On the night before they were both run over, Ground Hog by a yellow dump truck under the railroad trestle near Big Highway and Possum by a late model Ford Thunderbird in the middle of Soybean Field Road only a half mile away from Ground Hog’s fatal end, the old friends met at the Golden Noodle to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Possum: Happy New Year Whistle Pig!
Ground Hog: I told you never to call me that.
Possum: But it’s a terrific name, I’ve never understood why you don’t like it.
Ground Hog: You know what it means don’t you?
Possum: Well, no, no I don’t . . . is it something horrible?
Ground Hog: Never mind, never mind, let’s have another beer! Waitress? Waitress?
The waitress is no where to be found, but the little mole who busses tables comes running
Ground Hog: Two more Tsingtaos for me and my old friend here, boy. And tell the waitress we are ready to order our dinner.
Possum: And a water with lemon for me too . . .
Ground Hog: Water with lemon?
Possum: Yes, don’t you know, it quells the appetite, I’m getting fat, the wife tells me so every night, she says, “If you get any fatter you won’t be able to cross the road and climb into the Great Dumpster near Big Highway. And then we’ll starve, me and the babies.”
Ground Hog: She calls you fat? She’s as big as the moon your wife, she doesn’t even come out of the tree anymore, she can’t get back in I bet . . .
Possum: She eats chocolates all day you know.
Ground Hog: And she tells you she’ll starve if you get too fat, old battle ax.
Possum: But she was pretty once, really. She was the prettiest thing I had ever seen.
Ground Hog: She was never pretty. You just can’t see very well.
Just then, the waitress arrives, she is quiet, apologetic, and very thin -- she carries a tray holding two bottles of Tsingtao and a tall glass of ice water with a lemon wedge. She balances on very high heels and Possum and Ground Hog are astonished by her golden silk dress embroidered with a green dragon.
Tiny Chinese Waitress: you are ready to order?
Possum: oh yes, thank you!
Ground Hog: We would like to begin with a very large plate of dumplings with a bowl of Rooster sauce. Then you shall bring us two bowls of your very best egg drop soup. And then, then your New Years’s Speciality, the Roast Duck. Is that agreeable to you Possum?
Possum: Oh my, oh yes . . .
Ground Hog: Not too many calories then?
Possum: Oh my, oh no no, whatever you say dear friend . . . but we must save some room for dessert!
Ground Hog: Yes, dessert, of course, how could I forget? We will conclude with Sticky Cake!
Possum: Oh Ground Hog, excellent choice, excellent!
Tiny Waitress places the beverages on the table and lights the the little red dragon candle between them. She retreats to the kitchen and there is a great whoosh when she pushes through the red doors into the inner sanctum of the kitchen. A cloud of steam puffs out into the dining room and dissipates somewhere over the tank of goldfish who are conspiring in a veil of seaweed.
Ground Hog: So Possum, this will be the Year of the Rabbit.
Possum: Is that so?
Ground Hog: Yes and supposedly it is an auspicious year, a year of healing following great strife.
Possum: I could use a year such as that my friend, what with the drought and the chestnut blight.
Ground Hog: I am with you friend, after being taunted by boys with sticks in that dusty ditch last summer, I look forward to a year of good will. But I ask you this? Why is it that we are not on the Zodiac?
Possum: I’ve never pondered this Ground Hog, I thought we were all represented.
Ground Hog: Oh no, no, there is quite an assortment of us -- rats, pigs, dogs, horses snakes, monkeys, dragons . . .
Ground Hog: yes dragons . . .
Possum: why, dragons aren’t even real!
Ground Hog: aren't they?
Possum: Of course not! There’s no such thing as a dragon! They should replace the dragon with you friend, the common Whistle Pig . . . uh umm, so sorry, the Ground Hog!
Ground Hog: You are too kind Possum. You deserve to be represented too, surely you are more auspicious than Rabbit!
Possum: Rabbit is nervous isn’t he? And his wife is a sea of anxiety! Surely I am more auspicious than Rabbit.
Ground Hog: And what of this Monkey business?
Ground Hog: Yes! There is an entire year dedicated to a Monkey. What ever is a monkey? This must be another fantastic animal in the realm of the dragon, no?
Possum: Oh, look Ground Hog! Our platter of dumplings has arrived! Happy New Year dear friend!
Ground Hog (raising his bottle of Tsingtao): Much health and luck to us Possum, much luck and heath!