a christmas story

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    Last post ago almost 7 years by Shelli
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          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

          "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 thought.

          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 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 ambulance."

          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

          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 you're gonna
          be right as rain."

          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

          "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

          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 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 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 get 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. Why?"

          "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 man."

          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 Christmas."

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

          ~ author unknown
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