“Good King Wenceslaus looked out on Christmas morning …” Morris mumbled the holiday song as he hunkered over his computer. His therapist had suggested he sing a calming melody from his childhood whenever he started to feel tense, but he couldn’t remember the rest of the words.
“Good King Wenceslaus…” Morris’ croaking voice dwindled into silence. His computer had a virus and the Christmas tune did nothing to ease his exasperation. However it did resurrect memories of his grandmother rolling dough on her kitchen table to a paper-thin consistency then spreading it with a mixture of ground walnuts and honey.
Swiveling his chair, he stared out the window at the nearby office buildings swathed in shadows so dense they merged with the overcast sky. Winters, it seemed, had been much milder when he was young. The sky he glimpsed through the curtains in his Grandmother’s house had never appeared this dismally gray. Closing his eyes, he visualized the white enamel cabinets in her kitchen and the fragrance of baking bread that surfeited the tiny room. When a silvery mist pressed against his plate glass window, and he turned up his thermostat, but still felt chilled.
“Good King Wenceslaus …” Once again the words failed him, although they did remind him that his Grandmother used to pray to St. Anthony to find lost articles, St. Jude to cure ailments and St. Christopher for safe travelling, even if she was only going to cross the street.
“Wish there was a patron saint for computer glitches.” When Morris started to hum again, a scuffling sound distracted him. Looking over his shoulder, he was startled to find a bearded, balding man wrapped a forest-green cloak.
The man smiled as he bowed. “As requested, I have come to render my assistance.”
“About time. I called Tech Support an hour ago.” Morris wondered why geeks were always so eccentric. Although most computer wizards he knew had little regard for their appearance, this was the first one he had seen one dressed in Halloween costume in the middle of December.
When the bearded man made no effort to move, Morris gestured to his computer. “The blasted thing froze up after I installed the latest update.”
“Update?” The visitor scratched his beard as if he was unfamiliar with the term.
“Aren’t you from Tech Support?”
“Not exactly, no.”
“What in Sam Hill are you doing here?”
“You asked for me.”
“I called Tech Support to clear out a virus.”
A smile played on the man’s lips. “You also asked if there was a patron saint for computers. I’m sorry to say there isn’t one, although I shall do my utmost to accommodate you.”
“This isn’t funny. Now if you’ll excuse me …”
“Since I’m here, let me see what I can do.” The man ran his fingers lightly over the keyboard.
Cringing, Morris called for his receptionist. “Shirley, get security.”
She didn’t answer. Damn, she’s on coffee break.
The bearded man turned away from the computer. “You could also request St. Anthony or St. Jude, it’s your prerogative.”
Morris took a step back. “Who are you?”
“St. Wenceslaus. You called me, remember?”
This guy’s a nutcase. Morris edged nervously toward the door.
The man bowed slightly. “It wasn’t my intention to add to your worries.”
“You have no idea … I’m up against a critical deadline.”
“I was referring to the lock on the passenger’s side of your car door.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s jammed and won’t close properly. I held it shut this morning while you were driving your daughter to school.”
Morris scowled. “You expect me to believe that?”
“As I recall, your daughter described the science paper she had written about butterflies. I inserted the appropriate monosyllabic comments so she would think you were listening to her.”
“I had to pay attention to traffic.”
The bearded man didn’t answer.
“This is a hallucination. My blood sugar dropped and I’m delirious.” Morris dug a peppermint candy out of his pocket.
The man looked out the window. “A slice of potica would taste better. They sell it at the coffee shop on the corner. It’s not as good as your Grandmother’s, though.” He drew his cloak tighter around his shoulders. “A winter’s day never used to be this cold.”
As Morris surveyed the great, plate glass window dominating an entire wall of his office, it abruptly contracted into a small window laced with pink curtains. Now the aroma of baking bread and the taste of hot chocolate filled his senses. When he shook his daydream away, the window morphed back to a
dull, gray expanse, but the memory of his Grandmother’s kitchen continued to offset the chilly, sunless day.
“Hey, thanks … thanks a lot.” He turned around, but the bearded man in the green cloak was nowhere to be seen.
Shirley returned from her coffee break. “Did you say something?”
“No … I was talking to myself.” Seating himself at his desk, Morris re-booted his computor. It functioned perfectly. “Well, what d’you know … maybe he is the patron saint of glitches.” Morris sang at the top of his lungs, “Good King Wenceslaus, looked out on Christmas morning…”
Published in Stories