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Authors: Darryl Nyznyk

Mary’s Son (6 page)

BOOK: Mary’s Son
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Jimmy nodded vigorously before he turned back to one of his friends with wide, glowing eyes and a broad, open-mouthed, gap-toothed smile.

“And my friend Jonathan will help him.” Nicholas put his free arm around Stevens and pulled him closer.

Stevens was shocked. His eyes bulged, and his jaw dropped open. He struggled to pull away from Nicholas, his head shaking “no” just as vigorously as Jimmy’s head had bobbed up and down only seconds before.

“Do all of you know ‘Silent Night’?” Nicholas asked.

“Yeah!” shouted the children and parents alike.

“All right, so we all remember the birthday we are celebrating
this Christmas, let’s sing together.” Nicholas turned to Stevens, who was still trying to pull away. “Please join us,” he whispered.

Jimmy’s face grew serious. He started to sing the first words of the Christmas favorite. His voice was scratchy and off-key, but loud enough to get sporadic other voices in the crowd to join him. Nicholas continued to stare pleadingly at Stevens, who relaxed somewhat and began to look at all the happy faces that had gathered around this unusual little man.

Stevens smiled slowly as the crowd struggled to follow Jimmy in singing his favorite carol, the very one his mother had sung so sweetly to him and his brothers when they were children. The crowd completed the first verse, and Stevens turned to Nicholas, nodded, and stepped forward to stand next to Jimmy. The crowd was suddenly silent at the end of the verse, and Stevens started the verse again.

“Silent night,” his rich tenor intoned as Jimmy looked up and the crowd stared. “Holy night,” he continued while Nicholas began waving his arms frantically for the crowd to join Stevens. “All is calm; all is bright.”

Jimmy and the rest of the crowd, now having a lead voice that was strong enough to follow, joined Stevens, this time in loud resonant tones that carried throughout the mall. They sang all the verses with a joy that was suddenly contagious to shop workers, passersby, and everyone within earshot—except
for one. Sarah stood stone-faced and angry, unable to walk away for fear of getting lost. When the song finally ended, Nicholas led everyone in a loud ovation.

“That was wonderful,” he said. “Now find your parents and have a wonderful Christmas; I’ll see you all very soon.”

A quiet peace ran suddenly through the crowd. Parents and children alike waved at Nicholas and Stevens, and they whispered, “Merry Christmas.” When the crowd finally dwindled away, Nicholas turned to Stevens.

“Well Jonathan, it appears you haven’t lost the beautiful voice you had as a child.”

Stevens simply smiled, lost for just a few more moments in memories of Christmases past.

“Thank you, my friend,” Nicholas continued. “We needed the strength of your voice to get the parents to join the singing.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Stevens said before suddenly realizing that he had left Sarah alone. “Oh, Sarah.… Where is Miss Sarah?” he asked as he turned and frantically scanned the remnants of the crowd for the girl.

“There,” Nicholas pointed and began to make his way to the girl with Stevens following anxiously behind.

 

SARAH was bright enough to understand her sulking and pouting were getting her nowhere with Nicholas. She knew she was supposed to be the center of attention, but Nicholas didn’t seem to understand that. She tried the commanding air again as Nicholas approached. She hoped he would show the same concern for having abandoned her as Stevens was showing, but he didn’t.

 

“Did you enjoy the singing?” he asked, ignoring her look.

“My Daddy hired you to stay with me, not all those others,” Sarah said, ignoring Nicholas’s buoyant mood and the fact that he hadn’t been hired at all. “You were supposed to be with me all day.”

“But Mr. Stevens was helping you, Sarah…and doing a very good job. You didn’t need me,” Nicholas responded.

“Yes, I did. More than those others…I.… You were supposed to be with me!” she declared. She turned away to hide the tears of frustration welling up in her eyes and ran toward the exit.

Nicholas and Stevens glanced sadly at each other and followed the young girl, who suddenly looked so small and fragile.

In the back of the car on the way home, Sarah stared out her window. Nicholas waited for several minutes before speaking quietly. “I was hoping you’d want to join us, Sarah.

This season is not just about gifts. It’s a time of joy, of song, and most of all, my dear, it’s a time for all to share with others and try to bring happiness to those who are less fortunate than we are.”

 

“No!” Sarah turned sharply and shouted. “No…I don’t want to hear anymore. I share enough. I share my daddy with the whole world. I don’t have to share anything else.”

She again turned away and glared angrily out, into the passing world.

- 5 -
 

By the time Jared returned home, day had settled into early evening. He turned up the potholed driveway, hands stuffed in his pockets and his head bowed, deep in thought over the day’s events. Suddenly, out of the shadows, a tall, burly figure leaped at him and grabbed his arm. Jared jumped away and struggled desperately against the attacker, who was a good six inches taller and at least one hundred pounds heavier. The youth kicked and struggled to free himself from the man’s grasp before he was suddenly shoved backward.

 

“Hey, relax,” the man shouted. “I got news for you.” Jared recognized Enrique (Hank) Hernandez, Hammer’s uncle. He worked on the grounds at the Stone estate. At thirty years old, Hank was strong, muscular, and still a local gang member of considerable repute.

“God, Hank…you scared me to death,” Jared whispered angrily.

“I’ll do more than that if you screw this up, punk.” Hank stepped fully into the light and glared at Jared, who returned
a defiant glare of his own. Hank continued with a chuckle, “You think you’re tough, huh? We’ll see if you can pull this job off.”

“What do you want?” Jared asked.

“My girl’s leaving the library window open tomorrow night. You know where it is?”

“Yeah, if your layout of the house is right.”

“It’s right, man. Let’s see if you and that good-for-nothing nephew of mine can do something right.”

“Don’t worry,” Jared shook his head and turned slowly to the house, listening carefully for any sudden move from Hank.

“Don’t mess with me, man,” Hank warned as he turned with a self-satisfied grin and nonchalantly walked away.

 

NICHOLAS unpacked toiletries and clothing, stopping occasionally in surprise at some of the modern items he was pulling from his case. When he was nearly finished, he reached in for the last item, a small glass globe perched atop a wooden base. Inside the globe was an intricately carved scene of a stable in which Joseph and Mary knelt, looking adoringly over the baby Jesus in a manger. The three figures were surrounded by figurines of shepherds kneeling before Jesus’
crib. Nicholas smiled and placed the globe on the end table next to his bed. He removed his coat, worked on the bowtie, and sat on the edge of the bed, tired and pensive. He stared at the Nativity scene.

 

“Dear Lord,” he began to pray softly, “please help me with this child. She is so sad and angry…yet I don’t know how to reach her. Please show me the way.”

At that moment there was a light knock at the door. It opened slowly, and Stevens poked his head into the room.

“Jonathan. Nice of you to drop by.” Nicholas perked up, but the sad look on Stevens’ face made him drop his head. “I guess Sarah is still pretty upset.”

Stevens nodded his head. “Yes, Sir, I’m afraid so.” He hesitated for a moment, not wanting to say what was coming. It was surprising to him that he had grown fond of Nicholas in such a short time. Stevens was deeply moved by the events at the mall. It was as if a breeze of pure happiness had suddenly blown into the Stone household, and despite his initial misgivings and his charge from Miss Grundick to have Nicholas out of the house, he knew that, given enough time, Nicholas could break through the angry shell Sarah erected around herself after her mother’s death. Yet he had entered Nicholas’s room for a reason, and with a sincere heaviness of heart he had to break the bad news to his new friend.

“I’m so sorry to say this, but Miss Grundick has instructed
me to tell you that you are to leave first thing in the morning.”

“Does Mr. Stone know this?” asked Nicholas.

“Yes, Sir…I believe so. Mr. Stone just came in. Miss Grundick told him how upset Miss Sarah was. I believe Mr. Stone made the decision.”

Nicholas nodded slowly. “I understand,” he said.

“I tried to speak up for you. You were quite impressive today at the mall. You were wonderful with the children.”

“That was fun, wasn’t it?” Nicholas said wistfully.

Stevens smiled sadly. “I’ll take you where you wish to go in the morning.”

“Yes, I’ll be ready.”

Stevens stood but hesitated before leaving the room. He was suddenly deep in thought.

“Is there something else, Jonathan?” Nicholas asked.

Stevens suddenly looked at Nicholas.

“I think you should see Sarah,” he said conspiratorially. It struck him how very important it was for Nicholas to talk to Sarah before he left. He couldn’t explain his thoughts clearly, but he knew Nicholas could help the girl. He was sure the little man could bring some happiness into her life.

Nicholas brightened as Stevens glanced back at the door and then whispered, “Wait one minute.”

He opened the door, glanced down the hall, and turned back to Nicholas, putting a finger to his lips and waving for
him to follow. Nicholas grabbed the Nativity globe and followed Stevens out of the room on tiptoes. They moved cautiously down the hall, past the study, where Miss Grundick sat reading, and to the stairs. Only a few lights burned in the hall, but they were sufficient to cast long dark shadows on the wall opposite Miss Grundick, and the ever-vigilant woman looked up suddenly.

“Stevens…is that you?” she asked.

Stevens blanched and stopped short in his tracks. Nicholas, a step behind him, continued his pace and bumped into Stevens. Both men hushed each other and tried desperately to untangle themselves from each other. It took several excruciatingly long seconds for Stevens to compose himself and answer.

“Ah…yes, Miss.”

“Have you told him?”

“Yes, Miss.”

Miss Grundick frowned at the stilted responses and then waited for more from Stevens. When nothing further was offered, she stood and marched to the study’s entry. She could see Stevens in shadow, standing on the third step and seemingly staring directly at her. As her eyes adjusted slowly to the hall’s dim light, she could discern Stevens’ half-smile, which looked as if he knew he’d been caught doing something.

“Is anything wrong, Mr. Stevens?” she asked.

“Wrong?… No, Miss. Nothing is wrong.” His half-smile broadened slightly, and Miss Grundick’s usual frown turned down even more.

“Well…where are you going with that ridiculous grin?”

“Oh…just to make sure all’s well upstairs…with Miss Sarah.…”

“Yes…well, make sure our guest is gone early in the morning—before she wakes.”

“Yes, Miss…I will.”

Miss Grundick stared hard at Stevens for another minute, finally shook her head, and turned back into the study. Slowly, from between Stevens’ feet, Nicholas pushed himself up off the steps where he had been lying on his stomach in the shadows.

“Are you all right?” asked Stevens.

“I really am too old for this, you know.” Nicholas smiled and motioned Stevens onward.

BOOK: Mary’s Son
4.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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