A Old LEO’s Wish At Christmas
It was Christmas Eve. The lights went out in the mall as the old LEO watched the last employees walk to their cars. The security skeleton crew was driving around the parking lot checking on any stranded shoppers looking for their cars. The old LEO decided to take one last walk around the mall. Even though his knees and back were sore from years of abuse, he was feeling good and full of energy.
After 30 years on the job, he knew this would be one of his last holiday seasons in uniform. His seniority and rank allowed him to work a part-time job tonight, but that was not always the case. He’d lived through nearly three decades of domestic disputes, homicides, and robberies as well as the tragic natural deaths and car crashes that tear at the heart of every LEO. He was thankful for a quiet season aside from a couple of shoplifters and fender benders in the parking lot.
As the old LEO rounded the corner near the food court, he saw a dim light near the Santa display. As he walked around to the front of the display, he stopped for a moment, stunned by what he saw. Sitting in the large chair was Santa…or at least the mall employee. The old LEO wondered what he was doing there as the Santa display closed at 2100 hours, two and a half hours ago. As he approached, his LEO instincts kicked in. Was the employee drunk? Was this some guy who wandered in off the street to get close to the little kids who flocked to the red suit? Was this a burglar who found a perfect way to sneak into the mall and wait until the stores closed to clean the place out? Whatever was going on, the old LEO had to find out. Like everything else in society, the job fell to law enforcement to find out the real story, to be suspicious, and to be careful even thirty minutes before Christmas.
The old LEO approached the man dressed as Santa and said, “Did you forget to clock out?”
“No”, the old man replied. “I’ve been waiting.”
“Waiting for what? Midnight? The Santa display closes at 9,” the old LEO said.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Edward.”
This last comment put the old LEO on edge. No one called him Edward anymore. He last he heard that name when his mother said goodbye before God called her home five years earlier. Even his wife and closest friends called him by his middle name, Steve. He should have been on edge and more cautious, but he found himself walking toward the man in the red suit.
“Sit next to me, Edward, and tell me what you want for Christmas.”
“Well, my kids are grown and are spending tonight with their kids. That’s where they belong. My wife, Susan, is probably asleep by now and looking forward to a day with the grandkids tomorrow. I don’t need anything.”
“I didn’t ask about things, Edward. What do you want for Christmas?”
The sheer absurdity of it all hit him. He was a grown man in his late fifties talking about his family to a guy who was likely trespassing in a mall after hours. Was he losing his mind? He couldn’t explain it, but he felt himself sitting down next to Santa.
The old LEO was engrossed by the question. He thought about all of the things he had seen over the past 30 years; the shootings and the stabbings, the murdered and molested children, and the law enforcement funerals he attended. He thought about the homeless kids he’d met, the shopkeepers who lost everything in riots, and the families who lost their homes to fire. He thought about the LEOs and public safety officers on duty tonight and the military members who were far away from home. With all of these memories in his mind, how could he ask for anything? He picked up his head and looked at the man in the red suit. While he knew this whole situation was bizarre, it would be no more bizarre than his true wish. He took a deep breath and spoke.
“Well, I’m not sure why you’re here and I’m going to have to ask you to leave the mall, but I guess it wont hurt to play along.”
“What is it, Edward?”
“I want peace. Peace on earth and good will between all men. I know that may be too much to ask, but for one day, on Christmas, I want everyone to be safe. No LEOs injured, no service members killed, no hardships on good people. That’s all I want.”
The Santa looked at the old LEO. He saw the pain in his eyes and the toll the job had taken on his body that was old beyond his years. “You’ve been a good boy and a good man, Edward. This year, you will have your Christmas gift.”
Edward looked down as tears formed in his eyes. “Thanks, but I need to ask you to leave now.” When the old LEO looked up, it was dark in the mall. The light at the Santa display was gone and so was the man in the red suit. Edward was alone. He got up, walked to the time clock, and punched out. As he walked out the employee entrance, it had started to snow. He zipped up his collar against his neck and began to walk to his car. He still wasn’t sure what just happened, but he felt hopeful. Perhaps he dreamed the whole thing and needed to get more sleep. As he got in his car, he saw a patrol car drive up to him. It was a young LEO he met when he hired on this year.
“What’s up, Colonel? All quiet at the mall?”
“Absolutely. All secure. Time to get home.”
“Merry Christmas, Sir.”
“Merry Christmas. Be safe tonight.”
Yes, Sir. This is my first Christmas in uniform. I hope it’s a slow night.”
“I have a feeling it will be.” Edward said.
Merry Christmas to all from the LoRusso Law Firm and Bluelinelawyer.com!