Hard Times – Part 4

This has been a short story based on a true incident that occurred to one of my older siblings and passed down from my mom. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as I wrap it up today.

When we left Ella, Walter and the children, they were in the doctor’s office where the doctor had removed the shards of glass from baby Charlie’s mouth. He is about to give them home care instructions. We’ll join them to see what he has to say.

Dr. Davis scrubbed his hands then pulled up a metal chair and sat across from Walter and Ella. “Even though I got all the glass I could see out of his mouth, we don’t know how much he might have swallowed.” He sighed. “And therein lies the problem.”

Ella leaned forward, cradling the now sleeping baby. “What can we do, doctor?”

“You may think this sounds crazy, but I want you to get some potatoes and boil them up. I’ll give you some cotton balls to take home with you. Tear off little pieces of the cotton and wrap the potato around it to make tiny balls, and make him swallow it. Do this several times a day. The cotton should grab any slivers of glass and he’ll pass them in his stool.”

The nurse had stood in the background, but moved forward. “Do you folks have potatoes?”

Walter shook his head. “But, I’ll get some.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to drop by your place later today to check on the baby,” Dr. Davis said.

“Thank you, sir,” Ella said quietly. “We’ll find a way to pay you.”

The doctor waved his hand. “Don’t worry about it. It’s Christmas time and the least I can do.”

With a box of cotton balls in hand, Walter, Ella, and the children left the doctor’s office.

Inside the ragged old car, Ella let fresh tears fall. “Oh, Walter, I am so sorry. I only let him out of my sight long enough to hang out the washin’. He just can’t die.”

Walter touched Ella’s arm. “Pull yourself together. We’ll do whatever we can. We need to buy a few potatoes.”

Ella nodded and held Charlie close to her heart. She was grateful that Walter didn’t seem mad at her for not watching the baby closer. She didn’t think she could carry any more guilt.

Over the next few hours, together, Walter and Ella managed to get several potato cotton balls down little Charlie’s throat along with a few sips of water.

True to his word, the good doctor stopped by to check on him, promising a return visit the next day.

Ella sat rocking Charlie as the sunlight faded into cold darkness. “Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, Walter. And, all I want is for our baby to be okay. If we can have that, it’ll be enough.”

Walter nodded. “I know.” He ran a hand through his thin hair. “It don’t seem to matter what we do, we can’t never get a break.”

Jane and Celie had been quiet since they’d left the doctor’s office. Jane sat in the corner with her doll while Celie sucked her thumb.

“Mama,” Jane said. “I’m sorry. I shoulda watched Charlie better.”

“Come here,” Ella said. “Now you listen here, Jane Smith. You are just a little girl. I shoulda never put that responsibility on you. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“But, Santa won’t think so. He knows and he won’t bring us nothin’.”

Ella met Walter’s eyes over the top of the little girl’s head. Sadness crushed her heart. It was true. They had nothing for the girls and no hope of getting anything. Sadness turned to anger and she resented the folks that seemed to have more than enough. They worked hard and didn’t waste anything and yet nothing changed.

Throughout the night and the next day, Ella and Walter continued to poke the potato cotton balls down Charlie’s throat. He’d remained lethargic, only opening his eyes now and then and letting out a whimper.

Early on Christmas morning a car rolled to stop outside their tiny house. When Walter opened the door, he gasped.

“Merry Christmas!” Dr. Davis’ nurse said as she pranced through the door. “I brought you folks some things.” She sat down a large bag that included a ham and fresh vegetables.

Ella moved toward her. “Oh, dear! You didn’t have to do that.”

“I know I didn’t. But I wanted to. I’ve got a few things here for your girls too, if it’s okay with you.”

Ella nodded

Jane and Celie rushed forward. The nurse passed brightly wrapped packages to them and they tore into them like ravenous animals.

Squeals of excitement filled the small space, as they unwrapped new dolls, a set of jacks and a ball and a coloring book along with crayons.

Ella fought against more tears. In the midst of the chaos, Dr. Davis arrived.

He strode to Charlie and picked him up. The baby opened his eyes and smiled at the good doctor. After completing an examination, he turned to Walter and Ella. “I do believe we have a Christmas miracle. I think your little Charlie is going to be just fine. You folks did a fine job of doctoring him.”

And, so Walter and Ella along with their three children had a Christmas to remember.

For once, they filled their bellies with as much food as they wanted, and the future held hope…hope for a brighter day…hope for prosperity and hope for happiness.

THE END…

Ella
Walter

As I told you at the beginning, this was a true story passed down through the family. Above you can see Ella and Walter (my mom and dad, Marian and I.V. Smith).

I sincerely wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas! If you need a Christmas Miracle, I pray that you receive it. For, it is truly a magical time of year!

Hard Times – Part 3

When we left Ella and her three children, a kindly neighbor had driven them to the doctor’s office. Charlie, the baby, had eaten glass and was bleeding. Let’s join them in the doctor’s office.

Ella ushered the two girls up the steps and through the wooden door ahead of her.

A nurse dressed in a crisp white uniform and cap stepped from behind a desk.

“Oh my!” She gasped when she saw the child. “Doctor Davis, come quick,” she called over her shoulder.

“Please help my baby!” Ella cried.

The nurse reached for the bundle and Ella relinquished him into her arms.

“Tell me what happened.” The nurse quickened her steps toward the examining room.

Ella and the two girls followed. “I was outside hanging out washin’ when my oldest girl came screaming for me and said Charlie was bleeding.” She swiped a blood-stained hand across her weary eyes. “I was only gone for a little bit.”

The nurse laid the baby on a narrow table as Doctor Davis strode into the room.

He took one look at the baby and reached for cotton gauze. “Nurse Ingrid, fetch me the long tweezers, please.” He glanced up at Ella. “Your baby ate glass?”

She nodded, wringing her hands. “I don’t even know what broke or how it happened, I just got here as quick as I could.” Fresh tears streamed down her face.

The somber look on his face caused her heart to stop.

“This is very serious, ma’am.” He reached for the tweezers. “Nurse, hold him while I try to get these tiny shards out of his little mouth.”

Charlie kicked and screamed while the doctor worked. Ella moved to the table and helped hold his legs.

“Please tell me he will be all right,” she begged.

The doctor looked her in the eye. “I wish I could, ma’am. I wish I could.”

After what seemed like an eternity, Doctor Davis laid the tweezers on a tray and dipped cotton into a basin of water. He gently washed the inside of the baby’s mouth.

Ella sank into a chair near the table and dropped her head into her hands. The two girls moved to her side. Tears had subsided and Charlie finally closed his tiny eyes and slept.

They looked up when Walter dashed through the door. “What in tarnation has happened?”

While the doctor explained, the nurse finished cleaning the baby, wrapped him in a clean blanket, then laid him in Ella’s arms.

Ella barely comprehended the final words the doctor uttered to Walter. “He isn’t out of the woods by a longshot, sir. We don’t know how much he ingested or what it will do to his guts and stomach.”

Walter crossed the room to Ella and placed a trembling hand on her shoulder. “What can we do?”

TO BE CONTINUED

FINAL EPISODE SUNDAY 23RD

Hard Times – Part 1

merry-christmas-santa-greeting-gif-14

I felt the urge to share a Christmas story this year and I truly hope you enjoy it. My family was poor. Not the kind of poor that we think we are today, but the kind of poor that, for many years during the great depression, had no home in which to live, and very little food to eat. Sometimes they had a tent, sometimes a shack and sometimes only the side of the road, but they survived. This story is loosely based on tales handed down from my mom and oldest sister. Some of this actually happened to them, but not all in Roswell and not all in the same sequence. I am taking literary license here to create a fiction tale from their recollections.

Roswell, New Mexico in 1940 was just starting to grow and develop. After all, the air base located there brought people and people brought prosperity, but not for everyone.

Roswell-1940

“Christmas is right around the corner, Walter, and we have nothing for the children.” Ella Spencer put her hands on her hips and faced him.

Walter ran a hand through thin brown hair. “I know, Ella. Can’t you see I’m doin’ my best?”

Cold wind whistled through the cracks between the rough wood boards that made up the fifty-dollar house built into the side of a hill.

Walter checked the kerosene level on the single stove in the back corner.

Ella sighed. “I know. So am I. The washings I take in help, but it’s just never enough. If we had electricity, I could do more.”

“Dammit! I can’t work more than three jobs in a day’s time. So, I don’t know what else you expect me to do.”

“If I knew how to drive, maybe I could get a job in town.”

Walter waved a hand around the small square room. “And do what with these younguns?”

Ella’s small shoulders drooped. Walter was right. She had to take care of the children with what few resources they had.

But, at least they now had a house. It was a sight better than the tent they’d lived in before Walter built this house out of used lumber and bent nails.

“Times have got to get better,” she said. “They just have to.”

“Damned government don’t care one lick about us poor people. We ain’t the only ones, Ella. There’s a whole slew of us that ain’t got a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out of.”

Again, she knew he was right, but it didn’t lessen the sting of not having a single present to give the children on Christmas morning.

They were doing good to put shoes on their feet, and food in their mouths, much less anything that wasn’t a pure necessity.

She let her mind drift back ten years. Maybe if she’d married Tommy Turnbow instead of Walter they’d be better off. But, she hadn’t. Walter had promised a good life.

She’d learned that promises were only made to be broken.

“Walter, if I could just buy a few yards of material, I could sew coats for the girls. They need something to help keep them warm through the winter.”

“I’ll take you into town Saturday and see what we can find. But, we can’t spend more than two dollars. That’s all we’ve got to spare.”

“Two dollars is better than zero. We’ve seen many a day where that was the case.”

Walter rolled a cigarette and blew a smoke ring. “All I know is I’m doin’ my best and I’ve got to get going or I’ll be late to the gas station.”

Ella handed him a tin box that held two biscuits and a thermos of soup. “I’ll see you tonight.”

The door slammed behind Walter, and Ella turned her attention to the wash tub and pile of clothes. She carried water from a single faucet outside the door and set it to boiling on the stove. The baby, Charles, crawled on the wood floor and banged a spoon against the boards. The two older girls played in a corner with rag dolls a kind lady had given them a couple of years back.

She sighed. “Girls, watch after your brother while I get this washin’ done and hung out on the line.”

The oldest looked up. “Okay, Mama.”

Ella worried about the scorpions they shared their house with. So far, no one had been bitten, but she remained vigilant.

Her hands red and chapped from the lye soap stung when the cold air hit them. By the time she had the clothes pinned to the line, she could no longer feel her fingers. Just as the hung the last sheet, her oldest daughter ran outside.

“Mama, Mama, come quick! Charles is bleeding.”

Ella dropped the clothespin bag and ran.

Unknown Playmate, Irene, Jean 1939 (2)
Actual photo from family archives

TO BE CONTINUED…….

 

 

 

 

Magic – A Holiday Story #4

Cabin_Snow

Little by little, Frank Pyburn has learned the child’s name is Jasper and that he has no parents. And, it seems the child is determined to keep with family tradition and bring a tree home on Christmas Eve. He needs the luck. And he’s invited Frank to Christmas dinner.

“Well, now that you mention it, I just might.” Frank finished the coffee and leaned forward. “It gets a mite lonely here from time to time. But, I’d have to ask Aunt Nellie first.”

“Oh, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. She’s nice.”

“That’s good to hear, Jasper. I’m glad she treats you well.” Frank pushed to his feet. “Let’s get you bundled up and we’ll go get the truck.”

He gruffly buttoned the top button on the kid’s worn coat and pulled the wool cap down over his small ears. A lump caught in his throat. He grabbed his coat and opened the door.

He choked back tears that threatened to fall. He’d make sure that Jasper Doolin and Aunt Nellie got their Christmas luck. He could use a big dose of it himself, and a good deed on Christmas never hurt anyone.

They traipsed across the yard to the 1921 GMC pickup parked under a shed.

Young Jasper let out a whistle. “This is a beauty, Mr. Frank.”

“It serves the purpose. My daughter insisted I get it after Emma died.”

Jasper scrunched up his nose. “I’m sorry you lost your Miss Emma.”

“Me too,” Frank growled. “Me too. Now, let’s get you a tree. I know exactly where to find the perfect one, and I’ve got an ax behind the seat.”

Frank cranked the engine. It protested before it finally sprang to life.

The headlights reflected off the snow as Frank eased down a country lane. After a few minutes, he stopped and pulled on the brake. He left the headlights on and they cast a warm glow that allowed Jasper to choose a small tree. Then, with the sharp ax, Frank cut it down and tossed it into the bed of the truck.

They hopped inside, and Frank turned back toward the house. Halfway home, he glanced over at the boy to see him sound asleep with his head laying on the door.

His heart melted. This boy reminded him of himself when he was his age. But, it was evident that life had tossed Jasper Doolin a hard road to walk.

Visions of Emma in the lavender dress he loved so much swam before his eyes. Oh, how he missed her bustling around their small house baking pies and stringing garland. Painful loneliness gnawed at his gut. Emma would want him to help Jasper.

When they reached the ranch house, he gently woke Jasper. “We’re back at my house, Jasper. But, we need to get you on home.”

Jasper sat up, yawned big, and rubbed his eyes. “Okay, Mister Frank. I sure do appreciate you helping me.”

“It’s nothing. But, I’ve got another idea. How about you run inside and get your stuff, and I’ll drive you back to Aunt Nellie’s. Then tomorrow, we can get Magic.”

“Okay.” Jasper opened the door, dashed inside and returned with his saddlebags.

Frank drove while Jasper told him what road Aunt Nellie lived on. He was surprised at how far Jasper had ridden on Magic. No wonder he fell asleep on the horse.

Thirty minutes later, he pulled up in front of a small wood-framed house. Candlelight flickered through the windows and Frank could only guess that Aunt Nellie was worried sick about young Jasper. He didn’t miss small eyes peeking around the edge of a curtain when they walked up to the door dragging the tree.

Jasper knocked. “Aunt Nellie, it’s me, Jasper. Unlock the door.”

A bolt slid across, and a scrawny woman flung the door wide. “Jasper!” She hugged the boy. “You had me worried sick.”

Frank removed his hat. “I found him over by my place. He’d fallen off Magic and hit his head.”

“But, I’m okay now, Aunt Nellie. And look, Mister Frank helped me get us a tree. We can have good luck now and maybe you won’t have to cry so much.”

The woman eyed Frank. “Well, the both of you come on in out of the cold.” She shooed the children back and stepped aside.

Frank lifted the tree over the threshold and followed Jasper. Once inside, he faced the woman and stuck out his hand. “I’m Frank Pyburn, ma’am. I live over on the other side of the creek.”

She shook his hand. “I can’t thank you enough for helping Jasper. He didn’t tell me where he was going, and I just knew something had happened to him.”

Jasper stood beside her and three smaller children huddled close, never taking their eyes off the tree resting against the wall. “I told you, Aunt Nellie, I had to get us a tree, so we would have good luck like Pa always said.”

Her eyes misted. “Can I offer you something hot to drink, Mr. Pyburn?”

“No. I’ve gotta be getting back. But, if it’s okay with you, tomorrow I’ll pick up Jasper and take him to get Magic and see them both home safely.”

“Of course, it’s okay. But, only on one condition. If you don’t have any other plans, I’d be pleased to have you join us for Christmas dinner. It’s the least I can do to repay you for looking out after Jasper.”

Frank’s gaze swept the simple dwelling. While the furnishings were sparse, the floors sparkled, clean, and there wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere. He’d be back tomorrow. But, when he came, he’d have his arms full.

He couldn’t stop a grin that spread across his face. Just like Santa Claus.

The idea that he could bring Christmas cheer to this kind woman and children brought him great joy.

Already, he was thinking about the venison in his freezer and the canned vegetables that Emma had left behind. Maybe he could even scrounge up some gifts for the children.

He’d found a purpose for enjoying Christmas again.

With a light heart, he said his goodbyes and drove the faithful old truck back to his empty home. But, somehow, it didn’t seem nearly as lonely or empty as it had a few hours ago.

When he parked under the shed and headed inside, he could almost smell Emma’s wonderful cherry pies and hear her sweet laughter drifting across the snow-covered ground.

He looked up at the black velvet star-filled sky. “You’re one lucky man, Frank Pyburn,” he said.

A whinny from the barn confirmed Magic agreed with him and that was one smart horse. “Christmas Magic,” thought Frank. That should be the horse’s new name for that is what he’d brought…A boy and his pony on one starry Christmas Eve.

THE END

Old Pickup_Tree

 

 

Magic – A Holiday Story #3

Cabin_Snow

Frank Pyburn now knows he has rescued a young boy. But, why would such a young child be out by himself in this weather on Christmas Eve? But even more puzzling, what was that smell? 

 

“What in tarnation do you think you’re doing?” Frank gasped at the sight of the boy trying to light a crooked pipe. He jerked the contraption from the child. “You are way too young to be smoking, kid, and besides that, I don’t allow it in my house.”

Jasper’s bottom lip quivered. “I’m almost eleven, and that was my granddaddy’s pipe, Mister Frank. I just figured since I am all grown up now I needed to start learning how to smoke it like he did.”

Frank chuckled. “There’s plenty of time for that if you are damned and determined to do it, but now is not that time.” He clapped a hand on the boys shoulder, then emptied the contents of the pipe into the fireplace. “You hungry?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll get you a nice bowl of stew, and then you’re going to tell me what you’re doing out on a night like this and where your family is.”

Jasper looked away. “Ain’t got no ma or pa anymore.”

Frank swallowed hard. “Just rest. I’ll be right back.”

Before he returned, Frank refilled his coffee cup and doused it good with bourbon. He set a tray on the floor beside the boy with stew, crackers, and milk, then plopped down in his easy chair.

Silence swirled around the old man and boy like gentle snowflakes. While curiosity nagged at him, Frank could be patient.

Finally, Jasper scooped up the last bite of stew and drank the milk. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and got to his feet. “You’ve been awful nice, Mr. Frank, but I have to get going. Maybe if you could just point me toward Hamilton Road, I won’t get lost again.”

Frank motioned for Jasper to sit. “You’re not going anywhere until you tell me everything.” He set his jaw. “And, I want every detail.”

Jasper sank onto the sofa. “Well, you see, Aunt Nellie tries her best, but she just can’t do it all. Me being the oldest, it seemed that I needed to be the one to make sure we got our Christmas luck.”

“Christmas luck?” Frank sipped his coffee.

“Sure.” Jasper ran a small hand through his red hair. “Don’t you know the story about the Christmas tree and good luck for the whole year?”

“Don’t reckon I do. Tell me.”

“Well, my pa always told me that for us to have good luck for the whole year, we had to cut down a sapling on Christmas Eve and bring it in the house. But, Ma and Pa are gone. They got killed last summer in an accident. I live with Aunt Nellie and her kids. And, we need a tree. So, I headed out after I finished my chores and got lost.”

Frank squinted. “I’m sorry about your ma and pa, Jasper. How did you fall off Magic?”

Jasper shrugged. “Don’t know exactly. I was so tired, and maybe I fell asleep. The next thing I know, I was here with you.”

“How did Magic get so smart?”

Jasper grinned. “My pa taught him to be a trick horse. You ought to see all the stuff he can do. He can shake hands and dance.”

“And,” Frank interrupted him, “Damned near talk.”

“That too. He’s a good horse. And, he’s the only thing I’ve got left.” His small voice trailed away.

“Where does Aunt Nellie live?” Frank asked.

“Over in Grover Valley.”

“I’m sure she’s worried to death about you. We need to let her know you’re okay.”

Frank reached for the black phone on a table.

“Won’t do no good to use that thing, Mr. Frank. We ain’t got one.” Jasper shuffled his feet on the rug. “I have to get our tree and get home. We need a whole lot of luck.”

Frank’s heart broke for the boy. Here was a child that should be warm and safe on Christmas eve, not out traipsing through the woods looking for a tree to bring much-needed good luck.

“Tell you what. Let me finish my coffee, and I’ll pull the old truck pulled around. We’ll get you a tree. But, then I’m taking you home.”

“Thank you, Mr. Frank.” Jasper’s eyes danced. “Thank you!”

“Want any more stew?”

“No, sir. I’m okay,” Jasper looked around the room. “Don’t you have any kids, Mr. Frank?”

“Yeah, sure. But, they’re all grown and living in the big city. I’ve got grandkids older than you. My wife, Emma, died three years ago, and now it’s just me.” He remembered how hard his daughters tried to convince him to leave the ranch and move to the city after Emma’s death. But, this was home and he wasn’t budging. They’d installed the phone for him and called now and then. But, they’re much too busy to mess with an old man. Most times, he only had the voices in his head to keep him company…that and the characters in Zane Grey’s books.

“You want to spend Christmas with us?” Jasper squinted one eye.

TO BE CONTINUED…..

boy and tree

 

Magic – A Holiday Story #2

Cabin_Snow

MAGIC

JAN SIKES

Last week an old rancher, Frank Pyburn, found an insistent horse clomping on his porch. The horse seemed determined to take him to someone or something. Let’s join them.

“I hope you know where you’re going,” Frank let the reins fall loose in his hands. The horse came to a halt near the fence line.

Frank eased off the horse, gun cocked and scoured the ground. A small lump covered with a light layer of snow groaned and moved.

“Hey,” Frank knelt beside the small form. He brushed the snow away to find a young boy with a nasty bump on his head. “Can you hear me?”

A groan escaped the boy’s frozen lips.

Frank leaned his rifle against a fencepost and picked up the limp boy. He glanced at the horse. “I suppose this is your owner.”

The horse snorted.

“Well, it’s a good thing you came and got me. He wouldn’t have lasted long out here.” He found a blanket rolled up behind the saddle and wrapped it tight around the boy.

How on earth would he be able to get back on the horse holding the boy?

As if reading his mind, the horse kneeled in the snow.

“I’ll be damned. If you ain’t somethin’.”

Frank reached for his rifle and stuck it between the saddle and leather strap. Then holding the boy, he straddled the horse. As soon as he gained his balance, the horse stood and trotted back toward the ranch house.

When they reached the porch, he slid from the horse and retrieved his rifle. “I’ll be back to tend to you shortly,” he said.

The horse snuffed and tossed his head.

Frank lost no time getting the boy inside and laid him on a rug in front of the fireplace. After a closer look at the bump, it didn’t appear to be as bad as he’d first thought. The boy was lucky.

He grunted when he pushed himself up. “You’re gettin’ too old for this kind of stuff, old man,” he muttered, as he slipped out of his coat and gloves.

The boy suddenly sat up with wide terror-filled eyes and cried out.

Frank knelt beside him. “I’m not gonna hurt you, boy. I’m just tryin’ to help.”

The boy’s eyes shot around the room. “Where am I? Who are you?” Where’s Magic?”

“Whoa there, stud. One question at a time. I’m Frank Pyburn, and this is my ranch house. I’m guessin’ Magic’s your horse. That horse saved your life tonight. I brought you back here to keep you from freezing to death. What in tarnation are you doing out on a joy ride on a night like this?”

The boy’s bottom lip trembled, and he jutted his chin out. “Wasn’t no joy ride, mister.”

He rubbed his head and groaned.

“Well, whatever it was, you can tell me all about it later. Right now, we need to get you into some dry clothes.”

The boy tried to stand and wobbled. “I need to get going.”

“You’re not going anywhere kiddo. Settle down and let’s get this all figured out. You got a name?”

“Jasper.” The boy stuck out his hand. “Jasper Doolin.”

Frank shook the small hand. “Well, then, Jasper Doolin, do you have any dry clothes in your saddlebags?”

Jasper nodded. “Got any coffee, Mister Frank?”

Frank grinned. “I reckon I do at that. Sit here by the fire, and I’ll fetch it, then I’ll get your saddlebags.”

He returned to find the boy leaning against the threadbare sofa.

“Here you go.” He pressed the cup into his small hands. “I’ll be right back.”

As he shrugged back into his coat, a million questions swarmed around him. What on earth was a young boy doing out by himself on a night like this? Something told him the answer would be unsettling.

Rather than taking time to look through the saddlebags out in the cold, Frank draped them over his shoulder and darted back inside.

He found Jasper pulling off scuffed boots and wiggling his toes close to the fire. Frank guessed him to be around ten years of age and in better condition than he’d first thought.

“Here are your saddlebags, son. Why don’t you get into dry clothes while I tend to Magic?”

Jasper nodded and once more, Frank trudged back out into the cold.

Frank talked to the horse while he led him into the barn and took the saddle and blanket off his back. The horse snuffled and whinnied, almost as if could understand every word Frank uttered. In under half an hour, he had Magic settled with fresh water and hay comfortable in the shelter of the barn.

When he opened the door to the house, his nose twitched. He shut the door and hurried into the living room.

 

TO BE CONTINUED…….

Red-Haired_BoyFrank

 

Magic – A Holiday Story #1

Cabin_Snow

MAGIC

SEGMENT 1

Frank Pyburn tossed another log into the fireplace, poured two fingers bourbon into his coffee and settled into his easy chair. With joints that ached, he ran a gnarled hand through a shock of white hair. The newest Zane Grey novel lay on the table next to his chair. He kicked off his worn boots, switched on the lamp and reached for it.

That man sure knew how to write a good western.

Frank grunted a little as he settled in and reached for the coffee. The burn felt good and warmed him on the inside.

“Ah,” he said to no one.

After he found his reading glassed under a two-day pile of newspapers, he opened the book.

Halfway through the first chapter, the sound of hooves clomping across his front porch brought him to his feet.

“Damn bears again,” he muttered. “But, since when did bears grow hooves?”

He slipped on his boots and grabbed the Winchester propped beside the door.

“Who’s out there?” He yelled.

A loud whinny cut through the cold Montana air, followed by a snort and a hoof pawing on the wood.

Frank cursed and eased the front door open two inches. He peered out with one eyeball. A saddled brown pony with no rider stamped his foot and nickered.

“Who’s out there?” Frank yelled again.

The horse tossed his head and let out a long whinny.

Frank swung the door open wide and stepped out into the porchlight, gun cocked and aimed.

The horse backed off the porch and continued to toss his head and nicker.

When Frank saw no one, he walked toward the horse and grabbed the trailing reins. “Good boy.” He patted the horse’s thick neck.

“Where’s your rider?”

The horse pulled against the reins and reared.

“Whoa, boy. Whoa.” Frank kept a tight grip on the leather.

The horse jerked against Frank’s hold and whinnied.

“You’re trying to tell me something, aren’t you, boy?” Frank peered into the cold blackness of the night. His gut told him someone was in trouble. “All right. I’ll go with you, you stubborn horse, but I’ve got to get my coat and gloves.”

He pulled on the reins and the horse followed him. “Damned if this don’t beat all. The coldest night of the year and you’re gonna drag me away from my warm fire. You better have a good reason.”

If someone was in trouble, this weather would freeze a person to death in no time.

He tied the horse to the porch rail and stepped back into the warmth of the small ranch house. He shot a longing glance at the fire, his book and the rest of his coffee while he slammed his hat on his head, slipped into his heaviest coat and gloves.

The minute he swung up into the saddle, the horse spun around and took off.

To Be Continued…

Magic