Synopsis: This story is loosely based on A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore.
Word Count: 800
‘Twas the night before Christmas and out on the range
Slim Sherman was watchful; he knew something was strange.
His cattle were dozing in the crisply cold night;
While the moon glistened silver among stars twinkling bright.
He’d hoped to be finished more than two days ago,
But the weather’d gone sour — wind, sleet, and then snow.
Some cows had gone missing, and Jess volunteered
To go out and find them, but he’d disappeared!
The cowboy was worried as he saddled his horse
For something was keeping his friend, maybe force.
Enemies lurked, the dark was a shroud,
A shrill wind was howling, the tree branches bowed.
Slim rode to his drovers, heard their soft lullabies
As they settled the cattle to far-off wolves’ cries.
He gave some quick orders, to protect and to guard,
Then he headed out slowly in search of his Pard.
Jess was an enigma from the first day they’d met,
With his cavalier manner and sarcastic mindset.
He was tough as nails outside, a deadly gunfighter,
A card shark, an outlaw, an expert horse rider.
He’d lost his kin early, then marched off to war
Where killing came easy, and it opened a door,
A steel-eyed young gunman, he’d made his own way,
‘Til he met Andy Sherman on that warm fateful day.
Slim pulled up his collar, huddled deep in the saddle.
He remembered Bud Carlin, how Jess helped in that battle
How he’d stood by so helpless at Parkison Town
And carried him home after Ben shot him down.
His Pard was a tough man, but none was more tender
With children and horses and the opposite gender.
The thoughts of his Pard brought a warmth deep inside,
And he looked all around for a place he might hide.
The sun’s rays were pushing the night to the day,
When a weary Slim Sherman caught sight of the bay.
Traveler was standing, protective and still,
And Alamo whinnied as they neared the small hill.
That’s when he saw him, his best friend and Pard,
It was obvious he’d slipped on some ice and fell hard.
Slim said not a word; he went straight to his friend,
And Jess opened blue eyes, then gratefully grinned.
“I knew you’d be comin’…the dadgummedest thing.
I knew all along when I heard drovers’ sing.
Your voice was the loudest; it was always in tune,
And you sang about Christmas and the man in the moon.”
Slim looked at his partner, his skin pale and cold,
And he lifted him onto his horse and took hold.
“My friend,” he said, turning his animal home,
“I’ve not sung a note; I’ve just let Alamo roam.”
“I searched through the night, the darkness and wind,
We’ll head to the ranch, then to bed so you’ll mend.”
Jess’ head nestled snugly in Slim’s strong broad shoulder,
And Daisy was shocked by the tale when Slim told her.
She was unusually quiet as they put Jess to bed,
Slim tucked him in, “Get some rest, Pard,” he said.|
“Slim,” Jess whispered, his voice weak as a baby,
“Can you sing that song for me, just once more, maybe?”
Before Slim could answer, his friend was asleep,
But Daisy had a secret, one she couldn’t keep.
“You say he heard singing,” she quietly said.
“That’s what he told me; he was out of his head.”
“Will you do me a favor?” the old woman asked.
“On Christmas Day? It’s not such a task.”
She handed him paper, then sat down to play,
“I’d like you to sing this; I finished it today.”
Slim looked at the pages, a miracle wrought,
His voice saw the words before they’d been brought
And Daisy’s sweet song of the first Christmas day
Had somehow reached Jess and kept Death at Bay.
“The Maker of the Sun and Moon, the Maker of our earth
Lo! late in time, a fairer boon, Himself is brought to birth…”
Slim sang the song, an ancient tune, and smiled when Jess yelled out,
“That’s the one … the very one … I toldja all about.”
It’s said that miracles occur each year at Christmas Tide,
And three adults now knew the truth of Slim Sherman’s lonely ride
Of how his Pard survived the cold while focused on a voice
That never sang a song unheard yet Jess’ heart rejoiced.
The day was filled with merriment, good food, good friends, good fun,
And Mike and Jess were sleeping soundly when the day was done.
Slim went out to see the stars, was thrilled that one was bright,
And smiled when he heard Daisy say: “Merry Christmas and Good Night.”