Dilly Dillo and the Texas Star
A Dilly Dillo Christmas Story
By Bish Denham
Copyright 2016 by Bish Denham
Published by Bound Post Publishing
P. O. Box 293793
Kerrville, TSX 78029
This is a work of fiction. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system in any form – either mechanically, electronically, photocopy, recording, or other – except for short quotations in printed reviews, without the permission of the publisher.
Cover art by Bish Denham copyright 2016
For Stan the Man
Dilly Dillo dragged the delirious Texas Ranger to his burrow. Dilly knew he had a Ranger because of the matching six shooters at his side. Also, his boots had, “Texas Ranger,” stamped into the leather.
“What happened!” asked Dilly’s wife, Dolly. She snuffled near-sightedly around her husband’s face to make sure he hadn’t been harmed in some way.
“I don’t know. While I was cutting pyracantha branches for you to decorate with, I found him staked out near a fire ant mound. He’s all bit up.”
Dolly shivered. “I bet it was that band of wild Armed Adillos.”
“I wish we could get rid of ‘em,” Dilly agreed. “It’s gettin’ so a regular dillo can’t leave his burrow at night to go find worms!”
Dolly sighed in agreement as she made up a comfortable bed for the unconscious Ranger. “And this being right before Christmas. It’s terrible.” She bathed his bites in grub juice and put a cool, damp cloth on his fevered forehead.
Dally, Dully, Dizzy, and Duzzy came romping in.
“I need you guys to be quiet,” Dilly said. When he told his four sons the situation they peaked into the guest bedroom just to make sure it was true. After all, it’s not every family of dillos that has a Texas Ranger as a guest in their borrow.
The Ranger was so tall and lanky, his booted feet stuck out into the kitchen where the children settled down to play a quiet game of “Catch the Worm.”
He began mumbling under his breath. “The star,” he moaned. “The star, the star….”
“What’s he saying?” asked Dolly, stirring a pot of worm stew.
“Something about a star,” answered Dilly.
“Maybe it’s his badge,” said Dally.
Dilly searched the Ranger’s vest, shirt pockets, and other areas where he might find it, but no badge could be found. Dilly snuffled quietly. “I think you may be right, Dally. I can’t find his badge anywhere.”
“The star, the star….” The Ranger mumbled. “Got to get the star.” Suddenly he sat up, bumping his head on the low dirt ceiling. A small shower of dirt clods fell around him. The effort of sitting up took what little strength he had and he fell back onto the soft pillow of worm casings. “Gotta get the star!” he insisted.
“Easy there, Mister Ranger. Calm down,” said Dilly. “One thing at a time. Tell me what happened and maybe I can help you.”
Little by little the Ranger, whose name was Stan Dup, told his story. He’d been ambushed by a band of wild Armed Adillos. They’d staked him to a fire ant mound and stolen his badge, which was very special.
“I have to get it to the top of the Dome of the Capital Building in Austin.” He wrung hands and tried to sit up again, but Dilly gently pushed him back down.
“Why?” asked the four boys in one voice.
“Because Santa gave it to me to set up there as a beacon.”
“What?” the six dillos exclaimed in unison.
“On Christmas Eve,” Stan Dup slowly explained, “I put this badge on top of the Dome. Santa made it out of star dust so it shines with its own special light. With it shining up on top of the Dome, he can always find his way to Texas, no matter what the weather. But now the badge is in enemy hands and Santa won’t have his beacon. When the kids wake up Christmas morning they won’t find anything under their trees! And me…well, how can I ever look Santa in the face again when he entrusted me with that star?”
“And tomorrow is Christmas Eve!” Dilly’s boys said.
“Don’t you worry, Ranger Stan,” said Dilly. “Help is on the way. Dolly?”
“I know, I know,” she replied setting down her spoon and shuffling off down the hall.
“Can we go, too?” chimed the kids.
“Nope, not this time. Boys, go get the Step Side ready!”
“What are you going to do?” asked Ranger Stan Dup.
“I’m gonna go in disguise to that camp of wild Armed Adillos and I’m gonna take back your badge.”
“But you can’t do it alone,” the Ranger said, trying to get up again but falling back.
“Oh, yes he can!” cried the boys.
“He’s my hero,” signed Dolly, handing her husband an odd looking bundle. “He can do anything.”
“He’s DilloMan!” all five cheered.
Dilly set the bundle down while the kids went to dust off the Chevy truck.
“It’s my disguise,” he told the Ranger as he pulled out his banded armor. “When I dress up like this those Armed Adillos think I’m one of them. They like going for rides in my truck and I charge ’em five worms a mile. I only do it when they’re camped near by because it isn’t safe for us regular dillos to go worm hunting when they’re out carousing. Lucky for me they aren’t very curious, and have never asked me where I come from, or tried to follow me home. It’s like they haven’t figured out they could do that. Still, they’re dangerous, as you’ve found out.”
Ranger Stan Dup grunted in agreement.
Soon all was ready. Dilly was closely inspected by his family. “We have to make sure every banded armored plate is in place,” said Dolly to the Ranger. “Otherwise those Armed Adillos might get wise to his tricks.”
As Dilly was about to leave, the Ranger called the mild mannered dillo to his side. “Here, you gotta have this,” he said tying a red bandanna around Dilly’s non-existent neck. “It’s my good luck bandanna.”
“Didn’t do you much good,” said Dully. His mother lightly cuffed him on the ear and shushed him.
“Well, he’s right, in a way,” said the Ranger. “I didn’t have it ‘round my neck, where it belongs. It was stuffed in my hip pocket. But as it was, it turned out to be in the right place because there was a rock under my backside and that bandanna was a good pad.”
So, Dilly, armored from head to tip of tail and followed by his family, went up out of the burrow, started the truck, and drove off into the gathering dusk.
The band of wild Armed Adillos was camping several miles away on the outer edges of Lost Pines. When Dilly drove up they were glad to see him.
RIP Dillo, the leader of the band said, “Just in time to take us for a ride. We were getting bored scaring the deer.”
“Scaring the deer?” ask Dilly
“Yeah, we’ve been running around howling like a pack of coyotes.”
“Well, hop into the back then, and I’ll take ya’ll for a drive.”
“Still the same price?” asked RIP.
Dillo, who liked being a tour guide, pointed out things while he drove. “See how the cedar elms have lost all their leaves? That means winter is really here. And the squirrels have gathered up most of the black walnuts. It’s gonna be cold for the next few months.”
Dilly was very crafty. He talked and joked and asked lots of unimportant questions, just like any visiting Armed Adillo would. He got them so comfortable that in no time at all he found out it was RIP who had the star.
As the night wore on, the band of wild Armed Adillos got hungry. But they had no worms to cook up, and they were too tired from all that joy riding to go hunt for more. At this point Dilly made a suggestion.
“Hey, hows ‘bout I cook up all those worms you guys gave me for the rides?” The back of his pick-up was seething with them.
They liked that idea and were eager for him to get right on it.
“Well, I think I oughta get something in return for doing all the cooking, don’t you?” Dilly asked
“Anything you want,” said RIP Dillo. He was hungry, and a hungry dillo will agree to anything; even crossing highways in the dead of night.
Pretending to be thinking hard about what he wanted, Dilly tapped a long curved nail on the side of his face. Finally he said, “I’ve kind of taken a fancy to that tin star you’re wearing.”
“Done!” cried RIP, flipping him the badge.
Dilly Dillo cooked up a big batch of spicy worm chili. The Armed Adillos thought it was the best they’d ever eaten, even though it sent them all to the creek for water. Which was the perfect moment for Dilly to make his escape.
Light was just beginning to streak the sky when he arrived home with the glowing yellow star pinned to the red bandanna. It was Christmas Eve.
Ranger Stan Dup was feeling much better, so the two of them drove all the way through Lost Pines to Austin in the truck. With the help of the friendly Capital staff, Dilly and Stan Dup soon had star on the Capital Dome. Good thing too, because that night it got foggy. So foggy that even Rudolf’s nose wasn’t bright enough to light the way. But out of the mist there came a beautiful yellow glow and Santa was able to find Texas, insuring that everyone woke up on Christmas morning to find lots of presents under their trees.
When Santa dropped off presents for Dilly’s family, he found Ranger Stan Dup sitting outside their burrow gazing at the stars. Stan Dup told Santa how the Dillo family had helped save Christmas for all Texans.
“That was a very brave thing for him to do,” said the jolly old elf. “Don’t tell them, but I’m going to come back on the 26th. I have an idea for a special gift.”
Dilly and his family was delighted when Santa showed up with his special gift.
“From this day on,” said Santa, “every dillo will have nine armored bands. That way wild Armed Adillos wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between themselves and you regular dillos. That should keep you safe from their mean tricks for a long, long time.”
Because of that generous gift, Dilly was able to retire his DilloMan suit. He and his family opened a restaurant which they called, “Dilly’s Deli.” His most frequent customers were the band of wild Armed Adillos. Since they still gave Dilly worms for rides in his pick-up truck, they still run out of worms, which meant eating dinner at Dilly’s Deli, which meant that Dilly and his family were soon living very comfortably in a new up-scale burrow.