocked the door with resignation and The Tooth fairy and Peter Cottontail ran immediately for the fireplace, standing with their bums to the flames hopping about to get warm.
"So, now you know," he said. "It started yesterday, right after breakfast. And anyway, what would it matter – that fog is so thick I wouldn’t send a dog out on a night like this.
“Ouch!” said Peter, his famous cotton tail singed by the flames, “What about Rudolph?”
“He ran away – Vixen and the boys said he left mumbling something about blowing this penny-ante gig. I never would’ve believed it of him... he was such a nice kid. – the bottom line? I'm... that is, we're doomed."
Peter, still nursing burnt bum hairs sputtered, "Santa, you can't cash in now. The entire kingdom is riding on your shoulders. If you fail to make your deliveries on Christmas Eve, then the Empress is certain that the belief of childhood will be snuffed out and we'll lose our real estate in the hearts of man for - ever. Forever, as in never, ya know the cosmic goose egg, the.. the..
“Petey?” softly nudged the Toothfairy...
“The big Zilch...” rambled the Easter bunny...
“The nebulous nada...”
“PETERRRRRRRRRRR!” shrieked the Toothfairy – windows cracking and glasses shattering, “sweetie... Santa-dear gets the pointie.”
“Yes, well... as you can well imagine, we've only got a tenuous hold on this so-called reality, as it is."
Santa paced back and forth in front of his fire, the flames showing through his vaporous form. "Confound our rotten luck."
“Ain’t it always the way?”
As with all fairy stories the Good guys forgot one simple truth. The bad guys always foil their own plans through greed and lack of trust.
For starters, Baba Raga was growing bored. Her work had lost it luster, and she realized she had become nothing more than a chambermaid to the mountain trolls, a waitress that served-up their daily meals of little white lies and subtle paranoias. Besides, she was tired of cooking the facts for two slobs that behaved like spoiled children, or worse, fraternity boys who took great delight in lighting each other's farts and watching the flames blast about, then roaring with glee if one caught his pants on fire, before realizing that as a two headed beast, they shared the same pants.
And, so it was that even Humbug's reassurances that they would marry, no longer kept Baba Raga at bay. The company of the other witches didn't help at all. They were all spoiling for some action and nothing pleases a gaggle of girls more than the planning of a wedding. They began to fill Baba Raga's head with all sorts of romantic notions of how her dress could look and what color napkins the cake should be served on and all matters of great import. When the girls laughed her out of the tea cozy, when Baba Raga didn't even have an engagement ring yet, she marched to prison to settle it once and for all.
There as she crept up the corridor of doom, she overheard her beloved Humbug snickering with his lawyer, the river troll, F. Flea Bailout, "Hah, it's all about to come to a head, the perfect plan. All that’s left is getting rid of the old hag Baba Raga and I can rule the world alone."
"Did you hear that?" Asked Humbug. The River troll wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes. "Hear what?"
"Nothing," said Humbug. "Must be the wind."
Baba Raga snuck away into the night, her mind already in overdrive," The treacherous double-dealing backstabber. I'll show him."
Tensions were high in the freakshow and Frostelli's daughter couldn't resist the temptation to do something stupid. She let some older kids (that she was trying to impress) into the show for free. When they were discovered, the daughter -- of course -- blamed Hannah and the wrath of Frostelli boiled over.He went looking for the orphan.
Into the tent where the animals were kept, stormed the very rotund Frostelli, SMACK! Without warning, his backhand lashed her cheek.
Enraged! Rudolph rose from his stupor, kicked the cage doors off the hinges and with a shout, flew across the tent at Frostelli, (who never believed the myth about flying reindeer and thus, never saw it coming.) A pair of cage-sharpened antlers lifted the obese and cruel Frostelli and flicked him through the walls of the tent like yesterday's garbage. Rudolph scooped-up the young orphan girl onto his back and off they flew to freedom.
But where? Yes, where, you ask? Me too, as I’m hearing this for the very just like you. (Hey, we're going off script, here... anyone? Anyone?) Okay, I guess it's just us, so... where woul they go?
Back home to the village that doesn't love him anymore?
Across to Hawaii, where native girls rubbed Coppertone on his antlers?
Hollywood, to kiss and tell all and get his own T.V. talkshow on the E! Channel?
No... What do you think... (remember this is a Christmas story...”)
Rudolph and Hannah flew up, up, and away thru the fart smelling gloom, “I need a breath of air, don’t you?” said the magicked reindeer.
Higher and higher, and higher to escape the choking fog and see the plight of the world. Hannah, who's heart is immune to the chill of despair, sees that the source of the darkness, “Rudy... it’s coming from the edge of the world.”
Rudolph saw that indeed the young orphan was right, and flew for a closer look. The stench was incredible this close to the source – have you ever smelled cooked facts before? Yeesh -- and then they saw it -- the great belching fire of the mountain trolls.
Hannah was distraught, ”Rudy, you have to save the world, you just have to...” but his time in captivity has taken it’s toll and Rudolph had grown callous and cold, "Why should I?, Eecko was right, Santa, the reindeers, nobody cared one whit about saving me, they probably didn't even know I was gone, or worse, were jealous and have been quite happy to let me rot in some rusty cage."
But Hannah stared at her furry friend with great compassion, "Even if that's true, what would make you happier? Helping people because you know it’s the right thing to do, or turning your back just to make your point?"
She had him there. Rudolph took a breath (easier now that they soared above the stench filled clouds) and remembered the feeling he had right before Santa unhooked his bridle after the Christmas of '62. Warm, sweet satisfaction of a job well done by all. Hannah saw the gleam in Rudy's eyes, "See, you do remember what I'm talking about, Eecko can't talk about it because all he's ever known is fear, but we know what it's like to feel free and it's our job to tell and show the world, even if it takes a thousand lifetimes."
With a snort and blast from his famous nose, the fire returns to Rudolph's’ heart and... nose! A blazing beacon of hope, illuminating the entire sky like a red comet (no, not that Comet – remember? He’s on the naughty list right now, and as soon as Santa finds out, oh boy, will there be “H”-“E”- double-toothpicks to pay...) No, a real blazing celestial body streaking across the Christmas sky!
And with that Rudolph plunges into the darkening fog...
“Twas’ the Night before...”
Christmas eve and Santa is fit to be tied. His elves, faded as they are, sweat like stuffed pig dolls trying to load the sleigh, but they too are weakened by the flagging belief of the world's children. “Confound it, lads! At this rate, we’ll be packed by Groundhog day!”
“Yeah, well why don’t you pack it yourself then, you... you...”
The room froze as Santa, still strong enough to wield his pen and list, licked the end of the quill and turned to the naughty section... “Okay, okay, step away from the pen, Old man... we’re all a little tense here, don’t go doing anything I might regret later.” His point made, Santa put away his list and turns to his army of toy makers and packers. “An extra ration of egg nog for all then back to work – the world of the imagination is depending on us – and I’ll not have the record book show that we lost this crucial battle for the hearts of children without a fight!”
HURRAH! Shouted the elves and redoubled their efforts!
And speaking of battle...
Sound and fury signifying everything! Rudolph and the mountain troll are locked in the epic struggle of all time!
Hannah, Rudolph’s cheerleader rubs it in every time the reindeer scores a blow. “Rah, Rah, Ree kick him in the knee... Rah, Rah Rass, kick his ever lovin’...”
But oh, no! Rudolph is out of breath – the stench of the troll has crowded out every last molecule of oxygen... “Hey, Malco!” “Yeah, Disco?” “Is it my imagination, or does ol’ Rudy’s red nose clash with his green skin?” “Yeah, this guy needs to have his colors done.”
It was true. But as his face became a blue that would go together better with his famous red nose, his strength gave out... and Rudolph collapsed at the feet of the troll. Hope was lost right there and then...
Hannah’s sobs caught in her throat as she watched the hideous two-headed mountain menace look down in victory.
Baba Raga, who should be happy, instead is furious, for during the battle the clumsy troll stumbled onto her cooking fire, smoldering embers and red-hot coals trampled under foot. “You moron!” Look at what you’ve done!”
It was true. Hannah saw the coals and embers ankle deep. “Doesn’t that hurt?” and then she remembered, that mountain trolls have skin so thick that fire doesn’t burn them... there’s only one place that’s too tender and we don’t want to go there...
Gloom and doom. Hope crushed. The mountain troll reaches reach down his giant finger to check on his prey.
But Rudy opens his eye a slit and winks to Hannah. He grabs the Mountain Troll’s index finger and with his last dying strength, pulls with all his might!
The Mountain Troll farts... a hurricane of stink and gas right into the ember’s of the witches cooking fire and...
VVVVVOOOOOOMMMMM! A column of fire roars right back up at the Troll – a direct hit to where the sun don’t shine...
Screamed both heads of the tentz brothers as they disappeared in a gigantic ball of fire! The Cooked facts, the White lies and Paranoia fueling the biggest bang this side of the cosmos.
Rudolph, Hannah and the witch Baba Raga, are nearly sucked into the black hole torn by the rending of the fabric of time and space... but they were spit back to the ground near the gigantic crater that used to be the witch’s lair.
“Impressive. The old, hey-kid-pull-my-finger trick. Unlike the readers, I didn’t see that one comin'.”
Baba Raga looks around at the wreckage of her life. “ but your efforts were in vein, the fog still covers the world and Christmas is just hours away. Tough tabernacles, eh?”
But Hannah is happy, and hugs her savior, saying "I always knew you could do it!"
“That you did, admitted Rudolph, “my powers never faltered, even though belief in myself may have wavered.”
Baba Raga wrinkled her nose, “Enough of this mutual admiration society! To tell the truth, I’m unsure whether to kiss you for having relieved me of cooking for that slob or kill you, since, you know, you’re one of the good guys and that’s what we do right?”
Baba Raga sat and stewed on her predicament, "Well, you won the battle, but lost the war, for while you were frittering away the last precious minutes with some two-bit menace with bad table manners, the real deal is going down... Bah Humbug's evil plan to destroy Christmas will eradicate the belief in all thing's good. It’s going to work and you won't be able to do a thing about it."
"How's that?" asked Rudy feeling pretty cocky having just dispatched the bully with his favorite girl looking on.
"When Santa is unable to deliver his goods, the last shred of hope in the world will be snuffed out like my cooking fire and Bah Humbug will be free again to poison the hearts of men with nervously imagined and whispered fears."
"Come on Hannah, I've done it once, I can do it again!" And off they flew to Santa's rescue yet again.
“Play it again Rudy...”
And so they did.
Santa has to all but drag his elite team out of the barn against their protests. "What's the use in even trying, we'll never make it time."
But a blazing beacon cuts thru the fog blanketed sky.
“Hey Comet, is that a comet?” No, Santa hasn't caught on to his treachery, yet silly... Comet doesn't even look up, "Funny, that's only the thousandth time I've heard that)
But Vixen is undeterred, so used to Comet's B-S. and recognizes the truth first... “It’s... it’s... the kid...”
Their hearts are lifted as Santa calls out, "On Dasher, On, Dancer, On Prancer, on what's-his-name, On Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen and Rudolph -- Dash away Dash away Dash away, ALL!"
And so they did.
And Christmas was saved.
And Bah Humbug was foiled.
And Baba Raga became the queen of the coven.
And Hannah had a new home (as manager of the North Pole stable.)
And Rudolph took his vacation at the North Pole this time...
And so... they had a Merry Christmas.
For those of you who read my book know I love love love Christmas - and for the next few weeks, I'm taking a brief respite from the serious side of things to nibble a few Christmas cookies in the from of a a short story I wrote to cheer up my sister a few years back... and I'm hoping it works for us all. Here then is chapter2 enjoy!
Chapter 2 “and so it began...”
Rudolph, tanned, relaxed and eager to return to the glory and fame waiting for him at his North Pole home, arrived with the compulsory lei's and chocolate covered macadamia nuts for everyone. After a big welcome home bash, Rudolph nestled down without a care in the world, content that he was finally accepted by his own, and never dreaming for one moment that all the reindeer didn't love him or that he wouldn't "go down in his-tor-reeeeeeee..."
In through the darkness crept two hulking black silhouettes, finding the barn door open just as Vixen has promised. And before Rudolph knew what hit him, he was bagged, gagged and spirited away, bound for the southern reaches, where no one could ever, ever, never find him. As the muffled snorts of Rudolph's protests faded in the snow of the North Pole night, Vixen smiled and rested his head on the bag of silver tipped, frosted, sugar cookies, which, as you know, are like catnip to the reindeer.
Baba Raga, for her part, made good time as she headed across the Forgotten Valley, down the fouled river of Sludge and into the Craggs of Doom to capture the two-headed Mountain troll, named Malco & Disco -- or the Tentz brothers as they are affectionately called by their dark brethren.
Baba Raga, truth be told, was known throughout the netherworld for her culinary skills, and the Mountain troll was only too happy to be called her Prisoner.
And while Rudolph was sold to a traveling sideshow with your hot and cold running sideshow professionals – you know, the standard: bearded lady, monkey-boy, snake-charmer kind, Baba Raga worked her fingers to the bone (with not so much as a peep of appreciation!) to feed Malco & Disco Tentz a steady diet of:
Little white lies,
and a soup of cooked-up facts,
until they farted and belched a hideous fog that enshrouded the earth, clouding the hearts of men, and dimming the light of hope and belief.
For almost a year, the foul, thick-as-pea-soup smog, sapped the very life from the entire world. Only Bah Humbug could know that the real weapon was not the fog, but the depression itself... Everyone knew that something was wrong, but nobody seemed to care to fix it... and with no end in sight, the world trudged on, trying to just finish its business and get home to curl up in the dankness, pull their covers over their heads and hide...
Oh, Yes, the times were bleak… oddly enough, down south, people found that the few grimy coins required for entrance to the sideshow were worth it – if for nothing else, to gawk at someone who was even less fortunate than themselves... The sideshow was doing the best business in years.
Rudolph, as you can guess, was miserable, he lay in a constant funk – a matted brown lump in the corner of his dirty cage, flashing his famous nose on demand, but hating himself every minute of it.
At night, alone and scared, Rudolph would cry himself to sleep, clinging to a shred of faith in his fellow reindeer. “It will all be over soon. My brothers will come. They will. They will.” The poor little nipper was never aware that it was his “brothers” and their fragile egos that had sold him down the river in the first place.
Red warning flags went up all over the Kingdom of Imagination. All who lived there could feel the power of the kingdom beginning to fade. The first to discover the problem were the sailors who ferried the citizens of the Kingdom across the ocean of dreams. Several boats had capsized, while others were mysteriously becalmed... adrift for weeks, their passengers stranded, unable to enter the world of children.
After months of disappointment, the power of the Toothfairy, the Easter bunny, and those darn leprechauns, became nothing more than an ugly joke, and as the year came round again to the Christmas season, that special time of the year reserved for goodwill, silver bells and hot chocolate, Bah Humbug was gearing up for the killing blow... the biggest legend, of them all, Santa, Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas, Sinter Klaus himself, would renege on his promise to every child around the world, which will snuff out the light of hope and close off access to the hearts of men forever.
And then the summons came: Bah Humbug would see the Witch Baba Raga...
"Everything is as you wish," reported the witch as she peered through the slightly less-intense bars of light that throbbed menacingly between her and her foul Master.
"Everything?" challenged Bah Humbug, who tossed an unfortunate hobgoblin, into the bars of light -- "AHHHHHH" PPPFFFT! The Hobgoblin was zapped by the blazing light, turning instantly to stone on the other side of the cell wall.
Bah Humbug counted the seconds the Hobgoblin screamed before turning into stone and noted it on the wall. Hmm... yes, in fact, there was... a discernable diminishing of the power of his prison bars.
Baba Raga had had enough. "Did I stutter? Everything. The fog as you can see has covered the earth like a cow turd covers a daisy -- you couldn't find your nose on your own face -- as for Rudolph, he's currently touring some backwater village as the warm-up act to a broken down Lizard-boy routine for Frostelli's Fabulous Freakshow and Lavish Lot of Legerdemain. The red-proboscis'd Rudy is so danged depressed that he hasn't eaten in weeks and even his legendary schnoz is fading. The toothfairy hasn't made a delivery in months and the Easter bunny's debacle last spring sent the world's children spinning."
"So..." sneered Bah Humbug. "Why is that I detect another shoe about to drop?"
The witch smiled a toothless grin, "because, Hummie, baby, you and I, as they say, are cut from the same cloth."
"Let me guess," said the Evil Bah Humbug. "You see the genius of my plan working better than we expected and want a bigger piece of the action."
The witch batted her lonely eyelash -- coy was not one of her strongest spells, "Not only are you a genius, but you're smart too."
"Name your price, witch."
"Now, Hummie, dearest, is that any way to talk to your bride?"
"I'm, flattered." He lied, "But I'm a confirmed bachelor."
"Don't piss me off, Humbug," warned the hag, "I can be a real witch when I get angry."
"I'll consider it."
"You'll promise it or I stop feeding the trolls right now."
Humbug paced behind the white-hot bars of light, feeling sooooo close to victory he could taste it… but try as he might, he could not keep his eyes from staring at warts on Baba Raga’s nose twitching with lust. But what’s an evil genius to do? She had him right where she wanted him… and she knew it. So, like all good poker players, he swallowed hard, looked her right in the wart, and declared: "I... promise. As soon as I'm free, it's all about you and me."
She left happy as loon, and Bah Humbug returned his attention to stewing on his evil plan.
And so it was...
For Rudolph was, as the witch had promised, depressed and downtrodden. His hope had shriveled to almost nothing. The only rays of light in his pitiful existence came from a young orphan named Hannah, who cleaned his cage and fed him each night, and a young mouse, named Ecko who shared his cage and brought the reindeer remnants of the popcorn and cookies that the visitors of the sideshow dropped on the ground. They made a funny group, the orphans club they called themselves, and Hannah was probably the only little girl in the world who ever knew that reindeer could talk.
But comforting as their nightly talks were, it was Ecko's streetsmarts that finally wizened the reindeer up for good. "Get with the piture, Rudy ol' boy. If they really cared about you, they woulda' busted you outta here a long time ago. My money sez they never did dig the fact that you saved Santa's arse, and they finally found away to get the spotlight back from you and your schnozola"
It worked. Between that and the fog that was starting to blot the sun out everyday, Rudolph was convinced that Ecko was right. And as time wore on, the kids that came to see the infamous reindeer stopped looking in on him with wonder and instead laughed and called him names.
And Hannah wasn’t fairing much better, either. The owner of the freakshow, Balderdash Frostelli, was a cruel and cantankerous man, who lavished his own daughter with gifts and praise while taking out his anger on the young orphan girl.
It must be said that Hannah's parents had once owned all that made the freakshow: the tents, the wagons and scores of glorious and wondrous animals. It was, at that time, a magical circus. But that was years ago, and Hannah's parents were lost under mysterious circumstances. Their will stipulated that everything be left to their closest kin, and Balderdash Frostelli became the owner, changed everything to a freak show, cut the wonderous animals loose and took on the charge of raising the young orphan. His plan was like that of every unimaginative secondary character. He would raise Hannah until such time as he could cut her loose into the cold, cruel world. Until then, she was cheap labor, didn't even have to be paid and she grew to know no better... her life was dirty cages, insults from a spoiled cousin and constant badgering from a cruel (as we've said) skinflint uncle.
Hannah and Rudolph were of course made for each other, and though Eecko painted a bleak picture of life as they knew it, Rudolph would try to get Hannah to give that cousin of hers a good bump on the nose for all her schenanigans, while Hannah would hug her hoofed friend, saying that he shouldn't let anything get him down, after all, no one could ever take away his accomplishments.
And so it was.
And back in the Kingdom of Imagination, “the piture,” as Eecko would say was bleak as all get out…
"Something has got to give! Look at us!" Cried the beleaguered Toothfairy as she stared at her fading reflection in a silvery pond. Her companion, Peter Cottontail, normally hopped at the chance to gaze at his dapper form in anything reflective, but was very reluctant to see if his fading good looks were as transparent as hers, "I'll take your word for it, Toothie."
"If we ever get our hands on the rogue who's behind all this we'll take the shillelagh upside their heads!" roared the leprechauns who ringed the pond. They formed an odd band, a posse if you will, of seasonal characters. To the outside world, they appeared like a mix-up at the Hallmark store, but with the right attitude (and a straight-up helping of Bling) they might be able to pull off the posse part. But I digress as usual…
"We better get word to the Empress, she'll have an answer for this."
Chapter 3 “Her Highness, the Empress of Grace...”
I started this blog to have an outlet for all my work. And if you're like me, you could use a little holiday cheer. What I maybe have't confessed in recent posts is that I started down this crazy road as "a creative" because I grew up on steady diet of Saturday Morning cartoons, and always knew I'd be, one day making them.
Which I did.
For four glorious years I wrote, directed and produced, along with my dear partner, Andy Jones and a band of merry pranksters, a children's television series called Pug & Zero's Field Trip.Which for those of you who haven't seen it, was, as we described it, "Lucy & Ethel meet Steven Hawking." Wherein, we proved every Saturday (in syndication, remember that?) that pratfalls and string theory do mix quite nicely. Yes, we let Schrödinger's cat out of the bag... and our 6- 10 year-old audience loved it as much as we did.
And... yes. I miss it very much.
Somehow, I got so... serious in these last few years of my career. And tho' I wouldn't trade my current track of serious (well, okay, we are still talking me) adult subjects, my book and the lectures, the workshops and doing everything I can to make our world a little more tolerant, a little more accepting of the diversity that is human beauty, for anything -- especially since it's become even more about life and death (is that even possible?) in these last few weeks. But, I need to refresh my spirit, so I will fight our fights with a renewed sense of purpose. I need to take a breath so I can Radiate Light, Laughter & Love anew.
And what better way time to recharge than the season of light?
So, for the next coupla' weeks, that is my gift to us both. A big bright sugary cookie sprinkled with an extra dollop of holiday cheer. To refresh our spirits together in the form of some Christmas stories I wrote a few years back to cheer up my sister who was lonely in her new adopted England. A postcard from home (if your home is next door to Dr. Seuss, maybe).
I wrote these Christmas stories to be read aloud. The first up is an imaging of what to happened as a sequel to a story that seized my imagination at a very early age and only furthered my addition to animation... so with out further ado... Merry Christmas & Enjoy!
Rudolph to the rescue... again!
The continuing adventures of our beloved "misfit" with his infamous red nose, or what happened the morning after his famous ride...
We all know how Santa’s “ninth buck” saved Christmas back in the day… but what we didn’t know (until now) was how that storm was started or by who… and of course we also never knew how this same you know who never got over his evil plan being foiled by a rookie reindeer on his very first ride.
No… that’s his name. Bah Humbug…well, you’ll have to sit down for this one….
“what you didn’t know...”
Though you didn't know it, the Christmas fog, the near disastrous storm of '62 in which Rudolph with his nose so bright, guided Santa's Sleigh that night, was in fact, a sinister act -- of Evil… Uh huh! It was an ill-fated deed by none other than Bah Humbug, himself! The Nastiest, cruelest, ne'er-do-well this side of the ocean of dreams, to ever haunt the shadows of childhood.
Oh, it was him all right, accompanied by his cult of dark followers, Humbug’s motis operndi was usually to wait just outside the thorny gates of puberty -- setting traps of fatalism and cynicism, to drive the myths and fantasy from the Kingdom of the Imagination with lies and conceit -- destroying the magic of Christmas and Childhood. Sadly his dastardly plan had worked for years with small, ahem, success if you will. And some unfortunate souls never truly ever recovered – these unfortunate souls usually went on to lives of dreary servitude – willing slaves to a fatal view of reality, not unlike wicked school headmasters, stuffy loan officers or ostrich pen cleanliness inspectors. But as with all evil-doers intent on conquering the world, Humbug wasn’t satisfied and he wanted it all…
Truth be told, the storm ’62 was to be his greatest act ever -- the final nail in the coffin, a way to once and for all destroy the very foundation upon which the warmth of Christmas had been built -- belief in Santa Claus.
Oh no, you say?
And like most supervillains, his plan was almost too simple:
If Santa was thwarted by a great storm, he wouldn't complete his rounds –
If he couldn't complete his rounds, children the world ‘round, would cease to believe.
If the children stopped believing, their hearts would be broken and their minds would be fertile fields for the propaganda of cynicism…
And the warmth of Christmas would die forever.
It almost worked.
But while Rudolph, Santa, and team were fighting through the storm valiantly, a posse from the Kingdom of Imagination got wind of Bah Humbug's sinister plan and caught him red-clawed in the act -- they tossed him and his gang of putrid hobgoblins into the prison of desire, which, incidentally, sits atop the storm-tossed coast of the sea of confusion, perched like a festering sore on the border between Rationality and the Beyond.
And there he sat,
as the world woke-up to find that Santa had once again prevailed, aided by Rudolph and magical nose... a story we all know intimately.
Now, Bah Humbug, as you can imagine, was not about to take this lying down, and in the darkness of the prison's slime-covered walls, he wracked his twisted, evil, alleged brain for a way of escape.
His blood-red claws scurried spider-like over every crack and crevasse in the granite and rust... searching, searching... searching... but... nothing.
Gingerly, he tested the white-hot bars of light that formed the cell door and window of his much-deserved cage...
but no... nothing.
In fact, the blazing torches of light were laser beams that fricasseed anything that strayed into their path. (A fact discovered when Bah Humbug pitched one of his hobgoblins into the door as a test pilot - his pitiful screams echoed throughout the prison for weeks after...)
It looked like Bah Humbug would have to spend his eternity under lock and key after all. But then one day...he flew into a rage and stomped about the entrance screaming to no one in particular:
"I don't believe that mere bars of light could enslave me, of all creatures!"
"Boss, did you see that?" Asked a timid hobgoblin who cowered behind the toilet hole in the back of the cell.
"See WHAT?" thundered the incredulous Humbug, his sinister teeth flashing in the shadows.
"The bars. They flickered when you said the word belief."
They both turned and saw that the bars remained steady. Humbug raised an eyebrow in warning.
"I don't believe you"
The bars flickered ever so slightly. Humbug smiled an evil grin and shook his head with disdain. "You colossal IDIOT! It isn't damaged by belief... I don't know who is more stupider, you or the whole kingdom of goody-two-shoes. The bars are controlled by NOT BELIEVING!
He whirled around, his sharp cutting words had done the trick again, and he saw a slight, almost imperceptible interruption -- a mere hiccup in the white-hot bars of light -- but enough to confirm his dangerous theory.
He crept up close and with the fever of discovery, and foul-smelling beads of sweat collecting on his brow, he whispered to the silent sentinels that formed his prison, "I don't believe in you."
The bars of light flickered as if an evil draft had brushed the flame of a candle. "You see, my pathetic hobgoblin. My wardens are so bent on their faith in the goodness of all, that they hinge their entire Kingdom on the belief of even little ole' me. My troubles are OVER! Squelch the belief in the hearts of men and not only am I free once again, but I will control their hearts FOREVER!”
And so it was that Bah Humbug learned of the source of the Kingdom of Imagination's power and the key to his freedom.
As you can guess, he hatched a wicked plan of revenge...
Rudolph, the rising star of Santa's elite Reindeer team was enjoying his vacation (a special bonus from Santa himself) in the Hawaiian Islands. It was during this lull in the action that Humbug called for his lawyer, a slimy river troll, named F. Flea Bailout and exercised his prisoner's rights -- after all, the prison was established by the Empress of Fantasy, who herself was not an unreasonable gal -- and so the river troll paid his illustrious client a visit.
"Arrange to have the witch, Baba Raga brought to my cell. Tell her that I have a job for her that will repay all of her gambling debts to me."
The River troll looked up from his faux crocodile skin briefcase and stammered, "As you wish, your despicableness."
And so it was...
The witch, Baba Raga, reluctantly made the arduous journey to the fell prison, fearing the awful summons, of course, but eager to relieve herself of her mountain of debt. Their meeting was brief and scary with all of the usual theatrics that had formed Bah Humbug’s reputation of being an evil genius but pathetic b- grade actor. And as she stumbled back over crag and bramble to her humble abode, She had to admit, Bah Humbugs' reptilian mind had hatched a scheme so evil, so… oh, I don’t know, what’s the word? Genius, yes that’s it! It was so pure genius, that even she, herself had wondered why she hadn’t thought of it years before.
So, of course, she took the credit for it when she gossiped with the other witches at their annual Samhain' cotillion...
"I'm to be Humbug's gal Friday, captaining his forces and carrying out his foul plan."
"Oh, do tell" they shrieked with delight.
"Well if you must know, it works like this..."
And so the witch described in great detail (and far too many diversions I might add,) how they were going to “Water the seeds of discontent that everyone knew the older reindeer had for Rudolph, especially since he stole their thunder when he saved the day.”
“Oh, that’s so... effective – those ego-maniacs would do anything to get back to being Santa’s top dog... if you know what I mean. “
Baba Raga’s yellowed eyes gleamed with lust, “Donner and Blitzen especially will be ripe to help us sell that freak off to a sideshow circus, that’ll effectively get ‘ol Rudy out of the way... into a rusty old cage, giving him a taste of the medicine that Bah Humbug has to swallow every day. A HAH HAH HAH!....”
Oh... he’s so... so... deliciously evil... what then? Tell us, tell us!
Well, said Baba Raga, relishing the slimy green spotlight of her witchy sisters’ envy, “With Rudolph out of the way, Hummie will create an even bigger storm, (personally, I think he’s still convinced of his earlier genius, he really wanted the "storm-thing" to stick as his calling card, but that’s just me) he’ll send forth a fog so foul, so heavy, so heinous, that the hearts of men will shrivel under the murky mists of depression... There won’t be a "Merry," a "Joy" or a "Ho Ho Ho" to be found for love or money.
"PERFECT!" The witches cackled, “can we help?” And Baba Raga became a celebrity in her own right.
"Of course you can," she said between gulps of Trader Joe's "Eye of newt pate'" We need to get the Reindeer on board to help us get Rudy out of the picture."
"Leave that to me," said a nasty northern witch, "Vixen, is an easy mark, nobody can ever remember his name, he'll be happy to leave a gate open some dark and lonely night."
And with that, Baba Raga left the cotillion that night, the talk of the coven – “the first Sistah” and feeling quite full of herself.
Chapter 2 - “and so it began...”
Scottie Jeanette Madden
Screenwriter, Author, Cook and Lover. Author of "Getting Back To Me, from girl to boy to woman in just fifty years"