The Adventures of Theo Fuzzybottom, Episode 5, continued

By the time Fuzzy reached the food tent Shakey had set up a table for the group. Soon they were joined by Rufus and the rest of the band, with even a few of the Zombie boys joining the feast. Everyone was soon tucked in to some great food: salmon burgers and butter apples and a wonderful selection of other treats Joe had concocted. They were all having a great time exchanging stories about the night's events, Fuzzy laughed so hard at some of the stories the zombie boys were telling about scaring people that he felt his ribs had burst. And Rufus had his own great story about getting lost up in the manor house. (A tale for another time).

Soon however, one by one people started to make their goodbyes. Rufus was one of the last. "Hey Fuzzy I need to be getting home," said Rufus, "have to work in the morning, but thanks; this was a great night. "So, do you need a ride home?" he asked.

"No thanks Rufus, I will be fine, I've got a ride with Shakey," said Fuzzy.

Rufus leaned over in a bit of a hush and asked "So did you find out anything you hoped to?"

"Yes a great deal smiled Fuzzy, but it's late. How about I come by in the morning and fill ya in."

"Rufus yawned, and said, "sounds good to me. Good night everyone!" he called to the others giving them a wave . Fuzzy watched him as he made his way toward the gates, that when he noticed a small dark figure step out onto the path. It turned and seemed to look right at Fuzzy, with its eyes reflecting in the fire light. Fuzzy took a step toward the figure but stopped when someone called his name from the tent. There were Ozman and Apooka. "Wow I thought they had left long time ago. Oh dear this could be bad," he fretted. Slowly he made his way over to them, and saw that they were both smiling, so he felt a bit more relaxed.

"Fuzzy we just wanted to tell you we are very proud of you tonight" said Apooka, and as they talked they walked over to the others. "Yes indeed, we are proud of all of you; you did great work tonight, and we would like to say again how happy we are that Shakey has agreed to come work for the Gazttee this next year."

Ozman gave Fuzzy a little elbow shot and a wink "After all someone has to keep you on track, boy," he said . "Well, good night all, you did great work and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.. And as for you two," said Ozman firmly, "we expect to see you bright and early Monday morning." With that the two made their last goodbyes and disappeared down the path. Fuzzy was completely dazed by the events of the night. There had been so much to take in with one revelation after another.

"Hey Fuzzy what ya doing over there?" asked Shakey.

"Oh was going to go ask Joe, if he wanted help clearing all this up" Said Fuzzy. Just then Joe came round from the counter, laughed and said, "I would not say no. It's been long day" he said while rubbing his back.

"Tell you what Joe, the food was amazing how about we clean up for you, our way of saying thanks for the great food," said Fuzzy. "Yeah we will clean up and close up for ya" added Shakey.

"Great thanks guys, well then here are the keys, and I will call ya in the morning. Do not stay up here too late, it's not exactly the best place to be you know, graveyard and all. Good night thanks again," said Joe as he sauntered down the path.

Fuzzy, Shakey and the two girls got right to work cleaning up. Even Dora seemed in better spirits, with she and Nora laughing and joking as they worked. The gang soon had everything tucked away. They grabbed a few apple ciders and went to relax around the fire. It was a clear cool fall night and Nora and Shakey were soon snuggled up and cooing.

"So then what do we do now? How exactly are we getting home?" Fuzzy asked.

"My truck is down the hill by the Hare Dare," said Nora.

"Well what ya say we get this fire out and call it a night? "I will go get a bucket of water" said Fuzzy.

"I will go with you " added Dora . "Sure come on, the well is over this way." Fuzzy said Once they had got out of ear shot of Nora and Shakey, Dora reached out and placed her hand on Fuzzy's arm to bring him to a halt, "Dora what is it ?" said Fuzzy " No need to be scared" said Fuzzy in less than reassuring tone.

"No, no it's not that. I have something to tell you. You see I was really mad at you at my Birthday party." she started.

"And I'm so sorry, Dora. Honest, I never meant to … well you know ruin your party Fuzzy stated.

"No, stop," she interrupted "I know it was not your fault, I understand that now." But at the time I was so upset I thought you were just drunk, and I was so humiliated. She began to cry.

"Now do not cry please, I am truly sorry and I know what happened was horrible. Calm down please." Fuzzy tried to put his arm around her to comfort her but she pulled away.

"No, you do not understand. I was mad and I wanted to hurt you back .. And well, that night when I found out Nora had your vest, and I, well, I I gave it away to an elf." It just happened he was there and he liked the vest . I was mad. And well I am sorry." She began to really sob now much to Fuzzy's dismay.

Fuzzy's ears heard the words but his heart only saw her pain. "I understand. Don't worry about it, maybe we can get it back." But his words did not comfort her, instead she seemed to grow more distressed.

"I had no idea how important it was to you, and later after Shakey explained your clan code and then we did try and get it back but..." And now she really begins to cry and gulp breaths she was in a right state. "The road to Old Winter Mountain is snowed shut. I am so sorry Fuzzy, please say you forgive me," pleaded Dora.

Fuzzy put his arm around her "Now calm down. Yeah, the vest is important to me, but what you did is understandable and after all, friend forgive each other right, and we are friends right?" And he smiled patting her on the arm. Dora looked into his eyes and before Fuzzy knew what happen she kissed him. "Wow" said Fuzzy "OK. Then I think we are OK then. I think we best get that bucket of water."

As they walked back to the fire, they heard: "Where have you two been then?" asked Shakey with a wink of the eye and smirk.

"Oh just having a chat," said Fuzzy.

"So everything is straight between you two then?"

"Yep yep", smiled Dora.

Fuzzy just blushed a bit and poured the water over the fire. With that our little group was plunged into darkness. "Oh that is just fine! I do not imagine one of you brave boys thought to grab a torch," said Nora.

The Adventures of Theo Fuzzybottom, Episode 6: Full Circle

The holiday season passed very quickly for Fuzzy. There were so many parties and events to cover; he even saw a great parade. Shakey and Fuzzy had been from one end of AW to the other. So it was with great anticipation that Fuzzy looked forward to some time off and a visit with his parents, as well as a good night's sleep in his own bed. But he dreaded having to explain his missing vest to his Papa.

He had wonderful day at home with his family. Mama had made all his favorite foods and he loved being pampered a bit after long weeks of work. It made him feel like a cub again. But after dinner it was time to tell his tale to Papa.

Much to his relief and a bit of embarrassment, Papa said nothing while he listened to the whole story from the birthday party right up to the Halloween ball. His only reaction was a soft draw on his pipe now and again.

"So that's about the sum of it Papa," sighed Fuzzy staring at the floor as he spoke too ashamed to look Papa in the eye.

There was a long moment of silence, then Papa Fuzzybottom began to laugh and not just a small laugh. This was a full on belly buster of a laugh. He reached out and put his arm around Fuzzy. "Oh, my boy, that was quite the adventure, and you are not the first male in this family to be on the receiving end of a she bear's wrath," Papa said hugging Fuzzy before relaxing back into his chair.

Fuzzy was stunned "So you are not mad at me?" he asked.

"No, not at all. I am sure you will find your vest. I just hope you learned a thing or two along the way," said Papa.

"I did!" laughed Fuzzy.

"Hey, did I ever tell you the story of the time your Ma burned my favorite boots?" asked Papa. And They exchanged stories well into the night. Fuzzy felt much closer to Papa and somehow a bit more grown up. By the time Fuzzy finally made it to bed he swore he could sleep for a week.

The next day around noon Fuzzy's attempt for a long winters nap was brought to an abrupt end by the sound of knocking at his door followed by the booming voice of his friend Shakey. "Rise and shine," he called thru the door. Fuzzy tried to ignore him, pulling the blanket tighter around him. But it was no good. Fuzzy heard the key in the lock and then the room was flooded in a flash of bright sunlight.

Shakey strolled in. "Brought you some coffee and buns," Shakey said giving Fuzzy's bed a kick.

"Come on let me sleep" pleaded Fuzzy.

"No way had buddy, got good news. Time to get up!"Shakey said, giving the bed another swift kick.

"What good news" asked Fuzzy' "better be great news," he added as he sat up rubbing his blurry eyes."

"Well it is GREAT news; Old Winter Mountain road is open." Chirped Shakey.

"Well I know why you are so keen, you miss Nora" yawned Fuzzy.

"You know it's been two weeks," defended Shakey adding, "well, we can look for that elf now and maybe find your vest."

"What about the snow carnival" Fuzzy ask between gulps of coffee and bites of bun.

"Yeah, that starts tonight. It will be Nora's first snow carnival, and you could bring Dora. She really wants to help you find that elf," said Shakey "Nora said Dora's been calling and talking to people all over to see if anyone knows who he was.

"Wow; really, I hoped she's stopped feeling bad about it after the talk we had," Fuzzy sighed.

"And this year I am going to kick your butt at Blizzard ball "challenged Shakey.

"Ha! you have never beaten me yet. I am the blizzard ball champ," said Fuzzy as he got out of bed giving Shakey slap on the back of the head. "Got any more of those buns?" asked Fuzzy making his way to the table. As Fuzzy reached for another bun he noticed a red envelope on the tray. "Hey what is this he asked?" picking it up.

"Oh, sorry. Forgot about that. It was on your doorstep when I came in," answered Shakey. "Maybe you got a secret admirer. Maybe it is from Dora," he teased, grabbing Fuzzy round the kneck and rubbing his head.

"Ahh stop, get off," Fuzzy freed himself from Shakey's grasp. The two examined the letter. It was a red envelope with very fancy gold lettering, and sure enough, it was addressed to him, and with his full and proper name. He flipped it over and on the back it bore a seal with a large (S). After a few more minutes of contemplation Fuzzy slowly and with care opened the letter keeping the seal intact. It seemed a shame to destroy something so formal. Inside was an equally posh piece of parchment.

"Well, what is all this then?" Fuzzy pondered aloud.

"One more reason to get a move on," Urged Shakey.

"Yeah right, and who the heck is (S)?" added Fuzzy on his way to the shower. While Fuzzy got ready Shakey gave Nora a call and filled her in on the mystery. They agreed to meet at the playhouse, and our little group would accompany Fuzzy to find out who this mysterious (S) was.

It was early evening by the time Fuzzy and Shakey finally arrived at the Sleepy Bear Playhouse. The girls were waiting for them at the bar; Shakey all but ran to greet Nora whose embrace matched him in kind. Dora greeted Fuzzy with a smile and an abrupt: "well let's see it then," she demanded with out-stretched hand; seeing the look on Fuzzy's face she then added "The letter, silly."

Fuzzy grinned with relief and handed her the letter. Dora examined the object closely then, a large smile of satisfaction crossed her face. She turned to the little group and with a kind of mock shock asked "Do you all not know who is in little Brick cottage?"

The three stared back at her with blank expressions. Dora began to laugh. "Oh come on Dora," they pleaded. "Nope. If you three do not know I will not spoil the surprise" she responded with a smirk. "Now, it will be far more fun to see the expressions on your faces when you find out, and we best get going now if you hope to get there on time" she said walking toward the door.

Once outside the cool bit at their noses and Nora stopped and said: "Hold on!! You do not expect me to walk all the way to lower Kringle village?"

"No, we can get a sled ride; we just have to walk to the deer barn," said Fuzzy.

Dora spinning in the falling snow said "Oh geez Nora, do not be such a baby" and she skipped ahead of the group "it is wonderful out here."

The little group made their way to lower Kringle village and managed to resist the distractions of the carnival midway. That would have to wait. Both Shakey and Fuzzy were teasing each other and pointing out the games they most wanted to play when this mystery errand was complete. So when they reached the front of the Cottage the little group stopped dead in their tracks mouth gaping and fear welling up inside each.

"Santa" gasped Fuzzy. "Sasses," whispered Shakey. "Yep Santa," said Dora as she strolled past them toward the door.

Once inside the little group took their place in the queue. "Ah, Christmas is over, why are all these people here?" Shakey asked

"Shhhh, Nora cautioned, you know it's never too late or too early to visit Santa."

"Some people just want to say thanks other might be here for advice," Dora explained. She seemed unless Fuzzy was mistaken a bit less confident and maybe even a bit scared as she watched the line grow smaller and smaller.

As for Fuzzy, he was just confused; what would Santa want with him, he wondered.

A short time later they found themselves at the front of the line.

"Good evening" Santa greeted the group with a wink and gestured them to sit as elves brought out small stools for them. They all gave timid response to Santa. "Good evening Santa" once they were all seated.

Santa turn to Fuzzy, stroked his beard and looked at Fuzzy, as they say, up one side and down the other. "Well, Theo Uhm, I mean Fuzzy," Santa smiled, "I expect you are wondering why I have brought you here this evening."

"Well yes, Santa," answered Fuzzy.

"It has come to my attention that you, thru no fault of your own," (his eyes drifted now to Dora, who was staring at the floor and fidgeting a bit)" have lost an item of great personal value. Is this not true?" Santa waited, with his eyes fixed on the group so that all present felt a bit uneasy.

"Well, my vest. But that was an accident. a misunderstanding." Fuzzy was getting very nervous. Maybe he was going to be on the naughty list from now on, he fretted. That's what happens if you disappoint Santa, with all manner of similar grim thoughts racing through his head.

Just then Dora stood up and looked Santa right in the eye. "It was me," she said. "I did it; I gave his vest to an elf to get back at Fuzzy for what I thought he had done. It is my entire fault," Stated Dora.

"Ahh, my Girl you are brave and I am proud of you for facing your mistakes, but it was not all your fault. Fuzzy here and others had a part in this misadventure. I have brought you here for two reasons. First I think it is clear you have all learned a valuable from these events? Santa questioned.

"Yes!!" They all answer en masse, "We have".

"Well then that is what really matters. And you all promise to avoid such drama in the future?"

And again in unison: "Yes, oh yes Santa, we do."

"Well there is but one thing left to do," said Santa, and with a wave of his hand he motioned an elf to come forward. "This is Ollie, who has also learned a lesson from these events. Now Ollie, I think you have something for Fuzzy."

"That's him!" whispered Dora as she gave Nora a jab to the ribs. Ollie stepped up and handed Fuzzy a box, smiled and then stepped back behind Santa. Fuzzy stared at the box.

"Well, come on my Boy open it all ready," chuckled Santa.

Slowly Fuzzy removed the lid and pushed back the paper inside. His heart raced, his toes tingled and his eyes began to grow blurry from tears; he had not realized how much he had missed his vest. Yes there it was, his vest at long last. Shakey slapped him on the back.

"Nice one." Nora even gave him a big kiss on the cheek "Oh this is wonderful," she said. And then Dora grasped his arm and said. "Well, Merry Christmas Fuzzy."

For a moment they forgot they were in front of Santa, till he cleared his throat. "Uhhhmm. Well it seems to me it's about time you all go have a bit Fun. That snow Carnival will not last forever."

"Thank you for everything Santa," said the gang and off they went.

Once they had gone Santa turned to Mrs. Santa: "Something tells me that little group is going to have a great many adventures."

Once outside, the group took a collective deep breath followed by uncontrolled laughter.

"Oh, gosh, we just met Santa, the real Santa" exclaimed Nora.

"Yeah unbelievable" added Shakey.

The group spent the rest of the night at the snow carnival playing games and eating. They challenged each other to Blizzard ball. Much to Shakey and Fuzzy's shock the girls kicked their butts. It seemed shy little Nora turned out to be quite the dead eye shot. The girls beat the boys 3 out 5 games so it was the boys doing all the buying when by night's end they found themselves back at the play house. It was a great night, but Fuzzy was about to be reminded how nothing lasts . Shakey and Nora were dancing and Fuzzy was just about to get the nerve up to ask Dora to dance, when a tall bear in a black leather jacket walked up behind Dora and placed his hands over her eyes, "Guess who?" he asked.

Dora jumped and with delight said "Jake!" And pulling his hands free she stood up and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.

Jake? Who the heck is Jake, thought a stunned Fuzzy. But wait, Fuzzy thought, why do I care... But - oh gosh, do I fancy Dora.

What will Fuzzy do now? Will his adventure continue with Dora? What will happen? Be sure to read the next episode."

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