It's become something of an annual tradition that I've been sharing this little Christmas story my friend and fellow author Robert W. Walker penned for me. It first ran here in 2008. Enjoy!
Today I have the pleasure of presenting an original Christmas tale by Robert W. Walker, author of - gasp! - now going on 87 novels including the fabulous gaslight thriller, CITY OF THE ABSENT, featuring his detective, Ransom. Check his website for his latest thrillers and novellas.
While Robert is known for his spooky and often creepy-gory horror books, he has a soft side, too! Never fear, this story, which will run in two parts, is rated PG.
(Come back tomorrow for Part 2.)
The Thief of Christmas Present
By Robert W. Walker
(Photos: Christmas Santa House by C. Verstraete, more photos see website, Santa's House page.)
Julia rushed into her mother's room, her eleven-year-old arms flapping as she said, "Joannie stole my Christmas presents! I just know it was her!"
"Your big sister wouldn't do that, Julia."
"Then its one of her girlfriends."
"I've talked to Joannie, and she's given the third degree to every friend who has been visiting the house since Thanksgiving."
Julia's eyes filled with tears. "Musta been that boyfriend of hers then!"
"He seems like a nice, respectful boy, and whatever would possess him to steal your miniature Christmas presents from beneath your miniature tree?"
Anna Waldron hugged her daughter to her. "We'll find the stolen goods. They're likely somewhere on a shelf. Thoughtlessly moved by one of your little friends."
"No, no mom! I don't let anyone reach into my dollhouse and take out anything, not the figurines, not the furniture, and certainly not the presents under the tree."
Anna wondered how this could keep happening to her daughter. Julia had put heart and soul into her miniature house this year. In fact, she'd begun creating the tree, the ornaments, lights, stockings hanging over the fireplace, and the presents beneath the tree since last Christmas.
She'd got it in her head that her dollhouse ought to have all the ornaments and decorations of any home, that Mr. and Mrs. Cluewellen and their three children who lived in the miniature house ought to have a wonderful Christmas too.
Julia had worked so hard to make it happen, and now, day-by-day, all her work was coming unraveled. The day before she noticed an ornament missing from the tiny tree. The day before that one of the stockings she'd labored so hard to make was gone from the mantel. Poof. Now two of the tiny presents from beneath the tree-gone. Stolen.
"At this rate," moaned Julia, "by the time Christmas gets here, the Cluewellens won't have anything left."
Anna patted Julia's hand. "And The Christmas Crook of the Present will have won!"
"We can't let that happen, mom!"
"We must act, set a trap."
"Yeah, we'll wire up a trap that will snap on those sticky fingers."
"Then you think it's Stevie?"
"I hope not, but your little brother is at that age. I sure hope he hasn't lied about this."
"Well...it's not a ghost. I asked the Cluewellens if they'd had any problems with anything like a poltergeist, and they said no."
"You believe them?" Mother Waldron laughed, but Julia stared at her, eyes saying, 'not funny'.
"They don't lie, cheat, or steal, mom."
"Neither does your brother or your sister for that matter, young lady."
"Well I'm not lying about it! Someone's stealing the Cluewellens' Christmas right under our noses."
"You set the trap," suggested Anna. "I'm going to set up a concealed camera, so we can get to the bottom of this before..."
Julia looked up at her mother, wondering why she'd stopped talking. "Before all of the presents and decorations are gone?"
"Before you make your sister and your brother angrier with you than they already are."
"Angry with me? I'm the victim here. Me and the Cluewellens."
"Honey, you have accused both of them of stealing and lying about it. Then you accused their friends."
Julia nodded, and for a moment Anna thought her child understood and agreed, but then Julia said, "It could've been one of Stevie's dumb friends."
"Well now, we're going to find out, aren't we?"
"You think it'll work, mom?"
"At the rate things are disappearing, my hunch is that whoever's behind the theft will be back."
They put the trap into play.
They wisely left the miniature house untouched and unmoved, the same enticement as ever.
An entire day and most of the evening went by with young Julia wanting to check the Cluewellens' living room and tree every hour, while her mother insisted they wait and see. When Anna decided the camera's battery would be in need of help, mother and daughter went into her room to determine if anything had been taken. They found the front door closed. Julia gasped when she looked in through the windows. The entire tiny Christmas tree had been taken! All about the front door and steps, glitter appeared like colored snow. Whoever was behind the theft, cleaning up after him-or herself-wasn't a concern.
"It's got to be Stevie or one of his goofy friends," Julia said, tears forming. "Maybe Stevie's too chicken to tell on Tad."
"Let's reserve judgment and see what the camera says."
They made popcorn and popped the film into the USB port of the TV and sat down to watch the unfolding events. Unfortunately, during the first hour, nothing unfolded.
"This is a real snore and a bore," Julia complained, tiring of the popcorn as well.
After a while, Julia began making up a storyline to go with the miniature people inside the house on the screen, and it was so vivid that her mom could almost imagine that the little Cluewellen family was as real as Julia believed them to be. She began to see Mrs. Cluewellen move that feather duster in her hand. But clearing her head and eyes, Mother Waldron thought better of saying she'd begun to see the miniature people roaming around inside their miniature house. Maybe the miniature was haunted at that....
(c)2008, 2021 RW Walker published by http://candidcanine.blogspot.com
* The story continues tomorrow, Christmas Day - see Part 2.)