Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A great Christmas read


The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas
Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife
had passed away. It was just another day to him. He
didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to
celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow
that had been falling for the last hour and wondering
what it was all about when the door opened and a
homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was
known by his customers, told the man to come and sit
by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't
mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're
busy, I'll just go." "Not without something hot in
your belly." George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed
it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and
tasty, "Stew ... made it myself. When you're done,
there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the
driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George
said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy.
Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was
panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver,
with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and
my car is broken."

George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked
cracked from the cold, the car was dead. "You ain't
going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office
closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the
office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and
went back outside. He walked around the building,
opened the garage, started the truck and drove it
around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my
truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever
looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched
as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked
back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck,
their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand
new ........" George thought he was talking to the
stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the
desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well,
at least he got something in his belly," George

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would
start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it
into the garage where the truck had been. He thought
he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas
Eve meant no customers. He discovered the the block
hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the
radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to
himself. So he put a new one on.

"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter
either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old
Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to
drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran
outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the
cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the
officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the
training he had received in the Army as a medic. He
knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the
bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been
there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He
used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they
say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to
make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was
the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work."
He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the
pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your
buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He
went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the
dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up.
"Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me
there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an
injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you."
George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding.
"Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right
through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff
though. I think with time your gonna be right as

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you
take it?" he asked. "None for me," said the officer.
"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I
ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced
at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a
young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it
now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and
George could tell that he had never done anything like
this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need
to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll
shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing
away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in
here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's
Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It
ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee
shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to
the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at
the same time. The young man released his grip on the
gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very
good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something
for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job,
my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week ..."

George handed the gun to the cop. Son, we all get in a
bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard
sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on
a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid
things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee.
"Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us
human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now
sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to
the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm
sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee." the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A
police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two
cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You
ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced
bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he
approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off
into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each

"That guy work here?," the wounded cop continued.
"Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy
lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the
stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop
and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too,
George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there.
That ought to solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a
box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something
for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind.
She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond
ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young
man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George.
"I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car
and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil
company had left for him to sell. "Here's something
for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the
$150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner
with? You keep that too," George said, "Now git home
to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his
face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that
job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya
the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had
returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the
stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas.

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see
what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all
seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies
like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by
myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But
you do celebrate the holiday, George.
You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was
cold and hungry.
The woman with child will bear a son and he will
become a great doctor.
The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people
from being killed by terrorists.
The young man who tried to rob you will make you a
rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the
spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said.
"And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this
sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be
with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will
excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home
where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn
pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a
white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday,

1 comment:

justbeingme said...

I really enjoyed that. Thanks for putting it on your blog!

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