Chapter 8: Throw My Toys Around
got no time for fairy stories
Jet decided to go for a walk soon after dinner. Ed anticipated this, and pretended to be asleep until then. You see, Jet was a walker.
Spike was a flyer.
Faye was a yeller and a screamer and a thrower of fragile things.
Ed never really bothered to commit to one verb or another. She liked all verbs, and when she was angry she enjoyed having her pick of the whole lot of them. Her roommates were far more predictable. For example, Ed was quite certain from the word go that Christmas was going to end in walking and flying and throwing of fragile things. But that didn't mean she had to like it.
She wanted to fix things but she just wasn't really sure how. As sprightly as she was, she was surprisingly inept at cheering people up. But the idea of everyone returning from their pouting sessions all grumpy and snappy and mean was making her stomach woozy. It was annoying, to use one of Spike's words. Ed was determined to somehow make this night less annoying. And so she set off with the vague objective of saving Christmas.
But first she had to get a handle on this snow thing. Ed was not a snow type person. She was a sand person. A sun person. A squiggly lines in the air person. This snow was something else. On one hand, it was soft and wet and tasted good if you ate it in the right place. On the other hand, it was cold and managed to sneak into uncomfortable places. And on yet another hand, there was the business of all these clothes.
At first she thought that she could just brave the elements in her standard uniform of bike shorts, bare feet, and a parachute of a tank top. She discovered about two minutes into her journey that was simply not going to happen. Her feet were so callused she could have a picnic on a bed of hot coals, but they were still no match for 8 inches of snow and ice. And she really hated her ears being cold. It was a strange feeling. But not the good strange feeling, like the kind she got when she stuck her fork in the toaster. Just icky strange. So she padded back into the Bebop and went rummaging around everyone's stuff. Faye had a spare sweatshirt and Jet left some gloves and Spike didn't take his scarf. She found a hat but she wasn't sure who it belonged to. She found a pair of Jet's boots lying around that were way too big but she corrected that with duct tape. She remembered Spike's big pink jacket must have been lying around somewhere and she set off searching the abyss of his room to find it. She finally managed to locate it, bunched up in a wad and shoved under his bed. She found all sorts of things under his bed. And on top of it. And actually in the bed, as well. She figured that was why Spike never slept in his bed. He apparently decided it was better used for storage.
After smuggling a neat little bounty from her roommate's secret stash, including a broken set of chattering teeth, an air freshener shaped like a tree, and several packets of duck sauce, she threw on her new outfit and waddled precariously out into the night.
Ein was not nearly as cautious. He ran in circles around his partner in crime, yapping playfully at the falling flakes and pausing ever so often to swan dive into the snow banks. He rolled in it, ate it, peed all over it and occasionally made little doggy snow angels. He had seemingly reached some stage of canine bliss not previously known to humans. Ed followed suit and soon found that despite her nine pounds of clothing, she too enjoyed the snow. "Now if Ed were Christmas," she said as she stared up at the sky mid-angel. "Where would Ed be?"
Ein gleefully plopped in the snow next to her. "Do you know what Ed thinks?" she asked him, rolling over so she was on her stomach. Ein barked inquisitively. "Ed thinks if Ed were Christmas," she said ponderously. "Then Ed would be at the mall." She furrowed her brow as she thought this through. "Maybe if Ed went to the mall and got a Christmas all proper like, Bebop-Bebop would shut up."
Ein seemed to consider this for a moment, and then sort of shrugged and began to lick himself. "Ein isn't very full of ideas today, are you, Space Doggie?" Ed asked him with affectionate annoyance. Ein responded by licking her face with the same tongue that he had just used to swab other areas. Ed scrunched her face up, licked him back and then sprung to her feet. "To the mall!" she declared.
Ed and Ein both pressed their faces up against the glass doors of the shopping center. There was something appealing about public places at night. Something forbidden about it. Ed was reminded of her fifth birthday, back when she still lived with Father Person. He had taken her to Good Happy Fun Time Pizza Carnival, with the little robots that sang songs while you ate. Ed didn't care much for the singing robots, but she liked sneaking behind the curtain when they were turned off. It was creepy, seeing the giant animatronic hamsters and things staring blankly into space. It was then she realized that something else was making those things sing, something different from what made her sing. Even at five years old, looking at those robots made her want to know what it was.
Looking now at the mannequins all posed grimly in the dark, she had a bit of the same feeling. She pulled her laptop out of the huge bag she was lugging and began tapping into the security system. Dum-de-dum-dum-dum. The automatic doors slid open like entrance to some commercialized tomb. The mall was theirs.
Ed strolled slowly around the center court. Now that she was here, she wasn't quite sure what to do. She never had a real Christmas. Her Dad never believed in "that stuff," whatever "that stuff" was. And later on, Ed decided she didn't really like that stuff either, because you had to sit still and eat bad tasting crackers with sour grape juice. The Nice Penguin Lady always made them go do "that stuff" on Christmas, and so Ed made it a point to disappear. But she had seen a lot of Christmas on the TV. What was one thing everyone always has on Christmas? "Stockings!" she remembered.
But somehow they didn't look like they did on TV. And why did they come in plastic eggs? Wasn't that Easter? "What does Ein think?" Ed asked him as she pulled one down over her head, and then another. "Nude or Navy Blue?"
Ein whimpered as he struggled to get the nylon unstuck from his teeth. He liked chewing Jet's socks way better. "Ed likes Nude too," Ed agreed. "It make's Ed's face look all funny."
So stockings... check. Now what?
Figgy pudding? Ew. That sounded gross.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings? Now that was something. Presents. "Presents!" Ed leapt into the air. "Ed will get presents for Bebop-Bebop!"
Ed nabbed a duffel bag from the sporting goods section big enough to fit at least two bodies in and proceeded to stuff it with things that sparked her interest. A spatula, a golf umbrella, a Martini shaker and she found this bag that she thought Faye might like and these hats she knew Jet and Spike wouldn't like but she would like to see them in. She was dubiously inspecting a foosball table and debating how easily it could be dismantled when she heard a loud crash from somewhere behind her.
"OW! Shit!" Ed slunk down to the floor and dragged herself stealthy across the linoleum. She then sprung to her feet and struck a dramatic spy-type pose against a row of washing machines before she peeked around the corner and saw the source of the commotion.
It appeared that Santa Claus and somehow gotten himself entangled in a web of Christmas display lights, and was spewing forth a stream of profanity unlike Ed had ever heard, and living with her roommates, that was saying something. She just stood there, watching him struggle for awhile, before she ventured, "Hello?"
Santa leapt three feet in the air before the lights got the better of him, and he came crashing back to Earth with a humbling thud. He was quick to get back on his feet and even quicker to brandish a gun in Ed's direction. His eyes softened considerably when he saw the owner of the voice, however. It looked like a kid. At least he thought it was a kid. But it was wearing some crazy outfit that puffed it up to some strange, inhuman dimension. It looked almost otherworldly in a way. Like something out of a child's storybook. "What are you, an elf or something?" he asked.
"If Grumpy Person is Santa," Ed said skeptically, "Then Ed is an elf."
"Fair enough," Santa shrugged and as he lowered his weapon. "So what are youÉI meanÉare you hitting this place up?"
"You robbin' the place?"
"Oh! Ed is just getting some things for Bebop Bebop!"
Santa briefly considered asking for clarification on the Bebop thing and then decided against it. He was now pretty sure it was kid under all those clothes, at least. "I see. You know that you are stealing, though, right? You can get in a lot of trouble," he spoke slowly and in a vaguely sing-songy type of tone, like he was Mr. Rogers explaining the 8th Commandment to a bunch of kindergartners. "Are you going to pay for that stuff?" he asked.
"No," Ed said flatly. "Ed does not believe in capitalism."
Santa snorted at the fact that this parka with two eyeballs sticking out of it just said the word "capitalism" and then tried to quickly reassess this thing's age. It wasn't an elfÉit wasn't a sweet little orphan... it was breaking into a shopping mallÉ"Are you an anarchist or something?" he asked, taking a stab in the dark.
"No, Ed thinks everyone should believe in order but Ed. Makes things easier for Ed," she admitted plainly.
Santa stared blankly for a moment and then nodded his head in approval. Whatever this thing was, he was pretty sure he liked it. "I'm not capitalism's biggest fan either," he admitted.
"Is that why Santa is robbing the mall?"
Santa sighed deeply before he snarled. "Let's say the mall owes me. Everyone owes me. I'm here to collect." He then proceeded to stuff a set of gardening tools into his sack with dramatic flourish. The mall apparently owed him some perennials.
Ed made a non-committal clucking sound as she watched this, not really sure how she was expected to react. She didn't feel compelled to either turn in or be an accessory to this person but she also felt odd about walking away at this point. Whatever was going on, she knew she was now somehow involved.
She sort of learned that from her roommates. They were always involved, and if she had to pick up one of their habits, she thought that was the least offensive. "What does the mall owe Santa?" she asked, hopping on top of a charcoal grill with startling agility, especially for someone weighed down with ten pounds of pink parka.
Santa raised an eyebrow at the creature perched on the grill before him like a gargoyle, not entirely convinced he wasn't imagining the whole thing. "They owe me my life," he replied hesitantly, not wanting to get into it. But the more he thought about his prospects this evening, the more apparent his impending doom seemed to be. He was not a career criminal. He was dabbling. And seeing as a small child was having an easier time of breaking and entering than he was, he figured he was just biding his time until the cops showed up. Might as well get out his sob story, even if it was to a freakishly acrobatic elf. "I had a repair shop. It was my Dad's. I took it over when he died..." he trailed off for a moment and then asked, "Is there any place I can get a beer in this mall?"
"Beer, beer, beer," Ed sang merrily. "Santa can get giggly drink at Super Quick Mart," Ed suggested. She knew that because her roommates have done so when funds were low and the need to be buzzed was high. "It comes in a box. Faye-Faye says it's like Hi-C for grownups."
Again, Santa was intrigued by these names the elf was dropping as if it was common knowledge, but decided against asking about it. "Ok, then," he sighed. "Let's move this little party to the Super Quick Mart."