Winnie The Pooh sat down on a stump.
“Oh, bother,” he said. It had been a long, very bad day.
Piglet was nowhere to be found. This was what Winnie The Pooh wanted all along — peace and quiet. He may have had to brutally murder his small pink friend in order to get it but he was happy, or at least had been for a while.
Then the guilt had set in. Winnie looked at his red shirt. He owned several, but this one was the oldest and perhaps his favorite. He wasn’t sure why he had worn his favorite red shirt that day. Perhaps it was because he knew that he was going to kill Piglet in cold blood with a shotgun obtained by Kanga in return for some of the marijuana that Pooh grew on his land in the Hundred Acre Wood. The Hundred Acre Wood — now just called “The Wood” by its inhabitants — had become an entirely different place since Christopher Robin had grown up and moved away. He had kids of his own, now. He never called, thought Pooh.
Piglet had been especially chipper that day, bounding along after Pooh down the winding path toward the river — the spot Pooh had chosen earlier for its secluded location. Pooh would frame it so that it looked like Piglet had committed suicide. Piglet, after all, lived alone in a part of the Hundred Acre Wood that had been sequestered off and turned into a strip mall. The Chinese food restaurant let Piglet live out by the dumpster. In return he would entertain guests with a show at 8 and 11, night after night. The show usually consisted of jokes Piglet had lifted from the girly magazines Christopher Robin left behind before moving away. That was the start of the decline of any young boy’s imagination, those dirty magazines, Pooh thought, polishing the sawn-off shotgun with his right paw.
Piglet laughed and bounded along right beside Pooh all the way to the river.
“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh had answered.
Pooh sighed and kept walking along. He was confused, his head muddled with the shadowy thoughts of killing one of his best and oldest friends. But he wanted to die in peace. Pooh had had a long life and he grew weary of Piglet’s incessant phone calls, emails, and late-night door knockings. Piglet always wanted to hang out. Pooh had let this continue for 40, 50 years. Nobody would miss Piglet.
“It sure does smell, Pooh! Like a skunk has been here!” piped up Piglet as they passed Pooh’s marijuana field.
“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them,” said Pooh, and they continued to walk. Neither of them said a word when they passed the tree where Tigger had crashed his car one night while high off an eight-ball of cocaine.
“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love,” said Piglet. It had been quiet for 20 minutes as they continued down the long, winding path toward the river. It would be quiet for 20 more minutes, until Pooh stubbed his lower right paw on a rock.
“God fucking dammit,” Pooh said. Piglet gasped when Pooh said that, but was not, in the least bit, surprised. Pooh’s constant swearing was just a fact of life in The Wood, now. They kept walking.
“How much longer?” said Piglet. The sun was starting to go down.
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day,” Pooh said. He couldn’t even bring himself to look at Piglet. He just wanted scotch, and a lot of it. He thought about the scotch he had back at home. It was good scotch. It was one of the few things that brought Pooh any enjoyment anymore.
Pooh thought back to the day after Christopher Robin had left. The animals hadn’t said much of anything that day, nor the day after, nor the day after that. It wasn’t until Eeyore had gone to a psychiatrist that the Hundred Acre Wood, as they had known it, had started to unravel. With his newfound confidence, Eeyore moved to Chicago and started work at a start-up social media company and was now engaged to a waitress named Cheryl, who worked at a vegan restaurant. They lived together in a nice old house on Troy behind El Cid, a Mexican restaurant that Pooh had found to be the only highlight of his one and only trip outside of the Hundred Acre Wood. Eeyore had seemed happy. Eeyore had moved on. Pooh never spoke a word to Eeyore after that trip. The long drive back to The Wood with Piglet’s incessant talking had been a nightmare for Pooh. It had been during that 11-hour car ride, Pooh thought to himself as he spied the river off in the distance, when he realized he had to kill Piglet.
The sun’s orange rays cast a dappled shade on the wondrous river at the far end of the Hundred Acre Wood. It reminded Pooh of what had been so many years ago, his trips to this very river with Christopher Robin, and what could have been if only Christopher Robin had stayed. Pooh felt a lump in his throat. Mustn’t think about this too much, thought Pooh. Just need to get this over with.
Pooh had hidden the shotgun behind a tree along with a plastic tub, a saw, and a few handles of acid. This had cost him a month’s worth of marijuana crop, he thought, so he better just work beyond the lump in his throat and get this over with. Pull it together, Pooh, he thought. Get your fucking self together. Big bears don’t cry. Big bears don’t cry.
He looked down at his feet. He couldn’t see over his stomach. He hated that about himself. He had let himself go — with all the honey and the drinking he now had a liver the size of a Nerf football. It pained him when he walked sometimes, or during humid weather, which worried him the most.
“Oh, bother,” said Pooh, and clutched his side.
Piglet looked out upon the lake.
“Wowie wow wow! Look at this beautiful river! Pooh! Pooh! Come quick! You’ll miss the sunset. It’s going to be so beautiful, Pooh. So beautiful. You have to come and see this. It’s nature, Pooh! It’s the one true thing left is this mixed-up world! It’s the one thing we have! Nature! The beauty of nature! Isn’t that just the best reason to be alive, Pooh? To keep hanging on, just one more day?”
Piglet coughed. It sounded bad. Piglet had been hiding a secret from Pooh and the rest of the animals for many years. But Piglet would not get a chance to tell a soul, especially Pooh, who stood behind him with a shotgun. Pooh aimed it at the back of Piglet’s head. He wouldn’t feel a thing.
“Don’t turn around, Piglet. I’m taking a leak,” said Pooh Bear.
“Okay, friend,” said Piglet. He continued to look out at the river. He seemed so happy just staring at the majesty of the sunset that Pooh almost couldn’t follow through. He felt that lump rise in his throat again. He shook it off. Don’t be a pussy, Pooh thought to himself. Finish the job.
“Hey Piglet,” said Pooh.
“Yes, best friend?”
“What day is it?” said Pooh. He felt the lump return again. This time it was stronger than ever.
“It’s today!” squeaked Piglet.
“My… my… favorite day,” said Pooh.
He pulled the trigger.
Back in his living room, Pooh sat down on his couch and turned on the TV. It was quieter now.
As he reached for his glass of scotch, he happened to glance over at a framed photograph of the two of them. It was taken some 40, 50 years ago. They both looked so happy. Piglet and Pooh. Best friends forever.
Pooh knocked back what was left of the scotch. It tasted bitter.
Just like everything else.