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Mysterious bearded man blamed for December coal shortages

Artist's sketch of
mysterious coal buyer

The weather outside is frightful. The weather inside may soon be joining it.

Demand for coal this December has greatly outstripped supply, apparently due to one large buyer.

"At first, we thought increased demand was driven solely by the abnormally cold weather," said veteran coalologist Bert Tumnus. "But several suppliers reported selling large quantities to the same anonymous buyer."

Ann Thresite, of the Sherman Coal Co., took one of the orders.

"He had a broad face," said Thresite, "And a little round belly. He wanted thousands of tons of coal delivered, mostly one lump per address."

Online retailer Amazon.com was also approached.

"One of our, um, larger customers ordered thousands of lumps of coal, gift-wrapped," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

"He's bought coal from us in previous years," Bezos said, "But never this much. The order was large enough to qualify for free shipping."

Bezos declined to identify the destinations of the coal.

"However," Bezos said, "I will say that the White House should be toasty warm this year."

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