Friday, January 31, 2014

Amazonian Secret

Part Three

Dr. Lentz placed his hand on my arm in a comforting way.  “Ellie, listen to me. I know this has to be difficult for you but you have to be strong and you have to see exactly what’s going on with your foot.  Can you do that for me?”
I shut my eyes until I got control of my panic, then opened them and nodded.
“Good.  What you have is extremely rare and ultra extremely rare to see in the United States.”  Pointing to the photo, he continued, “The condition is known as “Santolechae Muscaria”, named after Carlos Santo, the doctor who discovered and identified it in the 1920’s.  Its origins are from deep within the Amazon Jungle and to date, there have only been six reported cases.  More than likely, there have been others but they were never reported, either because of lack of communication or the victims died before they could get out of the jungle and get help.”
“You’re scaring me.”
He looked at me very compassionately.  “Forgive me, but I assure you I am not telling you this to scare you, but you need to understand this as best as possible.  You need a moment or you want me to continue?”
I glanced at the clock.
“Don’t worry about the time; I’ve cancelled all appointments so I could go over this with you.”
While I was beginning to grasp the gravity of my situation, I was also moved by his caring enough to devote the day to attending me.  I took a deep breath.  “Go on,” I said with a timid smile.
He returned my smile and flipped the photo to a text written page with hand-written notes scribbled on the sides, top and bottom.  “Okay, first of all, I’m going to explain as best I can what this is.  If it gets too much let me know and we’ll pause, but it’s extremely important that you listen and understand.”  He studied my face and satisfied I was okay with what he had just said, he continued.
“This fungus has only been found in one small remote area of the Amazon and has never been known to travel outside that area on its own.  The only way it can or has been known to be re-located is transported out by a carrier.
“By any chance, have you been to South America recently?”
 I shook my head.
“Hmm, this is puzzling,” he said and kneaded his chin.  He leaned back in his chair.  “This could present a whole new problem.”
Not knowing what to say or think, I just stared at him.  All of a sudden I remembered my niece having just gotten back from South America.  I sat up straight.
“My niece just returned from there and I remember her saying something about the plant she had brought back having come from the jungle.”
Dr. Lentz leaned forward.  “Does she still have it?”
I frowned.  “No.  As a matter of fact, I was the one who accidentally knocked it over and broke the plant and the pot.  I felt terrible about it.”
He placed his hand on my wrist.  “Did you come in contact with the soil?”
“Yeah, it was all over my foot.”
“The foot with the growth?” he pressed.
“Yes, how did you know?”
He took a deep breath.  “ According to the reports and limited studies that have been done, when the adult female toad gets pregnant, she burrows into a mature toadstool, which has the ability to host the toad without dying.  The toad then follows the roots and deposits its eggs.  Once that’s accomplished, she returns to the main plant and dies thus feeding the toadstool. The eggs remain protected within the root.  The offshoot itself grows until it finds a host plant to attach to both for an anchor and to absorb nutrients. Sometimes the eggs transfer to the new host where they remain dormant for an unspecified period of time.  When the eggs do hatch, they make their way to the top and begin searching for a mate.  They do this by making the noises you described.  The cycle then repeats itself.”
“I know you’d like something stronger right about now, but all I can offer is water.  Would you like some?” he asked and stood up.
“Yes, please,” I answered and realized my mouth had dried up like a wad of cotton.
A couple minutes later, he returned with two bottles of water and handed one to me.  I practically had to force myself to drink it slowly and not give in to my urge to gulp it down. I glanced at Dr. Lentz and observed as he twisted the page this way and that as he read the notes.  Noticing I was watching him, he set the paper down.
“Ready to continue?”
“So how did I get it?”
He leaned back in the chair again and folded his hands in his lap.  “When you broke the pot and the plant itself, you must have released the hatched egg and it immediately bored its way into you.”
“I didn’t feel a thing though.”
“That could be because you were concentrating on cleaning up the mess and probably apologizing profusely that you didn’t notice.  Also, we’re not sure about this but there’s a consensus that the toad has the ability to produce a numbing agent in its saliva so the live host doesn’t feel it entering.”
I didn’t like what I was hearing but I understood it.  “That explains the toad; How about the mushroom?”
“There’s only one small article about that but it makes sense and is the only explanation we have.  According to that study, when the egg is in the root of the toadstool, it feeds on the fibers and absorbs enough of the plant DNA to be able to grow another host plant.  Apparently, the toad is able to store this DNA until it is absolutely necessary to release it through its urine or feces, we’re not sure which, thereby securing its own survival.”
He paused to take a drink of water.  “That, unfortunately, is the easy part of this problem.”
“What do you mean?” I interrupted; wanting and not wanting to hear what he was going to say next.
“The problem lies in extracting it from your foot and—”
“Oh God, don’t tell me you can’t get rid of this thing.  Please tell me you can cure me. Please,” I begged him.
Once again he softly touched my hand.  “You can be cured but it’s not going to be easy.”
              “How difficult can it be?  Just cut it out,” I said, trying to control the panic coursing through my body.

   Chelle Munroe ©
    January 29, 2014


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Amazonian Secret

Part Two:

At first, I started to relax but when he didn’t say anything for some minutes, I began to feel extremely nervous. 
“So what is it?” I finally had the courage to ask.
“I’m not sure,” he responded while turning my foot this way and that,
“Oh great!” was all I could say.
He stood up and scratched his head.  “I might have an idea what it is but I will have to research it first.  If it’s what I think…..”
“If it’s what you think, what?”  I pressed.
“I don’t want to say anymore until I’m sure.  In the meantime, go home, relax –“
“Relax!” I shouted, “How the hell can I relax with this thing growing out of my foot?  And what about the toad?”
He stared at me very seriously.  “Ellie, just do as I say and I will get back to you tomorrow or the day after.  It it’s what I think, it is serious.”
His remark sounded so ludicrous at that moment I chuckled.  “Of course it’s serious. How the hell can it not be?”  I sat up and seeing the deep perplexed look and worry in his eyes, I knew he was sincerely concerned.
“That’s it then, just go home and try to relax?”
He nodded.  “Nothing will happen as long as you do that.  It is not life threatening at this point.  But again, I want to be certain.”  With that, he left the room and me sitting on the examining table with pure fear coursing through my body.
I got up and left the office without stopping to say anything to anyone.  I didn’t want to talk.  I didn’t want to do anything but get whatever it was removed from my foot.
Once at home, I tried my best to take my mind off of my foot and I did okay until I would feel movement and the anxiety would start all over again.  It took all of my will power not to look down and when I walked from one room to another, I made it a point to keep my head up and my eyes forward.  I can’t even begin to describe the thoughts that raced through my mind wreaking their havoc before being replaced by an even more worrisome thought.
To say I was in a stupor would have been putting it mildly and I prayed with all my might that whatever it was, Dr. Lentz would take care of it and heal me.  Each time the phone rang, I jumped and each time when I saw that it wasn’t Dr. Lentz, my heart and hopes dropped and I ignored the calls letting them go to my voicemail.  I was scared.
Emotionally and physically exhausted, I climbed into bed hoping beyond all hopes that I would fall asleep right away and that when I awoke in the morning, I would learn it was all a dream and everything was back to normal.  Part of my hopes was fulfilled. 
I did fall asleep right away but sometime during the night I was awakened by a weird noise.  Because the sound was so out of context with the usual noises where I live, it took a good moment for me to orient myself.  I opened my eyes and listened and realized the noise was emanating from my foot.  My first instinct was to kick the covers off and look but, to do so, meant having to face the reality of what was waiting under the covers and that was downright out of the question.  No way was I going to look at that….that thing.
As it turned out, sleep, that is, a deep restful sleep, did not come.  The noise was just too much to bear; to much to ignore; and too loud to block out.  Next morning, I was on the phone as soon as I figured the doctor’s office was open and apparently, there were instructions at the front desk that when I called to patch me right through to Dr. Lentz.
“How are you doing, Ellie?” Dr. Lentz’s cheerful voice echoed through the receiver.
“Not too well,” I responded.  “That damn thing drove me crazy all night and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get to sleep.  Did you get any answers yet?”
I heard him take a deep breath and let out a long sigh.  “No.  Well not definitively anyway.  But I did find something from an old medical book I found when I was taking courses.  I’m not sure whether it is your situation or not so I called an old friend and am waiting for a response from him.  Why don’t you come into the office as soon as you can; there’s a couple questions I need to ask you.”
His words were somewhat encouraging while at the same time held a sense of foreboding.  I couldn’t tell which because the tone of his voice was too matter of fact to formulate a definite opinion.  Less than fifteen minutes later, I was sitting in the waiting room waiting to hear what he had to say.  I could feel my heart rate increasing and figured my blood pressure had to be going through the roof yet that seemed to pale with everything else that was taking place.
The somber look on Dr. Lentz’s face when he entered the room caused my body to tense ever more.  He was carrying a folder and from his disheveled appearance, I guessed he had spent most of the night, if not all of it, doing research.
I tried to lighten the atmosphere.  “You spent the night partying, huh.”
He smiled weakly then sat down and opened the folder.  Just then, the phone rang and I jumped.  He lifted the receiver and said, “Put him through.”
“Hi Tim, what was you able to find out?  Mmhmm, yeah, yeah that’s what I thought.  Actually, she’s sitting here right now.  Hold on, I’ll ask her.”
He turned to me.  “What kind of noises did you hear last night?”
I thought for a moment.  “I not sure what kind of a noise it was.  It was strange is the only way I can describe it.”
“Tim wants to know if you can imitate it.”
I closed my eyes trying to recall the exact sounds I had heard.  “Well, it was something like this ---- cheep, cheep, cheep, uh.”
I could feel my face flush with embarrassment.  “Did that help?”
I waited while he listened on the phone and then I heard him say, “Okay, Tim thanks for the help with this.  Oh yes, yes I’ll be sure to tell her.  Take care.”
He placed the phone in the cradle and turned his attention to me.  “The good news is, I know what it is.  The bad is what I had suspected and just confirmed by Tim.”
“There’s a cure, right?” I asked feeling a wave of nervousness rush through my stomach.
“Yes, it can be cured.”
“Let’s do it,” I blurted before he had a chance to change his answer.
He held up his hand and I knew it wasn’t going to be what I wanted to hear.
“It’s not that simple.  Let me show you what you’re dealing with and then we can discuss what has to be done.”
As he opened the folder, I caught a glimpse of a photo inside and quickly averted my eyes.  “I don’t want to see it,” I heard myself softly protesting.

  Chelle Munroe ©
  January 29, 2014

( continued) 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Amazonian Secret

Part One:

I’m not even sure where to begin this story and although it did happen, I’m still finding it hard to believe.  I guess the best place to start is right at the beginning.  It was almost a year ago to the day that I had an experience that changed my life and will continue to have its effects on me for the rest of my life.
It was June 24 and nothing special was happening that day so I thought I would drive down to the beach and just relax in the morning sun before it got too hot.  With sunscreen and a book in hand, I headed out the door glad to be getting away from the city.  Because it was a weekday and after the morning rush, driving was relatively easy and very relaxing. 
When I arrived, I was thrilled to see only one other car parked along side the road and parked right behind it.  A big smile appeared on my face brought about by the smooth way things were flowing along.  That was about to change.
The owner of the other car was way down the beach and I could see a fishing rod sticking up out of the sand and knew I’d have the beach to myself unless others arrived, which wasn’t too often because not a lot of people knew the beach was there.
I laid out my beach towel; unfolded the beach chair; slathered on the sunscreen and started to unbutton my blouse.  At that moment, I felt something brush against my foot and my surprise turned to horror when I looked down and saw a toadstool sticking out from between my toes,  I felt a movement beneath my skin and then a toad appeared and climbed up the toadstool and perched itself there.
My first reaction, once I got over the shock, was to shake it off and no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t budge.  I dropped into the beach chair and lifted my foot to remove it but when I went to grab the toad, it dashed off and somehow slipped back into my foot.  I yanked on the toadstool, but that only caused a lot of pain and when I held my foot up to examine it, I was stunned to see it was growing out from between my toes.
Bewildered and shaken up, it took a few moments before I regained my composure and started to take action.  Hurriedly, I packed everything up; practically ran to the car and threw everything inside, while at the same time frantically searching for my cell phone so I could call my doctor.  The longer it was taking to find the phone, the more discombobulated I became which only made me fumble around all the more.  At that point, there was no such thing as remaining calm.
During the time I groped for the phone, I refused to look at my foot afraid to see it was still sprouting that grotesque toadstool.  Another reason I didn’t want to see it was because the mere thought of it was upsetting my stomach and I couldn’t afford to be sick at that moment.  While shaking my purse around, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was going to tell the receptionist when she answered the phone and asked what the emergency was that I had to urgently see the doctor.
That question got answered quickly when I located the phone and called the office.  Before the receptionist could say anymore than hello, I blurted, “This is Ellie Sanders and I have an emergency and am headed into the office right now.”
“If it’s that urgent why…………”
Before she could utter another word, I barked, “I need to see Dr. Lentz and only Dr. Lentz.  I’ll be there in fifteen minutes and I don’t have time to explain.” I hung up and started the car.  The drive to the doctor’s office was anything but calm and relaxed.  Without speeding like a maniac, I maneuvered the car around the traffic and whipped into the parking lot where I parked in the first empty space I spotted.
Seeing my panic stricken face when I stormed into the office, Julia, the nurse practitioner, immediately opened the door and quickly ushered me down the hall into one of the examining rooms. My nerves were so jumpy, I couldn’t sit and although it was only a minute or two before Dr. Lentz entered, it felt like hours were passing by, making me all the jumpier.
“So, what’s the problem it couldn’t wait?” he asked without wasting time.
I didn’t say a word just held up my foot.
The look of shock on his face said it all.  He hesitated then said, “Get up on the table and lie down so I can look at this.”

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Call Myself Human

It was nothing of what I had expected.  In fact, it was a whole lot worse than I had ever imagined and now, because of it, the image is indelibly etched in my mind.  I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since.  My appetite has diminished to the point where I could almost be considered anorexic; and my demeanor has changed so drastically, my family is doing all they can to avoid me, at a time when I need them the most.  Still, I don’t blame them.
Yet, I have no one to blame but myself.  It was my decision and my decision alone that I put myself into this position, however unexpected and undesirable the results.  Whether my decision stemmed from ego, pride or arrogance or a combination of all is of little consequence being the effects are all I experience at the moment.  Even without a conclusive answer one way or the other, the notion that my choice may have been born from hatred has entertained my thoughts for hours on end.
 In absolute honesty and my only means of self-defense, can I say that never, at any stage in the process, did I fathom that my life, my family and my career would be jeopardized; for had I had the slightest inkling of such, my decision would have been different.  The question now remains and begs an answer as to whether or not I can salvage it all.  Do I want to?
Naturally, I don’t want to lose everything, so I’m faced with the dilemma of having to make yet another decision and, as easy as it may seem to others, I’m struggling to make it.  Insane also, as I very well know it to be, I keep trying to find justification in my action; the same justification that had always soothed my conscience.
Justification that, regardless how satisfying to others, will never be for me again because my decision reached its finality.  It cannot be revised or reversed.  It can never be resolved in my heart now that I have fully witnessed the stark reality of what my words have done.
The power of words I have enjoyed using no longer possess their magic or hold true, for they have mutated into a grotesque psychological monster that haunts me and leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth.  I call myself human.  How I have lied to myself.  My only consolation being that I will never again utter such inhumane directives.  During my life I have heard the phrase, “live by the sword, die by the sword”, but that always applied to others, not me.  Hindsight lets me see that that’s exactly what happened to me and I willingly, yet blindly, embraced it.
My arrogance blinded me and seduced me into believing that I was righteously carrying out my duty.  I readily sought what I perceived would be the pinnacle of my career.  I was convinced that if I enforced everything I valued and believed in, it would make the world a better place; only to discover that I’ve contributed to an absolute horrific part of it.  In my pompous efforts to rise above the rest, I have, in all actuality, brought myself down to a most base level.  I have copulated with the devil and bequeathed him my soul, for what else I can attribute my sleeping with the same evil actions I staunchly abhorred.
Actions that others deemed too barbaric to carry out themselves yet felt the need to praise me for having accepted the sole responsibility to do so.  They are the Pontius Pilates who have washed their hands of it and rest their heads on their pillows and peacefully drift off to sleep.  Why shouldn’t they when there’s a fool to eagerly place himself on the pedestal and commit the act for them; a fool who, unlike themselves, is unable to justify his actions; a fool that had trained and prepared himself throughout his entire career to do just that.
At least that’s what I had brainwashed myself into believing until I opted in my egotistical mind to go one step further and fully participate in the process.  I would see it to its end.  I would show the strength of my position, the strength of my commitment and the strength of my character.  I’m quite positive that that’s exactly what those who attended saw that day.  As for myself, I’m appalled at what I had become; ashamed of my lack of human compassion; and immensely sorry for my inhumane actions.  That day, I witnessed the end of my life as I’d know it.
I had sentenced a man to death by hanging, the customary punishment for someone convicted of murder.  He wasn’t the first I had meted out such a sentence, but he was the first I had attended.  It will be the last.  For the first time, I’m able to speak of it, but only in its most general terms.
Instead of it being instantly ended with a quick snap of the rope and neck….the muffled groans and twitching body…and…such…it lingered on for what seemed an agonizing eternity.  It was the most horrendous, inhumane sight I have ever set my eyes upon.  I will end up by saying that as tormented as I may be and rightfully so, there is one positive note ---- I am grateful.  Yes, grateful. Grateful because I will never again sit behind that bench and condemn someone to death.  My only hope being I’ll heal and find my humanness again and, this time, use it to save lives.
  Chelle Munroe ©
   January 22, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Museum

This poem originated from an actual dream I had when I was 6 or 7 yrs. of age. Memories of the dream have lasted into my adulthood and through reading about such events occurring with others, I also learned that these "premonition" types of dreams are rather common in children and makes one wonder why they are so in tune and why we lose that ability as we age. Whatever the reason or cause or factual basis, this poem stems from that and I hope you enjoy it.

Friday night
I had a dream
Of an old building;
Funny looking bike;
Skeleton in armor;
And a Civil War room,
Closed to visitors,
On the third floor.

Inside the room,
Among plastic trees,
Miniature towns
Of various types
Were scattered
On plywood tables.

Some had stores,
Saloons and a church;
Others a few buildings,
Including general store
And livery stable.

Cannon-scarred battlefields,
Equal in variety,
Displayed Union and Confederate
Cast-iron soldiers
Relaxed around tent campsites;
Poised in lines for battle;
Or broken
And strewn about
On green felt grass,
Vividly depicting
The stark tragedy
Of war.

Saturday morning,
My older brother, John,
Took me
To the Historical Museum.

Never having been before,
I was stunned
When my eyes
On the bike
With huge front wheel,
Tiny one in back
And ladder-high seat.

In the next room,
A bony conquistador,
Complete with helmet
And breastplate,
Verified my dream
And I told
Of the Civil War room
On the third floor
And evoked a glare
From John,
The same look
He gave in my dream
As though
I’d lost my mind.

A curator,
Like in the dream,
Led the way upstairs,
And just as visioned,
He ignored
The “closed to visitor’s” sign
To the newly
Acquired addition,
Where to dubious stares,
I detailed the drama
Beyond the oak door,
Then John told me
To shut up
And the curator
Flashed a strange
Quizzical look.

We entered the room.

Constructed on plywood tables,
Precisely as described,
Miniature towns
Of various types
Gave witness
To cannon-dotted fields
As blue and gray soldiers
Silently fought
The Civil War.

                                             Chelle Munroe©
                                             January 16, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Surprise Transformation at San Diego Zoo Shocks Scientists

Scientists were shocked on Tuesday when zoo handlers went to feed Jocko the African Gorilla and found him acting like a female gorilla.  When handlers tried to get Jocko to do his daily routine, he became increasingly agitated and began throwing things at them.
Unable to control him, handlers then sought the park veterinarians to assist them.  When the veterinary crew arrived, Jocko was cradling the female doll that had been placed in the cage for Saturina the female gorilla.  Puzzled by this action, the vets attempted to take the doll away and were immediately chased out of the cage by an irritant Jocko.  Knowing the problem was out of their league, they sort the help of famed animal psychologist Dr. Adriana Marley.
After three days of studies, Dr. Marley told reporters that Jocko suffered from Gender Identity Dysphoria, and further explained that Jocko was a female gorilla trapped in a silver-back's body. She went on to explain that when shown pictures and videos of human ballerina dancers, Jocko responded with excitement and made every attempt to mimic the dance moves.  Dr. Marley went on to say that although funny to see a 450lb. gorilla trying to pirouette, she knew that Jocko’s condition was deeper than mimicking dance moves.
Because Jocko can’t speak, Dr. Marley made it clear that it is difficult to state with any certainty that Jocko is in fact a true transgender gorilla.  When asked what led her to believe Jocko was transgender, she replied that somehow Jocko had found and hidden a knife and had been using it to shave the hair from his body and that he had positioned himself with his backside against the wall shielding it from the keepers’ view.  It was only when he had spun around that she discovered his naked behind and backs of his legs.
Dr. Marley continued to say that she had called in experts from all over the country to assess and evaluate Jocko’s behavior.  As of the time of this report, Dr. Marley’s findings have been validated and should it be upheld, would make Jocko the first transgender gorilla in the history of the animal kingdom.
Other scientists who wished to remain anonymous at this time, commented that their findings were also based upon Jocko’s insistence to breast feed the doll, something he had never witnessed in human aspects but had only been privy to in the wild among female gorillas.
When asked what the planned agenda would be to treat Jocko, it was believed that he would be given female hormones to begin transitioning.  It is the hope that he will respond favorably to the medication.  Since the discovery, Jocko has been transferred to a special facility for treatment and observation.
The question was raised if Jocko would be used as a sort of guinea pig because of the uniqueness of the situation; doctors were quick to respond that they would not do so and would respect his privacy.  It was then asked if he would be given a new name and Dr. Marley confirmed that that had already been taken care of.  She then elaborated that she had been given the name Jocalita.
For further information about this transgender gorilla, doctors are advising everyone to contact the San Diego Zoo’s Jocalita Hotline.
   Chelle Munroe©
   January 11, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Life’s Teacher

Look back on the years,
At the road traveled,
The lessons learned,
How different they might be
Had other choices been made
Or attention paid to the teacher

Immaturity ignores the teacher,
Believes there’s many years
To correct the wrong choices made,
And thus, life’s road is traveled
Blind to what could be
Or the lessons to be learned

But lessons cannot be learned
No matter the teacher,
As long as the belief to be
Is of no concern until later years,
Regardless of the road traveled
And the number of unwise choices made

The young dismiss choices made,
Lessons learned,
Consider not the road traveled,
Or worry about recognizing the teacher
Because of the abundant years
To discover what is to be

And yet, what comes to be
Is dictated by the choices made
All through the years,
For only then can things be learned,
As experience is the best teacher
While on the road traveled

Good or bad, the road traveled
Presents decisions of what can be,
Always unveils a new teacher,
Introduces more choices to be made
And more experiences to be learned
To help survive the coming years

It’s the years the road has been traveled and lessons learned that will ultimately be the result of choices made and life’s teacher
    Chelle Munroe©
    January 8, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Hamster

Millie’s five year old daughter Alicia came home from day care one day announcing how she had a fun day playing with the hamster one of the aides had brought in for the kids to enjoy.
In her excitement, she exclaimed how cute and fuzzy and soft the hamster felt when she held it and Millie could tell that Alicia had truly bonded with the little creature. She was by no means naive and knew it wouldn’t be long into the conversation when Alicia would be asking for a pet hamster to have for herself at home. Sure enough, not five minutes into her story, Alicia asked, “Mommy can I get a hamster? Please?”
“Let me think about it,” was all Millie wanted to commit to at the moment because she did want time to think of what it would mean to get Alicia a pet. Not just the fact of Alicia having a pet to play with, but she had to take into consideration the cost and care of having a full-time pet.
She looked down to see Alicia staring at her with the most pleading eyes and Millie had the greatest urge to give in right then and there but she managed to resist and quietly said, “We’ll see, Honey. If mommy can afford it, we’ll get you a hamster.”
Alicia threw her arms around Millie’s waist. “I love you Mommy. I love you with all my heart.”
The next day Millie drove to the next town over where there was a pet store to buy a hamster for Alicia, but when she got there, there was a sign on the hamster cage, “Sold. New supply after New Year’s.”
Disappointed, Millie left the store and headed for home. It was already dark and had begun to snow. She kept searching her mind for the location of another pet store but just couldn’t recall any being close by. The only one she remembered was at least 50 miles away and she had no intention of driving there for a hamster under the best of conditions, let alone during a snow storm.
Cruising along and her mind occupied on finding a pet store, Millie didn’t realize that the road beneath the snow had frozen and form a thin layer of ice. She hit a solid patch of ice and lost control of the car. It skidded about twenty feet before coming to a stop. Luckily, she had skidded into the parking lot of the “Last Meal” truck stop.
Millie took a deep breath and easily stepped on the gas pedal. The car shifted from side to side but wouldn’t go forward. She tried reverse and that only made her situation worse. She had no alternative but to go into the diner and see if she could get some help.
Inside the diner, she made her way to the telephone and called road assistance and was told it would be at least an hour before someone could get there to help her out. Frustrated, she had no choice but to reluctantly wait in the diner until help arrived.
Sitting in a booth, she noticed two men sitting at the counter and figured they were the drivers of the trucks in the lot. The waitress came over to her table.
“Good evening. Can I get you something hot to drink?”
Millie nodded. “Coffee, please.”
“If you don’t mind my asking,” the waitress said when she brought the coffee, “what are you doing out on a night like tonight?”
Millie relayed Alicia’s story her own attempt to fulfill the request and then the mishap on the road.
A couple minutes later, one of the truckers approached. “I couldn’t help overhear your story about your daughter and the hamster. Mind if I sit? I think I might be able to help you out.”
Millie nodded and the man sat down. “I make a lot of deliveries to pet stores and I can tell you that not one of them for at least 100 miles or so has any at the moment.”
Millie closed her eyes thinking it was just one more piece of news to make it reasonably safe to assume it wasn’t meant for her daughter to have the hamster, or at least have it in time for Christmas.
When she opened her eyes, she realized the man sitting across from her had white hair and a short beard and age spots on his upper cheeks and forehead and his hands. “How can you help?”
The man’s face lit up. “I have a brother-in-law who lives in Florida not far from a pet shop. I can give him a call and have him ship one up this way by airmail so you can get it in time for Christmas.”
“I don’t know,” Millie started to say, but the man cut her off.
“It’s your daughter and the only way you can get it right now.”
“What about the storm?”
The storm shouldn’t last all night and the roads will be clear by tomorrow. Airport’s only ten miles from here. Let me give him a call and see. What do you say?”
She didn’t know if the man was believable or just spouting something from his imagination but she had no other choice than to give it a shot. “Okay,” she agreed.
Five minutes later, the man came back and asked for her name and number and returned to the phone. A few moments later, he sat back down in the booth. “Your all set. He’ll call you with the flight information.”
“How can I thank you?” Millie asked.
“By having a great Christmas with your daughter.” He rose from the seat, went to the counter and paid his check and left the diner. Millie watched as his tractor pulled out onto the snow-covered road.
Not long after, the road service vehicle came and got her car hooked up and towed her home.
When Christmas morning came, Millie was awakened by Alicia’s happy screams, “Mommy! Mommy! Look what Santa Clause brought me. He did it Mommy! He did it. He brought me a hamster! My very own hamster!”
Millie watched as Alicia gently picked up the hamster and cuddled it.
“Isn’t Santa great?”
“He sure is,” Millie replied thinking of the man with the white hair and beard. Tears filled her eyes. “He sure is.”

  Chelle Munroe©
   December 25, 2013