The Drummer Boy
Backstage at the village hall, it was frantic. Lily Potter handed her son to her husband, and stood before Katherine Evans. Katherine was playing Mary in the Sunday School play.
"Turn around." Lily instructed the eight-year-old girl. Kat turned, and Lily attacked the long strawberry blonde curls with a hairbrush, reducing them to a shiny mass that framed their owner's pretty face, and glowed in the dim light like a halo. Carefully, Lily lowered Kat's headdress on to her head, and then, satisfied that she was presentable, she turned back to her husband and son.
"All right?" she asked her husband.
"Fine." James Potter replied. "Are you sure you want our son to be Jesus? Don't you think he looks a little too much like you and me?"
"Well they wont see that, and it's so much more effective if they use a baby rather than a doll." Lily told him.
"Great. Now you're comparing Harry to a doll. Did you hear that? Your mother's decided you make a better prop than a doll."
"James Edward Potter! I did not say that!" Lily was outraged.
"Lily Alexandra Potter, yes you did."
"I did not."
"Give me my baby back."
"Your baby? When he woke up at half past two this morning he was my baby. When did he become yours?"
"When I spent thirty-five hours having him."
"Children, children stop arguing!" James and Lily turned to face Felicity Black. "Right, now, James, give Harry to me, and find Lily a seat in the audience. Sirius was supposed to be saving some. I'm off to find Mary and unite her with her son."
"Right. See you in a minute Flick. And find a sensible adult to look after my baby until he becomes Jesus. And tell them to be careful when they put him in the manger." Lily turned to her husband, "it's a good thing he's small. I'm not sure how they intend to make a five month old baby look like a new born."
"People won't be looking that closely." James quoted her. "Come on, my lady, let us find seats from whence to watch our son's acting debut."
"Let's hope he's better at it than you." Lily grumbled.
It was Christmas Eve, and the church hall was packed. Most people were seated, and the tall man with messy black hair and bespectacled eyes accompanied by a petite redhead whose eyes were large and stunningly green, were very conspicuous. They found Sirius Black, James' best friend and Felicity's husband, and took the seats that he had been saving for them. Very soon, Felicity herself joined them.
"Mary promised to give Jesus to Jo when she has to go on." Flick informed them. "Cee said Jo would be okay with him." Any replies Lily or James may have had were prevented when a small boy appeared in front of the curtains.
"The Sunday School is proud to present the Drummer boy." And with that, the child disappeared, and the curtains opened. 'Mary' was sweeping the floor, vigorously. Then an angel appeared. Mary dropped her scrubbing brush, and looked startled.
"Didn't know Kat was such a good actress." Sirius muttered. Lily, James and Flick all hissed at him.
"Do not be afraid, for I bring you great newth and glad tidingth. You are to have a thon, and he will be King of all the world." Gabriel lisped.
"How can this be?" Mary asked. "I'm not married yet."
"It'th inarticulate concethion by the Holy Thpirit." Gabriel replied, proudly, as Felicity choked, trying to stop her laughter. "Inarticulate concession?" James asked Lily, curiously. "I didn't know we had Harry like that." Lily hit him and went back to the play. The scene had changed, and Joseph now took centre stage.
"Mawy's having a baby." the boy squeaked to himself. "She had been unfaithful. I cannot mawwy her." Then he laid down and went to sleep. The angel appeared once more.
"Jotheph," the angel began, "Mary ith a good lady. She is with child be the Holy Thpririt. Inarticulate concethion and all that. You must marry her and go to Befflehem and call the baby Jesus, for he ith the King of the Jewth." The curtains closed. Suddenly a soldier appeared.
"It is degreed by the Emperor Caesar Augustus that there well be a censor of Israel. Everyone must return to their roots and register, so that we know how many people we govern." then the soldier disappeared, and the curtains rose, to show a stable.
"Donkey, Mawy and I must go to Befflehem to wegister, but she is pwegnant, and needs you to cawwy her."
"Bethlehem." Kat whispered, audibly.
"My master cannot understand me, but I will do my best to obey him." the donkey told the audience. An older boy, he swept Kat up into his arms and together with Joseph, he left the stage via the steps at the front. Lily, sitting in the front row, could hear Kat hissing at the donkey. "Put me down. No one said I had to be carried. I'm eight years old. My dignity." James raised his eyebrows at his wife, who shrugged. The 'orchestra', a piano, violin, flute and trumpet, burst into strains of Little Donkey, and Lily, who was musical, fought the urge to cover her ears. "Tune." she hissed. "Tune tune tune tune tune. A for goodness sake. Play it all together. How hard is it?" Meanwhile, Mary and Joseph came across a sign. Bethlehem.
"We're nearly there now Mawy." Joseph told Kat, who was still scowling in the donkey's arms. The curtains opened to a street scene. Joseph knocked on the nearest door.
"Have you got a woom? My wife is weawy. She is pwegnant, and says she can go no furver."
"Sorry." the innkeeper replied. "we have no room. It's the censor, you know. All of the rooms have been booked out." the door was slammed in Joseph's face.
They moved along, and knocked on the next door.
"Have you got any wooms? Mawy is tired and hungwy, and our baby is due to be bown soon."
"No. Go away." and the grumpy innkeeper slammed the door. And so it continued, until five innkeepers later, the innkeeper and his wife opened the door.
"Have you got any room? Mawy is pwegnant, and tired, and she would like a bed."
"No we have no rooms. Go away." The innkeeper was about to slam the door when his wife stood in the way.
"Don't listen to him. Did you mention a baby. Shut up Dave, let me deal with this, can't you see the poor woman's preggers? Dave, me old man, he was right about one thing. There aint no room in the 'otel. What we 'ave got is a stable. It's not much, but it's probably the best you'll get. You're welcome to use it, if you don't mind the animals."
"Thank you." Joseph told the innkeepers wife, and the curtains closed once more. Several shepherds appeared.
"Oi, Joe, me old man, shouldn't you be off 'ome? Won't your wife be worried?"
"She's gone to visit me farver. Got overtime this week, have to make the most of it, it's our wedding anniversary soon."
Flick leaned towards Sirius. "Take note of that shepherd. It's our wedding anniversary soon as well."
"I'll get you a sheep, shall I?" Sirius asked her.
"You know what I meant." Flick replied.
"Little Ben, would you get rid of that drum. You don't need it." 'Joe' said to the smallest shepherd.
"It's for scarin' wild creatures with." 'Ben' replied.
"Brr, it's cold out. Light a fire Stan, would you?" there was some very soft singing, in the background.
"Shhh!" another shepherd said. "Do you hear something?"
"Shut up Ernie, it's all in your mind." 'Stan' replied. But the singing got louder, and soon all of the shepherds admitted they could hear it. Then a flock of angels appeared, and Gabriel spoke once more.
"Fear not, for I am thent from heaven to give you great newth and glad tidingth." he said. "To you in David'th town thith day ith born of Davidth line a thaviour who ith Chritht the Lord. Go to Befflehem and you will thee him in a manger wrapped in thwaddling clotheth." Then the angels disappeared.
"What was all that about?" Stan asked, curiously.
"I dunno. Something about Kings, mangers and Befflehem." Joe replied.
"Well, I'm not going." Ernie informed them. "Someone has to watch the sheep."
"We'll go." it came as a great chorus.
"Wait a minute." Stan said, and they were about to scramble across the stage. "We need gifts. It's not any Tom, Dick or 'arry, its a King."
"Actually, it's Harry." James told Lily softly, causing her to splutter uncontrollably.
"What about me?" Little Ben asked, as the shepherds disappeared.
"You go along if you want to son," Ernie told the boy. "I'm too old for all this prancing off to Befflehem, but you're young. I'll look after the sheep. Off you go." and Little Ben disappeared.
A child appeared, and announced the interval.
"Did you hear Sirius?" James asked his friend. "Lily and I had Harry by inarticulate concession."
"Yeah right, do I look stupid?" Sirius asked. "Can none of them say Bethlehem?"
"Kat can." Flick told him.
"Yeah, we know that." James told her. "Here, have a cup of tea, and a piece of cake, and let's see what happens now."
The curtains opened, and there was Kat as Mary, cradling Harry as Jesus, wrapped in her headdress, which she had removed from her head for the purpose. She bent down and kissed him on the nose, drawing a chorus of ahhs from the audience, before launching into a song.
"Hush little baby,
No need for crying
You are quite safe now
Where you are lying
You are so tiny and new,
We will take care of you." Her clear voice was full of sweetness and innocence, and drew an applause. Cradling her baby to her, Kat either didn't notice it, or chose to ignore it.
"Lil, you're out of a job." James told her. "Kat can be Harry's mother from now on."
"Her singing's better."
The shepherds began to appear, offering Mary and Jesus their lambs. they were graciously accepted, a tableau was formed, and the curtains closed. On came the three wise men.
"Look, Melissa, there's a new star!"
"Melissa?" Sirius looked at Felicity, eyebrows raised.
"Hey, nothing to do with me." she told him.
"What does it mean, Barbara?"
"It's means that there's a new king, and we must follow it to find out he is." 'Barbara' replied. "It is written by the prophets. Where's Carla?"
"Here. We needed gifts. I had to get some." 'Carla replied. The three of them looked upwards long and hard, Barbara and Melissa took the presents Carla gave them, and off they went. When they arrived at the stable, Melissa offered his gift first.
"I give you gold, to crown you a king. You shall reign over us all." The king set the gold on the floor, and knelt before the manger. Then it was Barbara's turn.
"I give you Frankenstein for you will be a priest as well as a king. All will worship you." Then he too knelt before the manger. Finally it was Barbara's turn.
"I give you Myrrh, a sign of the troubles ahead." Carla told the baby, before setting it down and kneeling before the manger. The orchestra played We Three Kings, and Little Ben made his way through the audience, clutching his drum. At last he arrived at the stable. He opened his mouth, and the silence was broken. Opening his mouth, he began to sing.
"In the bleak mid-winter
frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow
In the bleak mid-winter,
What can I give Him,
poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
yet what I can I give Him-
give my heart."
There was complete silence for a minute, as the true meaning of Christmas sank in. Mary, who had earlier placed Jesus in the manger, lifted him up, and sat him on her knee. Then, Little Ben burst into another song, beating on his drum.
"Come they told me
Parum pum pum pum
A new born King to see
Our finest gifts we bring
Parum pum pum pum
To lay before the king
Parum pum pum pum
rum pum pum pum
rum pum pum pum
so to honour him
Parum pum pum pum
When we come."
Silence reigned once more, and then the curtain fell for the last time. Then Cecelia Hall appeared. Cee had written and directed the play.
"Thank you for coming ladies and gentlemen. It's nice for everyone to get into the Christmas spirit. Now, we thanked most of you on the programme, but somehow we managed to forget Lily and James, who were kind enough to lend us Jesus for the evening. I would also like to thank those of you who assisted with refreshments, and everyone who helped with the rehearsals. Please do stay for more tea now. I'll send the cast out in a minute, as soon as they're out of costume. Thank you." and Cee disappeared. Lily went backstage once again, to rescue her son, and Flick joined her to pick up Kat, who had been Mary, as Kat was her little sister, and had lived with her since her marriage, a year ago. Within five minutes, Kat appeared in red pinafore and white lacy blouse, cradling Harry to her. She handed Lily her baby, and turned anxiously to her sister.
"Was I okay?" she asked.
"Marvellous." Flick replied "Let's go and find James and Sirius." They left the area that was now crowded with parents, and sought James and Sirius. James relieved his wife of their son, who by now was fast asleep, Kat leant against her sister wearily.
"Come on Kat, let's go home. Lil, James, you coming?"
"We're going home too, thanks. Harry needs to be fed and put to bed."
That evening, when they were in bed, Lily turned to James.
"Did you enjoy that?" she asked him, curiously.
"It was good." He replied. "Inarticulate concession. Melissa, Barbara and Carla, it was funny. But it was serious too."
"You mean it said Christmas isn't just about presents."
"Well it isn't." James replied. "It's a time to be thankful for your blessings. In my case, that's you and Harry."
"Night James." Lily put the light out. Ten minutes late, she murmured,
"What?" James asked sleepily.
"What would you have done if Harry had been born in a stable?"
"Cried." James replied, before rolling over, and going to sleep.
Now for the authors note. This is slightly bizarre, I agree, and please don't think I'm trivialising Christmas. I got the idea last week when our church Sunday school put on their nativity play. I admit that there's not much of anything other than the Christmas story in it, but I actually like it. Merry Christmas everyone, and be little angels and review.
DISCLAIMER – IF YOU RECOGNISE IT, IT'S NOT MINE.