Birmingham, Alabama—the 1970’s. The hairstyles are ridiculous. Fashions are even worse. It’s Christmastime in the Magic City.
Early evening. A young couple arrives in town to visit family. They are working-class poor. He is overworked and underpaid. She is too.
Still, things are looking up. Even though it’s hard making make ends meet, they have each other.
It hasn’t been a great day. But it’s going to be. They just coasted into a Magic City on magic gasoline fumes. They have enough magic cash for the return-trip home, but that’s about all the magic they have left.
They wander into Bruno’s supermarket. They are shopping on a shoestring budget.
The music overhead is Bing Crosby. “Silver Bells” is the tune.
She pushes a cart. He follows. They are only buying necessities. No fancy stuff.
He listens to the music on the intercom. He lets his mind wander while Bing sings:
“Strings of street lights,
“Even stop lights,
“Blinkin’ red and bright green,
“As the shoppers rush home with their treasures...”
He sees something that interrupts his daydream. It’s a five-dollar bill, lying
in the aisle. Crumpled. Nobody is around. He looks both ways.
He bends to pick it up. This is the ‘70’s, five bucks can do a lot. It can buy six gallons of gas, or canned goods for a few suppers.
“Honey look!” he says.
And just like that, a bad day has become a good day. He unfolds the bill. He looks at Abe Lincoln’s stoic face. Even old Abe seems happy about this particular holiday blessing.
“Wow,” she says. “Aren’t you lucky?”
Luck isn’t the word. It’s a blessing from On High. Magic, even. It’s a sign that things are going to get better. That’s what it is.
But it’s short lived. Something’s wrong. There’s a pang in his stomach. He can’t keep this five dollars. He doesn’t know why.…