Holiday Lights

Maybelline had big plans. She was going to enter the Aberdeen Explosion of Lights contest this year. Not only was she going to enter but she was going to win!

She knew it wouldn’t be easy. After all, she’d entered the contest for six years straight and not once had she won. Why, she hadn’t even been named honorable mention.  But this year, that was all gonna change. By the time this contest was over, she, Maybelline Marlene Jordan, was going to be the talk of the town!

It took a full week to get her landlord, Mrs. Tindrow to agree to Maybelline’s plan.  She found a distributor in some tiny town from some tiny country she’d never heard of.  She placed her order then waited patiently for the decorations to arrive. She waited a full week and when her order still hadn’t come in, Maybelline’s patience was gone.

She called the distributor every day for a whole week.  By the end of the second week she was on a first name basis with him. She also had a restraining order placed on her. Why the man was so touchy about her calling him was beyond Maybelline. She supposed it probably had something to do with her threatening him. Clearly, he didn’t understand a bluff when he heard one. Like she could get the U.S. Government to bomb his country. When the FedEx truck pulled into Mrs. Tindrow’s driveway a scant week before the contest, Maybelline could barely contain her excitement. She grabbed her plans, ripped open the boxes and started to decorated.

Maybelline hadn’t planned on telling anyone about the contest. After all, she couldn’t take the chance of her ideas being stolen. However, when her best friend April stopped by, Maybelline had no choice. What possible excuse could she make when she was surrounded by a herd of mechanical reindeer, three angry polar bears and a ten foot tall faux fur covered abominable snowman.

“Don’t tell me you’re decorating for the Aberdeen Explosion of Lights contest?” April exclaimed in exasperation.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Maybelline scoffed.

“Don’t lie to me, Maybelline Jordan.” April pointed an accusing finger at Maybelline. “I’m not dumb you know! You’ve got boxes and boxes and boxes of decorations strewn about! And what about that Candyland house over there? Did you think I wouldn’t notice it?”

“It’s not a Candyland house,” Maybelline sniffed. “It’s a gingerbread house . . .for Mrs. Claus.”

“Whatever,” April replied. “The fact is, you’re decorating.”

Maybelline threw up her hands. “Okay fine! I am decorating for the Explosion of Lights! But I don’t want anyone to know.” She dropped the strands of lights she’d been trying to untangle as a thought came to her. “You wanna help me?”

April dusted off the snow from the edge of the porch then plopped down on the ice cold deck. “I don’t think so. I’ve got things to do today.”

“Oh really? Like what?” Maybelline asked.

“I’m going to go to Albany to find a dress for the Winter Festival Dance. I thought you’d like to join me.”

Maybelline frowned. She did need a dress for the dance. If only her decorations had arrived last week!

“I can’t. And now neither can you. You have to help me,” Maybelline said, picking up the lights once again and held them out to April.

“But I don’t want to help you!”

“You don’t have a choice,” Maybelline explained. “It’s like the whole military secret thing. I’m either going to have to kill you or you’re going to have to help me. Seeing as I’m not in the mood to kill you today, you’re going to help me.”

“I’d rather you just kill me,” April replied snatching the lights out of Maybelline’s hand. “What in that box over there?”

A big smile crossed Maybelline’s face as she looked at the wooden box. “Oh, that’s my coup de grace,” Maybelline announced proudly. “They’re enhanced sparklers.”

“You mean like fireworks?”

“Of course not. They’re illegal. These are just flashing lights but I really think they will put me over the top!”

“If they’re just flashing lights, how come the box has skulls and crossbones on it?”

Maybelline shrugged. “Oh, you know how these companies are, they’ll do anything to make something seem exciting.”

It took the women all weekend and every night during the week to get all the decorations up. By the day of the big contest Maybelline was exhausted. But the house, yard and a good portion of the front part of the street was completely decorated and if you asked her, the place looked spectacular.

She placed the herd of mechanical reindeer in the side yard. Polar bears withe glowing blue eyes sat in front of the house, and a red and white candy cane lane led to Mrs. Claus’ house. The abominable snowman with Yukon Cornelius next to him, stood near the sidewalk. Santa and his reindeer were perched atop of Mrs. Tindrow’s roof. It had been no easy feat putting the jolly old elf, his sleigh and reindeer up there. April had fallen off the ladder and nearly broke her ankle in the process and Maybelline had broken three fingernails. Miles and miles of ribbon, lights and garland hung from every conceivable limb, shrub, branch and tree in the yard. Maybelline had taken her time placing the enhanced sparklers around the place. She put two atop the roof, three around the sides of the house and the rest she sprinkled here and there for effects.

April hurried over to Maybelline’s house just before the start of the contest. Maybelline frowned when she saw her. “What the heck are you doing?” Maybelline demanded.

“What? I thought this was cute. It matches the theme!” April said as she looked down at her Mrs. Claus’ costume.

“No! It matches me!” Maybelline snapped. “I was going to be Mrs. Claus! We can’t have two Mrs. Claus’. We’ll look ridiculous.”

April threw her hands up in the air. “Fine. Do you want me to go home and change?”

Maybelline let out an exaggerated sigh. “No. I’ll change . . .” Maybelline grudgingly walked into her bedroom. When she came out a few minutes later, April burst out laughing. Maybelline’s brows snapped downward. “Just what do you think is so funny?” Maybelline demanded as she tugged on the far too small top.

“You look like an overstuffed green crayon!”

What did April expect? Of course she looked like a green crayon! She was dressed as an elf. And she wasn’t even close to a size two like April.

“I’ll have you know this was the costume I bought for you!” Maybelline grumbled as she marched out down the steps and to the front of the house. She came to an abrupt stop when she saw her decorations. “What the heck! The abominable snowman is grey!” She looked around at the dirty snow. “Jeez, you can’t keep anything white in this town!”

“Maybe we shouldn’t have put him so close to the street?” April offered. “Then he wouldn’t have been splashed by passing cars.”

“I had too,” Maybelline retorted. “When I put him next to the house, Mrs. Tindrow nearly had a heart attack. It’s not like she was expecting a ten foot, hairy white monster to be looking in her window at five in the morning.”

“So, when are we going to light this place up?” April asked.

Maybelline looked down the street. No one was approaching yet. “I’m waiting until the committee shows up. No one is going to see the extravaganza until then.”

And wait they did. For what seemed like forever, Maybelline and April paced the sidewalk waiting for the Aberdeen Explosion of Light committee to arrive. When Maybelline didn’t think she could take it any longer she saw a large black Buick park across the street, next to Mr. Olson’s house.

“They’re here!” Maybelline said as she clapped her green and white stripped gloved hands together.

“Is Mr. Winders on the committee?” April asked, surprised.

Maybelline nodded her head. “Yup. Him, Mrs. Maple, Owen Johnson, Horace Miller and Gordon Newcomb.”

April blinked in surprise. “You think you’re gonna win with that committee?”

“Sure. Why not?” Maybelline asked.

“Have you forgotten about the Newton Pumpkin Palooza in October?”

Maybelline blushed. “What about it?”

“You dented Mr. Winders’ Buick.”

“For one thing, I didn’t dent his car,” Maybelline announced defensively. “Maxwell Nelson did when he threw the pumpkin at me. I was just trying to protect myself.”

“By hiding behind Mr. Winders’ car? He’s not going to forget that too quickly.”

Maybelline waved off April’s concern. “It won’t matter. By the time this event is over he will have no choice but to crown me as the Queen of the Explosion of Lights Festival!”

It wasn’t just the committee who arrived but all the local newspapers, as well as the Albany Chronicle. A good portion of the town had also come to see the festive display.

“This is it. Now they’re going to see what an explosion of lights means!” she whispered proudly to April. “Go turn on the lights. I’ll let Mrs. Tindrow know.”

Maybelline had no sooner got to Mrs. Tindrow’s front door when a large eruption shook the house and nearly knocked Maybelline off the top step. The front door ripped open as Maybelline spun about to see what was going on.

“What the . . .” Mrs. Tindrow screeched from behind Maybelline’s back.

Mrs. Tindrow’s voice was drowned out by loud speakers Maybelline had arranged around the yard. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the melodious sounds of holiday music blaring from the speakers but something that sounded more like an air raid siren. Hurrying down the steps, Maybelline rushed towards the sound system. She barely made it three feet before another loud booming sound erupted again and sparks of fire shot upward. Stunned, Maybelline covered her head and dove into the snowdrift. She wasn’t the only one who ducked for cover. Every person who’d come to see the display scattered like snowflakes in a blizzard.

Dazed, Maybelline looked up from where she’d landed and stared in horrified amazement. The holiday lights, all half million of them, she had so painstakingly hung upon every tree, shrub and building, began to shoot sparks up into the air. The sleigh and Santa, who had once sat so proudly upon the roof, decided to come crashing down. It narrowly missed Mrs. Tindrow’s head. Only by the grace of God and the arm of the abominable snowman was Mrs. Tindrow saved.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the enhanced sparklers which only seconds before had shot sparks into the air, suddenly decided to explode. One rocket shot off the top of the house and disappeared into the night sky. The three surrounding the house, skimmed the ground, melting snow as they blazed a trail across the yard. Screams drowned out the sounds of the air raid siren as people ran to and fro trying to avoid the zigzagging blasts of fire. Another rocket, on a path of destruction, annihilated the herd of reindeer, obliterated the gingerbread house and kept right on going.

“Watch out William . . .!” Horace Miller shouted as the remaining rocket atop the roof suddenly made a beeline straight for Mr. Winders.

Mr. Winders dove into a drift of snow, just missing getting torched by the rocket. His Buick wasn’t nearly as lucky. The rocket, in a shower of sparks and fire, landed right into the side of Mr. Winders’ Buick.

All eyes turned to Maybelline as April leaned in and whispered, “I don’t think this is what they meant by an explosion of lights . . .”

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