The Census was hiring but the process was much too long for Joseph, an unemployed Carpenter who had been laid off since the trim work on the Elderly Residence at 79th & California went in and that was October. Jesus Christ!
His wife was all set to give birth and the HMO had been notified that Joseph and Mary were visiting relatives in Porter County, Indiana. They were spending the Holidays with Mary's folks in Duneland just east of Gary.
Joseph had maxed out the Mastercard, but their Visa Debit Card was still good. The forty or so miles out of Chicago would be a hell of burden on the rusting 1998 Pontiac Bonneville SE that Joe's brother had ground out the crankshaft and bored-out the cylinders and rewired the whole machine, but the damn thing still ate gas and burned oil. The tank would cost them $45 at Thornton's in Blue Island near their apartment. They had a house until last year,but it went south with the economy.
Mary and Joe would eat lunch at Old Country Buffet in Lansing, as opposed to Jedi's Garden or even Cracker Barrel in Griffith or Highland as they were too pricey. Mary's Mom was working at the Blue Note Casino in Michigan City and her Dad had a job with Hancock Orchards in LaPorte at Christmas Time.
Joseph was hoping to get work as a Census taker, but like everything in government - those with drag are the first called.
Mary ate little at OCB and complained to Joseph. It could be the baby. They paid with the debit swipe and headed out to the Pontiac. Joseph placed his swollen bride into the passenger seat and scraped ice off the windows and mirrors and started up the dinosaur Saudi ATM.
The car shuddered a bit as they eased onto I-80 off of Torrence and Joe maintained a sensible interval between cars in the right lane. The Bonne's dashlight went red - CHECK ENGINE.
Joe pulled the car off at Kennedy Ave. and took the south exit toward Highland, Indiana. He parked in front Calumet Tobacco Wholesalers and, Armin Scheidler of Hessville in Hammond, the owner saw the young couple from through the front window -Christmas Eve! The Preston boys! Armin got on his Cingular One.
The Preston Brothers, Jason and Mark, had gone to Hobart High School, served in Desert Storms I & II as Transportation Pool Master Sergeants and opened a service center on the far south side of Griffith, just south and east of Highland. While Joe , a very good framer if not the absolute best finisher in the wood butchery trade, the boy was all asses and elbows with electricity, plumbing and automobiles.
Joe had popped open the hood of the Bonneville and helplessly and pathetically like most of us males attempted to perform a miracle. For twenty minutes, Joe muled under the hood with gizmos and gadgets, while Mary moaned to him through the floor panel.
Armin Scheidler stuck around the store and sold cigars and cartons of cigarettes to Illinois and Hoosier last minute shoppers. He was already late for the party at V.I.P. Lounge on Glen Park Road. Armin called Mike McGillie the retired refractory salesman, Notre Dame All-American, Minnesota Viking and St. Louis Cardinal Alumnus.
Armin told McGillie about the plight of the two kids with Illinois Plates and said also that he thought the little girl had a duck in the oven. They didn't seem to have two nickels to rub together.
McGillie and Trib sports writer Freddie Matchell and real estate man and race horse owner Dennis Churilla took up a collection from the retired Inland, LTV and Republic steel workers and honchos who still drank at VIP, even though George Applegates sold the joint.
After twenty minutes, Jason Preston fired the Preston Brothers 2007 Ford F-650 Super Cab XLT wrecker into the lot on Kennedy Ave. Jason joined Joe under the hood and immediately diagnosed a blown oil pump. Jason got on the cell phone -no need for the CB anymore - and asked his Bro about the spare Melling M155. No, he had not done the full diagnostic. Asshole.
Mary had had it. Joe checked on his girl and saw that her water had broken. She was tough - no panic. Munster Hospital was ten minutes away. Jason called Terry Miller at the Griffith Fire House. The ambulance was on its way. Joe was told to go with Armin and Jason hooked up the Bonneville and took it to the shop where his brother was waiting with the Melling M155 Pump.
Terry Miller had Mary. Armin had Joseph. The Preston Boys had the Bonneville and Mike McGillie, Freddie Matchell and Dennis Churilla had a hat full of money ( Mike McGillie's hat was pretty big - he had a head on him like a boulder in a Gene Autry movie). The Preston Boys owed Dennis Churilla for part of the loan that they needed as a cash down stroke to Bank of America for their shop, back in 2005. Mike McGillie and Armin had a long and close relationship that networked the purchase of many high-end cigars to NFL players past and present and a few remaining American and Dutch Steel Magnates. Freddie Matchell wrote for The Tribune and had been coached by crabby George Applegates - who had once owned the spot on which the V.I.P. Lounge now stood. The Christmas Star was aligned with a whole bunch of stuff as they say.
Joe and Mary had a baby boy that they named Joshua. The baby was fine - they always seem to be so. Armin gave Joe the contents of McGillie's hat later when he took Joe in to meet the gang. Joe did not have a beer. He did not cry when he pocketed the money that these kind people had forced on him, though he really wanted to do so. It was a couple of hundred bucks. Mary's Mom and Dad were at the hospital. Joe's car would be done by Tuesday. Hell, he was set. Joe did not need to get that Census Job after all. Freddie Matchell wrote about the couple and the Christmas story went National. Dennis Churilla's horse won the next six races at Keeneland and Oak Lawn. The Preston Brothers placed some spare change on that bet and paid off Dennis's loan to them - Dennis was not too worried about it.
Armin Scheidler went to Florida after New Years.
Mike McGillie does this stuff all the time. Joseph and Mary moved out of their apartment in Blue Island and to a small house for the same rate in Griffith, Indiana.
Mike McGillie talked to some guys that Dennis Churilla did business with in East Chicago and like magic -Joseph worked as a Carpenter again. I can't say how - it's Christmas.
AND it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.The Succinct and Pastoral St. Luke