A Different Christmas Story (Chapter 16)
Three Wise Men
The annual Christmas Eve candy exchange was taking place all over the institution. It served as a great cover to move all forms of contraband within the prison. The dungeon was no different and was alive with trading. In the SHU all the convicts were busy fishing with the exception of Mouse and Danny. They were at the plumbing vents having a private conversation.
Mouse called for a summit. He had heard the message the young women had passed to Danny. He knew, better than anyone, how just one cryptic message could take out one’s mind in this empty environment. Mouse knew it was going to be a rough night for his friend and he knew he wouldn’t around much longer to comfort him. He would do all he could with the time he had left. That would be his Christmas gift to Danny. It had been a long time since he had committed a real act of kindness.
“Hey, Danny, I heard what that church lady said to you.”
Danny cut him off before he could finish his sentence, and that was good because Mouse didn't really know where he was heading with his words. “The magic is back and the tree is talking…” He repeated the phrase several times, as much to himself as to Mouse.
Mouse said “What do you think that means?”
Danny said slowly and methodically “I just don't know.”
Mouse continued, “Listen, you and I have been down here together for awhile now. You know I have never gotten strange on you, have I?
Danny agreed with Mouse by saying “No.” He didn't know where this was going and let Mouse talk on.
“Listen, tonight when Babbitt and the two church people walked up on my cell.... I had this thought in my head.... No, it was more of a image, yea, this image of the three wise men.”
Danny interrupted his friend, and playfully stated that he hadn't seen one camel go by his cell. They both had a good laugh and it broke the tension.
Mouse told Danny..... “Now don't play me that way. Listen, you know what that represents. It represents a new beginning. You know, when Jesus was born. That's what Christmas is all about right Danny?, this is our new beginning. Danny had only seen Mouse’s face a handful of times, but knew the range of his voice well. He could hear the urgency and need to believe in something.
“Look Mouse I don't know much of anything anymore. I just know I'm running out of time.”
“That's my point Danny. The image I had could be part of the magic.”
“Look Mouse, I don't know about magic.”
There was a long pause of silence between them, broken by the crackling of speakers. Danny looked up as Christmas music filled his small world, the notes seemed to dance around his cell. Danny was filled with warmth -- slowly then quickly a childhood memory wrapped around him like a security blanket. He asked Mouse if he’d like to hear his Christmas story.
The morphine (or vitamin shot) had put Georgia in a state of calm contemplation. The end was near and she was surprised how easy and natural dying felt once she quit fighting it. She lay on her bed, comfortably reflecting on her life. It wasn’t flashing before her like they say in the movies. Instead it would come in little short stories. Memories played in no particular order. Some were in black and white, some in brilliant color. She spoke out loud -- asking if it was Christmas yet. There was no one in the room to answer her.
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