The Spirit Of The Season
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. He had no decorations, no tree, no
lights. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas,
just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. There were no children in his
life. His wife had gone.
"Thank you, but I
don't mean to intrude," said the stranger.
"Not without something hot in your belly," George turned and
opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger.
Just at that moment he
heard the "ding" of the driveway bell.
"Mister can you
help me!" said the driver with a deep Spanish accent.
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 in.
George went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back
"Here, you can
borrow 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. George turned and
walked back inside the office.
George went back outside
to see if the old Chevy would start.
As he was working he heard a shot 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, "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 laundry 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 ambulance."
George said, but the
phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there
talk box out in your police car."
the officer. "You could have left me there.
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.
"None for me," said the officer.
"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city." Then George added: "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.
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 the money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea 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.
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."
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 me?"
"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 other.
"That guy works 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.
The young man looked
inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take
this," said the young man.
"And now it means
something to you," replied George.
The young man turned
with tears streaming down his face.
"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.
"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.
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
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.
George watched as the man's old leather jacket and his torn pants turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.
"You see, George, it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."