The woman looked helplessly at the tools and spare tire in front of her. What a perfect time for a flat tire! The snow was starting to come down a little more persistently than before and she wanted to get home as soon as she could. Her daughter was starting to get restless in the backseat of the sedan and she knew it was only a matter of time before she had a very cranky six-year-old on her hands. She bent over the tools again, trying to figure how the little bits of pipe were to be used to change a tire. Just as she was about to give up and start the walk to the nearest payphone, wherever that was, a light concentrated on her. Someone had pulled over to help.
"Hey!" the stranger called, shutting off the engine of his motorcycle and walking over. "Need some help?"
"Do you know how to change a tire?" she asked hopefully.
He smiled broadly at her. "Just happens to be my specialty." He reached down and picked up seemingly random pieces of metal, fit them together and moved to the flat tire. "Oh," he spotted the little girl in the back. "It'd actually be safer for her to be out of the car."
The woman got her daughter and they stood on the other side of the car from the passing traffic and watched the young man jack the car up and change the tire in what felt like mere seconds.
"There you go!" He stood and wiped his soiled hands on his jeans. "Just in time, too." He squinted up into the falling snow. "That's not going to let up any time soon."
"Thank you so much!" she gushed as she put her daughter back into the car and helped the stranger put the tools in the trunk. "I feel like you just saved our lives!"
He chuckled. "I'd hardly give myself that much credit… I just saved you from a long walk."
"Here…" she reached into her purse and pulled out a bill. "Thank you for helping us."
"Don't worry about it," he told her, gently pushing the money back. "Glad to help."
"Please, take it," she insisted. "At least buy a cup of coffee on me." She handed him the money again. "Please."
"Alright." He took the offered bill and pocketed it without looking. "You get home safe," he said, starting back towards his bike.
"You, too, sir!" she called after him, getting into her car.
He waited for her to pull out and followed her for a bit before exiting the highway on his way to the bar. As he rode down the street, he spotted one of those new gourmet coffee houses. He'd never gone into one; the idea of paying so much for a coffee seemed ridiculous. But he was freezing and the lady did want to pay him back. What the hell? He'd treat himself on her behalf. He pulled over and maneuvered the bike between two parked cars. He went in, carefully avoiding eye contact with the bell ringer and ordered; paying with the bill the woman had given him.
"I'm sorry, sir, do you have anything smaller?" the teenager behind the register asked, handing the money back. He took it in confusion. The lady had given him a hundred-dollar bill!
"Sorry." He pulled a twenty out of his billfold and handed it over. He heard the bell ringing outside as a new customer came in. "Actually, can you make that two?" he asked. With his coffees and change in hand, he left the coffee house and stopped by the bell ringer. "You look cold." He handed the older gentlemen the spare coffee before putting the hundred dollar bill, along with change from the coffee into the red collection pot.
"Merry Christmas, sir," the bell ringer smiled at him. "God bless."
"Merry Christmas," he returned before going back in to enjoy his drink.
The bell ringer went back to ringing his bell, sipping at the nice peppermint coffee as he did so. He watched the crowd around him as they went about their holiday business. This time of year always made him cheery. All the lights, the music, the shoppers… He spotted a young teenage boy, casually window shopping on what looked like his way home from school. He was looking longingly at the newest video game system. The bell ringer smiled; he reminded him of his grandson.
The kid sighed deeply and shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked away from the store and towards the bell ringer. As he passed something worked his way out of his pocket and onto the ground. The bell ringer looked down, figuring he'd drop the spare change into the collection, but when he saw what it was, quickly called the boy back.
"I think you dropped this," he told the kid, holding it out.
With a frown the kid checked his pockets and came up empty. "My key! Thanks, man. That would'a sucked!"
He took the key, safely pocketed it again and continued on his way. Good thing that guy found the key. His dad would be really mad if he lost yet another one. He had lost more than his fair share over the years. He clamped his hand down over the key to reassure himself that it was there as he navigated the busy sidewalk. Up ahead, he saw a grey haired man with a cane and ugly scarf struggling to get both himself and his small pile of packages to his car. The teen quickened his pace as he saw the pile begin to totter and made it just in time to catch the top packages as they slipped off the stack.
"Lemme help," he offered, assuring the man he was not there to steal the presents.
The man smiled. "Thanks. I'm just over there." He gestured to the cream-colored sedan parked in handicapped parking. The two walked slowly to the car and loaded the packages in the trunk. "Thanks a lot, kid." The man said, slinging his green with gold trim scarf back around his neck.
"Sure thing, mister." They shook hands. "Merry Christmas."
Richie hurried in and out of the cold. The coffee had tasted good and warmed him up, but the rest of the ride to the bar had cancelled out the effect. He was once again freezing.
"What took you so long?" Methos asked from his usual seat at the bar. "I thought you'd be here long before I ever made it… especially with the way you drive."
Richie took a seat next to Methos and hunkered down into his coat. "I helped a lady on the highway. Had a flat."
"Ah." He reached behind the bar poured Richie a beer from the tap without really looking. "Then, here, on me."
"I guess I never really said thank you for helping me out today," Richie added, thinking of the generous woman. "I appreciate it. Driving all the way out there when you didn't really need to and all…"
"Don't worry about it, kid," Methos assured him. "You don't live as long as I have without learning a thing or two about karma. It all comes back to you, ten fold."
"You really believe in all that?" the younger asked with a laugh as Joe came in from the back.
"Where have you been?" Methos demanded. "I had to play waiter. I expect a tip."
"I've been shopping," Joe returned, taking off his scarf and jacket.
Methos snorted into his beer as he caught site of the scarf's gold trim. "Nice scarf."
"My mother made me that," Joe defended, though his good spirits could not be damped. "For you," he handed Richie an envelope. "And you," he pointed at Methos with a stern finger, "will get no tip because you made fun of mother."
"How was I to know?" he returned innocently.
"But in the spirit of the season, your tab is clean."
"Guns and Roses tickets!" Richie exclaimed. "I thought these were sold out!"
"I have some connections," Joe confided.
Methos helped himself to another beer as Richie carefully studied the tickets. "See what I mean?" he said pointedly. "Ten fold."