Buddy’s Christmas Tree
*Hello and Season’s Greetings, Friends! This is what may have to pass for the annual Christmas (micro) fiction. This, of course, is the weakly weekly column, geared to those in the PPN audience. Please enjoy!
A studio in a converted garden shed, one December evening…
Perrin babbled away, again: ‘…now, ladies and gentlemen, we’re joined by the most wonderful actress and woman in the world, the lovely and gracious Gal Gadot! Hey, Gal! How’s the high life in Hollywood? Boy, oh boy, did I enjoy Red Notice! Thank you for coming on again so soon…’ The conversation would go on for several hours.
From high on his little FRC box perch, Buddy, Jr. looked on with pity. What a shame, he thought; the big guy should get out more, maybe bite the bullet and date that pretty secret agent woman. He cleared his throat and said, ‘Well, now, I’m running out for a bit. Kind of like you should. Uh. Okay, you just talk to yourself, again, for a while. Bye now.’ Perrin continued to gibber happily – to no one – about movies, and Goodles, and other things he knew nothing about.
Ignored, as usual, the tiny lizard made his way down the cheap cardboard-like paneling. As he crossed the cold, unforgiving concrete floor, he passed the very spot where Buddy Senior’s tenure had abruptly ended. He crossed himself. Then, he carefully darted here and there through a maze of cigar boxes, empty coffee bags, and other rubbish. Next, he climbed over and past various boxes and crates bearing such odd labels as “RDX” and “Titanium Diboride.” By the door, he stopped and put on his extremely small coat, hat, and mittens.
A gust of cold wind blew in the crack under the door where the weather stripping had broken away. Buddy was just about to exit when the Old Drunken Spider wobbled in, carrying with him a cricket (that we all know was just sleeping). ‘The big fool talking to himself again?’ the old creepy-crawler asked with a hiccup.
‘No!’ Buddy said emphatically. ‘This time it’s for real. He’s got Wonder Woman on Zoom!’ After a quiet moment, they both fell out laughing.
‘Almost had me there, Greenie!’ the spider chuckled as he staggered sideways a bit. ‘Well, if he’s having another … interview, I’ll just go to the other end and entertain my guest here.’ He patted the cricket – who was still sleeping. ‘You take care out there; it’s starting to snow if you’ll believe it.’
After staring at the mouth-watering sleeping cricket for a second, Buddy said ‘thanks and good evening,’ tipped his tiny hat, and ducked under the poorly-fitted door. Walking under the rusting, dented hulk of what had once been an SUV, he remembered his long years spent forgotten in the glove compartment. Those metal wires sticking out of the tires must be for extra traction, he thought as he emerged into the wide-open space behind the driveway. With little white flakes falling all around, he made his way through the yard and down the lane.
Over on the corner, under the soft rays of an old street lamp, Buddy found the Tiny Postman busy gathering letters from the tiny, special Santa Mail mailbox.
‘Good evening, Tiny Postman!’ Buddy said. ‘All those gonna make it in time?’
‘Evening, Buddy,’ said Tiny Postman. And, yes, these are just in time. Say, you live in the shed. Any idea if this sad story will feature any other FP characters? Or a real plot?’
‘No, I’m afraid not,’ Buddy said with a shrug. ‘It’s just self-deprecating nonsense, a sleeping cricket, me, and my quest to find the perfect you-know-what.’
‘Ah, well. Maybe next Christmas. Anyway, are you off to the little magic place in the woods?’
‘That’s the place!’ Buddy exclaimed. ‘I’d better hurry. I hear they’re having a party tonight.’
The diminutive friends parted ways and Buddy hurried on. As a surprisingly healthy snow began to fall in earnest, he crossed the vacant lot and entered the woods. As he made his way into the trees, he passed several more friends. With each step, he grew more excited. Finally, he rounded a corner and stood beneath the most magical, special tree in the glade – the Northern Operations Tree of the Prepper Elves! Buddy clasped his little mittened hands together and smiled. He knew that inside that tree was a very special little tree all for him. But then, with genuine shock, he read the sign on the door: CLOSED. GONE TO CHRISTMAS PARTY AT FPHQ. BACK IN JANUARY.
Crushed, Buddy made his way back through the woods. He lamented Perrin’s cheapness and general aversion to travel. They themselves could have been at that party. Should have been. Maybe there, Buddy could have gotten his special little tree. But, as it sometimes happens, some things just aren’t meant to be. Back in the vacant lot, he ran into the Angry Cat. That encounter is the stuff of a story for another day. Needless to say, Buddy survived. He walked slowly through the snow with his head down until he again moved under the wreck of the Old Bug-Out Vehicle and Mobile Prepper Studio.™ Suddenly, he noticed something – something near the shed door that had not been there when he’d left.
Down on the ground by the crack under the door was a very small box with a bow on top. There was also a tiny card with his name on it. He carefully read the tiny card:
Dearest Buddy, Jr,
Here’s a present for the cutest little plastic lizard in the prepping world.
Merry Christmas, from your biggest fan.
Before he went inside to hang up his tiny coat and hat and mittens, Buddy opened the box. And, what do you suppose he found inside?!
(Not very good, but at least it’s over! Merry Christmas!)