Slow and steady. . .
wins the race.
wins the race.
Christmas Countdown by Bruce Harris
December 25, 10:00am – Hank Silvers pours the first of several glasses of eggnog. It is two hours before he traditionally indulges on Christmas day, but what the hell. He’s earned it. He’s been a special Santa.
December 25, 6:30am – A single shot is fired.
December 25, 12:00am – By flashlight, Santa Claus, alias Kris Kringle, alias Saint Nicholas, alias Father Christmas, alias Hank Silvers, admires the Gleason family’s Christmas tree. He figures some of his own hard-earned money helped pay for the tree. He spots the 12" x 6" x 3" box labeled, “Timmy.” He swaps the package with the one in his hand, places the “Timmy” label on the replacement package, and sets it in the exact location of the original. He leaves the Gleason residence the same way he snuck in, through a basement window. But not before leaving his Santa hat at the foot of the family’s fireplace.
December 20, 3:00pm – UPS delivers the long barrel six-shooter Hank Silvers ordered from a registered firearms dealer. It’s a perfect working replica of Samuel Colt’s metallic cartridge Peacemaker. Silvers places a single bullet into the chamber, sets it in a 12" x 6" x 3"size box, and wraps it up.
December 1, 5:00pm – From his parked Honda, Hank Silvers observes George Gleason lock the door at George’s Garage Shop. He watches as Gleason heads toward his own Chevy. Under George’s arm is the 12" x 6" x 3" box Hank had donated. Silvers follows Gleason home. He admires the Christmas lighting and then heads back to his apartment.
December 1, 4:00pm – What the hell? thinks Hank Silvers. “Why not?” he says to himself. The sign out front of George’s Garage Shop reads:
HOLIDAY TOY DROP
WE ACCEPT UNWRAPPED TOYS
BE A SPECIAL SANTA TO SOMEONE IN NEED
Hank Silvers swore he’d never set foot inside George Gleason’s Garage, not after discovering how badly “Honest George” had ripped him off. But, it is that time of year, time for forgiveness and good cheer.
A fan of old-time westerns, Hank has just put the finishing touches on a handmade toy replica Samuel Colt six-shooter. He pauses, stares at the toy in its 12" x 6" x 3" box and decides the right thing to do is to donate it to someone less fortunate.
“Whaddya want?” asks a surly George Gleason. “Didn’t I tell you not to step foot into this shop again?”
“You did,” Hank answers, staring at a framed photo of the Gleason family posed in front of a Christmas tree. “Nice photo. That your son?”
“His name’s Timmy. If you’re back to complain again about…”
Silvers holds up a hand. “Not this time. Saw your sign out front.”
“Yea, about the toy drop. You do accept toys here, right?”
“Oh sure. That why you’re here? Whatcha got?”
Silvers removes the replica weapon from its box. “All handmade and to specs. Hobby of mine. I’m sure it’ll make some kid very happy this Christmas.”
Hank Silvers doesn’t like the way George Gleason looks at the toy. Gleason’s eyes expand and his mouth forms a sardonic grin. Silvers immediately regrets bringing the toy into the mechanic’s office. Then, Hank Silvers catches himself. This is Christmas. Gleason is simply happy that an unfortunate child will get to play with a toy he, or perhaps she, wouldn’t otherwise have had. Silvers shakes off his suspicion.
“That’s nice,” Gleason says. “Just drop it over there.”
“Don’t you have a collection box?” Silvers asks.
“No, not yet. Just leave it on the counter there. I’ll take care of it. Oh, and nice of you to come in and donate this. Merry Christmas!”
“Sure. Merry Christmas to you.”
The two men shake hands. Silvers exits, but the feeling returns. He can’t shake it. He gets into his Honda, but instead of driving away, he decides to wait. Closing time is less than an hour away.
April 2, 8:00am – Hank Silvers and George Gleason nearly come to blows. The police are called in to separate the two men.
“I never want to see this man in my shop again, officer!” demands Gleason.
“Don’t worry. I have no intention of ever coming here again!” shouts Silvers. “In fact, I plan to tell everyone I know and blast this out on social media so the world knows what kind of a crook you are.”
April 1, 1:00pm – “You’re positive?” Silvers asks.
Scottie, head mechanic at the Honda City Dealership nods. “Yup. This ain’t no April Fool’s joke. That’s a used salvage transmission, and one in poor shape at that. It ain’t new or rebuilt. I hope you didn’t pay more than seven or eight hundred for it.”
Silvers boils. “Go ahead and fix it then. How much?”
Scottie tells him.
March 31, 9:00am – Hank Silvers’ Honda is towed to Honda City Dealership.