Sadly, Southernfrau is no longer with us. Her stories are archived here for her friends to remember her by. Enjoy her legacy to Lancer.
Word Count 2,175
Disclaimer: Sure I own them…and I get kick backs from the Tooth Fairy, free toy samples from Santa, and a lifetime supply of jelly beans from the Easter Bunny. What? Okay, I know it’s too unbelievable, but it can’t hurt to dream.
Author’s Note: Thanks to Jean for sharing the real life adventures of John-Paul and Iain for this little ficlet. She sent me the idea yesterday, and the blasted plot bunny refused to be silenced, it demanded to be written.
Word of caution: This is an Easter story so of course it has some religious connotations, if that bothers you…walk on by.
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Murdoch and Harlan were concealed around the corner, hid in the shadows of the dining room doorway as they clandestinely watched and listened to the animated conversation between Scott and Johnny. Harlan had his snowy white handkerchief pressed firmly to his mouth to hold in his mirth, his eyes glittered with tears of suppressed laughter. Murdoch had a huge fist raised to his mouth and was biting the knuckle of his index finger in his attempts to keep quiet.
Johnny had been too young to understand or remember Easter last year, but he did remember Christmas just a few months ago. The traditions and celebration of the holiday had him excited about the upcoming Easter holiday. This morning he had apparently heard some of the ladies on the ranch talk about preparations for Easter, which was the next day, and now he was quizzing his older brother for information on the day and what he could expect.
“Squat, what’s Easter?” asked Johnny, as he bounced on his tiptoes in front of the chair Scott sat in as he read.
Scott frowned over the distraction by his energetic little brother; sighing he looked up and replied, “Easter is a religious holiday about Jesus, like Christmas.”
“Yippie,” Johnny squealed, as his bouncing turned into a full fledge feet off the floor hopping. “Squat, does that mean the baby Jesus is going come down the chimney and leave presents?”
Rolling his eyes Scott laid his book across the arm of the chair, he knew he might as well give up on reading until he had satisfied his curious little brother. “Easter is not about Jesus being born, it’s about Jesus dying after he was nailed on the cross, and then rising again,” answered the knowledgeable eight- year old.
A look of horror dimmed the sparkle from Johnny’s eyes as he squeaked breathlessly, “Somebody nailed a baby to a cross?”
Scott’s shoulders slumped as he resigned himself to having to explain this in a way that would not frighten or scare Johnny. Scooting over in his chair, he patted the seat indicating Johnny should climb up and sit with him. The toddler scrambled into the chair with his big brother’s help, losing one of his boots as he did.
“It’s like this Johnny. Christmas is about celebrating Jesus being born. Easter is about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, but he wasn’t a baby he was grown up then.”
“But Easter is Sunday, Jesus was just borned Christmas, so Jesus can’t be growed up!”
“Yes he was, Johnny. Jesus was born a long time ago, even before Papa and Ha, don’t you remember them telling us about Christmas when they were children? They couldn’t have Christmas if Jesus wasn’t born yet.”
“Ohhhh…Jesus died on Easter? Does that mean Dead Jesus is coming down the chimney and bring Easter presents? Is Jesus a ghost…Johnny not want no ghost in the house cause Johnny will be scared.”
“You don’t get presents for Easter, Johnny. You get colored Easter eggs, only they are all hidden and you have to find them after you eat breakfast.”
“Squat, how come we don’t eat the Easter eggs for breakfast?”
“Because Johnny they’re invisible until you get up and eat Easter morning. After you eat then you can look around and find where they are hidden.”
“Does dead Jesus hide the eggs, Squat?”
Scott growled in frustration and scrubbed his face. Jesus isn’t dead anymore Johnny. Three days after he died, God made him alive again and he went up to Heaven with him to help build Heaven cause Jesus is a carpenter.”
“If Jesus don’t bring the Easter eggs, who does, Squat?” inquired Johnny, his head tilted to the side, gazing up as his brother with a serious contemplative look.
“The Easter Bunny brings them.”
“Does the bunny come down the chimney and put them in the socks hanging on the fireplace?”
“No, we don’t hang our socks for Easter like we do at Christmas. “
“What about a tree?”
“We don’t put up a tree for Easter,” stated Scott in all his elder wisdom.
“How does the bunny get here? Does the bunny have a sleigh and reindeer like Santa?”
“Nope, he hops here.”
“Where does the Easter Bunny get colored eggs?”
Scott paused to think, he hadn’t really ever considered that before, but being eight, he was sure he could figure this out. His brow scrunched down in measured concentration, and when the answer came to him, he smirked brightly and informed Johnny. “The Easter Bunny lays the colored eggs, and they’re colored so we can tell them from regular old chicken eggs because he hides them in the yard. He brings us a basket to carry while we look for his eggs. You don’t remember this cause you were just a baby last year, but he left chocolate candy in the baskets too!” Scott licked his lips as he recalled the creamy treats that had literally melted in his mouth. Then he snickered when he remember that Johnny had smeared his candy all over his white suit before they ever even got to church last Easter.
“Are Squat sure the Easter Bunny brings the eggs and not dead Jesus?”
“Yes, Johnny, I’m sure,” Scott replied, crossing his arms over his chest in indignation that his knowledge of Easter was being questioned.
A mischievous light twinkled in Johnny’s eyes as he announced, “Johnny gonna get Patty Pat to help him find the mostest eggs, cause Patty Pat knows how to find the bunny rabbit tracks. “ Johnny giggled infectiously over his ingenious plan as he rubbed his tiny hands together in glee.
Wiping the moisture from their eyes and cheeks, and then schooling their faces to neutral expressions Papa and Ha entered the room. The two adults beamed at the delightful picture the boys made sitting in the chair together.
“Are you boys ready for your nightly story? You need to get right so you can go to bed because the Easter Bunny comes tonight. And he won’t leave your baskets if you aren’t asleep!” Papa exclaimed.
“Murdoch, would you do the honors of reading to the boys tonight? I have a special project that I need to work on.”
Murdoch assumed Harlan was going to make sure the boys’ baskets were in order, as they had already planned that Ha would slip into the rooms after the boys were asleep and leave their baskets by their beds. Murdoch was unaware that something Johnny had said to Scott had given Ha an idea for an additional surprise for the boys.
While Papa read to the boys, and then hustled them off to the bathroom and finally to bed, Ha was sequestered in his room working on his special project. He took the lid to a gift box and cut off the edges, leaving himself with a flat piece of cardboard. On that he drew the footprints from the front and back legs of a rabbit. He used a knife to cut the outlined tracks out. He chuckled over his idea. He had the stencil to leave rabbit tracks, now he just needed something to make them. It had to be something fairly easy to clean-up. He certainly didn’t want Maria to get after him with her wooden spoon. Harlan spun around from the desk getting ready to go downstairs to look for something to use. As he turned, his eye spied the can of talcum powder on his dresser. Ha practically danced a jig across the room as he retrieved the can. He stooped, laid his stencil on the floor and shook some powder over it. He lifted his template and had to stop himself from crowing in delight at how well it worked. All he had to do now was wait, until he was sure the boys were sound asleep, so he changed into his linen nightshirt and settled in bed for with a book to pass the time.
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The dull thud of his book hitting the floor after sliding off his lap woke Harlan. He gasped as he realized he had fallen asleep before carrying out his job. Checking his bedside clock he saw it was two-thirty in the morning. He breathed a sigh of relief that he still had time. Grabbing the boys’ baskets, the stencil and powder can, he tip-toed into the hall. He started the bunny tracks in front of the French doors at the end of the hall that lead to one of the outside staircases. He laid a row of tracks from there to Scott’s room, crept to his bedside and left his basket on his night table. Then he backtracked and left a trail to Murdoch’s room were Johnny slept in his crib.
Harlan crawled across the room as he moved his stencil from place to place, leaving the tracks. He set Johnny’s basket in the rocker that was between his crib and the window. He had to stifle the groan that ached to get out from his stiff back and knees from all the crawling he did. He knew he would never be able to stand without making a noise due to the discomfort, so he decided to continue crawling until he reached the door.
With his back to the room, Harlan did not see Johnny start to squirm as the urge to urinate drew him from his slumber. Johnny’s eyes fluttered open and closed as he tried to snuggle back into sleep. However, his bladder insisted that he awaken. His eyes popped open and he was getting ready to call out for Papa when he saw a basket in the rocker, and then detected movement out of the corner of his eye.
Harlan rose stiffly from the floor as he reached the door, moaning at the pain in his legs and back. He stumbled on through the doorway, arms flailing as he fought to keep his balance.
Johnny tracked a white trail across the floor, just as he raised his eyes to the doorway he saw a ghost rise from the floor and then flap its arms and fly out the door. He stared in mute terror for about two seconds as his mind processed what he saw. Now he knew Scott was wrong, dead Jesus’ ghost brought the baskets, not an Easter bunny.
Johnny’s shrill scream split the air, “DEAD JESUS DEAD JESUS!” Over and over he screamed. He was so scared he wet himself.
The scream shocked Ha and he fell heavily onto the hall floor, knocking himself out. Murdoch was snatched from his slumber in such a rude and alarming manner he could not get his confused sleep heavy limbs coordinated to free himself from his covers. As Murdoch fought the blankets, Johnny scrambled hysterically over the side of the crib and dashed for Papa’s bed. He clambered up the side and plopped his wet behind right over Papa’s face and hair.
Having heard the screamed words dead Jesus in his room, Scott came racing down the hall. He didn’t realize he was running right through the bunny tracks, kicking the powder up so that it settled all over any skin not covered by his nightshirt, including his face.
Scott jumped over Ha’s prone body and skidded into his father’s room, just as Papa managed to free himself from the bed linens and light the lamp. As the flame flared and lit the room, Johnny saw a white coated Squat standing at the foot of the bed.
“Oh no,” Johnny cried, “Dead Jesus made Squat a ghost.”
“Johnny what on earth is wrong with you, Scott is not a ghost. He just has something white all over him. You were just dreaming, there is no dead Jesus here.”
Harlan chose that moment to regain consciousness. He grunted and groaned as he pushed himself up off the floor.
Johnny shrieked and pointed to the hall and climbed up Papa’s body like a monkey. “See there’s dead Jesus!”
“No, that’s Ha! Look Johnny.”
Ha staggered into the room. He scratched his head as he took in the state of things. Scott was coated head to toe with white powder. Johnny was wet and trembling in his Papa’s arms. Murdoch hair looked wet for some reason.
“Well I wanted my special project to be a surprise, but I wasn’t counting on it causing this much chaos.”
Murdoch began to chuckle, he laughed until he had to put Johnny down so he could hold his aching sides. When he was finally able to talk he informed Harlan, “Well, its official I now know who Johnny inherited his ability to propagate chaos, panic and disorder from…YOU!”
An hour later, after cleaning up and having a snack of milk and cookies while Papa and Ha assured Johnny he had not been visited by dead Jesus, the family was back in bed secure in the knowledge it was the Easter Bunny that cometh.
The Brat Pack Series AU
Author’s note on the Brat Pack here
My Brother, The Brat
Another Day in the Life
Breakfast: A Proper Way to Start the Day
Taking the Town by Storm
Home Again Home Again
Itching to Break Out
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
Gifts of Love
The Easter Bunny Cometh
Just a Victim of Circus’Stance!
Ask and You Shall Receive
The Gospel According to Johnny
Serving Up Trouble
No More Monsters Under the Bed
Wrinkled Potatoes and Old Tomatoes
O Come Let Us Adore Him
Carving Out Fun
Look Before You Eat
Cover Up (written with Kit)
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