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Mark M Lichterman

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· BK1: Becoming; 1944#5

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The ClimbingBoy 27: Halo
By Mark M Lichterman
Posted: Sunday, January 22, 2012
Last edited: Thursday, August 16, 2012
This short story is rated "G" by the Author.

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           >> View all 957
An overpowering loneliness overtaking him, Oh, Lordy! he cried aloud and, looking to the ceiling, Johnson paused,
for these words, these words that hed heard the boy speak so many times, seemed to reverberate in his mind.

The Climbing Boy can now be purchased as a Kindle eBook @ $3.00

___________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________

As it had been earlier, the velvet sky was pitch black and

the full moon shone brilliantly to the accompaniment of

millions upon millions of radiantly gleaming stars, and, as

far as Zachariah could see, the earth was bathed in creamy

whiteness, for all within sight was covered with sparkling

crystals of pure, white snow.

 

Waiting, the stranger held his hand to the little boy.

 ____________________________________________________

Climbing Boy 27: Halo

London, England

December 24, 1843

 

                                  Christmas Eve

 

He looked up as the door closed behind Zachariah and, as

though the closing of the door signaled a change in his life,

Johnson knew, instantly, that now and for the rest of his

life, for so long as he lived, he would be alone…

 

Alone! Always!

 

The one room shack suddenly felt larger and colder and

drearier, and empty… so empty!

 

An overpowering loneliness overtaking him, “Oh, Lordy!”

he cried aloud and, looking to the ceiling, Johnson paused,

for these words, these words that he’d heard the boy speak

so many times, seemed to reverberate in his mind.

 

“Lordy! What did I do?”

 

The realization that he was alone—truly alone—that

Zachariah was forever out of his life, was almost more than

he could endure.

 

“Why’d I do it? Why’d I give me boy away?”

 

Me boy?

 

Pausing again, Me boy? Thinking in amazement that he’d

never thought of Zachariah as ‘his boy’ before.

 

Looking at the neat stack of coins on the table, bitter

tears stinging his eyes, Was it worth it? he thought, Giving

the…Giving me boy away for this!

 

Fearful of the answer, lifting the “gold” coin he attempted

to find reassurance by biting it… then by hefting it, but only

felt the coin’s coldness…

 

A coldness so intense that it seared his flesh. A coldness

so extreme that the coin dropped from his hand onto the

stack of coins, knocking them into a jumbled mound.

 

His head spinning, his eyes came out of focus.

 

The three bottles of gin, along with what he’d been given

to drink in the pubs he’d visited throughout the day now

taking its toll, he tried to focus his eyes, but couldn’t, and

nodding onto his chest, his head suddenly became

unbearably heavy.

 

“Tired. So tired!”

 

Wearily lifting himself from the chair, Johnson stumbled

across the room where he fell, unconscious, onto his cot.

 

The smoldering wood became glowing ash… then dust.

The shack became dark… then frigidly cold.

 

In his sleep…

 

Even in his inebriated sleep, Johnson sensed an

overpowering loneliness.

                             Christmas Day

                                  Pre-Dawn

 

Awakened by the cold, “Zachariah!” Remembering, his first

thought was of the boy, “Zachariah, me boy!”

 

Staring through the darkness to the far side of the shack,

to the boy’s pallet, he saw…

 

Something was there.

 

There was a shadow, a shadow that was darker than

the blackness.

 

Squinting, Johnson rubbed his knuckles over his eyes.

 

There appeared to be a figure on the boy’s pallet, sitting

up, leaning against the wall.

 

A dream?

 

I must ‘ave been dreamin’. Cold vapor flowing from his

mouth, “Oh, Lordy,” Johnson said aloud, “it ain’t never

‘appened! Thank ya, Jesus! Thank ya!”

 

Coming off his cot, rushing across the room he dropped

to his knees next to Zachariah’s pallet.

 

“Zachariah! Zachriah me boy!” he cried. “I’m so sorry!

So sorry for the way I been treatin’ ya. Things’ll be different.

Soon’s it’s light, in the mornin’, we’ll go to the factory an’ ya

can ’ave one’a Archie’s kitt…”

 

A fissure opening in the thick bank of black clouds allowed

a beam of moonlight to stream through the shack’s only

window… onto the pallet of Zachariah, where…

 

Propped against the wall was the burlap and rag

pillow, and…

 

“Zachariah? Zachariah!”

 

“Oh, my Lord!” Johnson’s cries echoed through the cold,

lonely night…

 

“Zachariah!”

 

                 The Halo of Light

 

The two walked through the glistening night, and the cold,

yet balmy breeze, and the gentle kiss of falling snow.

 

But for the snow all was still—still and quiet.

 

Protectively, lovingly, the stranger put his hand on the

boy’s shoulder.

 

The stranger’s touch warmed Zachariah with a

comforting warmth he remembered only from the dream

of the embrace of his mother.

 

Coming off the dirt path, the two walked onto the

cobblestone road and within moments arrived within the

sphere of the warming yellow glow of a gas-lit street lamp.

 

Stopping, removing a glove, holding Zachariah’s chin

gently in his bare hand, the stranger tilted the boy’s face

upward, and…

 

Looking at Zachariah’s angelic face the stranger’s face

broadened into a wide smile, and…

 

Looking up, Zachariah could not help but smile in

return, for…

 

Reflecting in the soft glow of the street lamp, the

stranger’s eyes fairly twinkled, and his flowing white

beard seemingly shone with an iridescent glow.

 

Nearby, there was the impatient rustling of hooves and

the tinkle of small bells.

 

Reaching his hand to Zachariah, “Come, lad,” the

stranger said. “It’s near Christmas and there’s many that

await us this night.”

 

Hand in hand, the two passed from the yellow glow of

the street lamp and silently walked upon the snow-covered,

cobblestone road.

 

And the brilliantly shining moon, reflecting onto the

round crown of the top hat formed a luminous…

 

Halo of light.

                                      

                      Epilogue

 

December 24, 1910

Boston, Massachusetts

Evening

 

Twisting on his grandfather’s lap, looking at him, “But Papa,”

the little boy says, “he’ll be so dirty!”

 

Lowering the book he’d been reading to his grandson,

the old man peers at the boy over the rim of his spectacles.

 

“Saint Nicholas, Papa!” the boy points to the fireplace.

“How does Saint Nicholas stay clean when he comes down

the chimney?”

 

Mulling the boy’s question, “How does Saint Nicholas

stay clean?” the old man repeats.

 

“Yes, it’s so dirty there, Papa!”

 

Gazing at the burning fireplace, the remembrance of a

story his mother had once told him comes to mind, a story

about, “A little climbing boy that looks much like you,” she

had said. “A little climbing boy that became an angel and

the helper of Saint Nicholas, because, after all, how does

Saint Nicholas remain clean?”

 

Placing the book and his spectacles on the table alongside

the chair, lifting his grandson, the old man turns the boy in

his direction.

 

“There was a story my mother—your great gra’mama—

told me when I was, oh, even smaller than you….”

 

When you lived in England, Papa?”

 

“Yes, Stephen. When I lived in London, your great

gra’mama told me a story about a little climbing boy… Do

you know what a climbing boy is?”

 

“No, Papa.”

 

“You wouldn’t, would you? Well, I’ll explain in the story.

Anyway, Stephen, this is the story about a little boy who

became an angel and the helper of Saint Nicholas, and that

little boy had light hair and blue eyes…”

 

“Like me, Papa?”

 

“Yes,” tousling the boy’s hair, “just like you.

 

“Well,” the old man continues, “a long time ago there

was a little climbing boy by the name of…” trying to

remember, he stops. “Ah, yes!” Albert says, “Zachariah…”

 

                                      END

 

 

 

 

 


Web Site: mmlichterman.com  

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Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 1/31/2012
Wonderful story, Mark; powerfully penned!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Texas, Karen Lynn. :D
Reviewed by Laura Fall 1/23/2012
Remarkable story my friend and as always a very enjoyable read Laura


Books by
Mark M Lichterman



For Better or Worse

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The Climbing Boy

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Becoming

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