Christmastime 2010

Dear Dutiful Dissidents of Derring-Do,

So it would appear that another milestone has been passed in beautiful downtown Bedrock — or was it just another tombstone beside the road?

Things seem to be returning to abnormalcy for many of the residents of our humble burg. Everyone was pleased as punch to learn that old Harold Simms and his wife Geraldine have reconciled their differences yet again, and this time without the use of gunpowder. It seems the large hole the two were seen digging alternately in their backyard last year wasn’t to hide a body but instead was to bury the hatchet — at least that’s what they ended up burying after they found out that the man they’d each hired to snuff the other basically just took their money and skipped town. Realizing they’d been mutual victims of a con run through the classifieds of Mercenary Monthly, they decided life would be merrier if they just got along ... which they appear to have done with the aid of prodigious quantities of Mrs. Simms’ famous lemonade. The harmony that her elixir brought to the town was such that Deputy Waxman has turned a blind eye to the old radiator and coiled copper tubing Mrs. Simms hides behind her lemonade stand.

Great progress has been made also on the rebuilding of Reverend Yokum’s church. All the ugly rumors, which set neighbor against neighbor, about the source of the fire proved to be unwarranted as the fire marshal eventually concluded that it was caused by an electrical short in the baptistry. Although that discovery quelled the bitter accusations flying back and forth, it now has some of the parishoners questioning whether their witnessing the Spirit resting as a tongue of fire on two recent converts as they emerged from the baptismal waters was in fact the Spirit at all.

Such theological quandaries aside, the town has enjoyed watching the new parish emerge from the ashes — all but Bernie Squalls (affectionately known as The village idiot — as opposed to all the other idiots in town) who parades around the new structure every Sunday morning with signs proclaiming that the destruction was God’s judgment against this “den of iniquity.” Most people think Bernie’s actions are less biblical and more just sour grapes over the fact that the city tore down his home compound in an effort to stem the rising tide of feral rats in the community.

The Cratons themselves have survived yet another year of all that Bedrock could throw at them. Two of them accomplished this by leaving town altogether. Ben, of course, still resides in Lafayette, where he works for Hewlett-Packard. Though he was giving thought last year to relocating to more boreal climes, he opted instead to buy a house in Lafayette for himself and his two cats. It is a very nice house with a wonderful man-cave, and he likes to point out its numerous spacious closets. He is still looking for a woman to put in it (the house, that is, not the closet) but in the meantime is enjoying bachelorhood as much as one can in Lafayette, Indiana.

Middle son Jonathan has spent most of the year as a professional job-hunter. After one long semester of a teacher-training course, he decided that wasn’t his calling — and definitely not worth the thousands of dollars to be taught the earthshattering news that adolescents are “different.” He opted for trying to join the workforce instead. Unfortunately, “trying” is the operative word. He still does some substitute teaching (though it seems most teachers around here are of heartier stock than normal), but has yet to find regular gainful employment. It almost looks as though he’s following his father’s example of working more for less as he has two other time-consuming volunteer jobs which look good on his resumé but less attractive to his bank account.

Stephen’s year was a bit more eventful as his work took him to Manila, Philippines, from April through mid-November. He found it quite interesting living that long a time in a third-world country, but he admits that Bedford gave him lots of practice. Everyone was glad to have him back on American soil in time for Thanksgiving, and he is currently trying to re-acclimate himself to Indiana winters and American cuisine. It looks like he may be returning to Manila next February for an indefinite stay ... assuming the North Koreans behave themselves in the interim.

Dr. Debbie continues healing the halt and maim. She felt a great sense of accomplishment earlier this year when the local hospital became a part of St. Vincent Health System, something she and many others had worked for for a very long time. Not only does the new arrangement provide more stability to her practice, but she also has been appointed the chief medical officer. Despite all the changes (and she always has been rather averse to change) she remains entrenched in Bedrock and refuses to look elsewhere, regardless of the promising opportunities in Outer Mongolia.

Old John (Douglas) just keeps getting older — assuming that’s better than the alternative. He continues to teach violin and piano to a few brave souls in the community and scribbles notes from time to time. He had another ballet premiered here this year, and yet another scheduled for next May, but it seems that most of his successes have been in foreign countries like The Netherlands, Serbia, and California.

But till next year, all the Cratons wish everyone a very happy holiday period and a prosperous New Year!

John, Debbie, Ben, Jonathan & Stephen Craton

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