A Christmas story about a lost soul who ran out of gas in Death Valley.
OLD MAN: Down the road
I sped down the highway across the desert unconcerned with how much gas was being used. The heat
surrounded my car as the temperature increased to 200 degrees on the exterior. I hit 100 miles/hr near Devil’s canyon.
Fields extended out from the road without vegetation. I was 100 miles from LA where my girlfriend anxiously waited for my
return. This was my longest trip to Florida to sell my household goods, and my house. Florida was 95 degrees and humid.
Death Valley was 120 and “dry heat”. I laughed then realized no one could hear me in this desolate desert. I noticed that
my gas indicator was reading low. I called the nearest town without an answer. I threw the map out the window, and quickly
The next instance my car stalled out. Out of gas! I slammed the door as I exited the car. I was in double
trouble. My girlfriend warned me she had enough with my trips for jobs, selling products, and in general away from our
“Enough is enough,” she said with a sarcastic expression. She could cut me to the quick with just her
“I promise to sell the house in Florida, with my furniture.”
“Dam right. I am left here singing the blues, waiting for your return.”
“Sound like a blues sound,” I said with humor.
“Dam you, Ward. I am not in the mood for your attempt at jokes.”
“Attempt? I thought you liked my humor.”
“Humor. How could you joke when we are in dire straits?”
“Sounds like another song.”
She then threw the turkey at me; which seemed to move slowly through the kitchen, like a UFO. I thought
time slowed like Einstein's Relativity as I ducked. The turkey hit the stuffing and spilled the gravy.
These thoughts popped into my mind as I walked down the road. I took my jacket in case it got cold in the
desert at night. Darkness crept in like a thief in the night. I put on my jacket as a mist moved across the desolate highway.
No vehicles passed either direction, as if I crossed over to another dimension. I started to laugh hysterically.
“What a bitch,” I thought.
I checked my watch. I had been walking for two hours without seeing a gas station. I peered through the
darkness with the help of my flashlight, which did not penetrate the mist. The temperature must have decreased 80 degrees.
I lost so much body heat that I began to hit my hands on my body. As I was about to drop from exhaustion, and the cold my
flashlight illuminated a wooden shack with a gas pump.
“Thank you lord,” I said with a sigh.
As I approached the shack I noticed a light in the window. My watch said 3PM. Who would be awake at this
ungodly hour. I recalled what my girlfriend said.
“3PM is the Satanic hour, when the demons arise. You have to go to sleep through that hell!” She read a lot
about demons, Satan, and the Devil. She was extremely religious and prayed every day. She went to Church religiously. I
laughed again with that thought. “She went to Church religiously. Redundant?”
I looked in the window. The light seemed to come from somewhere else. An old man was sitting on a chair
looking out the window with a smile, as though he knew I was coming. I knocked on the door. No response. Just the smile. I
knocked again. No response. I gingerly opened the door and walked in.
“Come in young man,” said the Old Man. I thought of the song, “The Old Man Down the Road.” Was that a
Beatles song? I’ll have to ask Harriet who speaks songs all the time. I chucked under my breath so as not to startle the Old
He had a white beard, with red jacked and a green sweater. He had black boots on. He looked like some weird
“You like my costume. I play Santa Claus for the good children. But if you are bad well I play someone else.”
“Who else?” I asked with some trepidation.
“Why one of the elves. Ha …”
“Where do you find children around here?”
“Well I travel to towns with my SUV.”
“You have to be current.” He smiled again as he stood up. “Well I surmise you require gas for your car.”
“Yes Santa. I mean sir.”
“You sound like a good man; you may call me Santa.”
“How much will it cost?”
“For you, no cost!”
“That’s generous. Does that mean I was a good boy?”
“Funny. Be careful what you wish for. You may get it.”
I thought about Harriet and her comments. “I only want gas.”
“Is that all you want. Don’t you want to return to your girlfriend?”
I was taken back by that comment. “How do you know about my girlfriend?”
“I have my sources,” he chuckled with an evil grin..
I began to notice that his beard seemed to darken, and his green sweater began to turn a dark blue. Was I
hallucinating after that two-hour walk in the desert, or was Santa changing in front of me.
“All you need to do is sign this paper, for my records, tax data, and I will drive you to your car.”
I looked at the paper without focusing too well. Must be tired. I signed quickly and the Old Man slapped me on
my back, and smiled again. He did not look like Santa. He looked like a big elf. He had a green tongue, and a strange
sound emerged from his mouth. Was it a whisper? Was it a guttural sound? All I know is that it was like some prickly voice,
which Harriet warned means demonic presence. She said possession by demons occur in three stages..
“First comes infection,” she said. “Then oppression, followed by possession. Most Satanic cults use oppression,
with amplification of what you are doing. If you eat they imitate and amplify the eating sound, and say they are psychic.
That’s an excuse for their attack. They rationalize their satanic behavior.”
“Come with me young man. All you needs will be satisfied, until the time comes.” He said this with a light
touch, but his voice penetrated the shack, and echoed through the darkness.
We arrived at my car. He gave me the gas bucket to fill my tank. I than started the engine which did not start.
“Cold engine. I have a hitch to tow you back to my station,” he said with a quiet guttural sound that was so
deep that I thought it came from below the highway.
I sat in the front seat next to the Old Man as he towed my car back to the shack. As we arrived I noticed that
the shack looked like some mansion with a front-gate, and floodlights. As we passed through the gate I noticed a person
standing at the doorway. As we got closer the figure looked familiar.
The car stopped. I exited and approached the porch.
“What took you so long darling,” said Harriet.
I was shaking down to my shoes. “How did you get here?”
“Why this gentleman’s wife went to pick me up with a note from you that you signed.”
I looked at the note. It looked different from what was old script. This was from a computer printer with my
signature. Did I hallucinate? Or is this an hallucination?
Harriet kissed my cheek. “Come in dear. They have a Christmas dinner waiting for us.”
“Go ahead said the elf who looked like Santa Again. I have to visit some children.”
I walked through the immense doorway as the doors swung open. At the threshold stood a lady dressed in
period costume. “Welcome. I am one of Santa’s helpers,” she laughed as Harriet and I entered.