“Christmas at The Gas Station” A Christmas Story

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  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 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  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  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 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 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. “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 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 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. 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  Jesus”

Merry  Christmas!!

This story is better than any  greeting card.