Tuesday, December 24, 2019

TUX



80% of the following short story came to me in a dream, including the conversation betweenn Tux and Santa.  It is about one of our dogs, Tux.  When I told my wife, Kate, about it the next morning she encouraged me to write it down, so here it is, Kate . . .

Tux and Kane


Tux was a little dog who lived in the inner city.  He was shy and somewhat timid, and he rarely smiled.  Tux was lonely.  Where other dogs would greet each other with barks, tail wagging and sniffs, Tux would usually go in the opposite direction or stay behind the legs of his human.

Dogs know when it’s Christmas. They see the changes in the environment – decorations, Christmas trees, cards being received and sent as well as displayed – and they see humans bring home gifts from the shops, often gift wrapped.  They also know who Santa is, seeing his face on many windows, walls and doors. 

One Christmas Eve as Tux wandered into the back garden of the house where he lived, he saw a sleigh.  Not just a sleigh, but a sleigh with reindeer, lots of reindeer.  Not just a sleigh with lots of reindeer, but also a man with a big white beard dressed in red.  He was checking one of the reindeer and shaking his head when he happened to see Tux.  “Hello little fella” he said in a tone so friendly and gentle that it would have made an immediate friend of the most hardened skeptic.  ”Hello Santa” replied Tux.

Most people would have been amazed and confused by such a scene but animals simply accept what happens without bothering with questions.  The word “why” does not even exist in animal language, there is no need for a word to describe a concept of which they have no knowledge.  If it rains, it rains, no need to work out why.  If a sleigh with lots of reindeer and a man in a red suit is in your backyard, that is the fact of it.

“One of my reindeer, Comet, is unwell.  He won’t be flying through the sky tonight,” said Santa, taking a moment to laugh at his own joke, although one that Tux didn’t get.  “He’ll be okay,” said Santa, “he’s got a touch of the flu and needs to rest.”  As he spoke he was bundling Comet into the back seat of the sleigh, where he sat with Santa’s red blanket around him. 

“Why so sad, little fella?” said Santa to Tux, picking up on his mood.  Santa is someone you don’t want to shrug off or to make some comment to deflect his question, not unless you want coal in your stocking for the next twenty Christmases.  So Tux was honest with him: “The other dogs laugh and call me names, they never let me join in their doggie games.” “Sounds familiar,” said Santa, “I knew someone like that.  Say, you don’t happen to have a red nose, do you?”  Santa looked at Tux and saw that he didn’t.

“No matter,” he said.  “How would you like to take Comet’s place in the sleigh team.  He’s out of action and I need someone to fill his spot, otherwise the team will keep pulling to one side and all we’ll do is go in circles.  It will disappoint a lot of children on Christmas Day if we don’t stop by their houses tonight.”

“But dogs don’t fly,” said Tux.

“Neither do reindeer,” replied Santa, “yet look at them,” pointing to his sleigh.

“You can fly if you believe that you can fly.  Once you believe that you can do something, you’re already well on the path to doing it.”

Tux closed his eyes and willed himself to fly, but nothing happened.

“You’re thinking it too much,” said Santa.  “Let your mind go blank, empty your thoughts and imagine yourself flying.”

“I’ll try,” said Tux.  “Do. Or not do.  There is no try,” responded Santa, wondering where he had heard that before.

Tux did what Santa advised and at first nothing happened, then, as his mind emptied more and more, there was a little movement underneath him.  Eventually he lifted a few centimetres off the ground until he clumsily sat back down with a thump. 

“I flew, I flew” he yelled. ”Not exactly flying,” said Santa, “needs work, but it’s a start.”

The more he practised and got the hang of it, the more his flying improved, until he was quickly doing barrels and loops.  He even dive bombed Santa  whilst calling out “Watch out, Santa, coming in hot.”  Santa scolded him saying “With great power comes great responsibility,” trying to recall where he had heard that one before as well.

So Tux took his place in the team, next to Cupid with Rudolph at the head of the team, and off they flew.

Oh, what a night Tux had.  They visited house after house in country after country, leaving presents for boys and girls.  Tux couldn’t work out how it was that Santa’s big sack never emptied, that having delivered gits to one home, it would be full again when they visited the next one.  But that was of little concern to Tux for, as you know, there is no word for “Why?” in animalspeak.

Wherever they flew, the local dogs would see Santa in the sky and then see Tux as part of the reindeer team.  They would start barking and alert other dogs who would look up and start barking as well.  There was a lot of barking that night.  Barking isn’t just barking, it is also dogspeak, and Tux heard some of the comments:  “Goodness!”, “Hey, would you look at that,” and “What the . . . ?”  The one that Tux liked best “Wow, he’s one of us.”

They visited homes, huts and palaces, in many countries, so many that Tux soon lost count. Comet, in the back of the sleigh, fell asleep not long after Tux had joined the team.  The others made Tux feel welcome and chatted with him as they flew.  In animalspeak all animals can speak each other’s languages.  They passed the time by telling each other Christmas and Santa jokes that, truth be told, weren’t very good:  “Q: Who is Santa’s favourite singer? A: Elf-is Presley”.  “Q: What did Adam say the day before Christmas?  A: "It's Christmas, Eve!"

Tux was both sad and happy when the night came to an end, sad because he had enjoyed himself so much, happy not only because he had enjoyed himself so much, but also because he was exhausted.

When Santa returned him to the backyard from where the journey had started, it seemed to Tux that that had been another lifetime and another Tux.  They said their farewells – Santa, reindeer including Comet, and Tux.  Then Santa flew off, forgetting that he was missing Comet in the team and so flying in circles until he started to get it right.

As for Tux, he was a local celebrity in the canine community, taking his place alongside Kane the White (Best Barker), Hitch the Strong and Lord Henry (who had won his title in a radio competition by getting the most phone-in votes).  Tux became known as Tux the Wise and was often consulted for advice by other dogs.  One of his favourites was “Once you believe that you can do something, you’re already well on the path to doing it.” 

The next Christmas Eve, and every Christmas Eve thereafter, Santa and his reindeer would stop by Tux’s home to wish him a Merry Christmas.



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