My hometown paper, The Butler Eagle, asked me to write a very short, 450 word story for Christmas this year. I was honored to do so and doubly honored to have the finished result published on the front page of the newspaper on Christmas Eve. Besides the length requirement, they also asked that it reference something from Butler County, and I was more than happy to oblige. Their purpose: to bring some joy to the holiday season. I’m very pleased to re-publish the entire little story below: “The Angel on the Courthouse. (Note: This story was published by the name “Daddy’s Littlest Angel” for the paper version. I’m not sure why.) Merry Christmas!
The Angel on the Courthouse
Mark W. Sasse
“Yes, Joshua?” he tried to sit up in his bed.
“Are you feeling better?”
“Oh, yes. I am. Tomorrow is Christmas, after all.”
“Momma said you wanted to see me.”
“I have something for you. Here. It’s the Christmas angel. I need you to put it up for me this year. Can you do it?”
The glassy-eyed boy looked at his bed-ridden father. “Where should I put it?”
“Perch him on the highest peak, so he can announce the good news.”
“The highest peak?”
He turned from his father with resolve reaching far beyond the family Christmas tree. After all, the highest peak wasn’t far. Only three blocks or so.
Across McKean, up E. Diamond and into the park. He stopped and fixed his eyes on the point, rising like a pillar towards heaven – an Everest with harsh slopes to be conquered. He clenched the angel with the earnestness of the shepherd who sought the newborn.
“I’ll get it up there for you, Daddy. Somehow, I’ll get it up there.”
His eyes barely flinched as he stepped across the screeching traffic and ran up the sidewalk to the entrance.
“Kid, what are you doing here?”
“Peak. Pea–” he nervously spouted.
The officer looked annoyed and waved him through the metal detector.
“Larry, the boy’s gotta go to the bathroom.”
Joshua tore off down the corridor and up the marble steps.
“Hey, kid! Stop!”
Deaf to the yells, he sprinted higher, past a judge’s chamber. Litigation stood still. Justice empowered his little feet, like a winged soul bearing glad tidings, announcing a new birth.
Within minutes, he had crawled out the hatch door onto the ledge above the commanding clock, which daily heralded the time into Diamond Park.
“Dear God. Help my climb. Help my Daddy.”
A step. A sigh. An outreached arm. A nudge. A tug. A strenuous lift. He inched. Crawled. Tussled. Buoyed by more than hope. An untouchable peak. An invisible hand guiding the impossible climb.
What happened next remains hotly debated to this day. Many on-lookers tell different versions about the brave explorer who conquered the courthouse peak. But they all agree. He clung to the spire with great ease as the angel waved gently in the Christmas breeze.
Three hours and a precariously placed crane eventually undid the climb, bringing the boy back to earth, into the arms of an unexpected onlooker.
“Daddy!” he jumped into his father’s arms. “You’re better!”
“I saw you on TV,” his father said, wiping a tear. “How did you do that?”
“The angel. He helped me, and just like you said, angels announce good news.”
“Joshua, thank you for believing.”
“Merry Christmas, Daddy.”
“Indeed, it is.”