Author’s Note:

Some scenes in this story are inspired by the writings of Sequoyah Pendor and Snowblind. Their stories are powerful portrayals of life, I hope that I can only do them justice.

TSL


I had been living in my new mountain retreat for six months or so and I was finally completely happy, or so I thought. It was just a few days before Christmas and I guess I was missing a family to share the joy of Christmas with.

It all began a few years ago:

I was finally on my first vacation in many, many years and so far it was wonderful. Fishing and hunting in mountains that were rarely visited by people was an awesome thing. I was able to catch enough fish and a rabbit or two, so I wasn’t depleting my freeze-dried food. I found out years later that the area I was hunting in was considered haunted as several miners had disappeared and were never heard from or their remains found. Several times I thought I saw wisps of smoke in the distance. I decided to head in that direction for the last week of my vacation, the real world wouldn’t go on without me forever. At least that is what my publisher kept telling me.

Yes, I was an author and from the size of my contract and my royalty checks a pretty darn good one. For some reason, my books were always among the top ten bestsellers. Unfortunately, for the last several years I had only been writing formula novels that my publisher wanted. They claimed that once the public was used to a certain something, that was all they would buy. I wrote Adventure and Sci-Fi Space Opera types stories; bookstores couldn’t keep the shelves stocked.

The main reason I finally broke down and took a vacation was that I had finally found a new publisher that wanted me to write the books that I wanted. I had only one more book left to deliver to my current publisher and then my contract was fulfilled. Of course, they expected me to sign the new contract that was sitting at home on my desk. That was exactly where it was going to stay. Thanks to some good advice and a decent lawyer my contracts had a very good royalty clause and I would have money coming in from my books for years to come.

I chose this area for my vacation hopefully to find some land where I could retire in peace and write in solitude. My new publisher was perfectly willing to wait however long it took for me to write a book. Of course, they weren’t paying me an outrageous amount of money either. We were both happy with our agreement; they got a top ten author for pennies and I got to write my Great American Novel.

I had hiked for an hour or so following a good-sized creek toward its beginning. I stopped and took a short break and took a good drink of the refreshing crystal-clear water. The fish and other swimming creatures were quite abundant; I saw enough crawdads that I knew what I was going to have for dinner. Pan fried trout and boiled crawdads with some fresh greens. As I finished drinking, I saw what I thought was a wisp of smoke again. It looked close enough to go take a look. I looked around the trees near the stream and saw that though they were fairly thick, there was what looked like a small trail heading off in the right direction. I gave my brush axe[1] a quick sharpen and a wipe of oil. Hopefully, the oil would help keep the pitch and tree resin from sticking to my blade. Now as ready as I could be, I started hiking up the trail. A short time later I exited the trees and came across a good size fairly flat meadow that backed up against a small hill. The hill had what looked like several openings and from one of them came the wisp of smoke. Only then I realized why it was so hard to see; it was steam not smoke. There must be a hot spring of some size under that hill. I began heading toward the hill and the wisp of steam; it took me a little longer than I had expected as the hill wasn’t as close as I thought it was. The hill also was a bit bigger than I originally thought; it seemed to go quite a way back. As I neared the opening where the steam appeared, I was amazed for it seemed the ‘little’ hill had some good-sized caves in it; at least from the size of the openings that were barely visible through the brush.

Before I began clearing the openings to any of the caves, I turned and looked toward the east. As far as the eye could see was forest virgin forest going on and on. I knew that was an optical illusion caused by the fact I wasn’t high enough to see the few roads and the fewer towns that were ‘down the road a piece’. Even though I subconsciously knew that the view was stunning, and I began falling in love with the immediate area. My brain began ticking off all the things I could do with the meadow and the hill. Of course, everything depended on what I found inside the openings. Using my brush axe and my hatchet I began clearing the brush away from the opening where the steam was escaping. When I had cleared enough brush away that I could enter, I grabbed my trusty Lantern from the side of my backpack and turned it on. This lantern was always charged due to its built-in solar panel and it also came equipped with a dynamo for when there was no sun. What can I say I travelled in style; actually, this lantern was worth every penny I paid for it. It would come in very handy if I ever got stuck in my tent due to thunder or snow storm that lasted for more than a day.

As I entered the opening, I found another reason the steam seemed to disappear the opening to the cave, and it was a cave; took a sharp right turn within a few feet of the opening. Once I was into the cave proper, I was astounded; the cave was huge it must have taken up a large portion of the hill. I shone the part of my lantern that doubled as a flashlight in a circle. I saw a few other openings; I would have to check them out later. First, I needed to check out the hot spring I saw off to the right. I will also have to check out one of the openings as well as I thought I heard water splashing. The hot spring was about twenty or so feet across and several feet deep at least as far as I could tell. I would have to check the temperature later as there was no way I was going to stick my hand in and pull out a lobster claw.

I decided to check out the source of the water sounds and headed that way. The opening was off to the left. Once through the opening, the cave veered slightly to the right and toward the rear of the hill. I walked back about fifteen or twenty feet and I found the source of the splashing by the light reflecting back from a small waterfall and stream of water. As I got closer, I could see a small pool at the foot of the waterfall and the stream was only a few feet long before it disappeared underground. I turned around and headed outside; I had some thinking to do. But first I needed to go catch some trout and a few crawdads for dinner.

Before I went fishing, though, I took a quick reconnoitre around the left side of the hill. The view was equally stunning from there. What was surprising though was a good-sized fire circle and some rusty mining equipment.

Dinner was wonderful and after cleaning up and carefully disposing of the trash, I decided to sleep in a small cavern just off the hot spring’s one. In the morning I very carefully, using a long stick, I’d carved appropriately, filled a good size pan half full of the hot water. Then I added a bit of the water from the small stream and was able to shave and take a sponge bath.

My explorations the rest of the day just confirmed my earlier conclusions. I took quite a few pictures of the area and several GPS readings and quickly sketched out a few quick designs. By noon I was headed back to semi-civilization. Once in the small town at the base of the mountains, I put my plans into action; several days later I owned ten thousand acres of supposedly virgin mountain land. Once all the paperwork was signed I headed back east to my old home.

Back to the present:

Unfortunately for my sanity, it took much longer for my plans to come to fruition. I hadn’t thought about how much time and trouble it would take to get building materials to my new home site. Of course, if I had wanted to cut new roads it would have gone much faster, however, that was completely out of the question.

My home and its outbuildings were almost completely self-sufficient. Special solar panels that looked like tiles on all of the visible roofs, a few specially designed personal wind turbines up on the ridge behind; took care of the non-solar power issue. Water and a lot of the heat were supplied by the stream and hot springs. A generator and a decent sized propane tank took care of any emergencies. Communication was provided by a strategically placed satellite dish and a virtually invisible cell tower. Several small gardens helped with the food, some hunting for meat to eat, while trade took care of the rest.

Only a small part of the house and the nearby stable was visible; the rest of both buildings were inside the hill. No weather problems at all, that way. With the stable situated on the other side of the hill from the house, no smells or waste problem either. My horse was perfectly comfortable in his stall under the hill as long as he could go outside occasionally through the outside portion of the stable.

Once I had completely made the move, I couldn’t believe how happy and relaxed I was. My old publisher was completely and thoroughly pissed at losing his golden ‘Goos’ however the sharks at my new publisher and my personal sharks carved them up into shark bait. I spent the first two months getting everything set up and meeting my ‘neighbours’. The nearest neighbours were a tribe of American Indians and they were several hours away by horseback. The next nearest neighbours were the denizens of the small town at the base of the mountain. The town was several hours away by horseback then four-wheel drive. The town was basically an Artisan and Crafts Folk Mecca; sort of a cross between Joseph Oregon and Sedona Arizona; without all of the tourists.

I had become good friends with the Mayor/Sheriff of the town as I had done him a few favours during the construction of my homestead. There were a few families in and around town that had fallen on slightly hard times. Since I was ordering and using quite a bit of building materials, I just ordered a few extra pieces now and then and the Mayor distributed them to those in need. While my buildings weren’t actually camouflaged, they were the next best thing. The exterior walls looked like they were made of logs. They were actually split logs over R49 standard insulated walls. The roofs were covered with Textured Glass Tile™ Solar Cells TM Tesla and looked like stone from above. All the buildings were designed to blend into the landscape as much as possible.

Once I had the interiors set up and furnished the way I wanted, then I began construction of the necessary traps for fishing and hunting. Several times while I was doing a quick survey of my lands, I ran into a few of my younger American Indian neighbours. They were also out on hunting/surveying trips; they were looking for signs of deer and elk and the trails they used. That way when they went hunting, they would have a much better chance of returning with welcome and needed food. They were the ones who taught me how and what types of traps to build and a couple of them spent several days teaching me how to use them and where to place them for the most benefit. In turn, I said I would share any excess that I had with their tribe. They were delighted when I told them I was going to be smoking a lot of the meat and fish and making sausage as well. What sealed their friendship was when I inquired how to make authentic pemmican rather than normal jerky. The fact that I also offered to share the fruits of my labour didn’t hurt either.

I think they were also impressed with the fact that I only planned to gather as much food as I needed with a surplus only for the winter and other bad weather. Since I was also riding a horse instead of any motorized vehicle my stock further rose in their eyes. I was also farming semi organically as I was using horse manure and fish remains for fertilizer and pesticides only when seriously needed didn’t hurt either. The Shaman and his nephew were nice enough to give me vegetable seeds, especially corn, that suited to the short growing season we had. Of course, I still planned to use a rototiller and not a horse has drawn plow; we conveniently never discussed that issue.

Things with the townsfolk were very similar trade/purchases were done on a trade/barter/credit arrangement. Every two weeks a large shipment of necessities arrived in town by truck from several big box stores and whatever specialty stores were needed. Again, everyone ordered slightly more than they needed, and the excess was distributed as needed. Anyone who didn’t have the necessary amount of cash, paid in craft goods that would be sold online or at one of the regional fairs. A very small amount of those goods would be sold in the General Store but only a small amount. Townsfolk didn’t cotton to a lot of tourists or strangers. I was only accepted as I stayed low key and helped anyone in need. I also didn’t go around asking lots of questions or dressing like a city slicker either.

Things had finally settled down into a semi-routine. The first couple of hours each day I would spend on chores and checking what traps I had out. I only had as many traps out as I needed. I did want to trap a few hares for their fur unless I could shoot a wild sheep for its fleeces. I wanted to make some fur/fleece lined boots, slippers and a hat or two.

Once the chores were done, I would spend an hour or so catching up on email and the news. Then I would write for an hour or two, longer if the words were flowing. After lunch, I would usually take a short walk around the meadow just taking in the beauty and communing with Mother Nature. I had made several friends with a few squirrels and a bird or two.

Once a month or more if needed I would make the trip into town to pick up my orders and trade some of my smoked meats for some leather work or knickknacks for my house. Occasionally I would head into town or to the tribe’s land when they had a barn or house raising.

Evenings after dinner I would spend an hour or so on Skype™ chatting with friends and other authors. Occasionally we would write a story together just for the fun of it. I would then play/practice my guitar for a bit trying to get good enough to play a twelve string. I would then fix a nice appropriate for the weather drink and read or watch a bit of TV. Usually, I would read solely for enjoyment and not for new book ideas.

With snow on the ground the freezers full, the meats all smoked, and all the vegetables stored in their cave rooms, I only had a few traps out for some occasional fresh meat.

Christmas Eve morning I was running a few hours behind on my chores due to a totally unexpected storm that had hit overnight and had just headed away from the mountain. I headed out to check the new line of traps I had set farther down the mountain. Why I decided to check those traps I had no idea. I had checked them yesterday. Since I was headed that way, I decided to check the garage I used to store my four-wheel drive in. The garage was built at the end of the dirt/gravel road a few miles from my house. The road eventually led to the two-lane country road that headed toward the town. I decided to check the traps on the way back, in hindsight that turned out to be a very good idea. After a long bit of riding, I neared the garage. When I went to turn my trusty steed Cocoa Noir toward the garage, he resisted and instead increased his speed heading toward town at a good clip. Cocoa had taken the bit in his teeth and I was just along for the ride. The bit was a soft rubber one which he could have easily bitten through if he wanted to. After several minutes of the hurried riding, Cocoa began to slow slightly. I finally figured out about where we were and sure enough just around the bend was a small cut-out on the side of the road. I had installed the cut-out there because of the magnificent view of a waterfall on the mountain on the other side of the valley. I had absolutely no idea why Cocoa wanted to go there.

As we got closer, I heard a strange sound like a baby or young animal crying. By now Cocoa had slowed to a walk and was headed directly to the bench at the back of the cut-out. I could see something on the bench and it seemed to be moving under its cover of snow. The closer I got the louder the cries became, and it was definitely a baby’s cry. A hungry and pissed off baby by the sound of it. As soon as I figured out the sound, I almost fell off my horse, as the impossibility of it all hit me. Recovering quickly, I jumped off Cocoa before he had come to a complete stop. I stumbled when my feet hit the ground but luckily my forward momentum kept me moving.

Upon reaching the bench, I quickly brushed the snow away from what seemed to be some kind of cloth baby carrier; maybe a modern version of a papoose carrier. As I brushed the snow away from the baby’s face his wails turned into gurgles of joy. I carefully brushed all of the snow off the carrier and then picked the baby up. The carrier was fleece lined and the baby was wrapped up in lots of warm blue clothing. I hesitantly put my nose close to the baby and sniffed carefully; for some strange reason, the baby smelled perfectly clean. The baby then looked at me with the prettiest sky-blue eyes you ever did see. I brushed his coal black hair out of his eyes and got a big smile and another gurgle of joy.

I now had a big problem I couldn’t see anything on or around the baby to tell who he was or where he came from. I carefully gave the baby a few sips of water from my water bottle which was insulated and therefore not cold. I opened my sheepskin coat and placing the loop of the carrier over my head settled the baby whom I had decided to name him ‘Heâvenz Gyft’ but call him Sean, next to my chest. I then closed the coat up just enough to hold Sean comfortably and so his head was still visible. I then climbed up on the bench and started to beckon Cocoa over so I could mount him. That smart ass was already waiting for me. Sean just kept gurgling and moving his head slightly from side to side as if he was trying to see everything.

Cocoa and I decided to head down the road toward town for a few minutes to see if we could find any clues as to where Sean had come from or where his parents were. Five minutes later, we turned around and headed home. The garage and traps would have to wait for another day. ‘What am I going to do with a baby I have nothing to feed or clothe him with?’ Those thoughts kept going round and round inside of my brain.

I decided to talk to Sean as we headed home; hopefully, my subconscious would work on my problems as I attempted to keep Sean’s attention and keep him happy.

“Okay Sean, Lil buddy, we are going to have to decide what to feed you and how to keep you clothed. I guess I won’t be going into town for dinner at the Mayor’s house tomorrow as planned. You wouldn’t be happy with a several hour ride with a stranger, now would you?”

For a reply all I got was a gurgle; “I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then. Since I didn’t see very many teeth, I guess Prime Rib and Baked Potato are out then?”

I got another gurgle as a reply.

Suddenly a light went on over my head; “What about oatmeal Lil buddy do you like that?” ‘If I make it thin enough and soft enough, he may be able to eat that. I do have a blender and lots of frozen vegetables. Hmm, we might be able to do this.’ My thoughts ended just as Sean let out a long and happy sounding gurgle.

‘Okay, I think we have food covered for at least the present now clothing that is another problem. Unfortunate or fortunately I don’t have any contact with those people who call themselves ‘my family’. Once my loving parent died the rest of my so-called family distanced themselves from me as I was supposedly a loser who would never amount to much. “You need to get a real job you will never make it with your crappy writing.” I heard that and other crap until my book sold five hundred thousand copies the first six months and when my second book sold over a million copies in three months, I was suddenly everyone’s friend and bank. Luckily for me, I had a conversation with a dear friend who had won a lottery and he told what to do. I followed his advice and paid each family member one hundred thousand dollars, changed my name and disappeared. All future communications had to go through my lawyer from the publisher’s lawyer. Since I didn’t have any nieces or nephews it wasn’t too hard to let go and just disappear.’

Our ‘conversation’ continued in that manner until we got home. I carefully got off of Cocoa in front of the stable using the mounting block that I had placed there for some reason. I then opened the door to the stable and carefully removed Sean’s carrier from my neck and then hung the loop from a hook near the door. Of course, I just had to give Sean a kiss on his cute little nose before I hung the carrier up. He answered with a smile and a gurgle and something that sounded like dah. I then quickly removed Cocoa Noir’s tack and let him head toward his stall. I had placed his feed and some grain as well as fresh water in it before we left. He could open and close his stall thanks to a design inspired by the Companions of Valdemar©[2]

Once Cocoa was headed toward his stall, I took a very curious looking Sean down from the wall and headed to the house. Before I could do that, I closed the door leading outside. Now, this next part is top secret as I previously said that the stable and the house were completely separate. Well, they were sorta maybe; well at least to the outside world they were. However, I had a hidden tunnel with airlocks at both ends installed linking the house and the stable together. That way in case of an emergency or a horrendous storm I could still feed and care for Cocoa and Mule. Yes, Mule that was my mule’s name, he came in handy when I needed some brute labour like hauling logs and elk or deer carcasses. He would have nothing to do with a bear carcass though.

Just as we entered the house Sean gave out a burb and a slight giggle and then I about keeled over from the ‘wonderful aroma’ escaping from his carrier. I quickly headed to the utility/washroom as it had a nice big table with a stain proof top; perfect for folding clothes and changing infants. At least I hoped it would work.

As I set Sean down on the table and began removing him from the carrier, I noticed that the carrier was a little wobbly. Carefully turning Sean and the carrier over onto its side I noticed a bulging pouch on the back of the carrier with a Velcro® seal. While holding on to Sean with my left hand I reached over with my right and opened the pouch. I reached into the pouch and removed what was inside. It took several times before I had everything out of the pouch; everything in the pouch had been shoved in so tightly it was compressed and hard to remove. I put everything from the pouch on the tabletop next to Sean. I then carefully turned Sean around, so he was facing me. As I started going through the items from the pouch as they slowly expanded into recognizable shapes I shouted;

“Eureka, I hit the mother lode!”

For stuffed into that pouch was a package of baby wipes, several disposable diapers and some honest to goodness super soft cloth diapers. On top of that were two onesies and a binky and a collapsible bottle. As I picked up the binky Sean began gurgling and reaching for it. I quickly popped it into his mouth and then carefully removed him from his carrier. I actually lifted him up slightly and then slid the carrier out from underneath him. While holding him still with one hand I opened the pouch of wipes and took a couple out. As I reached for one of the cloth diapers which I was very glad to see as I would use the disposable only as a last resort. Disposable diapers are a pox on mankind; also, I had no easy way to dispose of them.

I had just laid out the diaper ready for a quick change; I remember something from the childcare class of many years ago. If a draft hits a boy’s dinkie it becomes a fire hose with a very strong stream usually directed at the person leaning over to change him. I took a quick look around the washroom and I was in luck; there was a shelf close by that had a stack of washcloths on it. I quickly reached over and grabbed one. I then unsnapped the bottom of Sean’s onesie while trying not to smell at the same time. Then with one hand with a washcloth, I quickly undid the diaper with the other. As I opened the diaper, I simultaneously applied the washcloth directly on its target. With the washcloth in place, I then proceeded to lift Sean up slightly by one hand, lifting his feet. At the same time, I removed the soaked and foul-smelling diaper. I tossed the offensive diaper into a nearby sink. I then grabbed a wipe and quickly cleaned up the quiet and smiling boy. Then before he knew what happened I slid the clean diaper under him and the folded it over the washcloth. I then fastened one side of the diaper then removed the washcloth and then fastened the other side of the diaper. Sean was now happily gurgling and smiling. Getting the onesie on Sean was a little harder as I had no experience with them. Luckily for me, Sean just lay there quietly while I attempted to dress him several minutes later, Sean was dressed. Now on to feeding. I did find out the hard way, to remove the other onesie first.

We headed to the pantry for the quick cooking oats, so I could make Sean some oatmeal. It would have to be plain oatmeal with a bit of brown sugar for sweetness. As we exited the pantry my eye fell on a project that I had been working on restoring for a family in town. It was an antique cherry highchair; I had just finished with the restoration and it was beautiful. ‘Oh well, I would have to find them something else, I guess. Now how to get Sean, the chair and the oatmeal into the kitchen?’ I decided to carry Sean into the kitchen and put the oats on the counter. I then returned to the highchair and put Sean in it and then carried, slid it into the kitchen. Sean must have enjoyed himself greatly as he was making all kinds of noise and bouncing up and down. I put Sean and his highchair near enough to the stove that I could see him easily but not close enough for him to feel the heat or get burnt. I measured out the oats and the half and half, a pinch of salt and the brown sugar. I then got the blender out and poured the oats into the blender and gave them a few pulses. I figured the smaller pieces would make a smoother easy to eat oatmeal. I quickly fixed the oatmeal and then added some more half and half to cool it. I didn’t add too much as I didn’t want it too runny in case Sean tried to spray it all over the walls. I can hear all of you now; he lives in the middle of nowhere and no store or dairy nearby. Obviously, you have never heard of milk delivery; I had all my dairy supplies delivered weekly to the garage for a good bit of change.

While the oatmeal was cooling, I grabbed a tea towel and fashioned a bib for my new-found friend. Sean must have had oatmeal before because he was making chewing noises and gumming motions. By the time the bib was finished the oatmeal was ready to eat. Before I fed him, I grabbed a dish-washing apron and put it on. I had brought it with me from a restaurant that I worked at for research. I had to purchase my own apron because the one they supplied wouldn’t keep anyone dry at all.

I picked up a spoon and the bowl of oatmeal and headed to feed Sean. As soon as Sean saw the bowl getting near, he began opening and closing his mouth like a fish. ‘I hope that means he is hungry and likes oatmeal.’ I finished my thought and then dipped a spoon into the oatmeal and moved the spoon toward Sean.

Sean opened his mouth wide and I moved the spoon near his mouth. As soon as the spoon was near his mouth Sean moved forward and swallowed the oatmeal spoon and all. Sean ate about half the bowl; I put the lid on the bowl and placed it into the refrigerator. Grabbing a clean washcloth, I ran some warm water over it and then wiped Sean’s face clean and the highchair tray clean as well.

I took Sean out of his chair and headed back to the washroom to soak the dirty diaper. We would have to wash it later; if we didn’t get it washed in time, I would just have to use some tea towels instead. Sean and I then headed to the family room and my non-work computer. My work computer was in my office and was for writing and bill paying only. Nothing was on it that would distract me.

Before I went to the computer, I went to the control panel on the wall and turned on the Christmas Lights inside and outside. I had a completely decorated live tree both outside and inside. The tree inside was in a planter on wheels and would be replanted after Christmas as soon as the ground allowed.

Sean and I sat in the chair in front of the computer I moved the mouse to wake the computer up. Sean made a noise I think was amazement or surprise when the monitor woke up and showed the wallpaper with a resplendent orange dragon on it. It may have been a shock for all that I knew; Sean gave one of his patented happy gurgles though and when I looked, he had a big smile on his face.

I put on my headset and launched Skype™ just as my cell phone went off. As the Skype™ window opened up it was flashing with message after message from the person I was planning on contacting. His indicator showed he was online; so, I answered my cell phone;

“Skype™ NOW!” and then disconnected.

In a blink of an eye a video chat window opened up and I clicked accept. My good friend the Mayor and Sheriff’s ugly mug was staring at Sean and me. Before I could say hello Dennis he croaked out “who….what…?” while pointing at Sean.

 

Sean just gurgled happily at my friend. Before I answered I changed the speaker from my headset to the desktop surround sound speakers. I thought about using the desktop mic, but it had a strange whistling sound. This way Sean could at least hear Dennis, and Dennis would just have to hear Sean through my headset mic.

“Dennis meet Sean and Sean meet Dennis. Okay, that is the who; now the what is going to take a while to explain.”

“Okay, I guess Sean and your explanation will explain why you never showed up this evening. So, get busy explaining.” A very curious and slightly concerned Dennis demanded.

“Okay Dennis, but before I start, you’d better take off your friend hat and put on your Sheriff one.” As soon as I said the first hat Dennis’s demeanour changed completely, the friendly and neighbourly faced disappeared and a serious professional one appeared. Dennis then made a few clicks with his mouse and then punched a few buttons on a nearby device.

“Okay, Mr. Bill you two are on speaker phone and I am recording this call on my computer and my digital recorder. Now you better make it worth it! Now who in the heck is Sean and where did he come from?”

“Sheriff Payne, I have no idea what Sean’s real name is. I found him this afternoon lying on the bench at my scenic lookout cut-out. All I could find was Sean bundled inside his papoose carrier and nothing else. Cocoa, Sean and I rode down the road toward town for five minutes and found nothing. No tire tracks, no footprint, no horseshoe prints… nothing. Since there was no identification on the carrier and he looked like a Sean, I decided to call him Sean. I also gave him his power or soul name that was fitting. He can tell you what that is when and if he thinks it is appropriate. I have changed him and fed him. As soon as we are done, my friend Google™ and I are going to spend some quality time together learning what I can and cannot feed Sean. That is as soon as Google™ and I figure out approximately how old he is. And that, Sheriff, is all I know; now the proverbial ball is back in your court.” I replied as respectfully as I could; well at least until the end.

Although Sheriff Payne was making an official inquiry and report he wouldn’t use my real name unless absolutely necessary. The Mayor/Sheriff and townsfolk respected each other’s privacy as much as possible. Dennis knew that I was trying to stay as under the radar as possible. So, I was known as Mr. Bill to everyone for miles around.

“Alright Mr. Bill, I need to log off and see if there are any missing persons or missing child reports. We haven’t received any calls or notice of any accidents; however, anything is possible with that surprise storm. I will call you as soon as I find out anything. Hopefully, you and Sean can make it into town tomorrow for the Town Christmas Dinner. My family and I will miss you and so will your other friends in town even those that won’t acknowledge you because you weren’t born here. Sheriff Payne out.” With that, the call ended and the regular Skype™ screen came up.

After coming to the conclusion that it was nearly impossible to type with an infant in my arms, I decided to bring the highchair into the family room and let Sean sit there while I found the information I needed to care for him. As I headed to the kitchen, I heard the fax in my office chime. So Sean and I changed direction and headed to my office instead. As we entered the office the fax began spitting out sheet after sheet of legalese. I picked up the papers and headed back to the kitchen and the highchair. As Sean, I and the highchair arrived back in the family room that computer chimed that it had incoming email. I got Sean situated in the highchair and opened my email program. The email was from Dennis and short and to the point.

‘Sign the paperwork I faxed you and fax it back yesterday. Read the books that are attached and go bond with Sean.’

I save the attached epubs and then sent them by Wi-Fi to my tablet. The books were all about feeding and caring for infants; including one for Dummies and that title was in red and bolded. ‘What a jerk’; I thought.

I quickly looked over the paperwork that Dennis had faxed and was stunned. Somehow in just minutes he had papers drawn up and signed giving me temporary custody and guardianship of one John Doe also known as Sean son of Mr. Bill. The paperwork covered everything imaginable or at least it looked like it did. I could even take Sean out of the country the way the paperwork was worded. I quickly signed the paperwork told Sean I would be right back and went to the office to return the fax. The whole time I was walking to the office I was singing Christmas Carols to Sean. Before I left the family room, I did turn the highchair around, so Sean could see me most of the way. His gurgles and giggles kept me company all the way. I loaded the paperwork into the fax machine and pressed the number two on the speed dial keypad. I waited until the sent page and acknowledgement page printed before leaving my office.

I headed back to the family room, plucked my son out of the highchair and was recliner bound. Now you have to understand this recliner, it wasn’t your ordinary recliner. It was probably the most expensive recliner known to man. It was covered in a microfiber that mimicked velvet had built-in quad speakers and built-in vibrating massage. It also laid almost perfectly flat for sleeping. Soon Sean and I were snuggled up in my wonderful chair. We decided we wanted to watch a recorded episode of NCIS©. Okay, Sean just gurgled when I paused the listing on NCIS©. Not even five minutes into the episode Sean was sound asleep snuggled into my side.

Quickly taking advantage of the situation I picked my tablet out of its pouch on the chair and began reading. Half an hour later I had read enough to get us through the next day or so. I decided to head to bed and changed Sean before I put him to bed as well. He slept through me changing him and continued to sleep when I put him down on my bed before fixing his bed. I had a small love seat in my bedroom that I occasionally sat on while getting dressed. I moved the love seat over to the right side of my bed with the open side against my bed. I then took a couple of spare pillows and made an enclosed space for Sean to sleep in. He wouldn’t be able to roll around very much. I placed a towel down in the space then lightly laid Sean down and placed another towel over him. The beautiful angel never stirred at all. I headed to my bathroom and took care of what needed taking care of and then went to bed myself.

I guess it was about three in the morning when a strange noise woke me from a deep sleep. Once I heard the noise again, I quickly was fully awake. “Sean it’s okay I will be right there.” At the sound of my voice, his cries turned to gurgles. I turned the lights on just enough to see not enough to keep me from going back to sleep later at least that was the plan. As soon as I leaned over, and Sean saw me he broke out into a big smile. I quickly checked his diaper and he was still clean and dry. I then realized that I had forgotten to put his rubber pants on him. As I started to go and get them, I saw them lying on a pillow next to him. Strange I thought I left them in the washroom. I put his rubber pants on then picked him up gave him a hug and a kiss on his nose. I then laid him back down and he was out like a light.

We both slept through the night after that; of course, my nose told me I needed to change him immediately. I leaned over and picked him up as I said;

“Merry Christmas, son, Merry Christmas.”

I had no sooner got Sean changed and was on my way to the kitchen to make coffee for me and oatmeal for Sean when the sound of someone knocking at my door scared the hell out of me and caused me to nearly drop my son. I stopped in the family room and placed Sean into the highchair whispering to him;

“I will be right back.”

I shouted at the door, “I will be right there!”

Before going to the door, I opened what looked like an antique armoire, which was actually one of my gun safes. I grabbed the first rifle out of it and popped in a few shells. I opened the door with my left hand while holding the rifle in my right hand behind the door.

I was shocked at who was standing in front of my door; it was the local Shaman and his nephew. His nephew was, in fact, his apprentice and while I knew he was a two-spirit it made no difference to me. Unfortunately, I am terrible at names and before I could welcome them the Shaman began to speak. His words were totally unexpected nearly caused me to drop my rifle.

“My nephew has volunteered to come and live with you and care for ‘Heâvenz Gyft’. He will also continue teaching you our customs and knowledge. In return, you promise to teach him how to play the guitar like you and help him learn paleface medicine. He has cared for many of our people’s younglings and will be a lot of help caring for Sean as you call him.” As I stood there with my jaw on the ground the nephew spoke;

“I want to help you care for ‘Heâvenz Gyft’ and I know that I will be safe and welcome in your home.”

“Uhh…..okay.” I managed to gasp out.

While the nephew was speaking his uncle was handing him a pair of loaded saddlebags and placing them at his feet. Without a word, the Shaman headed to the stable with his nephew’s horse. The nephew whose name I finally remembered was something like ‘Hands of Peace and Light’ but usually was called Andreu.

“Andreu are you sure that you really want to do this; not that I don’t want your help. You won’t be very close to your friends or family living here.” I asked trying to get a handle on what was going on. Before Andreu could reply his Uncle was riding homeward.

Just then my son began calling for me the only way he knew how to. Namely shrieking at the top of his lungs. Without a word, Andreu headed inside to Sean, without thinking I locked the rifle back up and then went to bring Andreu’s saddlebags inside. Just as I entered the house Andreu came out of the family room carrying a smiling Sean. As soon as Sean saw me, he started making lots of sounds and putting his arms out to me.

Andreu handed my son to me and then picked up his saddlebags;

“Which room can I use?” He inquired.

“Anyone but mine,” I distractedly answered. I was too busy cuddling my happy Christmas Present.

Andreu returned with what looked like a set of clothes for Sean, they were absolutely beautiful. Whoever made them was definitely a Master Leather Crafter.

Andreu saw my look of admiration and began beaming. From the look on his face, he was the one who made them.

Before we could begin a conversation and hopefully get a few things settled my cellphone rang with Dennis’s ringtone. Somehow, I was able to get my phone out of my pocket and answer it.

“Skype™ now” Then the disconnect tone.

Andreu closed the door and then followed Sean and me into the family room. I placed Sean in his highchair; woke the computer up and launched Skype™.

Sure enough, my computer began ringing to announce an incoming video call from Dennis in uniform and wearing his Sheriff’s hat.

I decided to go ahead and use the desktop speakers and mic that way Andreu could see and hear everything.

“Mr. Bill, I hate to ruin your Christmas, but I have some bad news and some very bad news.” Before I could respond Dennis went right on speaking.

“We found your Sean’s parents car and they are no longer with us. We found some of Sean’s papers and here is where things get really strange, His name really is Sean. Now onto the very bad new Sean is an orphan, his parents were only children and all of their parents and grandparents have passed on. So now Sean has no one to take care of him. We didn’t find his Birth Certificate, but we think he is about fifteen months old. All of my Foster Homes are completely filled, and I couldn’t put Sean in any of those anyway.” Dennis paused for a brief second to catch his breath and then beat me to the punch.

“The Mayor has asked me to ask you if you would consider being young Sean or ‘Heâvenz Gyft’s’ guardian and Foster Parent full-time?”

“On one condition Dennis, and that is that you start the adoption proceedings, so I can adopt Sean as soon as I legally can.” Can you do that for me?

“Mr. Bill, this is the Mayor speaking now can we assume that Andreu will be an official witness if needed?”

I looked over at Andreu and he nodded yes; so, I turned back to Dennis and began to answer his question. However, Dennis had also seen Andreu’s nod.

“Okay, Mr. Bill we have the witness we need, and your fax machine should be chiming shortly. Also, the appropriate paperwork has already been filed and we should have an answer within a few days. I am sorry that your Christmas has been ruined and you will miss the Town Christmas Dinner……” I cut Dennis off before he could get another word out.

“Dennis you haven’t ruined anything, in fact, you have just given me the best Christmas ever.” I then picked up Sean and motioned Andreu to come closer.

“Dennis, you have given me a son I never thought I would have and now with Andreu here two sons and a real family of my own. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and Merry Christmas.” I then closed Skype and kissed my son Sean on his nose and pulled Andreu into a one-armed hug.

The three of us turned and faced the Christmas Tree and said;

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night©.”


Author’s Note:

Well, I finished the promised second Christmas Story and I hope it was warm and fuzzy enough for everyone. Please let me know your thoughts on my story. Please also keep those who won’t have a Merry Christmas in your thoughts and prayers.

TSL


Wonderful East Coast Editor’s Notes:

Hey there, Uncle, TSL. Nice story. I’ll send you some nappies. At least you didn’t get an ‘S-thing,’ jeez. I’m sure Uncle Darryl will make you write more and more and more…

Neal


Wonderful Midwest Editor’s Notes:

Hmm, let me see, first, he kills off Sean’s parents without us even meeting them, then we find out that Sean’s whole family is toast, and he calls that warm and fuzzy. Interesting!

Having said that, I must admit I did like the story! I liked the fact that Bill’s horse knew there was a reason to go see that bench. Something tells me that a bit of divine intervention involved here.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanzaa, Holy Ramadan, Frohe Weihnachten!, Christmas Alegre! , Joyeux Noel!,God Jul! , Glaedelig Jul! , Nadolig Llawen, Gledelig Jul, Nollaig Shona Duit, Mele Kalikimaka.

Comments always gratefully appreciated at The Story Lover

[1]. Like a machete only with a slight hook on the end.
[2]. Copyright Mercedes Lackey