Sorry, but this is a story for a listserve I have had the honor of maintaining since Feb 23, 2002 and if you are not a member, the following story will make no sense whatsoever as it is composed of nothing but inside jokes. However, to all my friends in the Pub, this one's for you and I pray that the New Year will bring blessings, that the Lord will bless all you put your hands to, and you are blessed with the continual knowledge of the presence of friends and family.
by Alan "Heavy Horse" Loewen
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Heavy Horse quivered with excitement as he prepared for the Unicorn & Gryphon Pub’s big New Year’s Eve blast. Though the garlands hung crooked and the poppers were so soaked with horse saliva they were worthless, he always looked forward to enjoying the advent of the New Year with his friends.
Lacking hands—let alone opposable thumbs—Heavy used his lips to try and hang decorations in place, his four hooves clip-clopping over the wooden floor. Zervon and Stauros, his two aides in the pub, would fix it all up later, but they let the poor barkeep retain the conceit he did all the decorations himself.
“Heavy!” came a sonorous voice from behind him. Alarmed, the horse spun around, his massive backside knocking over the Christmas tree that still stood from the celebrations the week before.
“Grandad!” Heavy cried with joy. “I haven’t seen you in years!”
“It’s ‘cause I died twenty years ago, you dolt! I’m a ghost!” The apparition shook his equine head. “Good-hearted kid,” he muttered to himself, “but about as bright as a box of hammers.”
Heavy’s eyes grew big. “I’ll bet that’s why I can kinda see through you.”
“Look,” Heavy’s grandfather said, “I don’t have a lot of time. Tonight is New Year’s Eve …”
“I LIKE New Year’s,” Heavy interrupted.
“Yeah, yeah. We know. Look. That’s why I’m here. Ya need to calm down, son. You get a tad rambunctious and sorta mess up things.”
“I like New Year’s,” Heavy said in a dreamy voice. “I only like Christmas better … and Halloween … and I like New Year’s Eve too!”
Heavy’s ghostly visitor sighed. “You will be visited by three spirits this evening who will attempt to get you to calm down. Now, you got to listen to them.”
“Three more guests!” Heavy squealed. “I gotta make more ginger beer!”
“Oh for the love of …” and the ghost disappeared in an angry puff of ectoplasm.
Heavy ran into the kitchen looking for the ginger beer making vat when suddenly a blinding light appeared in front of him. Blinking his eyes from the dazzling light, Heavy saw a beautiful anthropomorphic goat dressed in a shining, glittering robe.
She waved her hands theatrically. “I am the Ghost of New Year’s Eve Past,” she intoned. “I’m here to show you how your excitement over the holiday has gotten out of control and … and what’s that smell?”
“Ginger beer!” Heavy responded. “I make it for New Year’s Eve. Well, actually I make it every day, but …”
“Enough chit chat!’ the caprine apparition cried. “Look into the past, Heavy Horse. Look deep into the past and see what your out-of-control excitement has done to New Year’s.
“I LIKE New Year’s,” Heavy cried.
“I gathered.” Waving her hands, the pub’s kitchen dissolved into a swirling kaleidoscope of dazzling colors and then gelled back into itself.
“This,” the spirit said, “ is the pub just one year ago and … and why are you on the floor?”
“Motion sick!” the horse cried out. “And being a horse, I can’t puke!”
The spirit rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Just watch, okay?”
Another Heavy Horse, an image from the past, burst into the kitchen, his back covered with pub mice hanging on for dear life. “Okay, guys,” Heavy cried. “I want you to bake me into a cake! It’s Eagle’s Flight’s birthday and I want to surprise him when I jump out of it!”
“I can’t watch this,” the spirit said and waved her hands. Once again the scene swirled and congealed as Heavy made disgusting retching noises.
“Do you remember what happened?” the spirit asked as she kicked the comatose horse on the floor. “You're supposed to bake the cake first, hollow it out, get into the cake, and then jump out of it," the spirit chided. “You actually had them bake you into the cake!”
“I LIKE skin grafts,” Heavy groaned. “I got better.”
“The carnivores almost ate you!”
“I LIKE New Year’s,” Heavy whimpered.
The spirit shook her head in despair. “You will receive another visit from another spirit. Hopefully, he’ll have better luck” and with that she disappeared.
Groggily, Heavy made it to his hooves and stood still waiting for the room to stop spinning. When he could finally see, he jumped, startled at the robe-wearing wombat that stood on the kitchen counter.
“Who are you?” Heavy asked.
The wombat took the cigar out of his mouth. “Ghost of New Year’s Eve Present,” he said. “Got anything for a spirit to drink around here?”
Though still a tad unsteady, Heavy grabbed the edge of a cup with his mouth and put it on the floor under a large spigot. With his hoof, he poured a healthy dose of high-test ginger beer that foamed and sparkled. Picking it up again with his lips, he set it in front of his visitor.
With a disgusted air, the spirit wiped the excess horse saliva off the glass’s rim with the edge of his robe. “At least it’s beer,” he said. "Anyway, this New Year’s you’re gonna have an accident with a new machine Holly Ann has invented. It ain’t gonna be pretty.”
With that, he took a massive swig of the oblation before him.
His eyes grew wide. “Arrgghh!” he screamed. “That ain’t beer!”
Heavy Horse opened his mouth to assure him it was the best ginger beer the pub could offer, but the wombat ran in circles too fast for him to hear.
“I’m dying! I’m dying!” the spirit screamed and disappeared in a puff of cigar smoke.
“But you’re already dead,” Heavy said and immediately began coughing at the thick smoke, He turned to enter the pub’s common room where he could breathe better and jumped when he saw the apparition before him: a tall, gaunt fox in a cowled robe pointing a bony claw.
“Are you the Spirit of New Year’s Eve Future?” Heavy asked, trembling.
The hood nodded.
“And you’re going to show me what happens at the Pub’s New Year’s Eve party a year from now?”
Again, the hood nodded.
“I LIKE New Year’s,” Heavy cried out. “Wait, you aren’t go all swirly on me are you?”
Two seconds later, the horse lay on the floor retching heavily.
When he got his stomach under control, he stood to see two pub patrons standing in front of a statue, roughly shaped in the form of a four-legged equine.
Kay Shapero shook her head. “He baked himself into a cake again?”
“He didn’t have time,” Lady Xan said. “He was supposed to use Cream of Tarter in the batter, but he got a tad confused and used Plaster of Paris. The pub mice smeared it all over him and it set before they could get him in the oven.”
The two anthros stared thoughtfully at the entombed equine before them. “What are we going to do with him?” Lady Xan asked.
Kay stared thoughtfully at the statue for a moment. “We don’t have anything massive enough to break him out that shell,” she said. She mused a few moments more. “I say we decorate him.”
“Oh, I like that,” Lady Xan said with a smile.
Twenty minutes later, the pub doors opened and the patrons, eager for a New Year’s Eve party, stared at the gaily painted statue before them.
“What is that supposed to be?” Underwater Tiger asked.
The crowd paused for a moment until Ashen Fox laughed. “I know what it is! It’s a piñata!”
Winter Beast clapped his hands in delight. “I have a pile of baseball bats in my car. String it up and we’ll all give it a whack!”
“I hope it has something crunchy inside,” Underwater Tiger said with delight.
The ghostly apparition threw his hands up in mute horror and in moments the duo was back in the present time in the pub’s kitchen.
The horse lay gasping on the ground.
“I LIKE New Year’s,” Heavy gagged. “I LIKE New Year’s and I like it with all my friends.”
The spirit shook his head and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Two hours later, Stauros and Zervon had remedied Heavy’s decorating and the doors opened to a swelling crowd. VelociRaptured, Acton. Akela Vincent, Ann Vole, Cabbotwocky, Caddan, and a host of regulars found their seats.
Holly Ann sat in a booth talking excitedly with Jairus Greywolf and Shade Arrakis. “I know it’s too late for this year, but it’s a wonderful invention,” Holly Ann said excitedly. “From here on out, nothing but beautifully wrapped Christmas and birthday gifts, or anything you want to wrap for that matter.”
Shade nodded in appreciation. “I know the people will love to see it. You’re going to bring it out before midnight? Where do you have it hidden?”
“In the main storage closet,” Holly said, beaming with anticipation. “And it will …”
An equine scream interrupted her sentence and the friendly chatter in the pub stopped in shock. Suddenly, a gift-wrapped, gaily-bowed equine form burst out of the storage closet and ran stumbling into the pub’s kitchen.
And high above the rafters, safe in the comforting dark, three New Year’s Eve spirits laughed and clinked their glasses together to welcome in 2013.