Summary: Old George, owner of a gas station, has not celebrated Christmas since his wife died. But a chain of startling events on Christmas Eve show he understands the true spirit of the time.
Style: Dramatic. Duration: 15min
Actors: 7M, 3M/F
Old George, owner of the gas station
Narrator: The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through. Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come in.
George: Hi, don’t recall seeing you round here before? Come and sit by the heater and warm up.
Homeless man: Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude. I see you're busy, I'll just go.
George: Not without something hot in your belly.
(George turns and opens a wide mouth Thermos and hands it to the stranger.)
George: It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew ... made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh.
Sound EFX: Ding of the driveway bell.
George: Excuse me, be right back.
Narrator: There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked.
Driver: (Deep Spanish accent) Mister can you help me! My wife is with child and my car is broken.
(George opens the hood.)
George: (whistles) That looks bad. The block looks cracked from the cold. She’s dead. You ain't going anywhere in this thing.
(George turns away.)
Driver: But Mister, please help . (He stands helplessly as George goes inside his office.)
Narrator: The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting.
George: Here, take my truck. She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.
Narrator: George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "
George: (Talking to the homeless man, not noticing he’s gone). Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new .........
(Notices the stranger has gone. George picks up the Thermos on the desk, sees it’s empty. )
George: Well, at least he got something in his belly.
Narrator: George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked after all, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator.
George: Well, shoot, I can fix this. Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either.
Narrator: So George put a new hose on, and then turned to the tires. He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.
Sound EFX: Shots being fired.
Narrator: Startled by the shots, George ran outside. Beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground, bleeding from the left shoulder.
Office: Please help me.
(George helps the officer inside.)
George: Let me help you. We’ll have you right in a jiffy. Looks like the medic training I got in the Army is going to come in handy again. (pause) Now, pressure to stop the bleeding. (He looks round. Spots clean shop towels.) Just the thing. Good job the uniform company dropped the week’s supply off this morning.
(He grabs a roll of duct tape) And this should do to tie it all up right and tight. Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'.
(During the conversation, George is suiting action to the words.)
George: Now, something for pain. Hmmm… All I’ve got are the pills I take for my bad back. Guess they’ll have to do.
(He puts some water in a cup and gives it and the pills to the policeman.)
George: You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance.
(He picks up the phone, but realizes it’s dead.)
George: What a time for the line to go dead. Maybe I can get one of your buddies on the radio out in your car.
Narrator: George went out, only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard, destroying the two-way radio. He went back in to find the policeman sitting up.
Officer: Thanks, you really put your life on the line there. The guy that shot me is still in the area.
George: I would never leave an injured man in the Army, and I ain't gonna leave you.
(He pulls back the bandage to check for bleeding.)
George: Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff. I think with time you’re gonna be right as rain.
(George pours a cup of coffee.)
George: How do you take it?
Officer: None for me, thanks.
George: Oh, yer gotta drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts.
(The officer laughs and winces at the same time.)
(The front door of the office flies open. In bursts a young man with a gun.)
Young man: Give me all your cash! Do it now!
(The man’s hand is shaking and George can tell he’s never done anything like this before.)
Officer: That's the guy that shot me!
George: Son, why are you doing this? You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt.
Young man: (Confused.) Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!
(The cop reaches for his gun.)
George: Put that thing away. We got one too many in here now. (To young man) Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee shooter away.
(George pulls some cash out of his pocket and hands it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man releases his grip on the gun, falls to his knees and begins to cry.
Young man: I'm not very good at this, am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son. I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week .
(George hands the gun to the cop.)
George: Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.
(He helps the young man to his feet, and sits him down on a chair across from the cop. He goes to pour another coffee.)
George: Sometimes we do stupid things. (George hands the young man the coffee.) Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out.
Young Man: (to cop) Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer.
Officer: Shut up and drink your coffee.
Sound EFX: Police and ambulance sirens.
(Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. Look round, and see the wounded officer.)
Cop 1: Chuck! You ok?
Officer: Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?
Cop 2: GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?
Officer: I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran.
(George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.)
Cop 1: (Pointing at the Young Man) That guy work here?
George: Yep, just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job.
(Two paramedics enter and load Officer onto the stretcher. The young man leans over the wounded cop.)
Young Man: (whispers) Why?
Officer: Merry Christmas, boy ... and you too, George. And thanks for everything.
(The police and medics leave, carrying the Officer.)
George: (To young man) Hold here.
(George goes into a back room and come out with a box. He pulls out a ring box.)
George: Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day.
(The young man lifts a diamond ring from the box.)
Young Man: I can't take this. It means something to you.
George: And now it means something to you. I got my memories. That's all I need.
(George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next.)
George: The oil company left these for me to sell, but I reckon they won’t mind.
Here's something for that little man of yours.
(The young man begins to cry again as he hands back the cash the old man had handed him earlier.)
George: And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too. Now git home to your family.
Young Man: (in tears) Okay, but I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good.
George: Nope. (Pause. Then…) I'm closed Christmas day. See ya the day after.
(George escorts the young man to the door. He turns to find that the homeless stranger has returned.
George: Where'd you come from? I thought you left?
Stranger: I’ve been here. I have always been here. (Pause) You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?
George: Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself, and besides I was gettin' a little chubby.
(The stranger puts his hand on George's shoulder.)
Stranger: But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man.
George: And how do you know all this?
Stranger: Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again.
(The stranger moves toward the door.)
Stranger: If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.
Narrator: George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.
Stranger: You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas.
George: (Falls to his knees) Happy Birthday, Lord.
Adapted by John McNeil from a short story by an unknown author. If anyone knows the name of the author, please email the address below.