The Gift of the Mysteri
Fred jammed his hands into his pockets, then pulled the lining out. "Hoover flags," he thought to himself. At least that's what Mr. Govea, his History professor, once told him they used to call it when poor folks during the Great Depression wanted to beg, but were too proud to say anything. They just turned their pockets inside out, to show they had nothing. It was true. "The Great Recession" as the papers…err…maybe blogs called it, was hard on recent college grads like himself and the gang. No one seemed to want to hire a mystery solver or trap-setter. Daphne's father lost billions in the Lehman Brothers collapse, and Shaggy was on food stamps. Only Velma's job at the library was keeping all of them going, and the state announced budget cuts for the New Year... And Christmas Eve was tomorrow night. What could he get Daphne with nothing in his pockets? He stumbled past the downtown mall store with the video of that supermodel Kathy Ireland brushing her hair…hair brushes! Those cost money! What could he do with a pair of Hoover flags? Then he glanced across the street. The vintage clothing shop was still open for ten more minutes. Fred steeled himself against the bitter Ohio snow swirling around him, took a deep breath, then jogged across the street after the snowplow passed, reached the other side, then pushed open the door. Only the tinkle of the bell signifying a new customer could be heard.
"Yes," the bored store owner managed. "Buying or selling?"
"S-selling," the blond barely managed. He removed the ascot, barely believing that he had done so.
The black lady behind the counter held up the accessory closer, to get a better look in the dim light. "Ascots? Nobody wears an ascot….wait, is this orange?"
Fred nodded grimly.
The lady's eyes rolled upward, calculating. "The orange ones are rare….$57 sound reasonable?"
Fred nodded eagerly. That would give him enough to buy Daph her combs, with tax, and still have enough for a White Castle burger and bus fare home. "Could you wrap it?" he pleaded. "I'm pretty bad at doing that."
The next night, Fred waited eagerly for Daphne to come over, after her folks left for Midnight Mass. She opened the door, brushed the flurries off her jacket and hat and then walked in for their Christmas kiss. They exchanged pleasantries before the redhead eagerly snatched the present from Fred's hands, tossing her wrapped box to him. He tore it open to find….
"It's the one thing that will clean your ascot, outside of expensive dry cleaning," Fred's girlfriend managed.
She was staring blankly at the set of combs and brushes, elegantly wrapped in the box.
"Did I get the wrong type?" Fred wondered aloud.
Daphne looked up at him with wide eyes, shook her head, and then pushed aside her large winter hat to reveal…
Fred choked down his response.
"Locks of love….they gave me just enough for me to buy your ascot cleaner. Where is it? I'll…"
Fred shook his head as he pointed to his bare neck. Daphne covered her mouth with a gloved hand.
After a moment of stunned silence, the two of them burst out laughing.
"You look like your cousin Shannon from our Loch Ness adventure in Scotland!" Fred managed.
"I think this is the first time I've ever seen your Adam's Apple" Daphne shrieked. Both fell into an embrace, then kissed under a clover plant that Daphne nailed over the doorway, claiming it was Mistletoe.
A knock on the door shattered the romantic moment. Fred detached himself from his sweetheart to open the door and reveal…
"Velma! What happened?"
Although it was really hard to tell that it was their partner, as her face was scrunched up tightly, and missing her signature glasses.
"Sold my specs for a beard trimmer for Shaggy," was all she could say, though she was still smiling.
"And I won enough money in a bet to buy an eyeglasses repair kit for all the times she's losing them, " Shaggy replied, beaming.
"And the bet was…oh, you shaved your beard," Fred observed.
"Red Herring didn't think I had it in me."
Scooby came into the door with a pair of McDonald's Happy Meals in his mouth. "He sold the last of his Scooby Snacks stash to buy us all a small dinner," Shaggy pointed out.
"It looks like we've all discovered the true meaning of Christmas," Fred said, as the Mystery Inc. got together for a group hug.
"It's just like the 'Gift of the Magi,'" Velma noted.
"Wha?" Shaggy asked.
"By O. Henry."
"Oh, Shaggy," Velma rolled her eyes, and everyone laughed.
Velma opened the door. "Hey Daph, can I borrow…"
"No Velma don't…."
But it was too late. Even with her blurry vision, Velma could see Daphne with a full head of hair.
"Velma, it's not what you think."
"But we just…."
"I got the money for the ascot cleaner because the government gave daddy back some of the seized assets from the Bernie Madoff case."
"It was sweet of him and all, but Angel told me all about him selling the ascot. I've already paid to get it back to him. I can buy back your glasses and Shaggy can grow back his…"
"But you missed the point of the whole thing!"
"Hey, I'm not parting with my beautiful hair. Besides, I can now do the study abroad thing in Italy next month. I'll only need the wig for a few days more. By the time Fred sees me again, he'll just think it all grew back…"
"Not if I can help it," Velma cackled easily. She managed to snatch up a pair of scissors.
"Vel…now don't be hasty. We can talk this out…"
"Sure…after I cut your hair…"
"Fred! Come save me again!! Fred!!!" Daphne screamed as Velma chased her around her bedroom.