“Pugnacious, P-U-G-N-A-C-I-O-U-S, pugnacious,” Trixie spelled.

Wanh, wanh, wahn (in Peanuts adult voice)

“Cat, K-A-G,” Mart spelled.

Wanh, wanh, wahn, wanh.

“I won, I won!” Trixie yelled, bouncing up and down.

“Come on, Mart, wake up!,” Bobby cried, bouncing up and down on his bed. “You promised we would go sledding today.”

Slowly Mart opened one eye, then the other, trying to shake the nightmare of Trixie beating him in a spelling bee out of her head. “What time is it?” he said.

“It’s six-thirty,” Bobby said. “Time to get up. We’re going to be late. You said you’d take me sledding today.”

Mart pulled the covers over his head and turned over, trying to ignore his younger brother. “Go back to bed. It’s the middle of the night.”

“No, it’s not,” Bobby pouted.

“Not listening, not listening,” Mart said, pulling the pillow over his head. Bobby bounced a couple more times on the bed but when Mart started to growl he stomped out of the room. Mart peeked out from under the covers, saw he had left and rolled over. He shut his eyes and then sat upright, fear in his eyes.

“Please tell me Trixie didn’t win the spelling bee, please tell me Trixie didn’t win the spelling bee,” he mumbled.

Brian poked his head in the doorway. “What are you grumbling about?” he asked.

“I don’t know what’s worse,” Mart said. “First I had a nightmare where Trixie won the spelling bee. The moderator sounded like the adults in a Peanuts movie. You know that wanh, wahn, wahn, wahn? Then, to make matters worse, our youngest sibling just came in and woke me up. It’s Christmas vacation, six-thirty is way too early.”

“You deserve it.” Brian chuckled. “Ever since Bobby opened his Christmas presents and saw that toboggan, he’s been begging to go sliding at Manor House. You’re the one that told him you’d take him today.”

Mart threw back the covers and stomped out of his room and into the bathroom. “Well, I had to do something to shut him up. He kept begging and begging to go yesterday. I had to tell him something before I went over to Dan’s.” He closed the door and the only thing that could be heard for several minutes was running water.

When Mart stepped out of the bathroom, Brian was still standing there.

“What?” Mart asked. “Can’t a guy brush his teeth in peace?”

Brian shook his head. “I didn’t say a thing. I just wonder what Bobby is up to. Remember what they say about revenge being oh so saccharine sweet.”

Mart panicked. “What are you talking about? It’s not even seven o’clock. I’ve got all day to take Bobby up to the Manor House. I even thought of calling Diana and seeing if Larry and Terry wanted to join us.”

Brian laughed out loud. “When are you going to learn? You have to be very specific with Bobby about time or you have to operate on Bobby time, and that’s whatever he chooses it to be. Apparently today that’s about six-thirty.”

Mart groaned loudly, bowed his head and placed his hands on his head. “I’m doomed.”

Brian cackled as he headed downstairs. “You’d better hurry up if you want any pancakes for breakfast. Bobby ate an hour ago. Trixie left the house about ten minutes ago and Dad was just finishing up.”

“What is wrong with this house? I know Moms won’t let us sleep late, but everyone up and fed by seven on a vacation day is just wrong.”

Mart rushed down the stairs and slid into the kitchen. His eyes darted around the kitchen, taking in the table with a lone place setting at it. The stove was spotless and the sink did not hold any dirty dishes. Moms was nowhere in sight. He almost cried. He’d missed breakfast. He stomped over to the refrigerator and opened the door. Not much there but some milk and orange juice.

Getting desperate, he started over to the pantry when he suddenly decided to look in the oven. He sighed in relief. There warming in a pan was a stack of blueberry pancakes with sausage links. He pulled the pan out of the oven, pulled the aluminum foil off of it and inhaled the aroma.

He sat down and devoured the food, afraid that it was an illusion or someone would come in and decide they needed some of it.

When he finished eating, he washed his dishes. Then he headed upstairs and got ready for the day. The plan was that all of the Bob-Whites were going to meet later in the day to go sledding and ice skating.

Mart spent the rest of the morning reading his new Cosmo McNaught book and forgot about his promise to take Bobby sledding.

After lunch, Mart, Trixie and Brian headed over to the clubhouse to pick up their sleds and ice skates before heading up the driveway to the Manor House. Jim was waiting outside on the verandah. Dan came from the stable area carrying a large hamper.

“Mr. Maypenny sent some hunter’s stew for us to have after we get done. He thought it would warm us up after an afternoon outdoors,” Dan said.

“Yummy, yum,” Mart exclaimed as he walked over and tried to take the basket from Dan.

“Hands off,” Dan said. “You think I’m crazy enough to let you carry that food? It would never make into the kitchen because either you’d eat it or spill it.”

Mart tried to look offended but only laughed.

“Go ahead and take it into the kitchen. Cook should be in there,” Jim instructed. “She’ll be happy to see that. She wanted to take off early tonight so she could go visit her sister in White Plains. Mother and Dad are out for the evening. So it will just be the Bob-Whites, Bobby, Larry, Terry and Miss Trask.”

Dan walked around to the service porch as Honey came out the front door with Diana following behind her.

“Hi, Diana,” Trixie said. “Where are Larry and Terry?”

Diana looked around and said, “I’m not sure. They were supposed to meet up with Bobby. I came over early and Harrison was going to bring the boys later. They are either here or somewhere with Bobby.”

“That’s funny,” Brian said. “I haven’t seen Bobby all morning. I thought he was playing in his bedroom. Maybe he went to visit Regan and all three boys are in the stables.”

Dan came back outside from dropping off the stew. “I just was at the stables and I didn’t see any sign of them. Of course they could have been over at Uncle Bill’s apartment. He said he had a small Christmas gift to give them.”

“Well, let’s get going,” Mart said. “If those three rug rats are around here, they will show up when they hear us.”

Trixie placed the ice skates she had been carrying on the verandah. The ever cautious Jim and Brian checked the sleds for cracks and damage. There were several saucers, a toboggan and a runner sled.

Mart grabbed one of the saucers and said, “I’m going to take off and blaze a trail for everyone. That way it will be faster each time we go down the hill.”

“I’ve got a better idea,” Dan said. “I’ll get some water from the stables. We can water down the run. It’s cold enough for the water to freeze by the time we get done icing down the run.”

“That’s a cool idea,” Trixie said excitedly. She started to take off with Dan to get some pails of water.

“Wait a minute,” Jim cautioned. “That doesn’t seem to be a very safe idea.” Brian nodded in agreement.

“Oh, quit being such a spoil sport,” Trixie chided. “It won’t be that fast and who will be coming up the driveway anyway? Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler are gone. Tom and Celia have the afternoon off and I know Regan was going to work on some paper work this afternoon. You guys never want to have any fun.”

Brian and Jim looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders. In no time at all the group had their sledding run iced and ready for a test run.

“I’ll give it a try,” Mart volunteered. He grabbed one of the saucers and started to run down the hill. When he had gained some speed, he launched himself and the saucer forward. Landing on his stomach, he headed down the hill. The icy slope made it difficult to keep the saucer heading straight down the hill. It began to spin as it made its way over the bumps and dips of the run. As he headed toward the bottom of the hill, Mart thought he might end up in the middle of Glen Road, so he purposely fell of the saucer.

For several minutes he lay in the snow, not sure what to do. He didn’t think he had broken any bones but he was a bit out of breath.

“Mart, Mart, are you okay?” Brian yelled.

Mart pushed himself into a kneeling position just as Brian and Jim made their way down the hill. Jim started to slip on the icy path and took Brian out like a bowling ball knocking down pins.

“Strike!” Trixie yelled from the top of the hill as she, Dan, Diana and Honey headed down the hill to make sure the boys were okay.

As the four reached the bottom of the hill, Brian, Mart and Jim were regaining their footing. In an instant, Diana started to slip. She grabbed onto Honey’s arm and the two of them fell to the ground and began sliding down the icy path. Dan tried to stop them, but instead knocked Trixie off her feet. The four friends frantically tried to slow their momentum but they failed. In the next minute all seven of them were laying on the ground in a heap.

As they all tried to get back onto their feet, they heard Regan, Larry, Terry and Bobby laughing.

“It’s not funny,” Brian said.

“Sure it is,” Larry replied, laughing so hard he almost fell down.

“Is this a new game show?” Regan asked. “Bowling for Bob-Whites?”

With that Bobby, Larry and Terry burst into more laughter and ended up on the ground as well.

After several minutes, everyone was finally back on their feet. Gradually, they made their way back up the hill.

Brian and Jim were concerned that the run was too dangerous.

“Oh, quit being worry warts,” Mart said. “It will be fine if you don’t get too quick of a run.”

“I’ll show you,” Dan said. He grabbed the runner sled, gave a short run jumped on head first and headed down the hill. He flew down the hill but before he got to the road he veered off and slowed himself to a safe stop.

“Woot!” he yelled. “That was awesome!”

Brian and Jim helped Bobby, Larry and Terry with the new toboggan and the five of them made the inaugural run on it. For an hour, everyone took turns sledding.

“One more run,” Trixie said, “and then let’s head inside for some hot chocolate before we go ice skating.”

The Bob-Whites went inside but Larry, Terry and Bobby did not follow them.

“Where are you guys going?” Diana asked.

The three younger boys looked from one to another, guilt written all over their faces.

Larry finally stammered, “Regan said to come and get him if we were going to have hot chocolate. We’re going to go down and get him.”

The Bob-Whites took off their boots and hung up their coats. Honey and Diana started to make the hot chocolate as Trixie set out a tray of Christmas cookies that Moms had sent up with her.

They were all sitting down sipping their drinks when Regan and the boys came in.

“What took you so long?” Jim asked.

Guilty looks were again exchanged among the three boys and Regan.

“You guys are up to something,” Trixie said.

More guilty looks were exchanged. But none of the boys said anything.

Finally, Bobby said, “Are we going to go ice skating?”

Seven Bob-Whites groaned.

“Haven’t you had enough fresh air for the day?” Jim asked. “Why don’t we go into the library and play a game. Maybe the suitcase game?”

“That sounds like fun,” Diana chimed in.

All of the Bob-Whites agreed but the three younger boys were disheartened.

Larry walked up to Mart and with mournful eyes pleaded with him. “Please take us ice skating.”

Terry did the same to Dan.

Bobby decided on a different approach. “We need to practice,” he said. “I heard Trixie talking to Honey about doing another ice show for the library in Mexico. I can’t be the leprechaun again. We want to be…” he paused for a few seconds trying to think.

“We want to be…,” he started again.

“Pirates,” Larry chimed in.

“Yes, that’s it,” Bobby cried. “We want to be pirates and have fake swords. We need to choreograph our sword fight.”

Honey’s eyes lit up. “That’s a wonderful idea. We’ve just started talking about the show. I’ll make costumes for you guys. I’ll even make one for your parsquirrel. It can be a parrot that we attach to your shoulder.”

Diana clapped her hands in excitement. “Twin pirates,” she exclaimed. “You are going to be adorable.”

Terry stomped his foot. “Pirates aren’t adorable, they’re imitating.”

The Bob-Whites all groaned.

Diana walked over to Terry and gently asked, “Did you mean intimidating?”

Yes,” Terry said. “Intimidating. Arrgh.”

For several moments the Bob-Whites talked among themselves, making plans for the upcoming ice show. Everyone had an idea and wanted to share it at once. No one was listening to what the other was saying.

“We have to have some speed skating,” Mart said.

“I wonder if we could get Dot to come out and perform,” Jim said. He didn’t notice the dagger that Trixie sent him.

“We have to have a theme,” Diana chimed in.

“I bet we could get Crimpers to be a sponsor,” Brian added. “They are always looking to help out. Then more of the money can go directly to the library.”

“I kind of liked the leprechaun.”

“We’ll need to learn some new tricks,” Trixie added. “We don’t want to be a repeat of last year.”

All of a sudden Bobby stomped his foot. “I want to practice,” he insisted. “You can plan later. I want to practice now.”

“Well, okay,” Mart said. “Let’s get bundled up and we’ll go out for a while. I need to practice as well if I’m going to be the one to win the race this year.”

Jim headed to the foyer and started to help the younger boys with their snow pants and coats. “Where are your skates?” he asked.

Bobby looked around in a panic. “I don’t know,” he started to cry.

“The twins’ skates are out on the porch with mine,” Diana said.

“Bobby, didn’t Regan take yours last week when you broke a lace? I bet they’re down at the stables,” Trixie suggested.

Brian walked outside and returned a few minutes later with a child-sized pair of skates. “Here they are, Bobby,” he said. “Regan must have brought them up earlier.”

Finally, everyone was bundled up and headed out to the lake.

“I’m going to check the ice for debris,” Jim said. “We probably should make plans to flood the surface before the event. We wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt because they tripped over a twig stuck in the ice.”

Bobby, Larry and Terry raced ahead of the older kids. They turned around just as the lake came into view.

Seven audible gasps were heard. Hanging on rope strung between the trees that lined the lake were men’s underwear. There were boxers that had red hearts on them, old saggy jockey shorts, a leopard print thong, and a red union suit. All and all there were about twenty pairs of underwear, along with socks. There were athletic socks, dress socks, mismatched ones, ones with holes in them.

Mart’s eyes widened when he realized that all of the clothes were his. “Trixie!” he yelled as he rushed over to the clothes. “What did I do to you to deserve this?”

“Don’t look at me,” she said, trying to contain her laughter. “It wasn’t me.”

Mart reached for the red union suit and screamed, “I can’t believe it!” He pulled the underwear off the line and it was stiff as a board. “They’re all frozen!”

While the rest of the Bob-Whites burst into laughter, the trio of young boys beamed from ear-to-ear. Marty’s eyes darted across the group trying to determine who looked like the guilty party. Finally, they landed on the culprits.

He marched over to the boys and demanded, “Are you the one responsible for this?”

Bobby innocently batted his eyes and said, “Well, you were so busy this morning that you couldn’t take us sledding. We decided to help by doing some of your laundry.”

Through gritted teeth, Mart replied, “You could have at least done dirty clothes rather than clean ones.”

Bobby’s eyes twinkled in delight. “How do you know they weren’t dirty?”

Mart stammered, remembering what underwear was in his dirty clothes hamper. He made a note that he needed to put a lock on his underwear drawer. “Because I haven’t worn this,” he held up the red one piece underwear, “since we were at Mead’s Mountain.”

“Well, some of them might have been a little dirty after they somehow fell out of your drawer,” Bobby admitted. “And then Reddy just might have grabbed some of them and ran outside and just maybe tried to bury them.”

Dan piped up. “Well, I can see why he might have wanted to bury this.” He gingerly held up the leopard thong with one finger. “Dude, I didn’t need to know about this.”

Mart’s face turned an even darker shade of red. “It was a gag gift,” he tried to explain.

“That’s not the way I remember it,” Brian teased. “Remember I was there when you bought it.”

Trixie squeezed her eyes shut and placed her gloved hands over her ears. “Not listening. I’m going to need a large piece of brain brillo just to avoid having nightmares for the next three days.”

Mart found the empty clothes basket Bobby had brought out and began taking down his clothes. “It would serve you right,” he replied. “After all it was your fault I didn’t get up this morning.”

“My fault,” Trixie shot back. “I didn’t even see you until almost noon today.”

“Yes, your fault. You had to go and win the spelling bee,” Mart explained.

Trixie looked confused. “What are you talking about? I’ve never been in a spelling bee and you all know how well my spelling skills are.”

Mart’s face reddened again. “You did in my dream,” he mumbled under his breath.

Mart continued to rescue his wayward clothes as most of the others began to lace up their skates and take the ice.

Bobby hung back, not quite sure if he should apologize or not. Mart placed the basket of clothes inside the boathouse so they wouldn’t get dirty and were out of the way. Bobby started to follow and then decided maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

When Mart returned from the boathouse, he deliberately walked past Bobby, bent close to his ear and in his most menacing voice whispered, “Just remember, revenge is sweet, saccharine sweet.”

Epilogue: Christmas, Fifty Years later...

Robert Belden walked up to the front door of his childhood home, arms laden with Christmas presents, and knocked on the door and waited for someone to open it. His wife, Vivian, was beside him.

A man in his mid-thirties with blond curly hair opened the door and greeted them.

“Uncle Robert,” the man said. “it’s so good to see you. Let me take that for you.”

“How are things with you, Marty?” Robert asked as they stepped into the living room. The room was decorated with a seven-foot Christmas tree. Garland hung from the windows. Seated on the sofa were his brother Mart and his wife, Anita. Their children and grandchildren were scattered around the room.

As Robert made his way around the room greeting everyone, he noticed the decorations hanging from the garland. There was a stuffed animal that looked like a cross between a parrot and a squirrel, a fake snake wrapped around the garland, orange and purple straws, a leprechaun hat, a picture of a young Bobby standing next to a girl with long ringlet curls holding a violin.

Then there was the underwear. Three pairs of them: one red, one green and one white. On the back of them were the words “Bobby’s Christmas Balls”.

He looked around the room, trying to figure out who could have done this. When his eyes fell upon his brother, they locked for a minute. All of sudden, Robert understood as Mart mouthed the words, “Revenge is sweet, saccharine sweet.”

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Author Notes

Merry Christmas, Vivian. I hope you enjoy this little story. Vivian wanted a friendship story not necessarily centered around the holiday. This was a fun one to write. Most of it was written during our WWW weekend at Trish’s, so the requisite pirate made his appearance.

A huge THANK YOU to both Bonnie and Mal for editing and graphicing at the last minute. The story was written but I just couldn’t get it edited for the longest time.

Word count, 3,553

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