Fiction: A Little After Christmas Story

January 11, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Onyeka Obi

 

 

A farmer kept his billy goat and yams in a barn. Every morning he noticed yams were missing or being half-eaten, but the goat would claim his innocence.

“There’s a rabbit with large ears and two big front teeth who hops into the barn at midnight and eats the yams.”

The farmer decided to set a snare for this rabbit, but the animal was clever enough to avoid getting trapped.

“It’s such a quick little devil,” explained the billy goat, “last night it leaped over my head, and right over the fence!”

If there was such an animal, the farmer thought, who visited the barn daily, it must have a tunnelway through which it came and went. But the poor farmer searched and searched, and found none.

And as the days passed, the billy-goat seemed to be gaining weight obscenely; its neck was fat and the tether was biting into it before the farmer loosened the knot and expanded the ring.

 

 

One evening, the farmer arrived late with the goat’s breakfast and found the animal chewing the cud tiredly. Its stomach was fat and rolled on the ground.

“How come?” Asked the farmer quite confused, “you’re supposed to be bleating, and restless from hunger, but your stomach is spread all over the ground, and if my mind isn’t pulling pranks, you are most certainly chewing!”

“First thing you need to know about us,” grunted the goat through a half-full mouth of cud, “we’re rudimentary, we chew the cud! Now what do you think I’m doing?”

The farmer dropped the hay on the ground and left. Before he left, he noticed that the goat’s tether had become too short, and wondered if the animal would be able to reach its food.

“Any luck with the long-eared rabbit?” He asked over the fence.

“No—o, not an ounce!” Came the slurred reply.

 

 

On Christmas morning, the tether had become too short when the farmer walked in, and the buck’s neck was scrapping the floor.

“Merry Christmas!” Heralded the farmer.

“And a happy new year to you,” grumbled the billy goat. “But it’s not such a merry morning for me,” he continued, “I’m choking, and on the dust too.”

“Oh what a shame that is!” Exclaimed the farmer, “Magda and I have caught the leaping rabbit in the vegetables garden this morning. She is skining him for lunch! The recipe is a family secret — one among the best! But I’ll tell only if you won’t tell Madgie that I did.”

“Poor thing to have died on Christmas morning,” said the buck sombrely. “But are you certain it’s the one and same?”

“Who else could it be?”

“Alright, alright. Can you free me of this rope now?” He asked of the farmer.

“Forgive my manners, wouldn’t you? It’s Christmas morrning after all.”

And he set the animal loose from its bondage. Just before he left, he said to the buck: “Now you are in charge over the few yams left. Inspect the barn thoroughly for any rabbit, or rodents, and be on strict guard should anyone try to sneak in.”

“As you wish.” Answered the buck quite disinterested.

“Oh, and lest I forget,” added the farmer, “there’s a surprise for you this afternoon.”

“Indeed,” answered the goat surly, “I’d like to see.”

 

 

It was around 3 o’clock that afternoon, when the farmer brought in his arms a nanny goat. Her coat was so white and velvety, it caused the buck to be ashamed of his own brown, matted coat.

But his heart warmed towards her when the farmer set her down and she took her first step towards him.

“Hello,” she said in a melodious voice, “I’m Martie.”

“Beautiful,” replied the billy, “My name is Felix.”

“Felix you’re quite robust for a stud.” Martie laughed.

“Thank you, it’s the inactivity you may want to know; and you’re quite delicate yourself, I fear Mrs. Manson would want to skin you for supper.” Said the billy, and eyed Mr. Manson suspiciously.

Extraordinary, Mr. Manson thought, and slipped away.

 

 

At nightfall, Martie and Felix lay huddled together; Felix liked the scent of her skin, it smelt like the waterlilies floating on the pond in rainy season. He soon forgot about the leaping rabbit, with its long ears and tiny feet…

In the middle of the night, something kicked him on the side, causing him to jerk. When he opened his eyes he saw a spotless brown kid cradled in Martie’s neck. He couldn’t imagine anything so lovely. Not even Martie.

“Bless my precious little heart!” A shrill voice said in the calm night.

Felix looked up, and there was the rabbit standing a few feet from Martie and peering at the kid.”

“I brought you a gift, until then I saw the kid — tenderest sporty feet! What my eyes have seen!”

“Mr. Manson and his wife have been looking for you. And he claims Madga cooked you, so how come you’re here?” Felix asked in a low voice.

“Oh they caught me napping in the vegetables garden, after I’d nipped a dozen cabbage or so in the bud. I woke in a closed pot. In a second utensil was boiling water, I thought, to unskin me. So when I looked this way and that, and there was no one around, I sneaked through the backdoor, and brought back Old Granny Nutwedger as she was dying from hypothermia. I replaced her in the pot and left. Before I fled, I brought this off Mrs. Manson’s counter for you. Ohh my, Felix, you don’t say you’re a father now.”

The gift was a small sack of peanuts, and Felix eyed it greedily. His mouth watered like it did the previous mornings when he had woken to heads of carrot, lettuce, and onions carefullly placed at his side with little rabbit feet all around him. He had kept his wonder to himself, and only told Mr. Manson a shadow version of it. But Martie had said he was too fat for a stud. A stud? Did Mr. Manson tell her he was kept for breeding? He’d decided to take no more — and to watch out for the rabbit.

Only now the gift was for Martie’s kid — their son.

“It’s a boy,” said the rabbit.

“Yes, I called him Peanuts Brown.” Answered Martie.

Tears glistened on both Felix and the rabbit’s eyes.

“Pardon my intrusion,” said the rabbit to Martie. “My name is Roofdweller. I live in a dry spot on Felix’s — your roof. I brought Peanuts B. a gift.”

“No mo–re.” Felix said. “We don’t want your gifts, or your feet around our b–arn.”

“Come on, Felix. Be nice, he brought Peanuts B. a gift.” Martie said.

Mr and Mrs Manson walked in at the moment, each holding a hay cot with twinklers, and a plate of mealie cookies in turn.

“Oh, it’s another rabbit!” Gleamed Mrs Manson. “Martie, congratulations. Sha’nt we try Uncle Pericom’s recipe with this second rabbit?”

“My name’s Roofdweller, Mrs Manson. And it’s such a pleasure to see you. Merry Chreestmaas!” Said Roofdweller, and like a lightning bolt, zigzagged across the ground, through Mr and Mrs Manson’s legs, and when he reached the fence, hopped over it, out of the barn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onyeka Obi

Born on the 21st of October 1987 in Lagos, Nigeria to Igbo parents, Onyeka Obi has a diploma in acting, and has written for a national television drama series. He believes stories are the most potent means of communication. A favourite read is The God of Small Things by Arhundati Roy.

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