Here is a Texas story that came my way, the events twisted and bent from the telling.
It was an unusual day for the normally dry and dusty town in west Texas. Early that December morning, an unexpected cloud burst poured over the landscape and washed the dust right out of the sky, mudding the roads in and out of town. It was also the day that Santa Claus and his elves decided to pay a visit.
In full costume, Santa walked down Main Street and entered the town’s bank to the surprise of all. He waited his turn smiling, holding his Santa bag, but nervously fidgeting with his hat. Those around him were entertained by his appearance and joined in the fun.
Finally, he approached the cashier.
“Hey, Santa, good afternoon. How may I help you?”
Santa drew a gun out of his bag and aimed it at the cashier. “You know the drill. Fill the bag.”
Surprised, the cashier did as he was told, mumbling under his breath. “A Santa disguise? That’s pretty low, even for a bank robber.”
“Fill the bag.”
Meanwhile, two other men entered the building, their guns drawn and faces covered in red and green kerchiefs.
“Hands up. Don’t anyone move.”
One of the customers pulled out a gun and began shooting. He hit one of the robbers in the leg and the thief fell to the floor. Santa and the other thief grabbed a couple of women. Using their bodies as shields, they began backing out of the building.
“Put your guns down on the floor or we’ll kill these here women.” Santa yelled.
The floor clanged with guns.
Santa yelled, “Now everyone down on the floor.”
“You too,” he said to the cashier.
“Don’t leave me,” The wounded robber pleaded. He couldn’t get up.
Santa’s face looked constricted. “Sorry, Dude. We’ll come back for you.”
The two robbers and their hostages left the building and headed to a waiting car. Its motor running, Santa threw the bag of money on the back floorboard and pushed the women into the back. He squeezed in next to them with his gun drawn.
He yelled to the driver. “Let’s get going.”
“Hell, what happened? Why did you take so long?” The man in the driver’s seat questioned. “Where’s Denny?”
“I’ll explain later. For now we need to get out of here.” The other robber jumped into the front passenger side and slammed the door.
The driver put the car into drive, but it only went a half a block before the engine slowed and began sputtering.
“What’s wrong?” Santa shouted.
“Damn, it’s on empty.”
“Empty? No one checked the gas tank?”
“If you hadn’t taken so long.”
Santa and the man in the passenger side stared at each other, deciding what to do next.
Meanwhile, half the town had grabbed their guns and were in hot pursuit of the thieves. What these robbers didn’t know was that this particular town had been robbed so often, the town had passed an ordinance giving a reward to anyone who killed a bank robber. No questions asked.
The robbers decided to make a run for it. They grabbed the hostages out of the car and hijacked a half-loaded hay wagon, parked across the street. Santa drove the team of horses while the driver of the car began throwing bales of hay over the side. The women began screaming until one of the robbers took out his gun and aimed it at them.
With Santa at the reins, they headed out of town.
Santa shouted. “Who has the money bag?”
They looked at each other. It was still in the back seat of the car. At the same time, the wagon’s wheels began slowing and the horses started squealing in resistance. The dirt road leading out of town had turned muddy during the rain storm. The wheels on the hay wagon stuck in the ooze and muck of the rutted road.
Santa jumped out of the wagon and ran off into nearby thickets. The other two jumped out of the wagon, landed in the mud, each breaking a leg. The women began screaming for help.
Help came quickly. The townspeople surrounded the two robbers, pistols and shotguns drawn and ready. The sheriff walked over to where the two were crying in pain and waved Santa’s bag of stolen money over them.
“Looking for this?”
The sheriff turned to the crowd. “Put your guns down. No reward for killing an unarmed bank robber. You’d all claim the reward and it’d take a month of Sundays to figure it all out. Besides Santa is still out there somewhere.”
“He ran off into the thickets.” One of the women yelled.
The crowd ran off, chasing after his tracks.
“No reward for killing Santa either,” he yelled. “Don’t want to explain to the younglings why Santa has a bullet in his head.”
The Santa thief didn’t get very far. Instead of a reindeer, Santa climbed on the back of a horse grazing nearby. The horse was lame and it immediately fell over, pinning Santa underneath. It took the whole crowd to lift the horse off of him.
Santa and his elves spent Christmas in jail, waiting for trial. The sheriff confiscated the Santa suit and sold Santa’s get-away car to pay for jail expenses. With the extra money, he bought gifts for the town’s children. One of the town’s bankers volunteered to wear the Santa’s suit and handed out gifts to some very happy children. In the end, Santa’s visit turned out to be most satisfactory.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
What man purposes, God disposes and then composes.