Bruadarach

Scottish Gaelic: Dreamer, Visionary

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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’.

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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.

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A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 10

December 10th

Gary sat outside the farm door, staring at the sky. He was so bored, waiting for the snow to come. There wasn’t really anything he could do to help Ludwig with the party preparations directly so he went inside and tried to convince the young farmer that he could act as his secretary and at least make phone calls and arrange things for him. With the help of a voice-controlled phone he could comfortably call different people for him and help like that. No fingers necessary.

Ludwig was sceptical as to whether he should teach his crazy talking goat how to use his mobile phone. He could imagine Gary having endless conversations with the smug voice in Ludwig’s phone. His data package would probably be rapidly consumed from watching too many videos of fainting goats, goats singing TV show themes, goats in trees, goats in totes and goats in floating tires sporting the title ‘whatever floats your goat’.

Eventually, Ludwig had to admit that he was so overwhelmed with the organisation that he agreed. He was surprised how quickly his goat figured out how to make his phone do things by talking to it. Only a few hours later, Gary — pretending to be Ludwig’s visiting cousin — phoned round the neighbours and friends in the village to make sure everyone was helping out and to answer any questions that they might have. Since he was always at Ludwig’s side, he already knew exactly what was going on and who did what. Ludwig started to wonder if his goat’s secret super power was project managing and party planning.

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A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 9

December 9th

“I hate Christmas,” Manfred turned to his brother.
“Me too,” the other kid nodded.
“It’s just going to be worse this year, isn’t it?”
“Probably, yes,” Michael looked at his hands.

He had overheard his parents talking about the huge Christmas party in the village, about all the presents that were piled up in farmer Ludwig’s shed. Unfortunately, he had also overheard them arguing about all the drinks and cigarettes his father had spent his Christmas money on and the imploring question of his mother how on earth they would buy Christmas presents for their two boys.

“It’s bad enough that I always have to hear what everyone else got for Christmas when school is back on, I really don’t want to have to watch them getting nice presents, whilst we get socks and jumpers,” Manfred said, trying hard not to cry.
“I know, me neither,” his brother hugged him tight.
“It’s not fair, no one should get presents. Then they would know what it’s like and stop making fun of us…”
Michael looked angry and disappointed at the world.
“Maybe there is something we can do about that.”

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A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 8

December 8th

“But they’ll stare at me! And they have sticks and I’ll be prodded and poked like a… a…”

“Biology experiment?” asked Ludwig.

Gary nodded vigorously.

“Exactly! They might discover my secret superhero identity and that will be the end of Captain Myotonic.”

“Gary, they’re primary children, not private investigators. I promised Madeleine that I would bring take you to her biology lesson so that the kids could learn how to deal with animals that aren’t pets. They’re making all the decorations for the Christmas party, so it seems like the least we can do.”

Gary paced around in a circle, tutting every few paces and sighing occasionally for added effect.

“WE can do? You’re not the one under the microscope here. I don’t suppose you dared to tell your pretty teacher that I’m far more than any pet that any of those kids has at home, did you?” he asked.

“Look, it’s not hard. All you have to do is stand there for a few minutes, run away from the kids if they come too close, chew on some grass and — most important of all — not speak a single word. The teacher will talk about farm animals in general and goats in particular for a few minutes and that’s it. No experiments. No prodding…”

“And there will be Kaiserschmarrn?”

“Two portions.”

“Mister, you’ve got a deal.”

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A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 7

December 7th

The plans spread like wildfire in the village. Between conversations over fences, at the tiny supermarket’s cash register, at knitting clubs and at the bus stop, the adults in the village managed to get the news around without revealing their plans to the children. One after one, they arrived at Ludwig’s farm, bringing presents, carefully labelled, to be stored in the barn until Christmas. Many of the grown-ups were glad that someone else would be taking care of most of the work involved in Christmas. Those who had unwanted plans, now had an excuse to get out, while others had the chance to spend Christmas with their loved ones and the whole village at the same time. And the most unfortunate, those who had nobody to spend Christmas with, wouldn’t be left alone either.

Everyone who came to drop off the presents for the party agreed to contribute something. Some would bring cookies, others drinks, benches and tables, and so on. Ludwig had moved his computer onto the small table in the hallway and started a massive list on it, so he could take notes immediately, as people arrived. He was so exhausted by each evening that he was glad the farm itself needed a bit less work in winter.

The only thing that was missing for the perfect Christmas fete was snow, as Gary pointed out at numerous times during the day. He had tried to come up with a range of plans for how he and his super powers could bring snow to the village. The only problem was, so far his only superpower was to faint slightly less when he was excited. And a cape on a goat might attract many things, but snow was not one of them.

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A Very Gary Christmas – Dec 6

December 6th

As he did every year, Ludwig dressed up as Saint Nicolaus and visited the school children to bring them sweets, fruit and idle threats. For the idle threats his neighbour Markus had dressed up as Nicolaus’ sidekick, Krampus, with scary horns, thick black fur and birch rods to whip the naughty children. They were more excited than scared, but it was all good fun.

When the show was over, Ludwig asked the teacher if she could help them out for the Christmas party, whilst Krampus was shamelessly trying to flirt with her. Madeleine promised Ludwig that she would make all the decorations with the kids, under one special condition.

After Ludwig had left, Madeleine found it very hard to concentrate on her work. She was happy about her cunning plan to get Ludwig to come back into the school and of course she would see him at the Christmas fete, too. It had always seemed unfortunate to her that he was something of a recluse and, even though seen around town, always kept a friendly distance. The young teacher could only hope he didn’t have anyone in his life, although if he did, the village gossips would surely already have spread the word around. All that was left for her to do was make certain that there would be plenty mistletoe at the barn.

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