“Eating a chocolate chip cookie is the perfect way to begin the afternoon,” I mused and shook the crumbs from my beard as I headed towards my office door.
Suddenly Patches pushed it open. Her eyes brightened when she saw me. “Glad I found you, Santa. Gotta come quick,” she panted. “Bernard needs you right away! There’s a big problem on the doll line.”
“Well, let’s go!” I shouted and shut the door behind me.
When Patches and I arrived, we found Bernard with his head inside an opening of the production line.
“What’s going on Bernard?”
He pulled his head out of the machine, and his head lamp shone in our eyes. “Turn that darn thing off; it’s blinding me,” I cried.
I heard a click and the light faded. “Sorry Santa,” Bernard remarked and shut the door to the interior of the machine. “It’s this doll baby line. Somehow heads are getting mixed up.”
“What? That shouldn’t happen. We just had all the machinery examined and tested a month ago.”
Bernard waved for me to follow him. When we reached the end of the line, he grabbed a doll and handed it to me.
I looked at it and the rest of the figures in the box. “Why do all these dolls have Teddy Bear heads?”
“Don’t know.” Bernard shook his head as we walked towards the front of the production line. “Everything has been loaded properly and the equipment seems to be working right.”
“Santa,” Patches interrupted, “I called the Stuffed Animal Shop, and they’re having the same problem. Hulta told me that the Teddy Bears are coming off the assembly line with dolls’ heads. What are we going to do?”
The two elves looked at me for direction.
“Tell Hulta I’ll be there as soon as we fix this problem.”
Patches nodded and made the call while I told Bernard, “Good thing this isn’t the week before Christmas.”
He chuckled but his eyes were serious. “I think the problem may be related, Santa.”
I nodded and stroked my beard. “You’ve been looking at this line, have you found or noticed anything?”
“Not really. I did detect a faint odor like something was overheating, but I haven’t located it yet.”
“Okay, I think that is where we need to start. Bernard, why don’t you see if you can locate where the scent is coming from here, and I will go over and check Hulta’s line to see if I can find anything there. Come over to the stuffed Animal Workshop after you’re finished.”
When I arrived, Hulta was waiting at the door for me. “Santa, everything was fine before lunch. Then when we came back, I kept getting this.” The elf held up a Teddy Bear with a doll’s head on it.
“Have you noticed anything unusual?” I asked as we walked toward the production line.
“I just checked to see that the right parts were being put in, and then called you.”
We approached the end of the equipment, where the completed bears popped out. “Hulta, you walk down that side, and I’ll take this side. Check that everything is tightened and where it should be. Let me know if you find anything that does not look right.”
I grabbed, pushed, and poked at everything, but nothing was broken or out of place. I was close to the end when I heard Hulta scream. “That’s disgusting!”
“What is it?” I yelled and rushed to the other side.
“That odor! Can’t you smell it? It is so foul and revolting!!”
When I got close to where Hulta was standing, I could not mistake that stench. The stink of dirt and Sulphur dominated the area. “Malodor!” I roared.
“Malodor?” Hulta asked.
“Yes, the smell could only mean that the Gremlin, Malodor, has been here.”
“You think he did this?”
“I know he did. He’s never forgiven me for choosing Elves over Gremlins to work here at the North Pole. Would you please call over to the Doll House and just tell Bernard that it’s ‘Malodor.’”
“Yes, he will know what to do.”
When Hulta left to call Bernard, I found where the stench was the strongest and opened the machine up. Taking a quick look, I climbed inside to see what Malodor had done. When I came out, Bernard and Hulta were standing there.
“Did you find overlapping conveyors, interrupting the flow of heads?” Bernard asked.
“As a matter of fact, I did. And you?”
“Same,” Bernard replied. “You got to hand it to Malodor; his stunt was pretty creative.”
“Do you think this Gremlin will ever figure out that his scent leads us to the problem every time he decides to disrupt the North Pole?” I asked.
“Or that sometimes, he is really helping us?” Bernard added.
Hulta and I stared at my head elf and wondered what he meant.
Bernard grinned. “Yeah. Malodor and his tricks may be a nuisance, but sometimes, like this one, we can learn something new from his tricks.”
“Can you explain what you mean?”
“Well, we have that new toy with interchangeable parts, and I think Malodor’s trick gave me the solution for putting it together. So, you see, he may be a pest, but he just solved my problem.”
“If Malodor’s trickery can lead to a good outcome, I guess that Gremlin has something to offer the North Pole, even if he doesn’t realize it.”
“You got that right Santa!” The elves and I high-fived one another and left the room.
“The only problem, is how to get the stink out of our clothes,” I chuckled. “Ms. Claus isn’t going to like it. Not one bit.”
The three of us giggled and headed for the laundry room.
Notes From Santa
I hope you enjoyed today’s story. Stories are posted on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, except December. Santa’s next story will be posted on Saturday October 21, 2023. If you have any comments or if there is something you would like me to tell you about, please feel free to leave me a comment. Until the next time . . .
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