Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Loan With Interest

If a fellow named Kris Kringle ever asks to borrow your mule, say no.

I was snowed in at the Swannanoa Hotel in Asheville and passed the time in a friendly game of chance with Kringle. Suddenly, the old fellow looked at his pocketwatch and muttered, “It’s half past December. I must get to Nova Scotia!”

Well, Kringle is prone to saying things like that. You never know if he is serious. Once I overheard him ask a post office clerk if he could forward all his mail to Nykarleby, Finland “until the reindeer finish grazing.” Hah.

So when the fellow mentioned “Nova Scotia,” I thought it was just his way of saying that he had a train to catch. I offered him the use of my mule Bleb in exchange for a small monetary consideration.

He accepted my offer and left. I had no doubt that he would return Bleb in the care of a stable hand. After three days, however, Bleb was still missing.

I filed a complaint with the police — that will tell you how seriously I took the matter, for I do not generally like to bother them. On the fourth day, the hotel concierge paid me a visit.

“Are you the gentleman who reported a missing mule?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Can you identify him?”

“Certainly. His name is Bleb. He can count to fourteen and favors banana bread and tar paper.”

“In that case sir, the management will thank you kindly to remove your animal from the roof of this establishment.”

“The roof?”

“Indeed, sir.”

I thanked him for his trouble and found my way up to the roof. Sure enough, there was Bleb. How he got there, I have no idea. I managed to get him down, though not without considerable effort and expense. He refused to use a ladder, so I had to purchase a rope and pulley and rent a piano as a counterweight to help lower him to the ground. Once he was on terra firma, the concierge informed me that Bleb had eaten some of the tin shingles. That was reflected on my bill as well.

I asked Bleb how he got up there, and where Kringle was, but all Bleb did was shake his head.

I learned one thing from that experience, though: never loan your mule to a guy who vacations with reindeer. I plan to bill Kringle, but I doubt he will respond.

Copyright © 2013 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

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