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’.

A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 11

December 11th

The plan was hatched and the two boys went on their way. They knew their mother would sleep soundly, though they had no idea what sleeping pills were. Michael and Manfred only had to wait until their father had also passed out from all the drink, as he did without fail every evening, so they could get the keys to his truck and get on their way. Although only twelve years old, Michael’s father had let him drive around the fields with his truck since he was ten, teaching him to drive. The boy was sure that his father just wanted a designated driver as soon as possible. His younger brother sat next to him in the truck and, after a reassuring nod to each other, they drove off towards Ludwig’s farm.

It was much easier to break in to Ludwig’s barn than they had anticipated. The key was under a crockpot next to the door. There were so many people from the village passing by at all hours to drop off presents and decorations that Ludwig decided to leave the key there. The presents weren’t very big, so it only took them an hour in the middle of the night to fill up the truck and get away with all the presents that had been put there so far.

They drove out of the village and took a small path into the forest, where they knew they would find a cave ideal for hiding the presents. Often, the two boys would hide there when their father was drunk and in a mood for shouting at them or their mother. No-one noticed that they had left and nobody noticed when they came back home.