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“See,” Hinkle, Tommy’s elf, whispered. “This is what I deal with every night!”
Pixie, Figgy, Nim and Lil watched from the window sill as Tommy threw the worst temper tantrum anyone had ever seen.
Books went flying, stuffed animals lost their stuffing, and Tommy’s rage filled the small home.
“Certainly not every night?” said Nim.
“I’ve been trapped, drowned, kicked across the room and everything you can think of.”
“Kicked?” asked Figgy.
“Drowned?” gasped Lil.
“Trapped?” said Pixie.
“Yes,” said Hinkle. “And everything else you can think of. My magic has been restored so many times that Dr. Stuffins says I’m in danger of losing it completely.”
“Well,” said Nim. “Then this is Tommy’s very last chance.”
“Yes,” agreed Figgy. “One more mishap and he’s done. For good.”
Quickly, while Tommy’s mother was hauling a kicking and screaming boy off to bed, Hinkle led Pixie, Figgy, Nim, and Lil into the living room.
“How are we going to fix him?” Hinkle asked, wringing his hands.
Nim stretched his shoulders and cracked his knuckles. “Let’s do the old one-two strike.”
Lil nodded. “Yes! One, a song encouraging him to behave.”
“Two,” said Nim. “A stern warning about the repercussions if he doesn’t change his ways.”
Pixie and Figgy tried, very hard, not to roll their eyes and laugh. But…in the end, they lost the battle.
“What?” asked Nim and Lil.
“That may have worked back when you two were in the trenches,” said Pixie. “But the kids have changed. Threats no longer work.”
Figgy nodded. “Now, action is the only solution for this sort of atrocious behavior.”
“Geez,” said Nim. “It’s not like it’s been that long since we were in the field.”
“Yes.” Lil sounded hurt. “It’s only been a season or two, and we still come out to help. Like tonight.”
Cowed, Figgy and Pixie rushed to assure them. “Oh, that’s not what we meant! It’s just, I’m sure Hinkle has tried all of the old ways of improving behavior.”
“And,” added Figgy. “What we need is to try something new.”
Slightly mollified, Nim and Lil looked at Hinkle.
“Well,” he said. “Yes, I have tried the usual routes. A song. A poem. A letter to Santa. Their behavior may have improved slightly, but on the whole, nothing has changed.”
Pixie smiled. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Figgy?”
Figgy rubbed his hands together. “That we should freeze all of Tommy’s socks and underwear?”
“What?! No! I was thinking we should have a little sale.”
“Oh,” said Figgy. “Yes, I suppose that would work as well. Not quite as fun. But I’m sure it will do the job just the same.”
“Sale?” asked Nim. “What kind of sale?”
“A garage sale of sorts,” said Pixie.
“We’ll sticker all of Tommy’s toys and put them for sale in the living room.”
Pixie turned to Hinkle. “Does he have any favorite toys we should start with?”
Hinkle smiled slowly, and a little disturbingly. “Oh yes. We can start with his stuffed animal collection.”
Not quite liking Hinkle’s expression, Nim asked, “Why the animals?”
“They attacked me on the first night.”
“Come again?” said Lil.
“Tommy had them all in a net, and when I entered his room, they rained down on me like some plush, squishy rainstorm. It was terrifying.”
“Stuffed animals it is!” said Figgy.