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January 1, 2013

A Very Hraet-y Non-Canon Holiday Special

Beat 1-1: Waking Up is Hard to Do…Except Pancakes

Chet ran a comb through his curled ducktail one last time, making sure his blonde locks were in the proper order.  He could count on them to keep up their sheen without his tending touch -- the perfect complement to his glimmering teeth.  He’d seen some of the staff try to use his smile as a mirror; as they bustled around off-set past cameras and wires, he made sure to grace them with his famous smirk.  It had the same effect as always; a young intern caught a glimpse, and then scurried away with a shake of the head and a low noise.  She was so overwhelmed, she had to escape my rugged charms, he thought as he straightened his tie.  It’s a wonder they let a man as dangerous as me on TV.

“All right, Chet.  You’re on in five,” said the crewman, with the camera’s lights blinking and the machine moving into position.  “And try not to do that smirk of yours.  It makes you look insincere and…kinda like a jackass.”

Looks like duty calls again, Chet thought, ignoring everything after the word “Chet”.  He sat at attention in his desk, and just as he always had, he spoke in his heart-meltingly suave voice.  “Good evening, ladies and gents; this is Chet Levitin, welcoming you to KPGL News at Nine, and wishing all of you --” He pointed at the camera and winked, ignorant of the groans on the sidelines. “Happy holidays, indeed.  And let me be the first to welcome all of you to the new year.  Tonight’s top story: jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell doom.  The mishap at the community rec center earlier today has -- according to new reports -- left a family of three, an elderly woman, and some random southern girl nobody cares about missing and presumed dead.  But first, here’s our weather report.  And before that, here are my teeth.”  He flashed a (presumably) sultry grin.

I can’t believe this is the highest-rated news segment in Porbeagle, the cameraman thought.  What is this guy, some kind of hypnotist?

December 25th

“Ya-HAAAAAAAAAA!  The day of glory has FINALLY arrived!”

Trixie groaned, and tightened her cocoon of sheets.  It’s way too early to be dealin’ with all this noise, pal, she thought as she clenched her teeth.  She opened one eye a hair -- just enough to confirm that the day hadn’t even started yet.  Seriously, aren’t ya a little old to get this excited?

“Christmas time has come!  And with this day -- this splendid day of pure magnanimity -- comes just one of my twenty-five sacred blessings!  Prepare yourselves, my comrades!  We’re having pancakes!”

Pancakes, huh?  Trixie rolled around a bit, trying -- and failing -- to fall asleep again. Ah well.  Guess there’s no point tryin’ to nod off now.  ‘Specially if there’re pancakes on the way.  And ‘specially if --

“Miss Walters!  As the first guest of honor in the house of Hoigleheimer, I have many great boons to offer you -- chief among them, first pickings of the finest pancakes mankind will ever know!  Primarily because I know how to make them look like hearts, and they’re just so adorable!”

Yeah.  That.  And how can one guy be so loud?  It’s like he’s standin’ right next to me.  Her eyelids dragged their way open.  Wait.  Is he right next to me?  Has he been watchin’ me sleep?  With a surge of energy -- and a vision of some purple-haired loon breathing on her for hours on end -- Trixie wriggled her way out of her cloth cocoon and turned to her right.  “Lloyd, you better not have --!”

Nobody there.  Well, except for the wall.

Wrong again.  Guess I need to give that guy a little more credit, she thought as she ran a hand over her face.  He IS lettin’ me stay here for free.  And it ain’t like this here’s a bad place.  She rolled to the left and --

“Merry Christmas,” said Patton.  “Now get up.”

It took Trixie exactly one picosecond to process the hulking form of Patton kneeling an inch away from her face -- and one picosecond more to stop her eyes from rocketing out of her skull.  She leapt out of bed and stood at attention, putting the mattress (and a shield of sheets) between herself and the bearded behemoth.  “M-Mr. Hoigleheimer!  What’re ya --?”

“Call me Patton.”

“Yessir.  Whatever ya say, sir.”

A nasty growl rumbled from Patton’s throat, but he kept his poker face nonetheless.  “So you went to sleep in your normal clothes?” he asked while pointing a finger at her (while she happened to notice his kitty-laden pajamas).  “Good.  Smart move.  I wouldn’t want you looking anything above PG-13 in this house.  Not while me and my boys are around.”

Trixie offered a quivering smile.  “Wouldn’t dream of it, sir,” she said while putting her back to the wall.

“Good.  Because you know what I’d do if you ever started wearing clothes you shouldn’t have.”  He cracked his knuckles.  “I’d take you into the city mall and get you a new wardrobe.”

“Y-ya don’t hafta --”

“Don’t be silly.  You’re a pretty girl, and you deserve to wear nice clothes.  In fact, later this week I’m gonna take you down to the mall and let you go on a shopping spree.  And then we’ll grab some steaks afterwards.  My treat.”  He stroked his beard.  “You’re a big fan of steaks, right?  You put away plenty of ‘em last time.”

Trixie jerked out a nod.

“Good.  But enough about that; Lloyd’s waiting for us in the kitchen.  We’d better not keep him waiting...or else.”  He squeezed through the door frame and started down the hall.  “You coming?”

“Yessir.  Just as soon as I can start walkin’ again.”  She tried to stumble her way out of a kneeling position, but only managed to fall on her face.  “Might be a while.”

*

“Ho ho!  And one more ho for good measure!  Happy holidays to all of you, my beloved kin and comrades!”

Lloyd danced his way across the den with steps that would make a ballerina look like an overweight wildebeest.  While he earned no applause, he deserved at least a few polite claps; he managed his dainty steps while balancing plates of pancakes -- heart-shaped, as promised -- across his arms.  And all of that, while wearing some heavy boots -- just another piece of his Santa suit ensemble. 

“The honor of the first taste goes…to none other than Miss Walters!” he sang as he bowed before Trixie and offered her a plate.  “May a merry meal soon grace your lips, my dear!”

“Lloyd, ya shouldn’t have,” said Trixie as she grabbed a plate (one stacked surprisingly high, to her delight).  “I mean, all this work really ain’t necessary just for --”

“Inconceivable!” Lloyd shouted, sending the pom-pom of his cap bobbling about.  “I’ve no choice but to do a service to my fellow men!  For THAT is why I walk this earth!  And occasionally dance atop it!  Now, taste my love!  And my syrup!  It’s strawberry!”

“Don’t try arguing with him, Tex.  Logic’s never been his strong suit -- especially not on Christmas day.”

Trixie could only laugh tersely and nod as JP spoke.  Lloyd’s little brother sat nearby with arms folded and legs crossed -- though the sight of his short-shrouded legs only reminded her of how direly he needed a growth spurt.  “Just try and ride it out.  The sooner you do, the sooner he goes back to being just annoying instead of intolerable.”

“I see that as usual, my brother has yet to embrace the holiday spirit -- though I assure you, if you cling to your disdain you’re certain to have more coal shoveled upon you.”  Despite a teasing smirk, Lloyd handed his little brother a plate of pancakes.  “And you’d best watch your tongue; I would assume that the term ‘Happy Holidays’ is far more tolerant and less incendiary than the standard ‘Merry Christmas.’”

“Baloney,” Patton snarled.  “If we wanna say ‘Merry Christmas,’ we have a right to.  And if anyone says different, then I’ll be killing them softly.  With my saw.  And then killing them loudly.  With my fists.”

“Zealous as always, I see.”  Lloyd handed a hefty plate to his dad, and he took a seat in the designated “Big Daddy Chair”.  “But lest you forget, we have a new house mate in our company -- one whose customs may differ from we of the Hoigleheimer clan.”

He handed one last plate to Mrs. Overdose -- who, at the moment, looked as if she hadn’t shaken off her nighttime grogginess.  She barely noticed Lloyd putting a plate in her lap, and just kept looking around the room like a dizzy parrot.  “The hell is this?  Wasn’t it August the last time I checked?” she asked, her gnawed-on reed just a twitch away from falling out of her gaping mouth.

“Trust me, Grandma -- if you start asking questions now, you might never stop,” JP warned.

She ran a hand through her hair.  “But I’m pretty friggin’ sure it was still summer…”

Lloyd waved a hand through the air.  “Spring, summer, fall, winter -- all seasons to be enjoyed!  But none more so than this one!  The greatest collection of holidays the world has ever known!  And I aim to celebrate this season of giving with all that I am!  So let us begin the festivities with the basest of all requirements: a word of thanks, as offered so dutifully and beautifully by one of our own!”

“Ah.  So yer gonna say a prayer or somethin’, pal?” Trixie asked.

“Not at all.  You are, my dear.”

Trixie almost dropped her pancakes on the floor.  “What?  Why me?!  Y-yer the host, and the guy who’s so crazy about Christmas -- can’t ya do it a lot better?”

“I’m afraid not.  I feel as if I’m unable to string together the right words to celebrate.”

“Yer doin’ a real good job now!”

JP shrugged.  “I’d feel better if you said something instead of him.  At least then we’d have a chance to understand what’s being said…or if not that, then at least you’ll say it in a much shorter way.  So do it already.”  He shot an eye at Trixie, unable to hide a sudden gleam.  “The sooner you say something, the sooner I get my presents.”

“Uh…well, all right.  I guess I’ll give it a shot, then.  Just don’t expect anythin’ good to come outta me.”

“Don’t think that was ever on the table, Tex.”

“You’re still a few years too young,” said Patton.

Mrs. Overdose peeked out the window.  “When the hell did it snow?”

Nice to know I’m gettin’ so much support.  She rubbed the back of her neck and sighed; nevertheless, she faced her hosts (and one shotgun-toting senior) and raised a fork.  “Uh…ladies…er, lady and gentlemen.  We’re gathered here today to celebrate.  I know that we’re kinda thrown into some crazy situation together, and things’re only gonna get crazier from here, but -- oh, wait, you three guys’re all family.  Never mind.  Lemme start over.”

“Wow.  Faith in humanity: restored,” JP muttered. 

“I mean, uh…yeah, you three were all pretty much a family already, and Mrs. Overdose here is…”  She looked over at Mrs. Overdose, who -- having regained her composure and forgone logic -- stared back at her and shook her head.  “Well, she’s Mrs. Overdose.  But as for me, I’ve been with ya since almost the beginning.  And I gotta say, it feels good to be a…”  She reddened a bit, but smiled all the same.  “A part of the family.  Like, I’m real thankful ya let me into yer house, let me sleep here, and let me try and earn my keep.  Sorta.  So I guess what I’m tryin’ to say here is…thanks.  Thanks to all of ya.  Thanks to Lloyd for givin’ me a hand.  Thanks to JP for tryin’ to keep me in line.  Thanks to Mrs. Overdose for…for not shootin’ me while I’m asleep.  And thanks to Mr. Hoiglehei- to Pa- to you, sir, for bein’…bein’…you.”

She raised her fork a bit higher and nodded.  “So, uh, I know it’s a little clumsy -- and hell, I’m a little clumsy -- but I want y’all to know that yer all important to me.  And I hope that sooner or later, y’all feel the same way ‘bout me.”

Almost before she could finish speaking, Lloyd burst into applause.  “Bravo.  Bravo, bravo, bravo!”  He ran a finger under his glasses.  “Such tender, earnest words spoken from the heart!  Precisely why I knew I could count on you, Miss Walters!  Why, if not for the plate of pancakes nestled into your supple maiden’s lap, I would leap towards you and seize you in an unyielding hug!”

“Please don’t.  Not on Christmas.”

“Very well!  Consider your Yuletide wish granted!”

“I’ll admit your speech was much better than I thought it’d be,” said JP.  “Hilarious stuff.  I almost busted my gut when you said you were earning your keep.”

“Hey, I’m workin’ on it.  And besides, I ain’t the only one -- Mrs. Overdose is freeloadin’ even more than I am!”

“Oh, so you admit you’re freeloading.”

“What?  N-no, that’s not it at all!”

Patton turned to face Mrs. Overdose.  “You’re freeloading?”

“Please.  I got money on me.  I could pay all of you off if I wanted to.”  She glanced aside.  “I could, but I won’t.  So yeah, I guess I am.”

“All right then.”

“And why the hell does she get a free pass?” Trixie snapped, shooting a finger at Mrs. Overdose.  “First time we met her, she held us at gunpoint!  And she kidnapped ya, pal!”

“Very true.  But I’m not about to start messing with a gun-toting kidnapper anytime soon.  I figure that a nice bout of osteoporosis will do the job just fine.”

“I ain’t over the hill just yet.  See, there’s this little thing called ‘milk’ that I been drinkin’ since before you were even a gleam in your dad’s eye.  Tasty stuff; give it a try sometime so you can grow an inch or twelve.”

“Hey, I’ll get taller.  Just look at my dad and Lloyd -- genetics are on my side.”

Patton tilted his head a bit.  “Hmmmm… I’m pretty sure you take after your mother more than me.  And gosh, she was such a little thing.  Not that much taller than you, JP -- well, give or take about eight inches.”

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!”

“No, that sounds about right,” said Lloyd as he stroked his chin.  “A short mother plus an enormous father averages out to something along the lines of six feet -- i.e. my height.  It’s difficult to propose genetics in the face of evidence like that.”

“I’m not about to take science lessons from someone who thinks sand is just dried-up sugar!”

“Eh?  You mean it isn’t?”

All eyes turned to Lloyd.  Nobody moved or spoke.  They just sat there, unfazed by their cooling breakfasts.  But of course, Lloyd broke the silence shortly after; he let loose a hearty laugh, hugging his torso with one arm.  “My, my!  Miss Walters, this is truly auspicious fortune!  It seems the five of us are getting closer by the second -- to think that we could engage in such dialogues so readily!  Truly, proof of our growing bond!  Truly, a holiday miracle!”

“Truly missing the point,” JP grumbled.  He shook his head.  “Whatever -- you believe what you want to believe.  But talking time is over.  Present time is now.”

“Ah, yes.  I suppose the time has come, hasn’t it?  Then wait right here, my clansmen!  Enjoy your feasts!  For when I return, I shall return with marvelous gifts for each and every one of you!  And away I go!”  With his proclamation made, Lloyd pirouetted his way into the kitchen.

Mrs. Overdose stared at the empty space, and then turned to Patton.  “…So, is your kid adopted, or from a circus or somethin’?  Or just really, really British?”  She gnawed on her reed.  “Hoigleheimer…Hoigleheimer, what is that, German?  Dutch?”

“It’s nonsense,” said JP.

“Maybe not.  My family’s got deep roots in the Midwest,” said Patton with a sage nod. 

“Huh.  So the kid’s right -- it IS nonsense.”

“Finally, someone agrees with me.”

Trixie raised a hand.  “Uh, since I’m new here, d’ya think one of ya might tell me what happens next?  I dunno if I can handle too much excitement this early in the day.  Ya know, not that yer son’s bein’ a bother, sir.”

“It’s simple.  Lloyd’s gonna give us exactly what he promised: presents,” Patton answered.  He sucked down a pair of pancakes in one gulp.  “It’s that time of year -- and he’s gonna make good on everything it stands for.  Especially now that he’s got some new house guests.”

“So he does this every year?  The suit, the breakfast, the presents, and all that?”

“There are variations, but yeah, this has pretty much been Hoigleheimer tradition for years now,” said JP.  “Jeez…I guess he’s been at it for five years now.  Kinda depressing, but at least we get something out of it.  And I’m guessing a bunch of other people do, too.”  He threw up his hands.  “I guess as long as he’s spending his own money instead of mine, I can’t complain.  And I guess there’s nothing wrong with a little holiday cheer.”

Patton nodded in agreement.  “At this time of year, he needs it.”

At the sound of that, Mrs. Overdose raised an eyebrow.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It’s exactly how it sounds.  The more people Lloyd makes happy, the happier he is.  It’s as simple as that.”

As simple as that, huh? Trixie thought.  Well, it’s prob’ly easier than tryin’ to make that harem o’ his.  And a lot easier on his cheeks, too.  And a few other things I prob’ly shouldn’t name. 

But, ya can’t help but wonder…

TO BE HOLLY-JOLLY-TINUED…


                                                                        

2 comments:

  1. I still question if Lloyd is blood related to Patton and JP, but I love the dynamics in this household. I was particularly amused by the PG-13 shopping exchange. God only knows what thoughts lurk in the head of Patton Hoigleheimer. It's a refreshing reminder of the quirks Lloyd inherited from him.

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  2. Oh, don't worry -- Lloyd is, in fact, blood related to the others. It's just that his brain works a little differently compared to his family (or most other humans, for that matter). Also, this is jumping ahead a bit, but as you can probably guess, Lloyd's hair isn't naturally purple. There'll eventually be a story arc where we see the Hoigleheimers' past in full, and everything will be explained...up to and including Lloyd's real hair color. Though it WAS green at one point.

    Also, Patton's mind is full of steak. Steak and barely-controlled blood lust. And whatever you do, DON'T bring up artichokes in his presence.

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