Note: The following is an excerpt from the upcoming children's book My Crazy Pet Frog: The Nightmare Pizza Before Christmas.
Chapter 1: Restless
I was snug as a bug, or so the saying goes, and I was most definitely curled up in a rug, for my sheets were still in the wash and I was too lazy to stick them in the dryer. Tomorrow, for sure.
Ah yes, tomorrow—that place where all inconvenient tasks like doing dishes go, especially scrubbing toilets and washing my oversized underwear. Pew!
As I lay there contemplating all of the tasks that I pushed off till the following morning, I began to think over the Christmas list that was still fresh in my mind. I'd sent poor Aunt Edna a ham, hadn't I? Surely I had, but did they delivered it? And was Aunt Edna even alive these days? I tended to get her and her twin sister Emma mixed up. One had a stroke not that long ago. Or was it her husband? Or wait...perhaps it was her cranky, old father who had kicked the bucket one Christmas too early?
“No, Edna never married!” I pushed the rug aside and sat up in bed. “Emma—Emma's the one who...oh, yes! Her father had a stroke. And she had asked me to send a honey-baked ham his way since he was on a meager pension (Did they still have those these days?) and quite lonely, and didn't have anyone to cook for him except his two daughters who visited infrequently, and were afraid that they might be delayed flying in from the west coast, blah, blah, blah.
Though I'd told Emma...wait! Emma's the vegetarian!
Though I'd told Edna that I'd sent the ham to her poor, old father, had I actually done it? I certainly didn't want to inconvenience her with taking a ham aboard her flight. I mean, who wants to bring aboard a ham carry-on, or check hammy at the terminal? Traveling was already difficult enough, but traveling with hammy? They'd be lucky if the staff didn't gobble it down before it arrived on the opposite coast.
If, in fact, it arrived.
Finally, I could take no more, and put on my slippers and lumbered across the room. I opened my ledger—which I preferred to keep by hand since I didn't trust modern computers, and found my way to the holiday gift expenses. “Oh, dear,” I mumbled, still half asleep. I didn't see any notes or special instructions accompanying the appropriate line item. If I'd sent the ham to her father, I would have put an asterisk next to the expense, but no such marking appeared in my trusty ledger.
Likely I'd forgotten, and unfortunately Emma would have a heavy-hammed haul from one airport to the other, from one cozy home to that tiny shamble in the middle of-
“Good grief!” I looked out the window and jumped back.
That crazy, good-for-nothing life-sized frog pressed his face against the window, mouthing the words Merry Christmas.
Instantly I stepped forward and pulled down the shade.
“Aw, come on, dude. Don't be like that. You're not really going to shut me out on Christmas Eve, are you?” he groaned.
The smart move would be to play Christmas music until he eventually went away. But with the swirling wind outside, I understood exactly how bone-chilling it could be.
And wasn't he a cold-blooded creature? Surely he wouldn't last until the morning. And then there was the matter of the falling snow. I certainly didn't want a froggy snowman to greet me when I shoveled the driveway Christmas morning.
As I reached for the shade, I wanted to slap my hand away. “Bartholomew Bundt, what's wrong with you? Remember the last time you let him into your house?” I told myself. Between preparations for the zombie apocalypse and the rogue pizza that found its way inside, he nearly destroyed my humble home. I wasn't keen on handing out Christmas spankings, but this one...I could see the pain in his big, red eyes. He was struggling, this one. “Perhaps I could open my house to him for just one night.” I surprised even myself when the words rolled off my tongue. “Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if...” I pulled up the shade.
But there was no one there.
“Oh, don't worry about that. I already let myself in!” came a voice in my ear.
“Ahh!!!” I jumped so high I nearly cracked my skull on the ceiling.
“I hope you don't mind. I just helped Santa deliver presents all over North America, and well...I'm hungry!” He rubbed his big belly.