The Macaroon Christmas Competition.
by Dawn Knox
Babs’ idea of holding a photographic competition to make a Christmas card was an excellent one. She planned to send a card out to all the clients who’d stayed on the luxury Three Monkey Island Resort since it had been under the current management to thank them for their custom and hopefully to prompt them to book again. However, what she hadn’t taken into account, was the competitive streak of Eddie the Bald Eagle, who was really a chicken.
“There’s going to be trouble,” Colin predicted. “He can’t bear to be beaten.”
“But we need some ideas to promote our holiday resort,” Babs said, “and this is perfect. I deliberately didn’t mention a prize. Surely Eddie isn’t that competitive?”
Brian merely groaned.
“Oh well, it’s too late now, said Babs, “and perhaps if Eddie is so keen, he’ll come up with something stunning.”
What a wonderful idea, thought Eddie, to send out Christmas cards with an enticing photograph of their beautiful island. And cheap as well, as they wouldn’t need to engage a professional photographer. And even better, Eddie intended to win. He’d already mentally composed the winning photograph. He’d analysed Christmas cards and discovered there were certain features common to all – obviously, anything to do with Santa, as well as cute characters such as elves and of course, something that illustrated a snowy celebration. For the nod to Santa Claus, Eddie had ordered Santa hats that would arrive later that day. Characters such as elves were obviously impossible as there were none on the island, so he’d decided to borrow Deirdre’s babies – preferably without her knowing. He didn’t want to give away any of his secrets to creating a successful Christmas card. Who would be able to resist baby bunnies in Santa hats? He intended to get them to pose near the Champagne Fountain to show off the island’s best-loved feature and if he threw up a handful of cotton wool balls, they’d flutter down like snow and with any luck, the bunnies would look excited enough to make the winning Christmas photo.
Eddie set his camera up on a tripod and tastefully arranged the young rabbits in their jolly red and white hats next to the Champagne Fountain. But tastefully arranged young rabbits tended not to remain in position, as Eddie discovered. There was great excitement because they were usually forbidden to go anywhere near the fountain which guggled and splished, causing much merriment and Eddie began to wonder if he should have chosen a different location. He was sure one or more of them were dipping their paws into the fountain and then sucking them but it was hard to tell because he couldn’t distinguish between them. Mostly, they looked identical although one had a white patch on its ear, another over one eye, a third on its chest and although Eddie could tell those apart when they were all seated and facing him, when they moved about, he lost sight of the ear, eye and chest amongst the writhing rabbit bodies.
“Keep still!” he roared but the excitement was too great for the rabbits, who swapped hats and wrestled with each other. “Will you behave!” Eddie yelled. He was standing next to his camera with a handful of cotton wool balls, ready to throw them in the air and snap, snap, snap with his camera but he couldn’t get the rabbits to stay in position.
After several attempts, Eddie began to wonder if perhaps this was as good as it was going to get. He had to have a photograph and if he waited much longer, he risked being found by Deirdre, so he threw a handful of cotton wool snowballs into the air and clicked the cable release several times.
It was just as well because seconds later, Babs arrived. “Deirdre’s lost the babies, have you seen…” she stopped still with shock as she saw them near the fountain, hats askew, giggling deliriously.
Eddie eyed her guiltily.
“You know the babies aren’t allowed anywhere near the Champagne Fountain,” she yelled at Eddie, “What were you thinking?” She picked up one of the rabbits and tucked it under her armpit where it hung limply.
“You’d better have a good excuse for this, Eddie,” she said as she herded the giggling, staggering baby rabbits away.
“And here are the runners up,” Babs announced at the meeting she’d called to reveal the winner of the Christmas Card Photographic Competition. The other members of the board gathered around her and peered over her shoulder at her computer screen.
“Runner up?” squawked Eddie as the first photo appeared. It was his, and it showed the Champagne Fountain to perfection – or it would have done – if blurry cotton wool balls hadn’t partially obliterated it. On the ground, in front of the fountain, was an indistinct heap of squirming bodies with flashes of red here and there.
“Yes,” said Deirdre, “your photo is a runner up and if you continue to complain, I have a bill prepared for the models’ fees, which I’m willing to waive unless you make a fuss about coming last.”
“Models’ fees? Those rabbits were hardly model models, were they? Just look at them!”
“That was your fault for allowing them to get to the champagne!”
“I told them not to,” said Eddie as Deirdre thrust a piece of paper in front of him, “All right, all right!” he added as he saw the figure at the bottom of the bill, “I accept the decision.”
“The next two are joint runners up, by Colin and Brian,” said Babs, showing two photos – one of Brian, wearing one of the Santa hats the baby rabbits had discarded, holding a glass of champagne and looking very self-conscious and wooden. The second was of Brian, wearing one of the Santa hats the baby rabbits had discarded, holding a glass of champagne and looking very self-conscious and wooden. “There wasn’t much to choose between them – just a change of model. In fact, the only difference was in the background,” Babs said.
“How could the background be different?” Colin asked, “We took the photos in the same place.”
“Well, if you look closely, you’ll see they differ slightly,” Babs said, zooming in to make her point. Sitting on the bough of a tree behind Brian and the Champagne Fountain, was Gideon with a tiny camera held up to his face. He also appeared in the almost identical photo of Colin and the fountain, but this time, he was upside down, poking out of the foliage.
“Oh, that explains the crash and commotion in the undergrowth during our photoshoot,” said Brian, glaring at Gideon. “What were you doing spying on us like that?”
“Well, old chap, as you know, spying’s in my blood.” Gideon, the ex-spy said.
“So, you hoped to hijack our photoshoot and get your own photos for the competition?” Brian was outraged.
“Well, I didn’t mean any offence, dear boy.”
“And you beat us?” Colin scowled at Babs, “How could his photo have beaten ours?”
“Although he used the same location and subject, his point of view was rather different…” Babs moved to the next photo showing an aerial shot of the fountain and the top of Colin’s head. “It shows imagination.”
“You need a lot of imagination to work out what it is,” grumbled Colin.
Eddie did a headcount. “So, if neither Colin, Brian, Gideon nor I have won, and Babs couldn’t enter because she’s running the competition, that leaves Deirdre who must have won! Fix! Fix!”
“Stop it, Eddie!” Deirdre said crossly, “I didn’t even enter. I had my paws full with all my sick babies!”
“Then, who won?” asked Eddie.
Babs nodded to Deirdre, who opened the door to reveal a gull, with a camera strapped to his chest.
“Waldemeyer is the winner,” said Babs.
“Waldemeyer!” said Eddie, aghast.
“Winner of what?” Waldemeyer asked, looking at each of the faces in turn.
“You’re the winner of the Christmas Card Photographic Competition,” said Babs, “Congratulations!”
“Am I?” Waldemeyer asked, “I don’t remember entering a competition.”
“Yes, you strapped a camera to your chest and said you’d fly around the island and try to get an interesting shot,” said Babs.
Waldemeyer looked down at the camera on his chest. “Good grief! You’re right! And did I get an interesting shot?”
“Yes! You certainly did!” said Babs.
“Well, I don’t remember that at all,” he said shaking his head.
“So, aren’t you going to show us this masterpiece?” asked Eddie impatiently.
Babs displayed the final and winning image in her screen.
There was a sharp intake of breath.
“You can’t use a photo of a Great White Shark as our promotional Christmas card!” said Eddie when he’d regained his voice. “And, the cheek of it! He’s wearing one of the Santa hats I bought!”
The winning photo showed Chopper O’Flynn, wearing one of the discarded Santa hats at a jaunty angle, rising vertically out of the turquoise sea with the island, green and lush, in the background. He was smiling, showing his magnificent set of dentures that twinkled in the sunlight, like Christmas tree lights.
“That’s a good shot,” said Waldemeyer, “who took that?”
“You did!” said Babs.
About the author
Dawn’s two previous books in the Chronicles Chronicles series are The Basilwade Chronicles and The Macaroon Chronicles both published by Chapeltown Publishing. This story is based on some of the characters in The Macaroon Chronicles.