Monday, December 04, 2006

Bully's Fantastic Christmas, Part 1

Bully's Fantastic Christmas

A serial Christmas story in (probably) twelve parts, running each weekday through December 19. Collect 'em all!

Part 1: Making Lists, Checking Twice

A snowy winter day can be a lovely thing, even in run-down, drab Brooklyn, when the bright chilly snow covers the cracked sidewalks and the dirty stoops. But when this snowy winter day is the day before Christmas, well, then, that is a magical thing indeed.

Young Bully, the little stuffed bull, gazed out of the window that looked over Eighth Avenue in Park Slope and watched the snow fall down. Alongside him, crowding his space on the windowsill and bunching up the curtains, were his two very best friends, Snuckles the Pig and Blackie the Tuff Li'l Brooklyn Bear. Their breaths steamed the windowpane as they gazed out at the thick flakes of falling snow.

"Wow!" said Snuckles, peeling his snout away from the cold window. "I can't believe it's going to be Christmas tomorrow!"

"Yeah!" said Blackie enthusiastically, jumping down off the windowsill, bouncing onto the armchair and scrambling down onto the rug to peer under the Christmas tree, still only a vast, presentless landscape of red and green flannel. "'Dat's swell. An' Santa's gonna bring us a whole buncha loot!" He and Snuckles almost quivered in excitement at the thought of the piles of presents the next morning would bring.

"Where's Santa?" Snuckles exclaimed plaintively.

Bully, however, paused, thoughtfully sucking his hoof before he spoke. "Oh jeepers," he said suddenly, "I haven't bought presents for anyone yet!"

Snuckles and Blackie looked up at the worried Bully. "Don't sweat it none, Bully," urged Blackie. "It's still Christmas Eve. Plenty o' time to shop."

Bully nodded and bounced down off the arm of the chair, onto a soft comfy pillow, and then scrambled down the leg of the chair to stand besides his friends. "I just hope I can get good stuff," he said thoughtfully. "I want to buy nice things for everyone."

"You have to buy something for Marshall!" chirped up Snuckles. "And Gus, and Ox, and John..."

"An' us!" Blackie added.

"Yes I do," agreed Bully. "I'm going to buy you guys iPod nanos!"

Both Blackie and Snuckles opened their mouths wide and stared at Bully. "iPod nanos?" said Snuckles.

"And a cashmere sweater for Marshall and some DVDs for John and...

"And cashmere sweaters!" enthused Snuckles. "A cashmere sweater is soooooo soft!"

"How you gonna afford dat, Bully?" asked Blackie. "You bin robbin' a bank or somedin'?"

"I would like a cashmere sweater," said Snuckles quietly.

Bully paused to straighten the ring in his nose before answering, adjusting it so that the hinge didn't show. "No," he said, patting it into place with his hoof. "I have lotsa Christmas money put away." He padded off to the bedroom, his friends close behind him. Climbing up the shelf beside the dresser, he leaped into the round plastic popcorn bucket that was his bed, poked his head underneath the red washcloth he used as a blanket, and disappeared so completely for a moment that all Snuckles and Blackie could see was his little tufted tail twitching back and forth.

When at last Bully emerged again, he held his little red plastic Hello Kitty change purse. He shook it and it jingled merrily.

Snuckles whistled in surprise through his pink snout. "Wow!"

"Chee!" whistled Blackie. "Where'd you get all dat loot, Bully? Insurance fraud?"

"I've been saving my allowance," Bully declared proudly. Each week Bully got an allowance for his around-the-house chores...emptying the many wastebaskets all around the big apartment. Every Sunday afternoon John dug into his pocket and presented Bully with a shiny new dime. Although Bully liked to spend his money on comic books, ice creams and sodas, he had been saving his dimes quite diligently since late summer and now his little purse jingled like the bells on Santa's sleigh. In addition to his allowance, Bully had also saved up many of the quarters he had earned grooming the Chia Pet, babysitting his little sister Marshall, selling Grit door-to-door, and sometimes Aunt Lorrie would quietly slip him a shiny silver dollar when John was not looking. Bully knew exactly to the dime how much Christmas money he had stowed away:

"I have six dollars and seventy-three cents!" he announced (He had stayed up quite late the previous night, counting it diligently over and over again until he got the sums straight in his head).

"G'wan!" scoffed Blackie. "There ain't dat much money in da woild!"

"Yes there is," Bully said proudly, "and I have it to spend on Christmas gifts. I'm going to buy Marshall a pink iPod nano, and John that Elvis DVD boxed set, and Miss Eugenia's cat I'm going to get her one of those little gas-powered go-carts so she can zip around her apartment, and what's left I will have lunch out at a fancy Manhattan restaurant. Maybe I will order two desserts. One banilla and one chok'lit."

"Manhattan!" exclaimed Snuckles in surprise. "You're going to Manhattan to do your Christmas shopping?"

"What's wrong wit' Little Thin's?" asked Blackie. "Or Bee 'n' Enn? Dey're both just around da corner."

"There's nothing wrong with 'em," Bully explained, "for shopping on just any day. But for Christmas I should go someplace special." And before his friends could ask him exactly what that special place was, he unfolded a well-worn newspaper ad he had torn from the paper the week before and had spent hours studying, sounding out the big words and gazing at the bright colorful pictures.

"MACY'S ON 34th STREET," Snuckles read the ad aloud. His pink curly tail straightened in surprise. "Why, you can get everything there!"

"That's why I'm going!" Bully said, a bit exasperated, as if all this were patently obvious to anyone with a bit of fluff for brains.

"How you gonna get dere, Bully?" asked Blackie, concerned.

"That," declared Bully proudly, holding up his bright yellow plastic MetroCard, "is what this is for!"

Tomorrow, Part 2: Avoiding Mister Victor!

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