Santa's Big Little Helper
Be careful what you ask Santa for—you just might get it. Suellen confesses to an angelic hobo she's befriended on Christmas Eve that she lusts after the cover model on her romance novel because he reminds her of Carlos, a shy, handsome trucker who frequents her coffee shop. Santa's helper Carlos is given instructions by his friend Ol' Nick to make Suellen's dreams come true, and when Carlos finds out what they are, he can't wait. A little snow, a bearskin rug, and some fuzzy handcuffs make it a very Merry Christmas for the two lovers!
“Not again. We must have a hobo magnet on our sign out front.”
Suellen Shoupe slipped a bill in the cash drawer and looked toward the door. Sure enough, her head waitress was right. A short white-haired man, complete with shaggy beard, dirty coat, tattered clothing and gripping a multitude of beat-up shopping bags stood at the coffee shop’s entrance.
She sighed. Whoever said managing a truck stop was easy? Oh, yeah, she had said those exact words the day she had accepted the job, leaving behind Eddie and five years of miserable married bliss. No doubt about it—she was certifiably loony.
“Now, now, Maria, calm down,” Suellen soothed. She shut the cash register door with her hip and flashed her biggest grin for their customers. “It’s Christmas Eve. Have pity on the poor man. Seat him at the counter and give him some coffee and a big bowl of hot soup and a sandwich. We don’t need to have him passing out in front of the fuel pumps. We don’t want him to get run over, like what happened in Andrews last year.”
Maria shot her an irritated look, grumbling under her breath, but did as she was told. Thirty minutes later Suellen glanced up from the ordering sheet she was working on to catch the somewhat toothless brightness of the vagabond’s smile.
“The waitress over there said you said it was okay for me to eat here,” he said, smiling a lopsided grin. “I’d like to pay you for your kindness, ma’am.”
Suellen smiled back. She felt a sudden stab of guilt in her heart. She couldn’t allow someone who was so down on his luck part with what little money he may have.
“It isn’t necessary, sir. You don’t have to pay for the food. Call it an early Christmas present, if you like. It’s the least we can do for a traveler on a windy day.”
He nodded, bobbing his head up and down like a nodding donkey. “Thank you. Thank you kindly. I’d still like to give you something in exchange. Will you accept a small gift?”
Suellen bit her lip. To refuse his gift would be an insulting gesture and rob the destitute man of his dignity. She could tell pride was all the man had left in the world.
“All right then, I’ll accept a small gift—just as long as it’s nothing you really need for yourself. I have more than enough compared to many folks this Christmas.”
“In material possessions, yes, but in other, more important things, no.”
Suellen blinked hard. She tried not to stare at the little man in front of her as he reached into one of his weather-beaten shopping bags and pulled out a small stringed instrument. She could have sworn a golden glow surrounded him, as if he’d donned a halo and wings and picked up a harp. She shook her head and the hallucination faded. She’d been on her feet far too long today.