Wanderers – 10

Note:  “Wanderers” can also be found in my book “My Best Christmas and other stories of  the season” at Amazon.com.


Betty tried rocking the van back and forth to get out of the snowbank. Her bald tires sang a mocking song as they spun.  They melted the ice and snow beneath them only to have it instantly freeze back more slippery than ever.  She needed help.

Frustrated, Betty grabbed her hat, scarf and gloves.  She tucked her thermos with what was left of her hot coffee under her arm.  She gripped the door handle, pulled it.  She put her shoulder into the door and pushed.  Nothing. She turned on her seat, scrunched her knees up, then kicked with all she had.  The door grudgingly opened wide enough for her to slide through and land eggs-over-easy in the snowbank that had trapped her car.  

Cold, cold, cold!  Betty looked around and saw nothing but a white veil of snow, slashing through the air.  Then a glow.  Something? Someplace warm?  Betty bent her head into the blustering wind and walked, then slid, then stumbled up to the nativity scene structure outside of the First Presbyterian Church of Ripley.

This would have to do for now she figured.  Desperate to be out of the wind and snow, she entered the shed.  She stopped when she heard what sounded like a distant siren piercing through the sound of the wind outside.  But the sound was inside.  She peered through the dim light looking for the source.  She looked.  She saw it. Saw her. Saw them.

“Oh, dear!” she said.  The kicking and crying baby caught her attention, then the man turning blue, hunched next to her, with no coat.  “What am I going to do with you?”

The man’s eyelids fluttered open, silently pleading with this newcomer for help.  Betty did what she could do.  She checked the baby and made sure she hadn’t kicked off what looked like the man’s coat.   She unwrapped her scarf and wrapped it around Harry’s neck and head.  She pulled off her mittens and covered his hands.  She opened up her thermos and poured a little of the steaming brew into the cup.  “I’m Betty,” she said.  “Drink this.”  She gently held the cup to his lips and let him take what he could, hoping the coffee would at least warm him from the inside.

Meanwhile, the storm raged.  Thomas put his battle with his own emotional demons aside and did battle with the meteorological storm buffeting him as he struggled to make his way home.  Normally, it was an easy walk.  A couple of blocks north, turn the corner, past the church up the street and then home.  But not that night.  Every step was a struggle against the strengthening storm.

When he turned the corner by the church, he saw the van perched on top of the  snowbank like a chunk of chocolate on ice cream.  Reacting, Thomas plowed through the snow looking to help whoever was stuck.  Seeing the door ajar and no one in the car, he looked around.  He spied the remains of snow-filled boot prints heading away from the wreck.  Like a bloodhound on the hunt, he followed them.  They led him to the light.  The prints, now barely visible, entered the structure bathed in light from the pole above.

“Of course,” thought Thomas.  “The nativity.”  With renewed purpose he entered the small barn and found what he was looking for.  There were two of them!  They huddled in the corner seeking from each other whatever warmth was available.  Immediately, Thomas’ training kicked in.  Yes, they were still alive.  He whipped off his thick coat, and as he reached down to cover Betty and Harry a small movement caught his eye.  “What?” He said it out loud. “What’s this?”  

What Thomas saw was a moving pile of coats, scarves, mittens and a baseball cap.  And poking out from it all was the face of a baby!  She looked at him.  He looked at her.  Then with a grim set to his jaw he went into action.  He covered them all the best he could with his down coat.  He reached into a pocket, hauled out a phone, flipped open the cover and dialed 911.   Soon the sound of a distant siren pierced the darkness. Within minutes, Thomas’ friends from the firehouse arrived…

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