TIME AND SCENE. A modest suburban home in Hohman, Indiana. The patriarch’s Leg Lamp—a major award for besting his opponents in a contest of words—dominates the façade; it illuminates the front window with a sacral glow.
Many days have passed since Ralphie solved the Riddle of the Ovaltine, yet fate remains unyielding.
RALPHIE: O, cruel mother, hear ye not my cries? Look upon me, thine eldest son, and soften thy heart of stone. I beg but an official Red Ryder BB gun.
MRS. PARKER: Oh no. You’ll shoot your eye out.
CHORUS OF SENSIBLE ADULTS: Alas, heed her voice! The weapon shall wreak destruction on thine eyes! Amend thy wish, foolish one, or be the architect of thine own doom.
RALPHIE: Fine. I’ll try the oracle.
MRS. PARKER: Now, just one minute, young man—not before you help your father.
Below, we hear the hammering sounds of primeval warfare as the patriarch takes up arms against the fires of Vulcan.
MR. PARKER (from beneath): SONOFABITCH CLINKER!!!
Higbee’s Department Store. THE ORACLE sits atop a throne of plastic and cotton snow. RALPHIE approaches in supplication, struck dumb with awe.
ORACLE: Speak. What is your desire?
RALPHIE: . . .
ORACLE: I don’t have all day, kid.
RALPHIE: Hear me, instrument of the gods! I want an official Red Ryder carbine-action two-hundred-shot Range Model air rifle with a special sight and a compass in the stock with a sundial!!!
ORACLE: Tell me this, callow youth: what has two eyes in the morning, four eyes at school, and one eye on the day of the Infant God?
Dumfounded by the profundity of this riddle, RALPHIE falls to his knees. He struggles for purchase upon the steeply slanted ground.
ORACLE (booping Ralphie on the forehead with his boot): You, kid. You’ll shoot your eye out. Ho-ho-ho.
RALPHIE plummets downward, face creased with despair.
RALPHIE: I shall defy you, gods!
CHORUS: Woe to he who curses the heavens in his folly! No bar of Lifebuoy can wash the poison from thy lips. Tremble, child—catastrophe is already at thy door!
A great crash echoes in the distance, followed by a howl of grief.
MR. PARKER (offstage): NO—NOT MY LAMP!!!!!!
MRS. PARKER (offstage, too casually): Ay me, the lamp.
Christmas morning. The window dais is conspicuously empty. Clad in ceremonial pink rabbit’s hide, RALPHIE is despondent.
MR. PARKER (slyly): Lo! Is there not something there behind the drapes?
It is a long parcel of telltale shape. RALPHIE feverishly removes the wrapping.
RALPHIE: A RED RYDER CARBINE-ACTION RANGE MODEL BB GUN!
MR. PARKER (aside): Thus, I am avenged upon thy mother, who didst brutally smite my Major Award.
RALPHIE: Diana smiles upon me! Come, blue-steeled beauty—it is time to consummate my long-harbored desire. Let bandits tremble, knowing our aim is true.
He raises the fatal weapon and shoots it. As was foretold, the kickback hits him right in the eye. The flying BB ricochets off the target—a tin discus that reads HUBRIS—and lodges itself in RALPHIE’s cheek.
RALPHIE (falling to earth and treading upon his glasses): Ay, me! I am blinded!
CHORUS: The prophecy is fulfilled! Ralphie shall see no more. Woe to he who tries to elude the grasp of fate! Woe to the house of Parker!
The Parkers weep and rend their garments in the backyard. A pack of wild dogs ravages their feast. Christmas is ruined.