Silver Bell ~ A Story


Larry Benson, three months out of the South Idaho Correctional Institution, had been standing outside the Target store on North Eagle Road jingling a little silver bell by his Salvation Army kettle for five cold and snowy hours.

He thought it odd that a six-foot four-inch black man in a Santa hat and red Pendleton jacket could be invisible at this suburban Boise shopping mall, but it seemed so as most shoppers looked right through him as they skurried toward the snow-choked parking lot.

Damn, man, Larry thought as he shivered his bell a little quicker, here we are Christmas Eve an’ all, and these folks thinking ‘bout nothing but getting’—presents, hugs, home, laid—an’ not givin’, as the Reverend Ryker an’ the Lord would have us do.

The red doors opened with a whoosh and out walked a man holding the hand of a little girl, who unclenched her mittened fist over Larry’s kettle, clinking maybe five silver coins into it, saying, “Merry Christmas, Santa, I’ll be leaving cookies out for you later.”

The doors shut again and Larry saw his reflection in the glass, the snow clinging to his beard, turning it into a white cloud beneath his now-merry eyes and he knew he had to say it: “Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas and thank you, little lady…you’re at the top of my Nice List for tonight.”

I must be feeling some spirit of the season, because I took Lillie McFerrin’s flash fiction prompt this week–SILVER— and out jingled this little five sentence bit of holiday lunchtime prose.

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