Hercules the Lesser didn’t have any friends so the youth center was always a bit of a bore.
He didn’t like the mall because the music made him drowsy. The last time he went to the mall with his parents he ended up falling asleep in a Lazy-Boy recliner at the big department store.
His family was pulling into the driveway at home when they realized they left Hercules the Lesser at the mall. They hurried back to get him so he wouldn’t panic. He didn’t even notice they were gone.
The week between Christmas and New Years trickled by like so much syrup in the old maple tree out behind General John G. Pershing Elementary School.
Hercules the Lesser rarely left his room. He had his comic books from Aunt Cookie and a new chemistry set from Mom and Dad.
There was no reason to go out. Besides where would he go? It was cold and snowy and everyone was either at the mall out on old route 31 or they were at the youth center playing ping-pong with their friends.
The parade was a blur.
The Glee Club from General John G. Pershing Elementary School sang “Monotone Angel.” Betty Showalter was the featured soloist.
The Alter and Rosary Society handed out hot apple cider in their Mrs. Claus aprons and at the end of the parade Louise’s husband Roger sat on a big red velvet chair in a slightly worn red velvet suit and white beard held on by elastic straps. He talked to the kids a little and he listened to the kids a little, but when he saw who was on the King Of the Parade float he dropped a whole tin of candy canes.
Hercules the Lesser couldn’t understand why his sister would play such a cruel trick on him. He wasn’t angry or upset. He was just curious. After thirteen years on this earth without one person ever giving him a second look – why would he be chosen King of the Christmas Parade? The only votes he could have even considered were Louise and Miss Kravitz.
Booger Wilson might vote for him as a joke, but there was no way those few votes could have put him over. After while he realized she wasn’t kidding.
She tried to force him into his coat and galoshes so she could bring him back to Grumpy’s where he could get his crown.
Neither of them believed it was happening, but now they were slipping and sliding back to the place where the kids gathered – a place where dreams really do come true.
When Eileen Pulaski heard the news that her brother – Hercules the Lesser – was the King of the Christmas Parade, she was overcome with a mix of pride and fear. Of course, she was proud of her brother, but she was also scared what this might do to him. She was even more anxious about how the kids would tease him and make his life difficult.
She still couldn’t figure out how the kid did it – how he got himself a elected King of the Christmas Parade – but he did it. Now she knew she would have to do everything in her power to protect him. Eileen Pulaski defended Hercules the Lesser to the ends of the earth and back. She headed home to let him hear the news from her first.
On behalf of illustrator Pete Wood and writer Paul Barile. We would like to wish you the happiest and healthiest of holidays filled with love and laughs and music.
However you celebrate – we wish you all the best. We’ll be back in 2019 with more from the boys and girls at General John G. Pershing Elementary School ! In the mean time – Just be you!
“Who?” someone asked.
“Hercules Pulaski,” Grumpy said as he walked toward Hercules the Greater with the crown.”
“I’m not Hercules Pulaski,” Hercules the Greater said. “I am Hercules Kennedy.”
“Stop playing, Boy,” Grumpy said. “Put on the dang crown and get up on the dang float.”
“I’m not him,” Hercules the Greater said. “He’s not here.”
Everyone looked around. No one was sure they would have even been able to pick the other Hercules out of a crowd. He was certainly not in this crowd.
“Can someone please find him?” Grumpy asked.
“I’ll get him.” Booger Wilson said
He pivoted on his heal and began to trot toward the home of Hercules the Lesser – Hercules Pulaski.
Everyone else just stood around scratching their heads trying to figure out what had just happened.