A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 16

December 16th

Gary was still angry with Ludwig; he knew he wasn’t just a goat, but here he was again: locked up in the pen, eating grass. The fact that it was mid-December and there was still grass visible made Gary even more annoyed. On top of all that, he was a superhero and he had found a clue to the missing presents, but instead of being able to do anything about it, he was stuck here in the pen. He started cursing at the grass and Ludwig out loud, not noticing Anton, who came closer to see him.

“Stupid weather, stinky old snow-free poop.”
“You can speak?” Anton stared at the black goat.
“Yes, but I need to get out of here, we need to find who stole the presents!”
“You know where the presents are?”
Despite his surprise and confusion, the old man opened the door to the pen, put his walking stick firmly to the ground and followed the goat down the street towards the forest.
“Where are you going?” asked Anton.
“Following the scent, of course!”
“You’re not a dog; you can’t follow the scent of the presents.”
“Of course I can, goats have a great sense of smell too.”
“Since when are goats used as sniffer dogs?”
“Well never obviously, because we’re not as daft as dogs,” Gary explained.
“And you would probably eat whatever you find,” Anton replied.

Gary stuck out his tongue out at the old man and walked into the forest along a small path. It didn’t take him long to find the cave. They could hear children’s voices inside.

“I didn’t know there was a cave here and I’ve lived in this village all my life,” Anton whispered, looking around. “We don’t know for sure if they have the presents, so we can’t just storm in there. What if they only sound young, but are actually dangerous criminals? No offence, but we can’t really take on grown men…”
“Hmmmm, I think I have a plan,” Gary said.

So Anton covered Gary in moss, leaves and twigs and then hid behind a bush. Gary carefully approached the cave entrance. He hoped his voice would carry inside loud enough for his idea to work.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas and I am here to avenge the children, HA HA HA!” he shouted into the cave. His voice reverberated and echoed off the stone walls, making it sound much scarier than it really was. Then he retreated back to wait. He thought that even if they saw a goat, they wouldn’t perceive him as a danger and Anton was well hidden.

It didn’t take long for Manfred and Michael to run out of the cave, screaming, “I’M SORRY, I’M SORRY!”

When he saw it was only two young boys, Anton came out of hiding to talk to them.

A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 15

December 15th

“I’m dreaming of a whiiiiiite Christmas…!” Gary was singing loudly in between his sniffing around the barn.

He smelled something strange; maybe someone had put something nice and tasty in a parcel. There was no sign of where the smell was coming from, which made him realise that it must be left over from one of the stolen presents. Maybe if he could still smell it in the barn, he would be able to follow it as well. What he needed was his cape. Moments later, Captain Myotonic emerged from the barn and, still humming ‘White Christmas’, he walked outside into the street.

No more than half an hour later, he had followed the smell as it grow stronger along a trail that led him to stand in front of a truck. Gary wasn’t sure if the truck was hiding all the presents, because he was too small to look inside and unfortunately flying wasn’t one of his superpowers. Hopping up and down, he tried to catch a glimpse inside, until suddenly two arms grabbed him and lifted him up.

“What are you doing here and why are you wearing a cape?” the policewoman asked him.

Gary had managed to catch a look inside the truck when she had lifted him up, but it was empty. Now he found himself shoved into her police car, being driven back to the farm.
Ludwig was beside himself. He was angry with Gary, asking him why he would just run away and shouting that if he wore his cape he would just attract attention and might get caught.

“I was only in the village and you said I could help look for the presents!”
“Yes, around the farm, not in the village. Something could’ve happened to you!”
“I want to help!” Gary insisted.
“You are a goat!” Ludwig shouted, slapping the palm of his hand on the table.

Gary was so startled, he passed out.

A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 14

December 14th

Ludwig was deflated; the door-to-door and various searches hadn’t given them a single clue. It was looking more and more likely that an outsider had stolen all the presents and run away with them. Anton sat with him at the kitchen table, trying to console the young man.

“You know kids don’t need many presents, maybe we can manage to get each one of them a little bit and they’d all be happy. Look at those who don’t have anything, it must be hard to see their friends get great presents.”
“I know, but I wanted to organise the perfect Christmas for you,” Ludwig looked at his friend, fighting back his tears.
Anton put an arm around his shoulder and squeezed him tight, when they heard a knock on the door. It was Madeleine.
“I hope I’m not…” she said, when Anton opened the door to her.
“Come in, come in. Such a nice young lady is always welcome. And I’m sure Ludwig would agree with me on that,” he said, leading her into the kitchen, where Ludwig sat, nodding feverishly.

He jumped up to make coffee for the teacher, at which point Anton made his excuses, explaining how he had so much work to do, pensioning, and all. When he left, Gary sneaked into the house, because he was starting to get cold outside. Sometimes he wondered if the ability to talk also brought him other human traits as well, like being weak, especially in cold weather. He made himself comfortable on the rug in front of the fireplace, where Madeleine watched him curiously.

“Aren’t goats fine being outside in the winter? Or at least in a stable?” she asked.
“Normal goats are, yes. Gary is quite special,” Ludwig explained. Gary’s ear twitched up, then he stretched out, stood up and walked over to the young woman and put his head on her leg.
“What a curious being you are,” she said, patting Gary’s head, “and your goat is, too,” smiling at Ludwig.
“And quite a cheeky one he is as well.”

Gary just gave him a wide grin, cuddling up closer to Madeleine.

A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 13

December 13th

The mayor and Ludwig were sitting at his kitchen table, clutching mugs of steaming coffee.

“So now not only do we not have presents for the kids in the village who didn’t get any, we have no presents at all,” the mayor summed up, sadly.

“I made a list of the children whose parents haven’t put a present in the barn yet, in case some could be late, but there are only two families left.”
“Really?” the mayor looked over and furrowed his brow, pointing at the first of the three names in Ludwig’s list that were marked. ”Well, I know that his father is a single dad and the shop he worked at closed only a few months ago. As for those two boys,” he pointed at Manfred’s and Michael’s names, “their father probably drank all the money away. Poor lads…”

Gary nudged closer; he knew the kids they were talking about. Especially the two boys who were always nice to him and often gave him some bread or their leftovers from school when they walked past his pen towards the forest. He remembered they didn’t live in the forest, but went there often. Now he understood why. Not that he understood what alcohol really meant, he just knew it could make people do stupid things, especially those who were dependant on it. When the mayor had left, Ludwig looked down at his goat and patted his head.

“I don’t know what to do Gary.”
“Can we get more presents?” the goat asked.
“You know I don’t have the money.”
“Can we help look for it then?”
“Well I am going door to door with the pastor later, but I can’t take you with me. Not everyone would allow a goat into their home.”
Gary looked sad.
“But I want to help,” he said, “maybe I’ll just go out on my own and have a look.”

A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 12

December 12th

The village policewoman, Meli, responded immediately to Ludwig’s call. There wasn’t much crime in the village in the Wienerwald, the forest to the west of Austria’s capital. Now, so soon before Christmas, the crime that had been committed was the most despicable of all. Someone had stolen all the childrens’ presents. A meeting in the village hall was quickly scheduled whilst Meli was looking for clues. She took prints off the doorknob and the keys, but she knew that just before Christmas, she would not get results back for several days. She would have to do some good old detective work. Meanwhile, Ludwig was devastated. He walked around the barn with Gary at his side, feeling like he had failed all the Children in the village.

The meeting in the village hall was a complete shambles, but due to the mayor’s convincing and firm stand on the matter, the villagers eventually rallied round. They decided to keep the theft a secret from the children whilst everyone searched the village, empty houses and any spot where the missing presents could possibly be hidden.

“But what do we do if we don’t find them?” one mother asked.
The mayor took a deep breath.
“If it really was a thief from outside the village, we might never get the presents back. Then we’ll have to figure out how to make sure all the kids get presents, even if they might be smaller this year. We will all have to work together.”
“We just… We can’t afford to buy all the present again,” she said.
Manfred and Michael’s mother in the meantime thought, ‘I wish I could afford at least one set of presents’.