Christmastime 2020

Dear Pandemic Participators,

Well, well ... 2020. That was the year that was. Suffice to say, it has been the strangest year on record for jolly Bedrock — at least in the lifetime of its current inhabitants. The year has seen our burg’s population transition from being just somewhat peculiar to downright farcical.

Old Harold & Mrs. Simms, for instance, went into hibernation at the beginning of the lockdown and have rarely been seen since. Harold emerges once every great while to have the mold scraped off his back, but otherwise the two remain invisible to the public ... most of whom seem quite happy with that arrangement. Rumor has it that the pair is subsisting on Geraldine’s famous lemonade which she is believed to be making now in the basement of their house, since the large boiler and copper coils have disappeared from their backyard. The neighbors report periodic episodes of what sounds like wild partying in the Simms’ family room, but we suspect it has more to do with old Harold going off on a conspiratorial rant about the communists trying to force everyone into Antifa by insisting that all wear masks.

Jake Williams has taken the pandemic quite seriously and, like Harold, stays mostly ensconced in his own domicile. But he has been seen on occasion at the local feed store where, unlike Harold, both he and his mule dutifully wear their respective masks and observe proper social distancing from others — a feat aided no doubt by his mule’s chronic gastric distress.

Depression has hit a number of our local residents, and even the saintly Widow Bartlett has been observed sneaking out of the package store several times of late. This has brought great consternation to the local temperance league, since she is a life member and well known to local taverns, law enforcement, and plate-glass companies as teetotal. When questioned about her recent behavior, she retorts that she is only trying to follow CDC guidelines by sanitizing the “inside as well as the outside” in order to minimize contagion.

Rev. Denny Dowser and Fr. Francis Sprinkle have set aside their doctrinal differences for the time being to minister to the forlorn, and even town agnostic Bobby Jim Martin has seemed receptive to their counsel, particularly after Judge Scofflaw ordered him to undergo anger management subsequent to his attempted firebombing of Zeke Mayfield’s ’71 AMC Gremlin (a case of envy, no doubt, since Bobby Jim’s ’84 Yugo didn’t survive long enough for him to be able to buy antique plates).

All the local churches also have been hard hit by the lockdown, and some are employing quite diverse techniques in attempts to garner more attendees to their online services. In one such effort, Pastor Cephus Blotfester decided to invite some of the girls from Dave’s Doll House to “pole dance for the Lord” during one of his Zoom services; but what he didn’t realize was that one of his iniquitously clad acolytes was only 16, and her devotional choreography drew the attention not only of several of his wayward flock but also of the FBI. He says he now feels a call to prison ministry.

Mayor Frump, in his attempts to build on his fledgling political career, has made feeble efforts to appeal to the media-grabbing mobs. He even tried to requisition funds from the city treasury to erect a Confederate monument on the courthouse square just so he could invite the national news to watch him take it down. He also recommended that the weather forecasters cancel snow this winter since it evinces too much “white privilege.” Luckily, neither of his plans has been approved by the city council.

Despite all the chaos, the Cratons have maintained at least some semblance of sanity during the year’s hysteria and continue to pretend at being a normal household.

Since all offspring are now grown and have fled Bedford environs, the aging parents were able to go to Disney World earlier this year, fortunately just days before the earth shut down, and endeavored to spark their second childhood — a goal somewhat quashed by the realization that while the spirit may embrace juvenility the body maintains its strong sense of chronology. They nonetheless were grateful for the experience, not realizing at the time that it would offer the only opportunity to venture far from the Isle of Patmos. Since Debbie’s hopes of other travel this year have been limited to jaunts down 16th Street, she is now saving up for a river cruise along the canals of Mars.

The global pandemic notwithstanding, all Craton family members have remained reasonably healthy — at least as of this writing — and have not succumbed to the temptation to take on the latest viral fad. Ben and Nyssa continue their work in Lafayette, Indiana (though Ben now works from home), and Jon and Annie also have had to work some from home in Snohomish, Washington. Stephen (who has long worked online from home) resides still in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he has easy access to lots of hiking trails that he takes advantage of rather often to escape the world’s insanity.

Dr. Debbie continues on the “front lines,” as they say, healing the halt and maim; and she on occasion gets to model some of the latest Victoria’s Secret line of PPE attire in her office. She looks forward to retirement sometime within the next millennium, but as things currently stand that may remain an N95 pipe dream.

Old John, who always has been a trendsetter, seemingly got ahead of the game by having what all the docs now think was Covid-19 last Christmas, before it became de rigueur. Whatever he had remained contained to him as no one else caught it, so he may only have been test driving some other contagion. Nevertheless, he did recover and continues haranguing what few students dared return to lessons after the lockdown, and he still scribbles a few noisy notes from time to time — far fewer than in days past, since no one appears to be performing anything anywhere at present. Most of his musical work has been confined to arranging music for a singing school in Spain, which seems apropos of 2020 given that he neither sings nor speaks Spanish.

Nonetheless, we wish one and all a Merry Christmas and a much more sane 2021!

John Douglas & Debbie Craton
with Dahlia Cat, Lily Cat, and Bootsy Cat

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