“Nicholas, are you seriously not going to shave? Your face is beginning to look scruffy!”
“Yes dear,” Nicholas replied while rubbing absently at his hairy chin.
“You’re impossible,” his wife said, and then she promptly turned away from her husband and quickly grabbed her holo-tablet. “I’m calling my mother!”
“Yes dear,” Nicholas repeated, and then he reached down to dip his paint brush into a can of fire engine red paint. When he was satisfied that the bristles were completely soaked he continued painting.
“Hi Mom,” he heard his wife say. He continued listening to her as he worked.
“Hi Lisa, how are you?”
“Mom, my husband still continues to act crazy.”
“I guess he still hasn’t given up has he?” Lisa’s mom asked.
“No, ever since the beginning of this year he’s been acting more and more bizarre, and now, to top it off, he’s growing a beard!”
“Oh, well, he probably looks handsome,” Lisa’s mom said.
“No, no he doesn’t, and please don’t encourage him. It’s bad enough that he’s a Junk Trader for the entire Fleet but now he’s starting to look the part also!”
“Now honey, you knew he was a Junk Man from the start so I don’t want to hear that.”
“I know Mom.”
“You’ve been married ten years so his behavior should be no surprise.”
“I know, I know,” Lisa said exasperated.
“Well, has he told you how he plans to carry out his plan?”
“You mean his plan to attach an enormous junk barge, which he bought at the beginning of this year, to our only family Space Wagon, and then proceed to attempt to deliver gifts to all the children of the entire Fleet?”
“Yes,” Lisa’s mom said, smiling slightly, “that plan.”
“No, he hasn’t told me that, but I will tell you that he’s painting our Space Wagon red even as we speak.”
“Red? Why Red?”
“I guess it’s the same reason why he is growing a beard and has gained about twenty-five pounds in the last few months!”
“Yes, I think ‘crazy’ is actually too soft of a word for what is going on here.”
While the women spoke Nicholas just chuckled softly to himself. He finished painting the last coat on the Space Wagon and stood back to look at his handiwork.
It was perfect.
Everything that his wife and mother-in-law were talking about was true. He had made plans to deliver gifts to all the children of the fleet. He had also announced these plans to everyone he encountered and news traveled fast.
What was also true was that he had spent the better part of the year fashioning together the gifts from the junk he bought from the space traders. The gifts for the children were all the same; they were just metal boxes with four wheels attached like a toy car. It was blue cars for the boys and pink cars for the girls. Nothing special. No, the special part was the other gift he had in mind.
In the beginning of the year a space trader by the name of Mel had flown into the trading port. He had a garbage barge full of junk that no one wanted. When Nicholas first saw it he rejected it, but it turned out that Mel was a pretty good salesman.
Needless to say, Nicholas ended up with the garbage.
After a few days of rummaging though the rubbish he came across something in the pile that was of such value that he couldn’t believe it. It was that treasure that he was going to share with the Fleet. It was also that treasure that he hadn’t told anyone about.
“Okay Mom,” Lisa said, bringing Nicholas out of his reverie. “I guess I’ll have more news after he leaves tomorrow.”
“He’s doing all of this tomorrow?”
“Yeah, can you believe that? When everyone gets a holiday break my husband decides to take off.”
Lisa’s mom shook her head, then, after a while, they completed saying their goodbyes.
Just after midnight a distress beacon sounded waking up Private First Class Timothy Reynolds. He checked the cause of the beacon and sent word to Fleet Command. The Fleet Command Sergeant studied the situation and then sent word to the General.
The General of Fleet Command was a stern man, but he had a tendency to be somewhat soft in the middle. This was known to only a few however.
“What’s the status?” he asked.
“We have a distress signal coming from Section 12 Quadrant 25.”
“Did you say 12 and 25?”
For some reason the numbers sounded familiar.
“What’s the situation?”
“A little red ship carrying an enormous garbage barge is stalled there. What should the protocol be?”
“Destroy it,” the General said.
“Wait…did you say a red ship?”
“We have no red ships in the fleet. Is it ours?”
“Yes sir. It belongs to a Junk Trader by the name of Nicholas. His distress message says that he has gifts for all the children of the Fleet and his message also says ‘Merry Christmas.’”
“Christmas sir. What is the protocol?”
“Just kidding. I think I heard about this Junk Trader. Send a fifty ship squadron to assist.”
About twenty minutes later Nicholas was busy checking his ship’s scopes when he saw a large squadron of fighter ships suddenly arrive.
“Goodbye world,” Nicholas said.
As he said this his radio beeped.
“Junk Trader Nicholas, please prepare for boarding. We are here by command of the General to assist in delivering the packages to all the children of the fleet.”
Nicholas wiped his brow and smiled.
At about five in the morning the General’s assistant approached the stern General with a package.
“What’s this?” the General asked.
“It’s a gift from the Junk Trader Nicholas.”
The General took the package and opened it. When he saw what it was, that soft part of him that only a few people knew about grew even larger, and he smiled.
It was a blue toy car and…a bible. The bible was in pristine condition.
“Merry Christmas,” he said to his assistant and he smiled again.
His assistant looked at him perplexed and said, “Merry What-mas?”
“Christmas my friend,” the General said. “Merry Christmas!”