His whistle echoed in the empty store giving him the feeling that he was not alone, rather that he was joined by an angelic host announcing something altogether new and equally wonderful.
He smiled a pleased smile as he pushed the broom down one vacant aisle after another. This was his job and he was trustworthy. The stock boys, clerks and managers had gone home, and he took the worst that the day had offered and made the old place shine.
There were things some said he couldn’t do, but he could clean, he could smile and he was a master in the craft of whistling. So he smiled, he cleaned and he whistled.
This was a special night, the shoppers were all home with their families or at church celebrating the birth of a Baby. He knew the Baby and was as excited as anyone else about the celebration, but he had work to do and the Baby would want him to do his best.
So he polished, swept, waxed and hauled trash. Even Woolden’s Department Store needed to be ready just in case the baby showed up. He smiled at the thought and even let out a laugh which he didn‘t try to stop. He just couldn’t stop being happy.
As he carted a box of trash through the store room he noticed the life-sized nativity display that couldn’t be put out anymore. He grinned at the tiny doll-like baby resting in decade’s old hay and the parents who stood by watching the Boy. Then there were the shepherds, they came as soon as the angels said “Go.” Yes this was good news - he smiled as he clapped. A baby - a precious little baby. He was flooded with memories of another display he had once seen.
When he walked outside he stopped and turned his face upward. It had begun to snow and he wanted to catch some of the flakes on his tongue - he had always loved that. The box was hoisted effortlessly over his head and fell into the dumpster with a satisfying thud.
A moan caught his attention and he walked behind the line of dumpsters to look. His eyes lit up as he spotted a boy and a girl. She was gonna have a baby, he’d seen this before.
“You came!” he beamed.
“Hey, we’re not doing anything wrong, mister,” the young man replied.
“You havin’ a baby,” he stated what was obvious.
“Look, we just want to be left alone,” the young girl said in desperation as the pain of childbirth hit once more.
“It cold ow here. You shud come inside. It warm. Place to stay - come on, I hep you,” he grinned as he pushed his glasses a bit further up on his nose and easily carried the girl inside.
“You’re not gonna tell on us, are you?” the young man asked.
“You want I should tell peopo?” he asked with a smile.
“No! Uh, that’s alright. No one else needs to know.” the young man said.
“Alrigh,” he easily agreed.
The trio soon became a quartet in the storage room of Woolden’s. The wail of new life brought a contented grin to his face as he rocked back and forth in the sheer joy of the moment. “Can I hol’ him?” He asked as he removed the doll from the manger. “We bess lay him here, missy. Why look, Mary an Joseph, they come to see him - so di’ the shepherds.”
The young girl began to cry as she took in the sight of the nativity display with her new son lying in straw. The young man seemed equally confused.
“Don’ cry Missy. Jess look at him - he is beaut’e’ful, just like when Mary lay eyes on baby Jesus. Jess perfict,” he clapped his hands soundlessly as tears began to stream down his cheeks.
A plan was forfeited that night. The desperation of two young people who made poor decisions and were set to proceed with the most desperate act of their lives had an unexpected visit. No wise men, no uncommon conception, just one who adored them - one they would never have noticed in different circumstances. Their baby would have the birthplace of a king instead of a pathetic burial in a city dumpster.
In those moments hearts were transformed and the life of a baby boy was given hope and promise.
And an angel rejoiced.
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