BOB User Stories: A Celebration with Friends Final Episode


A Celebration with Friends Final Episode

Read A Celebration with Friends Episode I and Episode II here.

The freezing surface of the deepening snow crunched with every labored footfall as the two men began slowly making their way across the considerable distance between themselves and their destination, Farmer Wilson’s barn. The newly grounded German Major Max Tannenbaum plods along next to the good English doctor Thom.

What am I doing? This was the question Max kept silently asking himself over and over. He is on enemy soil, and should be trying to escape. A decent man, Max reminded himself of Doctor Thom’s kindness in saving his own life. The doctor had trusted Max for some reason and Max had given his word to help Doctor Thomm look for his friend James. In any event, and no matter the outcome, Max resolved not to go back on his word. On the two men forced their way through the bitter gale toward the flames of Max’s crashed fighter plane glowing in the distance.

Lying there in the cold, and dark of Farmer Wilson’s barn, wrapped in vile smelling straw, James Herriodd, the country vet, snuggles closer to the still form of the only recently expired draft horse, Bob and counts his blessings on being there. The still crackling flames of the downed German fighter cast small shafts of light through the ill-fitting clapboards of one wall. As the flames continue to flicker outside in the storm, James shifts uncomfortably and wishes they were close enough that he might feel the heat. He snuggled closer to Bob who was still warm and that helped a little. Most folks could think of better ways to spend Christmas Eve than cuddled up to a dead horse in a desperately cold and drafty barn miles from nowhere. James Herriodd was not “most folks”, he did not take time to feel sorry for himself at all and though each breath filled his nostrils with the stench of “dead horse”, he considered himself lucky… lucky just to be alive.

What he did concern himself with was his wife Ellen and his two children. They certainly had had every opportunity over the years to become accustomed to the late hours kept by a country vet. And yet, in spite of that, James knew they were already worrying that he had not returned. Looking at the luminous dial of his watch he was reminded that Midnight Mass would soon be starting. He would miss that and so much more. He would miss his family and his friends. With a sigh that was his only bow to self-pity, James rolled over and tried to sleep.

At that moment James sat bolt upright with a start as someone or something threw open the big barn door with a crash. A cold blast of arctic air hit James with such bitter intensity that he later swore with a straight face that he would not have been at all surprised if it had awakened the defunct Bob. There were two shafts of waving, blinding torchlight and the sound of several creative expletives in a deep, baritone voice James had known since childhood. In that instant James knew that Doc Thomm had come to rescue him.

With a shout of honest joy James met the two men before they could take a step and all three took hold of the heavy door and swung it shut with a clatter. Next, there was much greeting, thanking, explaining and general congratulating all around. Max was introduced to the shocked James who said that the name sounded vaguely familiar to him. Taking the torch from the doctor who was searching in the gloom through his bag for the bottle of brandy and some food, James played the yellowing light over the frosty face of the barely thawed German flyer. My God, Max I think we know each other. We met once in Bavaria at a ski resort when we were both 16, remember? James held the torch light on his face for the German to see. “Mine Gott, Jim Herriodd, can this be true?” shouted the German. “It has been ages old friend.” “What great times we had.”

That night, Christmas Eve 1940, in an old dilapidated barn, miles from nowhere, sunk in the depths of the worst Christmas Eve blizzard in English memory, three men will spend a bitter cold Christmas Eve night together in utter darkness wrapped in odorous straw. They will huddle for warmth in the dark around a dead horse and joyously pass around a large bottle of brandy and loudly sing carols rivaling in volume the shrieking winds outside.

If you ask them today, they will in all probability, tell you that it was the best Christmas Eve celebration with friends that they ever experienced.