**Editor's Note** Here is the final installment to our Christmas tale. I can only hope that it goes well with eggnog, but just to be on the safe side, drink the brandy and leave the eggnog for the maiden aunts who enjoy fruitcake.
Pang grabbed Clayton's elbow and pointed, "Here Mr. Clayton Delaney. Here is where we find the King of Kings."
"At the Best Western hotel?" asked Clayton incredulously. "We have followed a star that has led us to the west Mr. Clayton, why not the Best Western?" queried Umbala. "You got me there. Let's go see who's checked in," Clayton said with a shrug.
The sidewalk leading to the front door didn't show a single track in the snow and Clayton pulled on the handle only to discover it was locked. He pounded with his fists on the glass and yelled to the top of his lungs only to be joined by eleven cold and frustrated men. In a moment a thin wispy haired man in a parka came to the door. "We don't have any rooms!" he shouted from the other side of the glass, "Go somewhere else!"
"We're lookin' for somebody!" shouted Clayton but the man turned his back and walked away with a dismissive wave. "Stand back," warned Umbala as he rested his hand on Matt's shoulder and cocked his long leg back. Umbala's foot flew forward and connected with the rushing sound of splintered glass. He reached in and turned the latch and held the shattered door open so the rest could pass, and smiled as he did it. They all filed into the lobby that was standing room only and pressed their way to the wispy haired man who gaped at them in wonder. "Who do you think you are? You can't just break in here!" he shouted, "I'm going to call the cops! You are going to jail! This is breaking and entering, this is trespassing, this is..." he faltered.
"I said we was looking for somebody," said Clayton in a slow, menacing voice, "and we were having a little trouble getting your attention from outside. Now you go right ahead and call the cops Mr. ..."
"Smythe, Mr. Carl Smythe, I'm the manager and I'll-"
"You'll help us Mr. Smythe, 'cause the cops are six blocks away and your phone don't work I'm willing to bet, what with all this snow. We don't want to get ugly, but that can be arranged." As Clayton spoke he positioned he face an inch away from Smythe and slowly backed him up against the counter. "We need to find a woman. A pregnant woman. We don't know her name, but maybe she mentioned she was related to a guy named David. Ring any bells?"
"I don't know..," Smythe stuttered, "There are too many people here...not all of them checked in...some just getting out of the weather.." Clayton reached in his pocket and pulled out a large pocketknife and opened it in a slow ceremony. He reached past Smythe and cut the cord on the phone with deliberate motions. "Are you sure you can't help us?" he asked again as he examined the knife's edge.
"Don't," warned Markus at his elbow, "it isn't our way." Clayton looked at him for a moment, then nodded and closed the knife and slid it back in his pocket. "I'm sorry," apologised Clayton, "it's just that we have come so far and been through so much... we just need to find her so we can help her. You see, she's in trouble. She is in bad trouble and we have came to help..." Clayton trailed off and the crowded lobby breathed an almost audible sigh of relief.
"Hey dude," spoke up a leather-clad biker woman near Clayton, "there was a pregnant lady who knocked on the door a few hours ago. There was a guy with her," she offered. "What room are they in? Where'd they go?" Clayton asked eagerly. The biker shrugged.
"The jackass manager here wouldn't let them in," said a guy in a rainbow T-shirt.
The fist that connected with Smythe's nose flew so fast that Clayton wasn't sure he had thrown it himself until he heard the bones snap under his hand. Smythe slid to the floor with a nasal "Owww," and he held his tie to it to staunch the flow of blood.
"What kind of asshole sends a pregnant woman out in a storm?" Clayton shouted. At that moment a man in ratty clothes and a mud stained Steelers hat was working his way through the crowd from the back of the room with three hot cups of coffee in his hands. "Scuse me, hot coffee, comin' through, pardon me, clear a path, headed for the door" he called out, ignorant of the scene that had just transpired.
As the man shouldered his way through the crowd and as he passed, Amir touched his arm. "Where are you going with that coffee?" Amir asked. The man's brown face broke into a look of concern, "Out to the trailer. I got Mr. Wainwright's horses to look after," he said, "besides the new child and momma and poppa," he chuckled. "Take us to them," Pang said and the thirteen of them filled out into the snowy parking lot leaving a bewildered crowd behind them.
"What's your name?" asked Clayton. "Able Amos Moses O'Brien, but most folks call me Moz," he replied, "You guy's from the Government?" he asked.
"Nope," said Clayton, "just kinda friends of the family."
"Tha's good, cause it's always good to have family about when a new youngin is borned. The momma and poppa always need lotsa help den." Moz handed the hot coffee cups to Pang so he could undo the latch at the back of a large horse trailer. "Now you gots to be real quiet now as momma and baby was just fallin' asleep when I went in an hour ago and I can't have you spookin' them or the horses neither. So shuts up and wait for me to call you all in one at a time."
Umbala asked eagerly, "Everything went alright didn't it?" and the grey-haired old black man smiled. "I've delivered a lot of calves and foals in my time and I've had some tough ones too, but I ain't never delivered no baby before, but this one come out like he was ready to meet the world. He don't cry or whine. He just snuggle to his mommas tit and fall asleep like he got the peace of Heaven on him. I put him in the feed trough with some hay and wrap him in some horse blankets cause that's all I got, and momma, she need some rest."
"Does Mr. Wainwright know you got a mother and child in his horse trailer in the dead of winter?" asked Amir.
"No suh, and I don't aim to tell him. I done this all on my own and I ain't about to involve him in somethin' that don't concern him, provided he don't find out." Moz said.
Clayton took the shepherds and fishermen aside and held a quiet conversation with them, and in a moment they headed back into the hotel. "Why don't you fellas go in one at a time and see our new addition to the family," Clayton suggested with a wink. Moz took the coffee cups from Pang and lead him into the trailer. A few minutes later, Pang came out and knelt on the ground in the deep snow and wept as he prayed. Umbala crept in and pulled the door softly shut behind him. In a few minutes he returned and could say nothing as he motioned for Amir to take his place. A few more minutes passed and Amir returned with a look in his eye as if he had seen something that would change him forever and he held Umbala close to him like a long lost brother.
What transpired next was a bit of a blur for all concerned. The fishermen and shepherds returned with a cot that they used to carry mother and child into the hotel and on up to the Honeymoon suite that had been recently been vacated by a very kind, very rich, and devout Mr. Wainwright. The Biker chick and the guy in the rainbow T-shirt had held the doors open on the elevator as the mother and child were transported to their new room while the adoring crowd in the lobby was held at bay by the bloody manager Smythe who threatened to turn loose this band of hooligans against the first person who woke the baby. The kitchen staff was ordered to feed anyone who was hungry and the small lounge was opened to provide drinks on the house to anyone who had come to seek respite at the Best Western in the horrible blizzard of '08.
As Clayton and the gang settled into the largest booth in the lounge and waited for Smythe to come and take their order, a thin and well-worn young man of seventeen with a scraggly beard wandered up.
"Are you Amir?" he asked and Clayton pointed to Amir. "My name is Joe, and I just want to thank you for all you have done for us and if you ever need new cabinets in your kitchen, just give me a call."
"Are you the baby's father?" asked Clayton.
"Well, sort of..." he said. "We just got married yesterday at the courthouse and..."
"Well we pooled our money and got you something," said Clayton with a grin, "Alright fellas, put it on the table." And with that appeared a bottle of expensive French perfume, some Myrrh incence, a Swiss Army knife, three packs of smokes, two lighters, a Snickers candy bar, one ticket to the monster truck pull, three Happy Meal Toys, a tea bag, a bottle opener, three-hundred dollars worth of prepaid phone cards, and the keys to a 1984 red Ford pickup that could be picked up at the Hanover exit as soon as the roads were clear.
Joe looked down at the stuff that filled the table and tried to mumble his thanks but the words just wouldn't come. At this, Umbala stood up and took off the jacket to his three-piece pinstripe suit and slid it over the youth's bony shoulders.
"You need this much more than I, " he said softly, "but it will fit much better when you get the weight out of the pocket."
Joe reached for the large brick that rested in the pocket and pulled it out to see what made the coat so heavy and gasped when he saw what it was.
"And the coat looks good on you too," said Clayton as he got a fresh chew.
**Editor's Note** I have borrowed and swiped a lot to create this story, as well as embellished, gilded the truth, and out and out lied, but know that I did it for you. God bless and keep you safe.