by Allena Hansen
Caliente, California, USA
A couple of years ago, all five of the sibs, into our forties now, gathered at our parent’s home in the Northern Sierras for family Christmas eve dinner — a wondrous indulgence of good food, fine wine, and the usual outrageous and raucous conversation.
The hour grew late, and by the time my brother, sister and I piled into his brand new turbo beep-beep for the 30+ mile drive back to his equally remote home on the other side of the mountain, it had begun to snow. Hard. We set out on the winding mountain road. Slowly, mind you, as none of us is novice at icy backroad driving — and it was, after all a brand new car.
Of course we came upon the unexpected patch of black ice, slid and upended in a snowbank. And of course, we were in the middle of nowhere, miles from anywhere or anyone. A tire had come off the rim, but we were all unhurt, and Good Scouts that we’d been harangued from early childhood to be, we wrapped ourselves in blankets from the trunk, buttoned up our coats, and prepared to wait out the night, if not the storm, until we could safely walk for help.
No sooner had we turned on the emergency flashers and expelled the obligatory profanity, than headlights appeared. “No way!” said my bro. It was, in fact, a tow truck, out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a storm on an entirely minor little road leading into Obscurityville in the dead of night.
“Merry Christmas!” came the call from (yes!) a jolly white-haired fat man in a Santa hat. “Merry Christmas!” echoed his companion as they hopped out of the truck. Our jaws dropped in Yuppified amazement as they went to work.
In a flash, the turbo beep-beep was righted, tire replaced and inflated, and ready to go. Stunned, I asked the older man what on earth was going on…was this a hallucination, or had a tow truck with two hick Santas just saved our sorry butts from a miserable end to a lovely evening?
“Well,” said Dad thoughtfully. “Momma died in a car wreck around Christmastime back when Jimmy here was fourteen.” He nodded towards his gray-bearded son. “And ever’ Christmas eve since then, we get together up here t’ my place, and go out on this forlorn little spit of road and pull folks like you out of snowbanks. It’s sort of our way of celebrating the holiday.”
Of course they refused recompense. And they had their arms around each other’s shoulders, laughing as they walked back to the old tow truck shaking the snow out of their Santa hats and beards as they prepared to take another run along the treacherous little road. As far as I could figure, they were just a couple of local heroes drivin’ up and down that lonely icy stretch, waitin’ for some idiot city folk to mess up so they could help out.
Jimmy’s momma must’ve been a lovely woman.
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 1.