Emily hid behind the rails of children’s clothes and peeped out shyly. The giant Superstore clad in all its Christmas attire was pretty daunting to a young girl like her but her gaze was fixed on something taking place in the parking lot and her eyes glistened in rapture. The car park was frantic with cars this time of year and reckless shoppers had abandoned their vehicles, double parked and run inside to grab their last-minute gifts. The poor staff member who had the unenviable job of manning the customer tannoy was beside herself trying to keep up with the flow of car recall announcements. There was only a short time left till closing and tempers were fraught. So much for the season of goodwill.
Emily, however, was watching a man in the Car park. He looked to be trying to direct the traffic. He wore no staff uniform but carried an air of respect. He was about 5 foot 10 with a white fluffy beard and a tummy that spoke of many mince pies. He wore a red hat and braces and his hands were thrust into red woollen gloves.
Emily’s mother finally caught sight of her in her hiding place and after admonishing her for causing unnecessary worry followed her gaze through the decorated window. “Come on Ems, we’re done here and I still have to call by Niemans before we can even contemplate going home”.
Unwillingly Emily allowed her mother to prise her away and out of the shop. Emily wanted to see more of the man. She was certain she knew who he was.
After five minutes fruitless searching they had to admit they couldn’t remember where they had parked the car and Emily’s mum surveyed the snaking queue of traffic at the car park exit anxiously. She tried pressing and repressing the key fob in the hopes it would turn on the lights and give a clue to the car’s whereabouts. No Joy. By now her mother was in full panic flow and Emily, sensing the need for intervention, turned on the spot and caught the eye of the man she’d been studying earlier.
He paused to dispense some last-minute advice and made his way over to them. “Excuse me Mrs.” he began, winking at Emily as he spoke.”Can I help you at all? You look a little in need of help”. “Look Mr.Klaus” she said looking at the badge that was pinned to his braces, “I’ve got a thousand and one things to do, I’ve got a daughter who needs feeding. I appreciate you’re trying to help but it’s not needed. I can manage perfectly well”. At the mention of the stranger’s name Emily’s eyes had widened even further.
She tapped her Mother’s arm impatiently to try to get her attention. “Mrs.Evans, it is Mrs.Evans, isn’t it? he began , “It’s Christmas Eve, it’s late, you’re tired. Please let me help you. It would be my pleasure and more to the point it’s my job.”
Protesting feebly she allowed herself to be propelled across the car park with Emily in tow. He showed no hesitation and seemed to know exactly where he was going. “Ta da” he said, pointing at her forlorn looking car. “I believe this is yours”. “But how could you possibly know that? I didn’t get the chance to tell you”.
“Mrs.Evans , I make it my business to know things. That’s the line of work I’m in, but if you want a simpler answer lets just say it’s magic”.