[A trilogy of “seamy” stories about the lure of ugly sweaters. 2 of 3; See 1 of 3]
Christmas music plays through the tinny speakers in the function room of the once popular downtown hotel. In spite of the worn carpet and faded drapes framing the bottle glass windows, the people getting ready for the Annual Ugly Sweater Convention are happily lining up chairs to create a stage. One of the highly anticipated events is the ugly sweater parade around the room and the judging. The grand prize winner receives an original, one-of-a-kind ugly sweater crocheted by one of the judges.
“I can hardly wait until you show us what you’ve crocheted, Henrietta,” Jody says to the petite woman helping her set up the chairs.
“Tell us the story behind what you’ve created.” Linda, another judge pipes in, as she joins them in getting their stage ready.
“Given that I had a whole year to think about it, I feel as if my hands connected well with my brain, because I just let them both go to town,” Henrietta says, smiling about the experience.
By this time, the rest of the judges have joined them. Henrietta beams at the attentiveness of her four colleagues toward her work. “The setting is classical–a wintry scene with a half-created snowman; that’s because Santa was interrupted by Rudolf the Red-nosed reindeer whose nose had fallen off. The elves are crawling about under a Christmas tree, which happens to be topped by Rudolf’s red nose.”
“How clever. It sounds intricate,” Donny, the only male judge says.
“Yes, I used a lot of different colors to make them all stand out.”
“We better get a move on. People are streaming in. Why, look at that ugly sweater.” The other judges look in the direction she’s gazing. Suitably impressed, they conclude all the sweaters are ugly. They disband and mingle with the crowd.
Soon after the end of the ugly sweater story telling event, the parade starts. About a hundred or so people walk around the room, proudly displaying their frontal artwork to the five judges, each absorbed and taking notes, some murmuring among themselves.
At long last, the judges come to their final decision. As the one who crocheted the prize, Henrietta announces the winner. She wheels in a clothes rack, which has a vinyl garment bag hanging from the top. Eagerly, she unzips the opaque casing. As she takes out the sweater, she gapes as she sees a plain red sweater without the swirls, pomp-poms, appliques, ribbons, and yards of yarn she has applied. She sputters, “This is not the sweater I made!”
One of the judges cries out, “Someone has stolen it!”
Never before in the history of the event has this ever happened. Without much experience in such matters, the Ugly Sweater Convention planners promise the good people that day that they will launch a full investigation. Leading the charge will be the famed Detective David LaFoote, well known in their town as the sharpest tool in the shed.