Off-Camera Christmas

Off-Camera Christmas

by Edeyn Hannah Blackeney
(With apologies to Charles M. Schultz)

All of the characters in the following story are solely the property of Charles M. Schultz and his estate (We miss you, Chuck!), with the exception of the cameraman. I claim nothing for myself except the thought to put the story together.

One of everyone's favorite things to watch, come the Yuletide season, is A Charlie Brown Christmas. But did you ever wonder what happened behind the scenes?

"I've had it!" shouted Lucy, "That blockhead Charlie Brown gets top billing and we do all the work! Oooh, it makes me so mad I could... I could..."

She looked around and Linus gulped as her eyes came to rest on him. She smiled, not like a real smile that meant she was happy, but the 'big sister is frustrated' smile.

"Um, I think I'll go over to good ol' Charlie Brown's trailer and see if he's up for a rousing game of checkers," he said and strolled toward the door.

"Hold it right there!" shouted his sister, "Linus Van Pelt! You would take his side over mine? Your only sister?"

Linus looked at her. He looked at the door. He looked at her. He flexed his knees and figured he could make the door before she caught him.

"In a heartbeat," he answered, and bolted, blanket standing out behind him like a comet's tail.

-=- Across the lot -=-

"Hey, Chuck," said Patty, "Marcie an' me wanna thank you again for inviting us to be in your Christmas movie. But that kid with the blanket stealing the whole spotlight in that one scene? Is that really necessary just to quote some of the bible?"

"Don't you talk bad about my Sweet Baboo!" protested Sally, frowning at Peppermint Patty.

Linus stuck his head in the door of Charlie Brown's trailer and shouted, "I am NOT your Sweet Baboo!"

Sally smiled her twitterpated smile while Charlie Brown just shook his head and sighed.

"Hey, Linus," he said as the other boy kicked the snow off of his shoes and entered the trailer.

"Hullo, Charlie Brown... Patty... Marcie," replied Linus.

Sally tugged on Linus' sleeve, "What about me, Sweet Baboo?"

"Augh. Women," was his reply. He scowled at her and went over to sit next to Charlie Brown.

"Well, Chuck, it's been great and it's been fun..." started Patty.

"... But it's not been great fun, right sir?" finished Marcie for her.

Patty grinned, "Yeah, Marcie, just what I was going to say." She looked over at the boys and said, "But Marcie and me, we have to get over to the soup kitchen and help give the homeless folks dinner tonight."

"That's awfully nice of you, Patty," said Charlie Brown, impressed with the rough and tumble girl.

"You give back what you can, right Chuck? See ya boys! See ya Sally!" she replied as the two stepped out into the snow.

"What's up, Linus?" he asked of his philosopher friend.

"Oh, just pondering the mysteries of sisters. Thought I'd come and see when you wanted to shoot the Christmas Tree Shopping scene," answered Linus.

"Oh good grief!" responded Charlie Brown, "I forgot we still had to do that. Sally, call over to the producer's office and tell them that Linus and I need a cameraman to take us to the tree lot. Tell them we'll head over to wardrobe and get the coats we're supposed to be wearing and meet the cameraman at the gate. Tell them we've got to hurry. Tell them --"

"Don't panic, Charlie Brown," came the reassuringly level voice of Linus, "We should have plenty of time and I'm sure we'll find a great tree. Let's go."

And with that, the two boys headed across the lot away from the trailers.

-=- Meanwhile -=-

There was a minor get together in a very dirty trailer.

"I'm telling you, Violet," a cloud of dust was saying, "we're nothing more than glorified extras with names. The only reason we got SAG cards out of the deal is that they had to give us speaking roles for the School Play scenes. And have you seen the dorky dance they're making us do?"

"Simmer down, Pigpen," said Schroeder, "You don't have it so bad. I have to play the same looping piece of music over and over. It's totally going to get stuck in my head by the time we wrap, and most of my scenes have that Van Pelt girl drooling over me! She creeps me out. I can't tell if she's for real or just playing it up for the cameras."

"Oh," put in Violet, "she's for real. As far as she's concerned, the two of you are pre-ordained to be married."

Schroeder grunted and stalked back over to his piano with his cup of eggnog.

"Well," said Pigpen wryly to no one in particular and anyone who would listen in specific, "at least I got my own trailer out of this dust cloud thing. We have a place where the big names can't step on us on their way up."

"What do you mean?" asked Franklin.

"Well, think about it... you remember what happened to Morty Mouse and Ferdy Mouse," answered Pigpen.

"Um. Who?" asked Violet.

"Exactly!" crowed the dirty boy. "They played Mickey's nephews in the days before he became the big cheese, but no one knows who they even are now."

"Hmph," grunted Franklin, "You all think you've got it tough. I'm only here because I'm the token."

"The token?" asked Violet, "The token what?"

"Oh," groaned Pigpen, "here we go..."

"Maybe," started Franklin, working up a rant, "maybe, Miss Violet, you've managed to miss noticing that of all the cast of all these 'Peanuts' or 'Charlie Brown' shows and specials, that I'm the only one that happens to be brown? That I'm constantly surrounded by kids with pasty complexions? You just happened to miss that?"

Pigpen leaned over to Violet and whispered, "I hate when he gets like this. Let's go get some more punch."

-=- Outside -=-

"&*%^*$()," said Woodstock [translated: "Stellar night for a stroll, Snoopy, old chum. Thank you so very much for the invite."]

Snoopy nodded and danced along, throwing his scarf over his shoulder as they walked along. He saw Linus and Charlie Brown coming, and decided to make himself scarce. He hated it when Charlie Brown treated him like a pet. For goodness sakes, most people didn't even know it was called 'Peanuts' after all. Kids called it 'Snoopy' all the time, anymore. He motioned for Woodstock to hide and they waited while the two boys passed.

"But really, Charlie Brown," Linus was saying, "that 'Bible Stuff' as Patty called it may not represent all the regions of America, but the vast majority of people here view this time of year as a religious holiday. Maybe we can tackle the Freedom of Religion stuff another time. Maybe have a Constitution special. We could even call it, 'It's the Bill of Rights, Charlie Brown!' Maybe we would even make a difference."

"I know you're right, Linus," was his friend's reply, "but that's why I had the director give you the speech in the spotlight. You understand these things and the pulse of the people who will be watching just so much better."

"Why... thank you, Charlie Brown, I appreciate the compliment."

Not long afterward, the two boys were trudging through the snow toward the tree lot down the street with a cameraman following them who was doing not much more than complaining about the snow.

"Cheer up," Charlie Brown told him, "just think: this is the last scene to go. When we get back to the studio, you can go in and pick up your Wrap Bonus. Just one scene, just the three of us."

The man grinned and stopped complaining. When they arrived at the lot, he took some establishing shots for stock footage, admiring the big pink aluminum tree, then found a place to set up where he could pan across the entire yard from the big ones to the sorry little twig that was going to be the object of the shot. When he was ready, he gave the boys a nod and soon the scene was 'in the can' with only seven takes. They quickly went back to the studio and prepared for the wrap party, but that story can wait until another time. Besides, how many stories about Snoopy's drinking problem do you really need?

Off Camera-- I enjoy the short very much...

In reading this story, I ask myself one thing...

How is it in so few words you picture a character so completely?

I may see the colour of their clothing, the vivaciousness (is that a word?) of their personalities, and the ever present clash of same, one with another.

Are you certain you didn 't publish under the nom de plume "Charles M. Schultz"?

It is a little scary, seeing these characters 'come to life' again with no loss of presence nor any sign of ageing. That is something I would like to be able to apply to myself by the way... No sign of aging...
Sometimes I think the loss of presence might, for me, be a good thing.

Oh Well...

This is for me a very difficult thing to achieve, characters, with memorable, "istics". Most of my characters are just that... Characters.

Thank you for your effort I appreciated the reminder that good characters are forever, (much like Diamonds). Come to think of it, a good character is a diamond.

T D Aldoennetti

Like the Morty/Ferdie Reference...

...but figured you'd follow it up somehow with the "lost" original Peanuts characters, Shermy and (original) Patty. Actually, I think they still turned up when Charlie Brown had to come up with nine players for his baseball team -- he couldn't use Peppermint Patty and Marcie since Schulz had established that they had their own team.

(That's in the newspaper strip. I've only seen one or two of the animated television specials, and none for at least 25 years...)


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system