By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
Previously: Cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals in Oleput turned on each other when the Founders’ Pond Wishbone was missing. With help from a strange creature, Maurice, they have seen the error of their ways.
By M. Scott Morris
Christmas morning came, along with the rip of paper, the shrieks of childish joy, the post-holiday exhaustion.
The Founders’ Pond Wishbone had been returned, but something was missing for Gary Gorilla. Sure, he smiled when he opened his new satin pajamas, though they looked far too nice for a hard-working gorilla like himself.
He also got a stylish houndstooth blazer, which made him think his wife was trying to pretty him up.
OK, if that’s what Evelyn wanted, he wasn’t above making changes, even uncomfortable ones, in the name of marital bliss.
That wasn’t what bothered him.
After the frenzy of opening presents, the family had its traditional Christmas morning feast. Evelyn’s homemade banana fritters were treats the angels themselves must envy from their heavenly perches, and he told her so.
“But …,” she said.
“What ‘but?’ I married the best gorilla the world has to offer, and we have the finest two monkey children anyone could hope for. There is no ‘but,'” he said.
“That’s very nice to hear,” she said, “and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, but you’ve been distracted all morning. What’s wrong?”
Gary slumped his shoulders: “If I knew I’d tell you.”
“I’m here for you,” she replied. “Why don’t you take a walk? Maybe some crisp, Christmas Day air will clear out that fuzzier-than-usual head of yours.”
“Good idea. Thanks, and save a banana fritter for me, huh?”
“I can manage that,” she said, and kissed him on the cheek. “Merry Christmas, sweetheart.”
Gary wore his houndstooth jacket. When combined with his thick, black fur, it provided a fine shield against the chilly, overcast morning. He liked the cold air on his nose, and the clouds fit his mood.
He knew where he was going from the start, and he wasn’t the only Oleputian who had the same destination in mind.
Near the banks of Founders’ Pond, Christopher Crow was scratching in the dirt. He had a paper sack sitting beside him. Gary thought he saw the bag move, then it moved again.
“Happy Christmas, Mr. Gorilla,” the crow said. “You’re looking spiffy.”
“I’m more of a blue jeans jacket type,” he said, inspecting his coat again. “I’m getting used to it.”
“You know what they say, ‘The clothes make the animal,'” Chris said. “Who says that? Everybody. That’s a silly thing to say. No, not silly at all.”
“Umm … what are you doing?” Gary asked.
“Making amends, Mr. Gorilla,” Chris said, picking up a fat grub worm in his claw and dropping it into the bag. “It’s not enough to recognize our wrongdoing, we must do something about it. I’m afraid I caused Gilligan Armadillo a nasty bout of stress. He had it coming! No, he didn’t. I wanted to do something nice for him. He deserves it. Yes, he does.”
“OK … I’m going to continue my walk now,” Gary said, backing away slowly. Gary was used to being the 400-pound gorilla in the room, but he had the strange feeling he was outnumbered. “Good day, Mr. Crow.”
“Happy Holidays, Mr. Gorilla,” he said. “Why didn’t you say, Merry Christmas? I already said ‘Happy Christmas,’ wasn’t that enough? You know, Mr. Gorilla, maybe I’ve caused myself a bit of stress, too.”
“I know what you mean, Mr. Crow.”
Once again, Gary Gorilla knew where he needed to be, and it wasn’t far from here. He kept thinking about the search for the Founders’ Pond Wishbone, when animals had tried to work together, but bashed each other, instead.
He followed a path to a small house that bordered a stream. Before he knocked on the door, he remembered the sight of Ferdinand Frog flying across a field, all because Gary couldn’t hold his temper.
A voice inside urged him to turn around and go home. Nothing good will come from this, the voice said.
“I’m doing it anyway,” he said, then looked around. “That dang crow’s got me doing it.”
He knocked, and Ferdinand opened the door.
“Did you come to finish the job?” the frog said.
Gary shook his head, sadly. “I came to apologize, to make amends, if I could. I shouldn’t have hit you like I did.”
The frog didn’t answer right away, but repeatedly tapped his left hind leg: Thump-thump-thump-thump.
“I’m sorry to have bothered you,” Gary said, turning to leave.
“No, no, no,” Ferdinand said, and the thumping stopped. “It wasn’t all your fault. My Mama said I was born with a mouth on me that didn’t know when to stay shut. Besides, no harm done. I’m practically made of rubber.
“My cousin sent us some choice mosquitoes from Brazil. A tasty treat this time of year. Please, join us.”
“I’ve got to get back to the family, or my monkey children will eat the last banana fritter. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Mr. Frog.”
“The same to you, Mr. Gorilla.”
For the third time today, Gary Gorilla knew exactly where he needed to be. As he walked home, he salivated, thinking about the banana fritter Evelyn had saved for him. He was sure it would taste far better than any he’d eaten before. Just then, the sun poked through the clouds. The angels must be so jealous.