With apologies to A. A. Milne For every positive trait embodied by Winnie, his brother exhibited exactly the opposite characteristic. Where Winnie was humble, Vinnie was swollen with a boundless arrogance. Where Winnie went out of his way to help his neighbor, Vinnie sowed mischief, and missed no opportunity to torment anyone unlucky enough to cross his path. Winnie loved honey, but his brother ate ants. And while Winnie was in bed by 9:00, even on weekends, Vinnie slept all day and spent his nights carousing with a gang of feral baboons. By any reasonable estimation, Winnie was a fairly decent guy, but Vinnie was a fiasco.

So it was a surprise to no one when Vinnie disappeared from the face of the earth. Some said he had come out on the short end of an argument with a baboon, although one of the old-timers swore he'd seen Vinnie climbing the railway bridge the night before he went missing. The donkey thought Vinnie had been abducted by aliens, but no one ever listened to the donkey. The only one who really seemed to miss Vinnie was his brother, because despite their glaring differences, they were still family. And so it was Winnie who went out in search of the village misfit, because stuffing is almost always thicker than water.

Winnie hadn't been gone a week when his brother reappeared. Vinnie didn't seem to understand the questions he was asked when the sheriff picked him up on the outskirts of town, nor the stares of the villagers as he sat in the back seat of the patrol car. The sheriff, in turn, couldn't make sense of the gibberish issuing from Vinnie's mouth, and the odor emanating from the bear was familiar, yet oddly out of place. The inside of the patrol car smelled a lot like Thanksgiving dinner—stuffing in particular—but the sheriff chalked it up to wishful thinking, and the fact he had missed lunch that day.

The donkey became even more convinced that Vinnie had been abducted, and said so. The aliens, he insisted, had removed the bear's insides and substituted stuffing of a different sort, which was their idea of a joke. He opined, too, that the fluff between Vinnie's ears had been replaced with cranberries, which accounted for his odd speech. But no one listened to him, because he was just a donkey.

As for Winnie, he was never seen again, at least not in the little town he left shortly after his brother's disappearance. There were rumors, of course. One was that Winnie promptly forgot about his brother and found his way to Broadway instead, where he became a famous stage actor amid an equally notable cast of personified animals. It was also rumored that he had become the author of many books about similarly humanlike animals, but no one took it seriously. As everyone knows, bears aren't very good at writing.


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