Kenny's Christmas - by Lil Pink Parka Girl
This is not part of my "Down South" series. This is just a sappy little fic I wrote for the holiday season, about Kenny's pain of having a poor family in the holiday season, one so poor that there isn't a ceiling, and therefore no roof, for Santa to land his reindeer on! So Suzie Parkhurst, my most famous fankid, decides to make sure Kenny does have a merry Christmas! Features a *special* guest appearance by Lily Marsh, KG's gal!
The snow came down at quite a rapid pace, setting the stage for the rapidly approaching holidays. Wind whistled through the little town of South Park, blowing the wreaths on the doors helter-skelter and almost blowing the lights down, which would have saved people the trouble of taking them down next July, at least. The houses stayed warm and snug, though, even with all this going on outside. All of them, at least, except one.
This house was situated out behind the railroad tracks, in a district of town many didn't even think of. The lawn was cluttered with refuse of an earlier human civilisation - one where meatloaf, shepherds' pie, tuna noodle casserole, and fried Spam prevailed. A big orange cat made his home here, competing with a large grey dog for the steady supply of rats that always seemed to be present. A junky truck was parked in the driveway, amongst a dusting of snow and elcheapo beer cans. The biting wind went right thorough the many chinks in the small clapboard house's siding, making the house just as cold as the outside.
The entire family huddled on a torn-up green couch inside, watching television, a warn blanket over their shivering bodies. The older boy pulled it over towards him, and his mother promptly smacked him.
"Kevin, share that with your brother."
Grumbling, Kevin stopped pulling on the corner, and his younger brother Kenny pulled it back over himself. A rat darted out of a hole in the wall, near the black-and-white TV, and zipped right over the McCormick family 's feet. The flimsy tarp that served as a roof billowed like a sail on a ship. It was quite a miserable existence.
Later that night, Kenny trudged into his room, glancing about at it. The pictures of swimsuit babes were starting to peel off the wall, and so were the ones of monster trucks. He clapped twice, and a flickering light came on, illuminating the cracks and dust and making his room seem more like a prison for captives of war. Sighing, Kenny hopped in his bed and rested his head on the pile of clothes that served as a pillow. He took out a pencil and a sheet of paper from under his pillow - he had pilfered them from the supply closet at school. Using his leg as a prop, he began to write.
Dear Santa,he scribbled. Being me ain't easy. We don't have any money; we don't have any anything except rats running everywhere through our house! I want a Christmas tree - I want the fun of decorating it with pictures I cut out of my dad's Playboys of various bunnies glued unto to yoghurt-cup lids. I want a nice pot roast for our family's dinner - instead of the roasted stray dog and can of navy beans we usually have. I want candy canes and pudding and mashed potatoes and tinsel and cinnamon-scented pinecones. I want a colour TV and a Nintendo 64 and velvet couch and real bed that doesn't smell of piss and a lifetime subscription to Beauteous Belles magazine. And Playboy, too. There's so much I want...but you will never be able to get to my house. When the reindeer land, they'll destroy this entire building. And my family's so poor, they won't be able to get me anything either...If you can do anything to make my Christmas a little merrier, feel free to do it.
Sincerely, Kenny, age 8.
Kenny stared down at his sloppy, smudged letter. He wasn't sure how to send it to Santa, considering his family was too poor to afford stamps. He finally decided on folding it up like a paper aeroplane and sending it out the window. If Santa didn't get it, maybe someone else would find it, someone else who would give a shit about poor little Kenny.
He climbed out of bed and slid up the window-sash. There were seven days till Christmas, plenty of time for his little plane to reach the North Pole, he reasoned. As soon as there was a strong wind, Kenny tossed the plane out the window. It did a few fancy loop-de-loops and sailed out of sight.
Kenny clapped twice, the lights switched off, and he went to sleep.
The plane didn't make it to the North Pole, but it went to the next best place. The wind blew it over onto a snow-crusted windowsill, and it got stuck on the jam, an unusual white object among the mess of glittering snow. When the sun finally came up from under the snow-topped mountains that were always present on the horizon of South Park, the plane was still there, one of the first things Suzie Parkhurst saw when she woke up.
"What the hell is that?" she muttered, staring out at it. "Ain't never seen the likes of it on my window-sill before." She hopped up, tossing the covers back, and opened up the window. Immediately a gust of wind sent a bunch of snow crystals - and the plane - right into Suzie's face. Wiping her closed eyelids with the sleeve of her flannel shirt, to remove both snow and sleep, Suzie took the plane and unfolded it.
"Why, it's writing," she said in surprise. "It's a letter to Santa." She read a bit.
"Poor mite who wrote this...why, he's poorer than we ever were, like back in Sistersville." She held back unshed tears for the child as she continued to read. It wasn't until she reached the last line, "Sincerely, Kenny, Age 8" that Suzie realised that she knew who wrote this.
"It's Kenny from school," she said. "But I never knew he lived like this! That's terrible!"
She shook her head slightly, then rested it upon the palms of her hands. "What can I do? What it there to do?"
The sun's rays slightly warmed the snow outside as Suzie sat upon her bed, thinking. She remembered something faintly from her West Virginia days, of a cheerful group of rich community members, calling themselves "Operation Santa Claus" that had personally delivered presents from Santa right to her door-step, and to other families who would otherwise not receive anything. The strange thing was that the Parkhurst house had a fine chimney, certainly big enough for Santa.
As far as she was aware, there was no such "Operation Santa Claus" in South Park. Who would make sure Kenny has a very merry Christmas...well...Suzie thought...well, I will!
Suzie was now up and out of bed, practically bolting to her mother's, Becky Parkhurst's, room. Where were all those poker winnings kept? Ah, here they are. I could get Kenny a tree...a wreath...some candy canes and chocolate truffles and maybe a pot roast...a few toys...a magazine subscription...this will most certainly be a Christmas for Kenny to remember!
Pocketing the money, Suzie darted out of Becky's bedroom and into the kitchen. Her toddler brother, Davie, was tossing peas helter-skelter, giggling when they hit Suzie, Becky, or their cat Abigail.
"Knock that off," Becky said, taking the peas away and handing Davie some bread pudding.
He promptly smeared it all over his face.
Suzie giggled, but Becky didn't find it all that funny. "David Parkhurst, stop playing with your food this instant! Vittles for eatin', not playin', and certainly not wastin'. We're tightly pressed enough for money as it is."
Suzie, looking at them over her bowl of cornmeal grits and molasses, felt a little guilty then for flinching the money. But what is done is done, she knew. Besides, poor Kenny had never had a nice Christmas in his life. The Parkhurst family had.
When breakfast was over, Suzie asked if she could go over to Kyle's house to play in the snow. "Only if you wear your coat," she said, tossing the green coat to her. Suzie slipped it on over her blue-checked flannel shirt, did up the hood, until she resembled Kenny, or some other hooded child in the town.
Suzie darted out into the snow, her breath billowing like the smoke from the old steam-engines. She ran down the street, heading in the direction of Kyle's house, but taking a sudden "wrong" turn over too the Snowdrift's Christmas tree farm. The Snowdrifts' son, Kevin, got lost in the snow every winter, only to appear every July. Hence the family surname, which was non-existent until this point.
The trees smelled like pine, which was to be expected. People bustled about, tagging trees, cutting them down, and strapping them to their cars. Suzie wandered along the rows, her hand knocking snow from the evergreen branches. The "one" had to be around here somewhere, she thought. It had to be! But the "one" seemed to be well-hidden.
Finally, Suzie spotted it. The One was a beauty, a Douglas Fir, full and green and beautiful. Not a needle was disturbed, not a single branch snapped off by an unobserved six-year-old. She could just imagine it with bunnies on yoghurt-lids hung from its noble branches in the McCormick house. And not a single yellow tag declaring "SOLD" was attached to it.
A few moments later, there was, placed there by Mr. Snowdrift. Under the big "SOLD" was the words "To Suzie Parkhurst."
The little West Virginia girl grinned and ran to another store – Jones' Butcher. "Can I buy the finest, bestest, pot roast you have? Deliver it to the Parkhurst residence - we live next door to you - Christmas Eve. Cooked, please."
The proprietor, Patty Jones, stared down at her. "You're a little young to go buying a pot roast yourself."
"Oh, screw that. My mom sent me over to order it." Suzie pushed her hat back and grinned.
Patty looked at her. Her face looked sincere enough, she reasoned. And if she wasn't - well, more money for her. When you're unmarried, with a ten-year old daughter to care for, like she was, you needed all the money you could get. "Sold." She reached into a cardboard box and pulled out a little sign with that very word upon it. She stuck it into a fine pot roast as Suzie gave her a fistful of bills.
Suzie ran back out into the street, her shoes crunching in the rock salt that was put out to melt the ice. Kenny was going to have the best Christmas ever, she thought excitedly. And the ironic thing about it was that Kenny knew just who Suzie was.
And he had a major crush on her. He had had a major crush on her since she had first come to the school. But she seemed to have eyes only for Tim, Kyle's ten-year-old cousin. He would try to get her out of his mind, and go after about eight girls at once like he usually did. But Kenny didn't want eight girls at once. He wanted Suzie.
Meanwhile, Miss Parkhurst was walking down the street, rosy-cheeked and with snow in her hair. Her next stop was at the candy maker's, Thomas Taffies. The mother and father of both Kari and Andrew Thomas worked here, making all sorts of sweet treats. That was the magic of a small town, lots of mom-and-pop businesses. Suzie browsed around, putting a nice variety of candy canes, Christmas ribbon candy, little mints - she knew Kenny loved them - and truffles in festive wrappers. Once she was done there, Suzie was back on the street, looking for more gifts for Kenny. She got him a warm, fluffy polar fleece blanket and a little feather pillow for his head. She bought all sorts of things for Kenny and his family to have with their pot roast - mashed potatoes and gravy and squash and spinach and sweet potatoes and of course, pie (KG would never let me forget the pie!). She went crazy at the toy store - she bought all sorts of toys and games, the very things she would have liked to have seen under her own tree. She also bought some pornographic magazines - adults in South Park will let their kids do anything.
Loaded down like she was, Suzie went and rented several lockers at the local gym. After shoving all the presents in, she then started to head for home.
As she walked past the Remackel residence, next to the Jones', which was next to her house, a sign caught her attention. FREE KITTENS, it read.
"Ha! Just the thing to keep those damn rats out of Kenny's house." She bolted up the steps two at a time and pounded on the front door. It was opened by Patrick and Jessica Remackel, the fifth grade twins.
"Hi!" they both said simultaneously. Suzie found it very unnerving to ask one a question and have them both answer, or to see one lift up their hand to shake and the other to do the very same thing at the very same time. She swore that they were one mind in two separate bodies.
"Do you want to see Sally's kittens?"
"Yes, um...Patrick and Jessica."
They ran off into their house, at the exact same pace. Suzie followed at a slightly slower one.
Sally, the Remackels' calico cat, lay in a bed of shredded newspapers, the little kittens frisking about around her. They were as cute as buttons, with bright blue eyes and long fluffy fur. There were two calicos, one little black-and-white that looked as if he wore a tuxedo, and a grey striped tabby. Suzie chose one of the calicos; she had heard somewhere that male tri-colour cats were lucky.
"Keep him for me until I can pick him up Christmas day," she said. Patrick and Jessica both grinned. "Sure thing. Just come get Frank when you're ready."
"That's what we call him. Anyway, we promise we won't give him to anyone else. We swear."
Thanking the twins, Suzie left the Remackels' and bolted into her own house. Covered with snow, she was just the picture of a little girl who had just had loads of fun outside in the cold winter weather. Becky looked up at her daughter.
"Why, hello Suzie. Did you have fun?"
Suzie nodded. "Loads," she said.
"That's' nice. But things ain't too great here. I'm missin' some money. You seen it?"
Suzie shook her head. "Must have been a cat burglar. They sneak in your house and you hear nothin'."
Becky looked doubtful, but nodded anyway. "Course, with this money gone you might not have a lot of Christmas presents. That was the money I was gonna give to Santa so he could get stuff for you kids."
Suzie didn't flinch. "Ah, we don't need a whole ton of presents. As long as we have at least two each and each other, we'll be fine. Heh, maybe this cat burglar has taught us something."
Becky sighed. "Maybe he did. Now Suzie, will you wash these dishes?"
Christmas Eve came, bringing tidings of snow, joy and everything else that Christmas Eve brings. Suzie sat wide-awake in her bed, not waiting for Santa to arrive, but to be Santa. Tying her sheets together, she carefully lowered them out her window. It looked awfully far down.
"If Santa can climb down a dark, filthy chimney, without sheets, then I can certainly climb out of my window into the bright outdoors with them." She climbed down the sheet-rope as quickly as possible, safely landing on the ground about a minute later. Keeping close to the house, so her tracks would be less noticeable, Suzie crept out of the yard and back into the Jones' backyard. The lights were out, Suzie noticed with a smile. Like a cat she snuck over to the shed where she had dragged all of Kenny's gifts the night before. She hoped the noise would not wake either Jenny or Patty. That would definitely not be good.
Suzie opened the shed door, half-expecting someone to start screaming at her. Motes of dust swirled about the musty darkness of the shed, lit only by moonlight. She saw the bright glare of the plastic shopping bags hidden among the rakes and buckets and the lawn-mower. Grabbing them, Suzie quickly dragged them out, in too much of a rush to cover up the drag-marks she left in the snow. Once into the Remackels' yard, she stopped and collapsed in the snow, panting.
"I did it." She muttered. "No one woke up. But now I have to get to Kenny's."
Under the Remackels' deck were where all the lawn and garden tools were kept until July. Amongst all the clutter was a wheelbarrow that caught Suzie's eye. Once again, she picked up the plastic bags and dragged them over, dumping them into the wheelbarrow.
Suzie steered the heavy wheelbarrow out onto the street. Pushing with all her strength, the wheelbarrow moved a few inches. And then was still. She threw all 46 pounds of her at it. It rolled a few more feet. Once again Suzie hurled herself at it. Her hat fell off, into the snow, and as she bent down to pick it up, the wheelbarrow rolled a few feet – and down a hill.
"Dammit!" Suzie swore, as that damn bastard of a wheelbarrow went all the way down the hill, flying when it hit the railroad tracks, and landing with a crash into some bushes. Instantly all the dogs in the neighbourhood started to bark at the top of their lungs.
"Oh, I am so screwed," Suzie muttered under her breath. "So damn screwed." The Remackels' wheelbarrow was overturned, the one wheel turning around and around. She could smell smashed pies from where she was standing.
Suzie instantly rushed over to the carnage. Before her was a sight enough to make KG cry for hours – two of the six pies she had bought were splatted all over the snow. The bags had burst, toys and candy and clothes and blanket and pillow strewn everywhere. The food wasn't spoiled by the snow was crushed. Poor Kenny, Suzie thought. She could still bring the tree over, but what else was she to give him?
Then she had an idea. She'd ask Lily to help…Lily knew everything! Of course it was KG who gave her that big brain to make up for the diminutive size of her own…but anyway…Suzie ran over to where she knew the Marsh house to be. All the lights were out except for the Christmas ones, all green and red and white. She didn't know which room was Lily's but she guessed it would probably be way up on the top floor. Not really knowing how to climb up to the window, she thought it would be best to throw something against it to get Lily's attention. There was some coal on their compost heap…she could use that. Picking it up, she threw it at the highest window in the house. It broke right through.
"Dammit," Suzie swore. What if she had been wrong and tossed that through her parent's window? Then she would really be screwed! But such a thing didn't happen; it was Lily's room that she had tossed it in…but it was also Stan's. The coal flew in and hit him right in the middle of his forehead.
"Ow! What the hell—" Stan cried, putting his hand to his head, wincing.
"What the hell are you doing?" Lily muttered sleepily. "It's not even light out yet…"
"Well, how would you feel if you just got smacked in the head with a piece of…something…" Stan retorted.
"I would feel better if I was—what the hell happened to the window?!" Lily cried and sat up, blinking a few times. "Stan! What the hell did I tell you about having your girlfriend come during all hours of the night throwing rocks at the window?"
"Oh, now you think this is MY fault?" Stan snapped back. Down below them Suzie chuckled.
"Down here," she said softly. "Shut up and listen to me!" There was silence for a few seconds, and then one blonde head and one black one poked out of the window.
"Move over, stupid, lemme get in here!"
"If you didn't have that goddamn pony tail on the side of your head you would fit better—"
"SHUT UP!" Suzie cried. "Please…I was going to bring some presents for Kenny so he'd have a merry Christmas but they all got wrecked when the wheelbarrow went down the hill!" Of course, Lily had an answer.
"Oh, well, all you have to do is take Stan's presents! He doesn't need them anyway!" she replied.
"WHAT?!" Stan yelled. "MY presents? What about YOUR presents?"
"I need my presents, and anyway, Kenny is a boy! He won't like what I am getting for Christmas!"
"But…that's not fair!"
"Life isn't fair, Stanley, now shut the hell up and go back to bed!" Lily leaned out the window more, motioning to Suzie. "Come on, I'll let you—AHH!"
Ahh, the spirit of Christmas…seizing the opportunity, Stan shoved his hapless sister out the window. She fell in a snow-bank far down below. It was by a miracle that she didn't break any bones.
"STANLEY CRAIG MARSH, I'LL—" Before Lily could raise even the dead with her screaming, Suzie pounced on her, clamping a hand over her mouth.
"We'll get back at him, don't worry. Tell me where your Christmas tree's at, and I'll take all of Stan's presents and put them out on the porch. You can go tie Stan to a post or a chair or somethin' and gag him so he can't scream. Okay?"
Lily grinned under Suzie's hand. When the West Virginia girl finally removed her hand, Lily looked up at her.
"Hehehehe…that'll be fun!"
Crawling in through Sparky's dog door (the only opening not locked), Suzie and Lily managed to get inside the house. In the hall, a beautiful Colorado spruce stood, scenting the air with its pitchy scent. Ornaments glittered, lots of shiny objects that would have KG squealing. They lent a soft glow to the room.
Suzie and Lily leapt upon the presents that Santa had so thoughtfully spread out for the Marsh children, picking out all the ones addressed, "To Stan." When Stan crept down the steps to sneak a peek, he found Lily back in the house.
"How the hell did you – wait! You aren't really going to take my presents, are you?"
"What did you think we were going to do with them, stare at the shiny ribbons like my creator? Of course we're taking them!" Lily shouted. And before Suzie could toss in her two cents Lily had torn some tinsel off the tree and trussed Stan up like a Christmas goose. He swung limply from the chandelier, his screams unable to be heard due to the sock stuffed in his mouth.
Suzie emptied out his stocking while Lily dragged the larger gifts out onto the porch. When they were all out, Suzie stuffed all the smaller gifts in her pocket and hurried outside, also.
"To Kenny we shall go!" Lily started to sing. "And Stan won't get any presents! Hi-ho-de-darieo, to Kenny we shall go!"
Suzie smiled at her new friend. "Let's hurry to Kenny's house. C'mon, we've probably woken up a few people already."
They rushed down the street, snow flurrying down to land on their heads and dot the packages they hauled in Craig's Red Racer wagon with little spots of moisture. The wind blew their hair and nipped at their cheeks, and the moon glistened off the snow as they rushed into Snowdrift's Tree Farm.
The Douglas fir was where Suzie had last seen it, still standing tall and proud. Lily grinned, taking out her tiny pocket-knife.
"Now we're gonna chop down this tree." Lily said, gritting her teeth as she sawed at the thick trunk with her tiny pocket-knife blade. Suzie glanced at it uncertainly.
"Don't we need an axe or somethin'?" she asked quizzically. "We'll never get it down with a pocket-knife."
"Course we will. Just…have…patience."
When the tree was sawed half-through, Suzie and Lily just kicked the little thing over. The heartwood sliced, the tree didn't resist. It fell to Earth with a groan.
Grinning like the Cheshire Cat, they dragged their quarry out behind the fort that passed for Kenny's house. Lily rushed back to get the presents while Suzie dragged the tree inside the McCormick house.
There was no Christmas tree stand, so Suzie just leaned it against the wall. The wall wobbled, but held together. The West Virginia girl heaved a sigh of relief.
Lily arrived, lugging the presents behind her. As soon as they found a jar of white-out, they whited out all the Stan's and replaced them with Kenny's. Then, they were shoved under the tree, and the knick-knacky things were put in Kenny's stocking. Suzie noticed, as she put them in, that in the stocking already were a few cheap toys and an orange – all Kenny would have gotten normally.
Both girls sighed, staring at their work. The presents were arranged around the tree, the stocking was bulging. Finally, Suzie took something out of her pack – a little cat carrier. Inside was the little tri-colour kitty, that the Remackels called Frank. Leaving him in the carrier, she placed him under the tree also. He poked his paw through the bars to bat at a shiny ribbon as the two girls left.
On Christmas day, Kenny opened his eyes groggily. He wasn't all that excited, even though he was first up. The orange curtains fluttered against the wall, making a slight scrape-scrape. The babes on posters seemed to be the only ones happy to see him, with those sappy smiles constantly on their faces. The little orange-hooded cutie climbed out of his bed, and headed for the hall. When he got out there, he couldn't believe what he saw.
A fine tree was propped against the wall, all ready for him to decorate. And underneath it – presents! Presents! PRESENTS!
His stocking bulged with goodies! Presents were indeed everywhere. "Santa must have come to my house last night," Kenny said, tears in his cute little eyes, making him look all the more cuter. "Now, finally, I will have a merry, merry, Christmas."
Also that morning…
"MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! LILY TOOK ALL MY PRESENTS AND GAVE THEM TO KENNY!"
"Lillian! Share your presents with your brother!"
(There…NOW it's over! ^_^)