One thought ahead. Two sentences behind.

Vengeance

 

There was a time when two groups of cartoon characters became neighbors.  Much was unknown between the tribes with mistrust amongst them, especially when it came to the Peanuts Clan with their ritual dancing and inability to successfully host a holiday party, and the Smurfs with their blue skin, matching outfits and a Germanic need to be identified through their work.  Yes, much was different, but still they lived together, side-by-side even with the unease.

 

*******

 

Golfer Smurf did not show much concern for his unusual neighbors because he had a much bigger problem:  his golf game.  There was a kink in his swing and it was making his game erratic, so erratic that there was talk in the village of changing his name.

Hacker Smurf was not a name for a future golf pro.  So every morning Golfer Smurf went to the golf course and proceeded to send golf balls in an array of directions.  He lost so many balls that Mercantile Smurf cut him off at the store.  But under these difficult circumstances, Golfer Smurf still golfed for golf he must for if he did not golf, what would he do?  So golf he did with a hook here and a slice there until one day his last golf ball sailed into the trees.

“Oh no, what will I do?”

Instead of moping about like those peanut pansies, Golfer Smurf asked Tracker Smurf for help.

Out of friendship to a fellow villager and a need to live up to his name, Tracker Smurf offered to help.  So off they went through the tall trees and thick brush.  They climbed over rocks and crawled over stones.  They turned over leaves to find Titleists, Slazengers and Precepts.  They moved further to locate Nikes, Callaways and Pinnacles.  They ventured farther than any Smurf had ever gone and it was there they found Golfer Smurf’s favorite Top Flight.  But next to the ball lay a yellow feather.  Tracker Smurf picked it up and looked around.  “This can’t be good,” he muttered, searching the trees.

 

*******

 

It was a normal day like any other as Snoopy rested on top of his doghouse.

“It’s good to be this cool,” he smiled behind his Ray Ban sunglasses.  Everything was as it should be except for a far off cry.

Snoopy sat up, slipped off his shades and squinted to see his yellow-feathered friend flap into the yard.

“Snoop,” Woodstock wheezed as he collapsed on the roof.  “They got me, Snoop.  One of those blue dots got me.”

Woodstock said he was in the forest flying from tree to tree, doing what birds like to do, when a golf ball came out of nowhere and knocked him off his perch.

“I don’t know how long I was out.  I was so scared.  Then I heard rustling and flew up to a branch before they appeared.”

“Who were they?”

“The one who tracks and the one who golfs.  The one who golfs always had it in for me.  I don’t know how many near misses I’ve had, but this time he got me.

Woodstock coughed and shivered.  “I got away, but what about the next time?”

Snoopy put a paw on his little buddy’s shoulder.  “There won’t be a next time.”

 

*******

 

With a replenished supply, Golfer Smurf returned to the golf course and vowed to play with a more tempered game.  Soon he developed a confident swing, and with a new found swagger, he pulled out his 4 iron on a dogleg at 13.  He wasn’t going to lay-up like those pistachio poppers.  He was going to send his Top Flight over the water and onto the green.

“Hit the ball like you’ve already made the shot,” he whispered to himself.

But before Golfer Smurf took his first practice swing, he felt a tingling sensation crawling up his hairless back.  He turned around and dropped his 4 iron for coming up the fairway was a frothing canine wearing designer sunglasses.

“Holy Sheep,” Golfer Smurf cried, jumping into his golf cart.

He sped off but the dog gained ground.  He pushed the gas pedal further and started to separate.

“Ha,” Golfer Smurf laughed.  “Nice try you dumb beagle!”

The taunt infuriated the dog and it leapt forward and swiped the golf bag from the cart.

“Oh no,” cried Golfer Smurf. “Not the Pings.”

But there was nothing he could do but watch the dog tear through the bag and chew on his expensive gear.  But the mayhem did not end there as the dog rampaged through Farmer Smurf’s adjacent mushroom field before disappearing into the trees.

 

*******

 

“I don’t understand,” Papa Smurf replied after listening to Golfer Smurf’s tale.

“What’s to understand,” asked Hefty Smurf.

“But why would the dog do it?”

Golfer Smurf had a pretty good idea for he knew the dog and the bird were tight.  But there was no reason to tell Papa Smurf that part of the story, swearing Tracker Smurf to secrecy by bribing him with a job as his caddie when he went on tour.

“We need to send a message,” replied Hefty Smurf.  “Who’s with me?”

“I am,” replied Farmer Smurf.

“Me too,” cried Golfer Smurf.

“Count me in,” shouted Construction Smurf.

Papa Smurf shook his head.  There was nothing he could do.  Youth in revolt never listen to old men.

 

*******

 

Once again Snoopy rested on the roof of his doghouse, but this time life wasn’t so good.  Not once did he regret going after that gobstopper.  He wished he hadn’t run through the mushroom field with his churning stomach brewing into a debacle.

“We sure showed him,” Woodstock chimed, trying to cheer up his buddy.

“We sure did,” Snoopy replied.

“Are you going to be alright?”

“Oh yeah!  Just need a little peace and quiet.”

But Snoopy would have neither as a tiny tractor and bulldozer soon appeared.

“Nooooo,” moaned Snoopy.

“Oh yeah,” shouted Hefty Smurf, hanging from the bulldozer and swinging a tiny sledgehammer.

Woodstock flew to the nearest tree.  Snoopy rolled off his doghouse and limped to his owner’s back door.  There was no fight in either of them and all they could do was watch the bulldozer and the tractor slowly lurch across the yard.

 

******* 

 

“I don’t understand,” Charlie Brown replied.

“What’s to understand,” asked Peppermint Patty.  “Those shirtless pop tarts poisoned your dog and destroyed your property.

“How do you know it was them?”

“Who else would it be, Chuck?  Plus, Schroeder saw a group of them rolling down the street in a tractor and bulldozer.”

“Which ones?”

“The muscle head, the hayseed, the builder, and…  Who was the last one, Marcie?”

“The hacker.”

“Right, the one who thinks he can golf.  Schroeder said they even stole the black and white keys from his piano.”

“Why would they do that?”

“Do they need a reason?”

Charlie Brown paced back and forth in front of the destroyed doghouse, listening to the baying moans of a sick beagle.

“None of this makes much sense.”

“Do you think those skittle brains need a reason,” asked Peppermint Patty.  “There’s nothing left to do but finish what they started.

“Finish?”  There was a slight tremble in Charlie Brown’s voice.

Peppermint Patty put a comforting arm around his shoulder.  “Don’t worry Chuck, Marcie and I can handle it.  Right Marcie?

“When do we start?”

 

*******

 

There was a festive, almost raucous mood in the village pub as Hefty Smurf regaled the crowd with his exploits.

“You sure showed that dog,” cooed Smurfette.

“Dang right,” whooped Farmer Smurf, tossing another piano key into the fireplace.  “Let’s see that acorn play Mendelssohn now.”

The crowd roared.

“Drinks are on the house,” shouted Bartender Smurf.

“Three cheers for Hefty Smurf for leading the charge.  Hip! Hip!”

“Hooray!”

“Hip! Hip!”

“Hooray!”

“Hip! Hip!”

But before the final hooray, a giant freckled hand grabbed Hefty Smurf from behind and pulled him through the swinging doors.

“Hefty,” cried Smurfette as she and the others ran to the front window.

Farmer and Construction Smurf sought refuge behind the bar.  Golfer Smurf high tailed it out the back and jumped into his double-parked golf cart.  And as he sped away he saw two giant females tossing Hefty Smurf back and forth like a handball.

“So, you are the one who likes to poison dogs and destroy personal property?”

Hefty Smurf tried to respond to the redhead but she squeezed him even tighter.

“You know, my friend and I don’t take kindly to those who mess around with our buddy, Chuck.  Isn’t that right, Marcie?

“Not at all.”

The redhead pulled Hefty Smurf even closer.

“What do you have to say for yourself?”

With the tossing, squeezing and one too many blueberry mojitos, Hefty Smurf’s only response was to spew blue vomit all over the redhead’s freckled hand.

“Oh, now you did it,” responded the one with coke bottle glasses.

The redhead spun Hefty Smurf around like she was winding up for a big pitch.  Then she threw him over the pub, out of the village and into the horizon.  Hefty Smurf sailed over the land of the Peanuts Clan and onto a journey that took him through the comic strips of Mark Trail, Blondie and Hagar the Horrible.  He traveled further than any Smurf had gone.  And it was there that he landed on top of the army cot of one sleeping Beetle Bailey.

 

*******

 

“And that’s how you take care of business,” smiled Peppermint Patty as she eased further into the lawn chair in Charlie Brown’s backyard.

Charlie Brown wasn’t so sure.  So far things had only turned for the worse.  The insurance adjuster shook his head when he looked at the doghouse.  His dog moved into the basement to fight off some powerful hallucinogen.  Now Peppermint Patty told him how she and Marcie disposed of the muscled ringleader.

“Are you sure everything will be alright,” he asked.

Peppermint Patty lifted her Ray Bans.  “You know Chuck, you worry too much.”

He did not argue.

“If you want to worry,” she added.  “Worry about getting us some lemonade.  Right, Marcie?”

“Vengeance sure makes a gal thirsty.”

Charlie Brown shrugged and headed into the house.

“You know what, Marcie,” asked a smiling Peppermint Patty.

But Marcie did not respond for her eyes were fixed on a green lawn turning blue.  A sea of Smurfs soon spilled all over her, ripping off her coke bottle glasses and hiding them in a nearby pumpkin patch. Then the sea turned to Peppermint Patty, jumping all over her like a battalion of army ants.  For every one Peppermint Patty could pull off two more jumped aboard.

“We’re going to tickle the peppermint right out of you,” they yelled.

“No you’re not,” shouted a defiant Peppermint Patty.

She tried to fight them, but eventually fell to the ground.

“Please stop!”

But they didn’t.

“Revenge,” shouted Bartender Smurf.

“This is for Hefty,” cried Off-Duty Cop Smurf.

They tickled and tickled until Peppermint Patty promised to never set foot into their village and to also change her name to Patricia.  And as quickly as she crossed her heart, the blue tide receded returning green to the yard.

When Charlie Brown appeared with a fresh pitcher of lemonade, his mouth stood agape at the sight of Marcie on her hands and knees searching for her lost glasses and Peppermint Patty swatting at what appeared to be invisible bees.

Woodstock flew down from a nearby tree and landed on Charlie Brown’s shoulder.  Charlie Brown listened to his yellow-feathered friend and then set down the pitcher.  He picked up a cocktail napkin and asked, “If you are up to it, Wood, I need a favor.”

 

 *******

 

The crowd in the village square was more jubilant than ever and it filled Papa Smurf with even more unease.

“Why did you make the redhead change her name,” Papa Smurf asked.

“Because she deserved it,” shouted Grouchy Smurf.

“Because we could,” yelled Scruffy Smurf.

“Because it was wild,” screamed Parolee Smurf.

“But did any of you think about what might happen next,” Papa Smurf continued.

“What do you mean,” asked Befuddled Smurf.

“They’re not all unlicensed psychologists and thumb suckers over there.  There is one that never bathes and one that never talks.  You think their oval headed leader is going to let this pass?

“Bring it on,” shouted Heckler Smurf.

“Is that what you want?  Do you want an all out war?  Do you want an ongoing fight, day in and day out?  Do you want their leader to call in his dog’s brother, the one that lives in the desert, the one the Mexicans call “El Clavo.”

A gasp went through the crowd.

“He wouldn’t!”

“Why wouldn’t he?”

Then a hush…  Papa Smurf finally got through to them.

“Go home and think about what you really want before you wish for any more.”

And dispersed they did until the village square became as empty as the evening sky. Then off in the distance Papa Smurf saw a yellow bird clutching what appeared to be a white flag.

 

*******

 

“Glad you came.”

“Glad you sent the invite.”

Charlie Brown shook Papa Smurf’s hand and they both ducked into a corner booth of a roadside diner.

“Two coffees,” Charlie Brown said to the waitress.  He then pulled out a pack of Camels.  “Cigarette?”

“No thanks,” replied Papa Smurf.  “Never picked up the habit.”

“Me neither,” Charlie Brown replied. “It’s just….  You know…  I heard it can be a peace offering.”

Papa Smurf smiled.  “The yellow bird was enough.”

Charlie Brown could not believe this was the first time they had met.  The cartoon character that sat across from him looked much older and smaller than he thought.  There was a weary sadness in his eyes.

“How did it come to this,” Papa Smurf asked.

Charlie Brown only shrugged.  “It’s like being in the middle of a tornado.  You just wish for it to end.”

Papa Smurf nodded.  “Did the redhead really change her name?”

“Went to the courthouse today.”

“I’ll be.”

The waitress filled their coffee cups.

“Did your muscle really join the army,” Charlie Brown asked, grabbing the cream.

“It was for the best,” Papa Smurf replied.  “Village life never suited him.”

Charlie Brown took a sip of the coffee and quickly spit it back into the cup.  “Can I get a hot chocolate,” he asked the passing waitress.

At least the kid was trying, Papa Smurf thought.

“What’s the feeling in your camp,” asked Charlie Brown

“Crowds sway in either direction,” replied Papa Smurf.  “Right now I have them convinced you will call in El Clavo.”

“Spike,” Charlie Brown laughed.  “There’s a reason he lives alone in the desert. He’s so shy he’s frightened of his own shadow.”

“Well,” replied Papa Smurf. “No one really needs to know that part.”

“So Spike is your bogeyman?”

“A vengeful vaquero with a deadly aim and a cold heart…  So I’ve heard… So I’ve told…”

Charlie Brown nodded.  If the story got them to this table, let the story be told.

 

*******

 

They ordered eggs and hash browns.  They shot the breeze, trading war stories and sharing pancake recipes.  They both agreed that the greasy spoon was one fine spot and promised to meet again.  Then, they got up and stepped into the cool night air with a rising moon casting long shadows.

“Cashew later,” Papa Smurf chuckled as he headed down the street.

“Keep those tights bright,” responded Charlie Brown, briefly departing from his natural demeanor.

He liked the old man.  He’d make it work.  First on his list:  Sending his dog to obedience school.

 

 

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