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His Christmas Wish

Sometimes Christmas wishes really do come true...

The Christmas holiday season has always been a memorable time of year. Whether it is time spent with family, those special gifts from a loved one, or simply the smell of Grandma's cooking, every Christmas has always had something worthy of remembrance. The story of the Christmas holiday which I am about to relate holds a special fondness. It happened many years ago when I was still a single guy in my twenties. One of the things that distinguish it from the others is the amount of snow and cold weather. It just so happened to be one of the worst winters on record.

It was certainly no surprise then when I was sent home early from work one afternoon. The snow had started late morning, and by noon it was falling in earnest. The boss had decided to let us go shortly afterward, and as it was the last work day before Christmas, I was looking forward to getting home early and enjoying an afternoon of relaxation. What I did not count on was the increasing intensity of the snowfall and the length of time it would take me to get home. It took me nearly three hours to cover a distance that should have taken about twenty minutes.

As I finally got back into town the drive was somewhat more bearable as there were nearly no cars on the road. Apparently anyone with any sense was safely inside where it was warm and comfortable. Despite the lack of cars on the road, the drive was still slow as the snow continued to fall fast and steady. When I finally got within several blocks of my home, visions of opening a bottle of wine and TV danced in my head. When I turned the next corner however, I saw something totally unexpected. On the snow covered sidewalk stood a small boy. He could not have been more than six or seven years of age. He was wearing a hooded coat, but it was clear that he had been out a while as the snow was visibly sticking to his hood. Shocked that a boy of his age should be out alone in this weather, I immediately pulled my car over to the side of the snow covered road. Quickly, I got out of the car and approached the boy.

"Hello." I said as I approached somewhat cautiously, "What is your name?"

The boy just turned away silently. From the look in his eyes it appeared that he had been crying, though it was hard to tell for sure with the falling snow.

"What is your name?" I repeated, this time crouching down in the snow to his level.

The boy remained silent with his back towards me. I could feel the cold of the snow penetrating my work shoes and knew that I could not leave him out here. I had to either find out his name and phone his mother or take him to the nearest police station. There was just no way I could leave him here, however. I reached forward and gently grabbed his arm.

“No!” He cried out as he tried to break away.

The boy resisted as he tried to run, almost falling onto the snow. I quickly grabbed him with my other hand and hoisted him up gently.

“No!” He cried, “I can’t go!”

He was practically shouting. I held him firmly but gently and tried to reason with him.

“What’s the matter?” I asked somewhat concerned, “You can’t stay out here in the snow.”

The boy hesitated a moment, then seemed to calm down. He slowly turned around towards me. I could see tears forming in his eyes behind the snowflakes landing on his reddened face.

“What’s the matter?” I inquired once again.

The boy stood silently in the falling snow. A moment later, he spoke.

“It’s my puppy,” he sobbed, “I lost my puppy.”

I immediately realized the severity of the situation. A lost puppy was a serious thing, especially in a snowstorm. After some gentle coaxing, I convinced him to get in my car. Immediately, I turned down the radio and turned up the heat.

“We’ll find your puppy,” I assured him.

A million thoughts ran through my head as I pulled the car back on to road. Chief among those was how a small boy his age managed to sneak out of the house, and who might be looking for him at the moment. I thought about how I might find his parents afterwards, and the concern that must be running through their minds right now. But most importantly, I realized we had to find that puppy.

Gradually, as we drove around the area, the boy began to speak. I learned that his name was Doug and that he had snuck out of the house to walk his new puppy. While walking the pup, Doug had relaxed his grip on the leash and the puppy broke free. This was apparently over an hour ago. With the amount of snowfall since then, it would not be easy to find him even though I could not imagine the dog having traveled far. But, I knew it had to be done.

Doug pressed his nose against the glass of the passenger window the whole time we drove around the neighborhood. I can still recall his breath continually fogging the glass and his wiping the fog away with his small hands. After nearly forty-five minutes, I was starting to lose hope. We had been driving around the same several block radius with no luck. The snow was piling up ever higher and worse yet the sun was setting fast. I was starting to think I should just drive to the local police station and let them deal with the situation.

“Look!” Doug suddenly exclaimed, “Look!”

I couldn’t see anything out of the steamed up window, but I pulled to the side of the road fast. Doug ran out of the car and I followed quickly behind. Leading into a small snowdrift was the tail end of a red leash. How Doug spotted it was beyond me. Only a boy missing his new puppy could have seen it.

I followed where the leash led into the snow. There was a small hole in the snowdrift from the puppy’s breath. Apparently the pup was still alive. I reached through the hole and pulled out a small brown mixed-breed pup, its fur matted from the cold snow. It was shivering violently, but otherwise unresponsive.

“Sparky!” Doug exclaimed, “It’s Sparky.”

I led Doug back to the car and put him back in the front seat with the puppy on his lap. I then went around to the back of the car, opened the snow covered trunk and took out an old emergency blanket I kept in the car. After getting back in the car, I wrapped the pup in the blanket and handed him back to the boy. I sat there for a moment and thought of the best thing I could do. Sparky was alive, but seemed to be barely moving.

I drove off and headed for the nearest pay phone. I had an old friend who had a veterinary clinic in the next town. With any luck he would be home and willing to come out in the snow for a good cause. I dialed the phone.

“Hello,” the voice answered.

“Hello Pete, it’s Gary. I need a big favor,” I said.

“Gary, this is a surprise,” Pete responded, “Merry Christmas buddy.”

“Merry Christmas,” I started, “Pete, I have a very sick puppy here and I need your help now.”

“Since when are you an animal lover Gary?” Pete asked.

“It’s not mine,” I answered, “It belongs to a small boy.”

“Meet me at the office in twenty minutes,” was the reply.

“Thanks Pete.”

I got back into my car and headed off in the snow with Doug holding Sparky tightly on his lap. It took us about half an hour with the road conditions. When we pulled up to the veterinary office, I could see Pete’s truck out front. After parking the car, I grabbed the blanket-wrapped pup and led Doug inside. Pete was ready for us as he had seemingly sensed my urgency.

“Pete, this is Doug,” I said.

“Hi Doug.”

“And this is Sparky,” I added, handing the pup off to Pete.

Pete carefully unwrapped Sparky and looked him over. The dog was still shivering and relatively unresponsive.

“How long has he been out in the cold?” Pete asked.

“At least an hour from what I gather,” I started, “He ran off from my friend Doug here. I found Doug out in the snow searching for him.”

“Have you contacted his parents?” Pete asked.

“No, not yet,” I replied, “Doug doesn’t know his number, but we can deal with that later.”

“I’ll have to take Sparky in the back,” Pete started, “You stay here with Doug.”

Pete wrapped the small shivering dog back up in the blanket and carried him into the lab in the back while I waited with Doug in the waiting room. I tried my best to cheer the boy up, telling him some of my lamest jokes, singing songs and just trying my best to be cheerful under the circumstances. Slowly he began to come around as I continually assured him that Sparky was in good hands and would be alright. I certainly hoped so, as I could sense how much he meant to Doug.

After about a half hour, Pete reappeared. He looked a bit solemn, but he assured us that Sparky should be alright, though he would have to keep him overnight for at least another day or so. Apparently his body temperature had dropped significantly and he had lost a lot of fluids.

“And by the way, I took the liberty of calling Doug’s mother,” Pete added, “She should be here in a little while.”

“Oh, how did you get her number?” I asked in curiosity.

“From the name on Sparky’s tag,” Pete replied.

‘Hmmm, why hadn’t I thought of that?’ I thought to myself. Sure enough, about fifteen minutes later the front door opened and a young woman walked in. She was wearing a hooded jacket that had traces of snow on it. She stopped in the doorway just long enough to stomp the snow off her boots and then ran over to her son.

“Doug! Oh Doug, I was so worried about you.” She bent down and gave the boy a big hug.

“I just wanted to take Sparky for a walk, Mommy.”

“You had your mother so worried, Dougy,” she said, holding her son tight, “You know you shouldn’t leave the house alone.”

“Mommy, that man helped me find my puppy,” Doug informed her, pointing at me.

“Oh Sparky,” she started, “I know how much he means to you. Will he be alright?”

“I hope so,” Pete chimed in, “He’s been exposed to the cold for a while and has symptoms of hypothermia. I’ll have to keep him here for another day or two.”

Doug’s mom stood up and pulled back the hood of her jacket revealing her long blonde hair. She was a young woman, about my age, with big blue eyes. She glanced my way and smiled.

“So, you’re the man that helped my son find his lost puppy,” she said with a big, warm smile, “I really can’t thank you enough.”

Everyone in the room introduced themselves to each other and made idle chit chat for a while. I found out that Pam was a single mother who lost her husband in a car crash several months earlier. She was working hard to support her family, and had bought the puppy recently in an effort to cheer up her son who was having a hard time this holiday season since the loss of his father. After a while it seemed logical that the group would have to disperse, though I was not looking forward to going back out in the cold and snow.

“Gary,” Pam started, “Doug and I would like you to join us for dinner tonight. I’m making a big pot of beef stew. And I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer very easily.”

I thought briefly about my plans that evening. My bottle of wine could certainly wait and I doubt the TV would miss me for the evening.

“Sure,” I replied. It would be nice to have a home cooked meal for a change. Besides, I was looking forward to getting to know Pam better and I got along well with her son Doug. I think Pam sensed that.

Pete assured us that he would keep us informed as to Sparky’s condition as we all left the office. I followed Pam and Doug to their place in my own car. It turns out that they lived a few short blocks from my own apartment, not far from where I ran into Doug earlier in the day.

Pam led us all inside into a modest, but cozy little house she shared with her son. In the middle was a small, but brightly decorated Christmas tree. As Pam removed her bulky winter coat, I could not help but notice her trim, shapely figure. She really was an attractive young woman.

I offered to help with whatever I could in the kitchen. As it turns out that wasn’t much, though I was able to help Doug set the table. Pam had some beer in the fridge, which of course went well with the stew. As I waited in the kitchen with Pam for the dinner to cook, Doug brought in what seemingly must have been every toy he owned to show me. It was mostly toy cars and a few toy guns which were starting to collect on the kitchen floor. I helped him put his things back away while his mother served the dinner, lest she start to get annoyed, though Doug was seemingly in his element.

Dinner turned out to be delicious. I had not had home cooked stew in some time and it was worth the wait. After dinner, the conversation turned to the Christmas season and I made the mistake of asking Doug what he wanted for Christmas.

“All I want is my puppy Sparky back,” was his solemn reply.

For a moment I wished I could eat my words. It should have occurred to me that this boy would want nothing more than his beloved puppy to be alright. I sincerely hoped that that would be the case.

When it came time for Doug to go to bed and me to leave, Pam asked me if I wanted to join them again for dinner the next night. It would be Christmas Eve and I really had no other plans this year, since it was the first year after my divorce and my own family was out of town. I accepted her offer and we set a time as I left.

“I’m making chicken tomorrow,” Pam started as I was walking out the door, “It’s Doug’s favorite.”

“Left over stew would be fine with me,” I shouted back. I was trying to lighten the mood at this point, but I was not sure it was working.

When I got home that night, I went to bed early. It was nice meeting Pam and Doug, but it was a tiring day. The next day I woke up early. I was just puttering around the house most of the morning, as I did not have to be back at Pam and Doug’s till late afternoon. Just before noon time, the phone rang. It was Pete.

“Morning Gary,” said the voice on the phone.

“Good morning Pete,” I replied, “Merry Christmas, well almost. How’s the puppy doing?”

“That’s exactly why I called,” he started, “I have one very healthy and playful pup here that needs delivery. I figured you might be seeing Pam and Doug sometime today.”

I replied in the affirmative. Pete informed me that he would be able to stop by at around one. Sure enough, when one o’clock rolled around there was a knock on the door. As soon as I opened it, in ran in one very playful little puppy that skidded across my hardwood floor.

“You sure this is the same pup we brought in yesterday?” I had to ask.

“Yep, same pup,” Pete started, “Just needed a day of rest and relaxation.”

“Well, I know one little boy that will be very happy,” I added.

I thanked Pete repeatedly before sending him on his way. I watched the spunky little Sparky sliding around on the polished wood floor, just looking for things to get into. Fortunately, I had some old newspapers which I put down on the floor along with a bowl of water. I really didn’t have much else to offer since I was not in the habit of keeping dog treats in the house not having a dog myself.

When the time came for me, or us rather, to head over to Pam and Doug’s I gave Pam a quick call to tell her I was on my way. With Sparky under my arm, I grabbed the bottle of wine I had from the night before and headed out the door.

In the car on the way over to Pam and Doug’s, it was a bit of an effort to try to keep Sparky still. I quickly realized the futility of that effort. He would dart alternately from the floor area by my feet to over by the passenger window and press his nose against the glass, much as his master had done the day before. A short time later I arrived at my destination and rang the door bell.

Pam answered the door. She had on a dark red dress and I could not help but notice how attractive she looked. As soon as the door opened I let Sparky down on the ground. He immediately ran in through the open door.

“Merry Christmas,” I said, handing Pam the bottle of wine. I was a day early, but what the heck.

“Sparky,” Pam exclaimed. She gave me a sly smile as she spoke.

“Sparky!” I could hear Doug shout from inside.

As I entered the room I could see the sheer joy light up upon Doug’s face. I can’t recall ever seeing a happier child, even at Christmastime.

Dinner was a similarly joyous affair. Pam made a delicious meal of roast chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans. It was hard keeping Sparky from crawling onto the table from Doug’s lap, but nobody seemed to really mind.

Afterwards the three of us played with the puppy in the living room. It was remarkable the change in both Sparky and Doug from the day before. I was enjoying the comraderie with the family so much I hated to have to see Doug go off to bed later that night. After Pam took Doug and Sparky upstairs, she and I sat in the living room for a while. Pam had lit some candles and we were just sitting on the sofa making small talk over soft music on the radio. Suddenly, Pam reached over and touched my hand.

“You know, I really can’t thank you enough,” Pam started, “You’ve given so much to this family over the last couple of days. You’ve made a small boy’s Christmas wish come true.”

I reached out and put my hand on top of hers.

“You know, sometimes wishes really do come true,” I replied softly.

She looked back at me with those big blue eyes. I had a feeling that Doug’s wishes weren’t the only ones that would come true this Christmas.


This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © All stories, plays, songs, poems and miscellaneous ramblings copyright Alan W. Jankowski...feel free to use my stuff as you fact, get it published and sell it all...just remember where to send the check...

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