The chill in the air and the darkness prevailed in the little town, and they searched everywhere for a place to rest their weary bodies. There were no rooms available at this hour of the evening, and they were desperate to be delivered from the chill that was fast becoming frigid. To add to the woes of the young couple, the wife was with child.
On the outskirts of town as the night became darker and more unnerving in its coldness the couple saw in the distance an old red barn with light presented through a small cut-out on the side facing them.
The couple made their way to the barn of little light. Arriving at the old clap-board structure, a rotted entry door hanging loosely from a rusty hinge and nails. Entering the barn, the couple noticed the low light was coming from a stall some twenty feet away. They approached the opening where the light shone and saw a man on a bed of straw with a young foal trying to stand on its new legs.
The man heard the rustle of feet on straw-laden earth, turned and saw the young couple. The mother of the foal died in the offering of her foal. The man had tears in his eyes for his dead friend who had been with him so many years. The tears were also for the lovely foal and its needs. It was as though the foal with its soft moaning sounds knew that its mother would not be there to nurture and provide for it.
The man lifted his wife from the donkey and started to place her on a stretch of straw nearby, but the man on the straw-bed next to the foal bade the couple to come to the light and the ambient warmth. “Please, put your wife here where my body has created warmth for her and the child to be… I’m sorry I can offer no more. My home is there in the distance, now in ashes from a lightning strike. I have been staying here with my old friend, LeAnn, who has served me so well through the years. After a long space of labor and much pain, LeAnn simply had not the strength to bring her foal to life and sustain him on her own. We had our final moments together just before your arrival… Forgive me, please allow your wife to rest here. The bread and the few food edibles there on the small table. Please, nourish yourselves with what is there.”
“Are you married, good sir?” The man helped his wife to the straw bed.
“My good wife died one year ago today. She is in a good place, now, after much pain and suffering. My bed is two stalls down. You rest beside your wife after I move the foal to my stall.”
“But, where is the foal’s mother, kind sir?”
“Buried just beyond the barn.”
“Yes, we saw the marker… You are so kind to us. There were no rooms to be had in the town, and I was worried for my wife.”
“She will be fine here for tonight. Tomorrow, I will help you more. Is your wife close to delivery time?”
“Yes. Any day, good sir. Your kindness means so very much to us. I should like to pay you for that kindness.”
“There is no need for that. I have plenty of money should I want the luxuries of life, my new friend. I choose to live the way I do, away from those who live in wickedness, those who live to take from those good but gullible folks who know no better. Please, do not worry about me, I am in the element I wish to be. Now, please, take what comfort you can from my humble quarters here. Tomorrow, whatever your plans, I shall help you achieve them. Are you comfortable there, dear lady?”
The wife gave a sad and warm smile to the man and nodded her thanks. My wife cannot hear you, kind sir. She is deaf and has been since birth. I thank you for both of us and my donkey, Sam.”
“We have not shared our names, but my name is Peter Warmsley.”
“My name is David Metters, my wife is Sarah.”
The men shook hands.
“My foal and I are off to our beds… Ah, but wait, what shall we call my foal. What wondrous name shall she bear? Any ideas, my new friends?”
They thought for minutes, smiling, enjoying the moments of camaraderie. “Does the name, Jacob, please you?” The man thought but for a few seconds.
“Indeed, it does. ‘Jacob’ is a good and solid name for this beautiful foal.”
With that, the man, picked up ‘Jacob’ and began to leave the stall.
“Tomorrow, we shall discuss your needs, my new friends, your travel plans, to what ends you seek. I wish you good night, David and blessed be Sarah who carries a child of grace.” Then, Peter left David and Sarah.
As Peter walked away with Jacob, David said to the parting Peter, “And that will be the name of our child, good Peter. Sleep well and in peace, Peter and Jacob.”
In some monumental way, David and Sarah’s lives changed that night of December 24, 1963.
A bright star twinkled outside the cut-out window, providing light through the night.
Billy Ray Chitwood – December 21, 2018
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