A BULLET FOR CHRISTMAS
Jake walked out of the store with the Christmas presents he had purchased for his wife Miriam and two children Alec and Jane. The store had wrapped the presents for him tying red and silver colored bands of ribbons around the reindeer and Christmas angel wrapping paper. He was pleased with what he had bought and hoped that he had not forgotten anything important. He stopped on his way out of the store at the free bar near to the entrance where he collected a take away coffee in a plastic tumbler, and then walked to the rotating door and outside of the warmth of the store into the biting cold.
The bullet hit Jake just below his right ear removing his ear lobe as it smashed its way through his jaw bone and escaped through his lower left jaw. It was a second later, just before he hit the ground, he realized he couldn’t scream. He lay on his left side, not realizing that this position was actually saving his life, he was breathing through the hole below his right ear. The bullet had blown away his esophagus and his throat was partially blocked with the muscle that normally allowed him to speak. It had been snowing heavily for the past three days and he felt very cold lying there slowly being covered with a blanket of snow.
"Thank goodness I have my thick overcoat on" he thought just before he fell unconscious.
Christmas had long past and gone when Jake awoke from his long sleep? He couldn’t see properly when he opened his eyes, everything around him was blurred, at least he felt warm and that was a blessing to him.
"He’s awake" he heard someone cry. "Call the doctor and tell him he’s coming round."
"How are you feeling Mr Mason" someone said. "Just move your fingers so that I know you can hear me,"
Jake twiddled his fingers. "He can hear me, where is that doctor."
Jake felt hands fiddling with his face and mouth, someone was wiping his eyes with a wet cloth, he felt the prick of a needle in his left arm and there was someone crying close bye him. The doctor arrived it seemed because he felt the coldness of his stethoscope on his chest.
"Heartbeat and pulse are fine" someone said, "blood pressure normal."
He could now see a light above his head, there were faces everywhere staring at him, someone was holding his hand tightly, he heard the words ‘Daddy’ just before he fell asleep.
Six hours later Jake was wide awake and he could see perfectly, his wife and children were in the room, he realized he was in a bed with a tube down his throat and his head and neck were bandaged and he couldn’t speak. Panic suddenly overcame him, a nurse was by his side telling him to relax, clam down, and that everything was OK. It took a while before he could relax enough to realize he was in a hospital bed, the tube down his throat was breathing for him and his face and neck were as painful as hell.
The last time he saw his wife and children was four days ago when he returned the children to his wife after they had spent the weekend with him. Separation was not a good thing as far as he was concerned and he hated the idea. He loved his wife dearly, but for some silly reason they had separated almost a year ago and he couldn’t for the life of him remember what that reason was. Jake slid back into the comfort of sleep once again and he dreamed of the excitement his children would have when they opened their presents on Christmas morning. He wouldn’t be there to see their happiness of course but he would go and visit them in the afternoon with a few more presents he had bought them earlier in the week.
It was mid February when he eventually awoke again. Where had he been all this time was his first thoughts. He remembered the hospital room when he opened his eyes, it was a different room though and the tube in his throat had now gone and so had the bandage from around his head and neck. There was a button in his right hand with the word ‘PRESS’ on it, so he pressed it and waited.
"How are you feeling today Mr Mason" the nurse asked. "The doctor will arrive shortly and he will explain what has happened to you while you have been asleep. Do you want to sit up; I can arrange the pillows for you and make you comfortable."
Jake tried to speak but he couldn’t, it felt like he had a mouthful of marbles and the words weren’t words at all but garble.
"It’s alright Mr Mason, you can’t speak properly yet, just nod or shake your head for yes and no for the time being, in a few weeks time after some speech therapy you will be able to speak normally. Your wife and children have been in to see you every single day for the past two months while you have been asleep. They will be coming in again in a couple of hours so you will have to look your best before they arrive." The doctor arrived.
"Mr Mason, you have certainly been through the mill I’m afraid, do you know what happened to you on the night you were shot.’ Jake shook his head. "A bullet penetrated your neck and destroyed your esophagus and shattered your lower jaw. We have rebuilt your jaw and performed two operations on your esophagus to allow you to breathe normally. I am afraid it will take some time before you can speak and there will be quite a bit of scarring on you neck but these will fade given time. Your tongue has been repaired but I am afraid it I shorter than it was so there will be some difficulty in speaking for some time. What I want you to do now is take it easy and rest, you can get out of bed whenever you feel you can mange it but there must be a nurse with you all of the time. I am afraid you cannot eat solid food as yet so liquids such as soup and orange juice will be all you can take for the time being. I do advise you not to shave as there are still some stitches in your neck from you last operation a few days ago. The nurse will bring you a writing pad and pencil so you have a means of communicating with people. In the meantime try and take it easy and don’t worry, you are well on the way to normality but it will take a little time."
Jake was sitting in a chair beside his bed when he heard the children’s voices in the corridor. He could see his wife through the glass window talking to the nurse and she suddenly started crying. The children came bursting through the swing doors whooping and hollering with delight.
"Daddy, Daddy" they shouted at the top of their voices as they ran towards him. They smothered him with kisses, pulled on his nose and generally poked him all over. ‘I love you daddy’ they shouted in unison. "We missed you at Christmas and it wasn’t nice without you there with us." They cuddled and kissed him and he couldn’t help himself, so he cried.
Miriam, his wife stood watching the reaction of the children and sobbing her heart out with happiness as she watched them with their father. She knew how much they loved him and had watched them as they said a prayer every night for their daddy’s recovery. She also realized he was a good man, honest and true in every respect and he loved his children. It was her who had forced their separation just before Christmas over a year ago, she hadn’t been happy since that day but she was stubborn and wouldn’t admit it was her fault.
"How are you feeling Jake" she asked. He scribbled a reply on the note pad "OK"
"We have missed you over the Christmas time; I have missed you this last year, I am a foolish woman, stubborn and unforgivable but I do love you with all my heart. Can you ever forgive me for what I have put you through?" Jake wrote on his writing pad
"YES." I also love you, I can easily forgive anyone I love. It’s silly really, what has happened to me was written before it happened. If it means we can be together again because of this then I accept it without reservation. As long as we can be a family once again then I will be happy with whatever comes my way."
A man stood in the dock of the courthouse in front of the judge awaiting his sentence. His wife had passed away a couple of months before Christmas with cancer and he was left alone with his young son. He had given up his job to look after the boy but missed his wife terribly, He had bought the gun in desperation and loneliness, he couldn’t bear to spend the rest of his life without her and the boy kept asking when Mummy was coming home. It had been a pure accident, if he hadn’t tripped on his little boys toy lying on the wooden floor of his apartment then fell forward towards the window it would never have happened. The gun went off and the bullet sped through the window shattering the glass.
"Oh my God" he had cried in disbelief when he looked out of the empty window frame down onto the street below. "What have I done?" His little boy was crying, the loud noise of the gun firing had frightened him. He picked the boy up in his arms and took the elevator downward towards the street and the gathering of people who now surrounded the man lying in the snow. An ambulance had arrived on the scene and the man was sped away in the vehicle with sirens blasting.
"I did this he cried, it was an accident, I didn’t do it on purpose, I tripped on my boy’s toy and the gun went off. God forgive me" he cried as he fell to his knees.
"Mr Granger, after a long deliberation into the circumstances concerning the injury you caused along with many hours of discussion with your defense I have decided that this was an accident pure and simple." The Judge told him. "However, I will remove your weapon license and you shall never ever be issued with another. You may now leave the court."
Christmas came around once again and Jake remembered the man who had fired the bullet almost a year to the day.
"Miriam, I have been thinking, Mr Granger has a son but no mother to make his Christmas a happy one. I would like to go and see them and invite them here to our home for Christmas, would you mind if I did that."
"Not at all, I think it is a good idea and it will show Mr Granger that you hold no malice against him for the accident."
"Then I will call in at the store and buy the boy some presents to put under the Christmas tree, his father is out of work and we should try and make a good Christmas for them both."
Mr Granger felt ashamed when he opened the door and saw Jake standing there and he could not look him in the eye. He invited Jake inside; there was a small Christmas tree with a few baubles hanging from its branches and a few small presents wrapped in floral paper beneath the tree. With tears in his eyes Mr Granger apologized to Jake, he never meant to harm anyone except himself with the gun.
"I didn’t come to see you for apologies Mr Granger; I came here to ask you and your son if you would like to come to my home for Christmas. It was an accident, pure and simple and because of that accident my wife and I are once again together with our children. I hold no malice against you whatsoever, if it hadn’t happened we would still be separated and I would have spent another lonely Christmas without them. I would feel it an honor to have you and your son come with us for Christmas, for without you I would be living a very lonely life."
It was a Christmas of happiness and joy. Mr Granger was now Michael and his boy now Phillip.
Jane and Phillip, Mr Granger's son, are now married and have a beautiful girl called Amanda. Alec is still at University in his last year and will become a Doctor. Jake and Michael are good friends and they all live together in Jake's very large house.
Who would have thought something good would come out of a pure accident; God works his wonders in many ways.