"Didn’t I see those three farmers walk through the yard a few minutes ago. They were carrying something." I waited a few seconds for an answer. Ever since Joseph and Mary arrived, Jean was acting like she had fallen out of her tree. "Well, what did they bring for Mary and Joseph?" Her smile couldn’t get any bigger. "What in the hell was it?"
I waited for more but she just kept smiling. "Aren’t they doing things backwards? The Three Shepherds brought gifts after the baby was born, not before. Also, these guys are farmers from Bishopville." I reached over took her hand.
"Beautiful precious gifts. "
"Put your thinking hat on. That’s not Joe and Mary out in our barn. It’s Billy and Sue." She was still smiling. " Hell, for all you know, it could be Bonnie and Clyde. "
She kept on smiling and humming “Joy to the World.”
"Well, why don’t you go to the barn and check? I want to know what the three farmers brought."
I watched Jean walk quickly to the barn. Five minutes passed before she returned to our deck. Her smile was wider. I had to ask. "What gifts did the farmers bring? Gold? Silver?"
Jean was shaking her head. "Pizza."
It took a moment for her answer to sink in. "Pizza. What kind of a gift is pizza to Joseph and Mary? Pizza. I can’t believe it."
Jean held up three fingers. "It was three pizzas, extra large, nice and hot from Dominos."
" OK, I got it. But where are the precious gifts?”
I stopped. Three women were walking through our yard. Each one was carrying two heavy Wal-Mart shopping bags. They smiled at Jean but kept on walking.
Before I could say anything, a loud long squeal came from the nearby swamp. "What in the devil was that?"
"It sounded like the trumpeting of an elephant to me. I’ve heard them before on the Discovery Channel. "
I shook my head in disbelief. "No elephants
here. Not in Taylorville."
I watched the three women go into our barn. "They are the same three dumb women who tried to sell us time shares in nonexistent condominiums on uncharted Keys." I thought for a few seconds. "Don’t tell me. I bet they are bringing gifts to Mary and Joe. "
My wife smiled at me like I had failed the third grade for the second time. "They are the Three Wisewomen bearing precious gifts for Mary and Joseph. "
"Precious, what did they bring? Diamonds? Pearls? " I grinned at my wife. "Or did they bring hamburgers?"
Jean nodded. "The gifts are precious." She stared at the barn a few seconds. "I’ll go check the gifts. It feels just like Christmas."
" it’s June, you idiot. Mary and Joseph had their baby in December. We celebrate his birth at Christmas time. "
She smiled at me with a pitying look."I know that. I’ll be back in a few minutes. "
A coyote was howling east of the barn.
She started walking toward the barn. After a few steps, she broke into a trot. By the time she reached the barn, she was in a dead run. Two minutes later she danced back to the deck singing “Joy to the World.” What had the Wisewomen brought that turned her on? I didn’t have to ask. She started talking when she was still ten feet from the deck.
"You won’t believe what they brought."
Her smile was contagious. I started grinning. "What goodies did they bring?"
"Four six-packs of beer. All different brands. And two boxes of wine. One red and one white. They are the perfect gifts."
I had to agree with her. The two gifts complimented each other to a T. I rubbed my hands together. "Are we invited?"
Jean slowly nodded. "But we are missing some people. “
I wondered who and then I heard singing. I looked down lane. Four black guys dressed like Robert Preston in The Music Man were dancing up the lane. “Sweet Adeline” was drifting through the trees.
Jean clapped her hands. "It’s the Four Kings. They are a barber shop quartet from Ironshire. Now we are all here. Let’s go to the barn."
" Whoa. Just a minute. There are four of them. There is only supposed to be three kings. "
That fact didn’t faze her one bit. She started following the Four Kings. "What’s one king more or less."
I am dense at times. "What gift are they bringing?"
She didn’t break skipping and dancing after the Four Kings.
"Music, Music, Music."
The Four Kings switched to Teresa Brewer’s old song, "Put another Nickel in, in the Nickelodeon."
I stopped at the wide-open barn doors. Everyone was sitting quietly with a slice of pizza in one hand and a drink in the other. I looked again. Jean, the Three Wisewomen and Mary were missing.
Joseph handed me a cold beer and a slice of pizza. "It won’t be long." He spoke in a low voice.
A donkey brayed behind the barn. An owl hooted in broad daylight. A baby cried behind the pile of hay.
I drained half the beer in one gulp.
Jean came out from behind the pile of hay smiling from ear to ear. She was holding up both thumbs.
"The last gift has arrived. It’s a Precious Girl.”
Nelson Lynch 2020 900 wds.
Keep on trucking