A festive treat for followers of No Script For Life – a nice, quick Christmassy short story. or perhaps it’s flash fiction, I don’t know but I hope you enjoy it.
The Christmas Tree Stripper
Anglesey Herman doesn’t get drunk at Christmas any more. He can’t trust himself not to say “something stupid” , by which he means something incriminating. Just look what happened last time Anglesey Herman got drunk; He confessed to knowing the identity of the infamous Christmas Tree Stripper of 1987-88. That little revelation did not go down well, especially when two of Herman’s oldest friends heard the news. Nellie South and Johnson Lock had been the two main victims of the famed Christmas Tree Stripper. Each had suffered over two consecutive Christmases when they awoke to find their Christmas trees, which had been lovingly decked out in lights, baubles, bows, and all the other things Christmas trees normally decked with, had been stripped completely bare, and all of the trimmings placed neatly on the floor. Even the star from the top of the tree. The mystery assailant crept into their houses at night and just stripped the Christmas tree. Nothingn was stolen, and nothing moved out of place except the pretty tree trimmings.
This was back in the days before every tiny incident was attributed to race or religion related motivation. Now we’d be asking ourselves is this the act of a group against the idea of Christmas? Or maybe radicalised environmentalists trying to publicise the horrendous notion of felling beautiful trees merely to act as festive decoration? Back then the whole thing was put down to the behaviour of an unstable but harmless person, and how right they were.
Thanks to a stream of slow newsdays, the mystery of the Christmas Tree Stripper got more press coveridge than it deserved. The story of the Tree Stripper found a home in the pages of the local rag (among others) between news of a tap dancing poodle, an appeal for a missing wheelie bin and a spate of garden gnome robberies. The specially shot photos of Lock and South beside two naked Christmas trees hammered home the mystery to an unsuspecting readership.
Shortly after this, two more people came forward. Sonny Mizen and Ruth Wheel also reported incidents and one man, Richard Bland claimed to have disturbed the Stripper. The victims, except Mizen and Wheel were all friends and associates of one another leading many believe Mizen and Wheel were merely opportunists just trying to get their names in the paper. Bland however was able to offer a vague description to the police.
The Christmas Tree Stripper story then managed to find it’s way onto the early evening news and from there was assigned column inches in a few of the national tabloids. Before long the Stripper had captured the public’s imagination. Before Christmas moved closer and news of toy shortages and impending storms across the country caused the quaint mystery to be consigned to the dusty pile of ‘yesterday’s stories”, someone in the office for the commissioner of police thought high profile police investigation would be good publicity. The investigation quietly ended without a single arrest being made but it was enough to deter the Christmas Tree Stripper from further activity. Every Christmases since 1989 has passed without incident.
With their moment in the limelight duly forgotten about South and Lock continued their lives and the whole story became nothing more than a mildly humorous anecdote for dinner parties.
There were ructions the day following Anglessey Herman’s shock revelation that he knew the identity of the famed Christmas Tree Stripper.. Ructions the like of which nobody could have predicted. Herman received so many phone calls and texts, including one from a journalist with a long memory. Everybody wanted an answer, not least South and Lock. There was no choice but to leave town and with it, his whole life. This would be just one of Anglesey Herman’s many, many re-locations but so far remains the only one precipitated by a drunken confession.
And the mystery of the Christmas Tree Stripper? Well as Anglesey Herman’s would-be biographer it isn’t for me to say. My job here is simply to relate to you the mad and mercurial things Herman has got up to. It isn’t for me to speculate and it certainly is not my place to spread gossip and innuendo. I have been sworn to secrecy on a few things that Herman has deemed to sensitive to reveal and I will not encroach upon that trust.
Anglesey Herman was the Christmas Tree Stripper.
This is a story taken from The Tall Tales of Anglesey Herman, a developing anthology of stories featuring short stories featuring Anglesey Herman.
SEE MORE ANGLESEY HERMAN:
His name is Herman and he’s from Anglesey. What more is there to know? Quite a lot actually.
THE ENDANGERED BRAZILLIAN BEAVER
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AUDIO FLASH FICTION: THE QUEEN’S BISCUITS
Copyright Martin Gregory 2019