Friday, November 11, 2016

The Heavenly Toy Soldier: The Story of a Peaceful Christmas

“Merry Christmas! I’m keeping the peace,” the Heavenly Toy Soldier said, standing in the doorway of the most famous toy store in New York City, the Toymaker’s Shop. As the children pulled at his wool coat and toy gun, he yawned. “I do such a good job that nothing dangerous ever happens in this store,” he said, as the customers poured in from Fifth Avenue. 

The Toymaker’s Shop three-story building had shelves of every kind of toy imaginable—stuffed bears and animals, dolls, dollhouses, model trains, blocks, musical instruments, kitchen play sets, blackboards, jungle gyms, swing sets, kaleidoscopes, tree houses, painting easels, puzzles, board games, picture books, sports equipment, skates, and toy cars. 

With advanced technology, some of the toys were quite pricey, not your average mom-and-pop shop, like the real-life fire engine that sat in the store’s entrance, which had a long hose connected to a hydrant in the store. A large yellow school bus stood next to it in the display. They might have seemed too big to be toys, but they were in fact only made for fun. 

“That will be $15,000,” the cashier said to the man in line with his two children, holding a mini gas-powered car. 

“That’s the Christmas spirit of giving!” the store manager said, shaking the hand of the father in line with his children. 

Then, he walked over to the Heavenly Toy Soldier and stood in front of him with a sigh, shaking his head.

“We’re letting you go,” Mr. Cartwright said to the solider. “This is a toy shop. It’s full of kids. No one ever steals anything. You’ve been standing here for years, and I’ve been paying you out of my pocket, and it’s a waste of money. You’ll have two weeks of severance pay, and I’m sure you’ll be able to find another job. Your last night will be Christmas Eve.”

As the Heavenly Toy Soldier fought back a tear, he found the courage to say, “Yes, sir. I understand.”

Then, he looked across the store full of strangers he was protecting. It was a cold day in the city, and many of the customers would leave with hundreds of dollars of toys. At least he could still defend them until Christmas. 

For the next two weeks, he was extra conscientious of everyone’s needs in the store, not letting one child go unattended.  

“Maybe I don’t do much,” he said, as his last days in the store passed by. “I’ve never once even used my gun. Of course, it only shoots toy pellets, but the pellets would hurt if I shot them and would give enough time for the police to come.”

As the Heavenly Toy Soldier pondered his current situation, he noticed that a little girl dropped her baby doll as the store door closed behind her. The Soldier ran into the street, stopping traffic to the give the girl her doll. In one of her hands, she held a cup of banana nut pudding. Being that it was too much to hold, she must have dropped her new toy doll. 

“Thank you so much,” the girl’s father said, taking the baby doll and shoving it under his arm, while holding other bags filled with Christmas packages. “Oh, and I heard that Christmas Eve will be your last day at the shop. We’ll miss you!”

“I appreciate your kind words, sir,” the Heavenly Toy Soldier said. “I’m grateful to have served you for the time I did.”

While the Solider walked back into the shop, he was unaware of the listening ears that had heard of his departure. 

Two of the worst hoodlums in the neighborhood happened to be crossing the street at the moment of the conversation.

“Did you hear that, Bubba Joe? The Heavenly Toy Soldier at the Toymaker’s Shop got the axe,” said Brother Jim. 

“Maybe we should just drop by on Christmas Eve after hours and do some shopping!” Bubba Joe said, scratching his chin.

“Too bad that he’s not already fired,” Brother Jim said. “We could really ruin Christmas for a bunch of bratty kids!”

“Well, this way we can ruin Christmas, Easter, and everybody’s birthday for years to come,” Bubba Joe said. “Why don’t we set the place on fire to teach everybody a lesson! It’ll definitely ruin Christmas and shut the place down for good.”

When Christmas Eve arrived, the Heavenly Toy Soldier felt sadder than he let the customers know. 

“I’m sure I’ll find another job,” the Soldier said to the families, many of them shaking his hand on the way out the door. 

However, the Soldier knew that his chances of finding another job anywhere were slim to none. If he did find another job, it would not give him the respect in the community that working at the Toymaker’s Shop had provided. Even still, he kept his chin up, trying to be thankful for the opportunities that he had for years in the heart of New York City. 

At least he didn’t have a wife and children to support, the Soldier thought. He was mostly alone in the world, sacrificing his life for others. 

“This is your Christmas bonus,” Mr. Cartwright said, giving the Heavenly Toy Soldier a golden medal for his heroic efforts. “I know today is your last day, but I wanted to give you something special. Have a Happy New Year!”

“Again, thank you, sir!” the Soldier said. As Mr. Cartwright walked away, he choked up, almost wanting to leave just then.

“Since I’m the last one in the store, I’m just going to spend the night,” he said to himself. “Then, I’ll leave in the morning when no one sees me. At least, I can spend one final night alone in the Toymaker’s Shop, thinking of the good times.”

While the last customers piled out of the shop on Christmas Eve, including Mr. Cartwright, the Heavenly Toy Soldier bided his time, shuffling toys back to their shelves. Then, he locked the front door behind everyone, sat down in Santa Claus’ armchair, and cried while watching the lights on the store Christmas tree flicker in the darkness. 

Before the Heavenly Toy Soldier had a chance to get a tissue, someone threw a rock through the front store window. 

“Ouch! What in the world?” the Soldier said, as the rock hit his leg. He stood up, grabbing his toy gun, and sounding the store alarm. Then, Bubba Joe and Big Jim jumped through the broken window, with giant, flaming torches. 

“Stop right there!” the Heavenly Toy Soldier said, aiming his gun. “I’m here to keep the peace. You’re disturbing it.”

“Are we? Gee! We didn’t know we were disturbing anything,” Bubba Joe said to Big Jim, waving his torch. 

“We were just going to light the place on fire for Christmas Eve,” Big Jim said, laughing like a snorting pig. 

“Not on my watch,” said the Soldier, firing his pellet gun. Then, he grabbed a water gun from the nearest shelf, filling it from the hose on the store fire engine, and doused the torches before Bubba Joe and Big Jim could burn anything.

With that, the New York City Police Department arrived and arrested Bubba Joe and Big Jim, who definitely had a memorable Christmas behind bars. A squad of police cars with loud sirens and K9 police dogs lined the streets. 

By morning, the Heavenly Toy Soldier was the Christmas hero of the nation, the defender of Fifth Avenue in New York City. Of course, he kept his job for years to come, keeping the peace for adults and children everywhere. 

Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

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