Christmastime 2011

Dear Holiday Hucksters,

’Tis that time of year again, and what a year it has been for beautiful downtown Bedrock! It seems that our humble burg has managed to make something of a name for itself after Rev. Peterson published a series of articles in Fundy Weekly about the uniqueness of our community ... unique enough, he says, that had St. John been alive today he would have penned an eighth letter of the Apocalypse addressed to the church at Bedford. In essence, the good Revrun’ postulates that Bedford sits directly atop hell. Citing as evidence the large number of recent fires in the community which have destroyed, in turn, a church (not of his denomination), a NAPA auto parts store, the local toilet bowl factory, and Momma Richie’s School for Wayward Girls, he theorizes that as the world nears its end hell moves closer to the surface, thus allowing flames from the fiery pit to devour these places of sin, heresy, and capitalist greed. Rev. Calvin Yokum, whose parish succumbed to these unearthly flames, argues instead that if indeed the flames of hell are responsible for these conflagrations, then they targeted his sanctuary precisely because he stood firm against the apostasy of Rev. Peterson’s overactive imagination. This has led to a pitched battle of eschatological proportions between the two (though some would argue that their debates have become more purely scatalogical), and even a local pagan shaman has attempted to intervene and suggests that perhaps the fire demons, of whatever stripe they may be, could be appeased by the sacrifice of a live virgin. Both Yokum and Peterson reject this idea, however, and ostensibly in an attempt to spare the lives of area youth Chad Holman has been brought up on charges for doing his part to make sure there are no candidates available.

Elsewise, Bedrock has attempted to keep up with current events by mimicking national headlines. In late summer Holly Wainright and Billy Bob Martin had the bright idea of organizing an “Occupy Bedford” and began their movement by congregating at a booth in Rusty’s Bar. In the event, however, they were joined only by Oscar Bittle, the town drunk, who quickly abandoned the movement when he learned that the meetings did not include free beer. Holly and Billy Bob expected to get the backing of the local UAW, but that dematerialized shortly after it was discovered that Billy Bob had relieved himself on Harold Simms’ newly restored '53 Studebaker. Undaunted, our determined misfits tried organizing an “Occupy Walmart” instead, and initially saw some success as their gathering drew several dozen ne’er-do-wells to the store. But soon the numbers dwindled again as the protestors noticed a big sale on RC Cola and pork rinds in aisle seven.

The Cratons have remained unassociated with either development, however, and continue simply breathing Bedford oxygen — albeit laced with sulfur and brimstone as Rev. Peterson would maintain. They nevertheless have not been without their own attempts to achieve notoriety.

Young Stephen has continued his work in the Philippines, returning to “Helltop” only for the holidays. He seems to enjoy his work in what he describes as a Third World country, insisting that his earlier life in Bedford prepared him quite well for the challenges of a previous century. He plans to return to Manila in January and continue building the international franchise.

Jonathan, who works at the Game Preserve in Bloomington (and no, it has nothing to do with live animals), decided to pull the ultimate Trick or Treat on Halloween and came down with a serious case of appendicitis. Although he was scheduled to open the store the following morning, he decided to let the local surgeons open him instead on Halloween night to remove the uncooperative element. He has recovered quite nicely from his emergency surgery and is once again back to haranguing his parents and ignoring his elder and younger brothers.

Ben continues to work at Hewlett-Packard in Lafayette, enjoying his lovely and spacious bachelor pad (with its huge closets), and taking care of the two Craton grandcats. He is currently planning a trip to Japan next year, assuming there is not a total nuclear meltdown of both economies or reactor plants, where possibly he might get to run into his youngest brother ... unless he hides sufficiently well.

Dr. Debbie continues her work with Bedford’s halt and maim, and also managed to drag her husband and two friends with her on an Alaskan cruise this past July. They all discovered some wonderful things on this voyage, including (1) neither Craton is prone to seasickness and (2) there does exist a world outside of Bedrock. John in particular was quite amenable to the idea of relocating to Ketchican, Alaska, or even Carcross, Yukon, as either locale seemed no less civilized than Lawrence County, Indiana — and with a far less hellish climate.

But here John sits, nonetheless, mostly just decomposing and pretending to teach young students about music — when he’s not having major surgery done on one of his sons, his house, or his mother-in-law’s abode. Although his beloved wife has been mentioning the thought of maybe retiring someday, he has to keep reminding her that they just can’t afford to do that until Goodyear has its big sale again.

But we wish each and every reader of this annual drivel a Merry Christmas and a wonderful and prosperous 2012 filled with all your hearts’ delights ... or whatever.

John, Debbie, Ben, Jonathan & Stephen Craton

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