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 The Computer Buzz December 23rd, 2010     


Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Factory

The Miracle on Mulberry Street

It was the middle of the day on Christmas Eve and I had just returned from the bank. A white Ford 350 pick-up was parked in front of our store. A boxed Santa suit and a large LCD monitor were tied down in the bed of the truck. The decal on the back window said “America, love it or leave it.” The hood ornament was a six-foot spread of Texas Longhorns. The truck had to belong to “Cactus Jack.”

Jack owns the “The Rainbow Computer Emporium” east of Rainbow. He is a cranky, profane curmudgeon with a weakness for bourbon. A sun wrinkled, squinty-eyed scowl is permanently etched on his face. The droopy, tobacco yellowed mustache, sweat stained Stetson and dusty, worn cowboy boots make Jack look more like a hard luck prospector than a computer store owner. Jack was pouring himself a coffee when I walked in the door.

“Hey Cactus, what brings you to town” I asked cheerfully.

Sure as hell wouldn’t be this rotgut coffee of yours,” Jack grimaced. “I come to git me one of them 24 inch Viewsonic LCD monitor at Fry’s. They’re practically given em away and I got the last one.”

I saw it in your truck. Also noticed the Santa suit. You got a part time job Jack?" I asked innocently.

Jack let loose a stream of profanity. “I’d go naked in a snowstorm afore I’d wear that fruity elf suit. I just picked it up from the cleaners for my nephew. He wears the dang thing Christmas Eve and his kids is stupid enough fall for it every time. Makes me sick to think about it.”

Nome called out “we have a problem over here.” Jack and I walked over to Nome’s workbench.

Here’s the story,” said Nome. “Mrs. Pintera brought in this old PC and monitor that she bought for $10 at a garage sale. Their notebook PC was stolen and the kids need a computer for schoolwork. Mr. Pintera can’t find work and now he’s down with the flu, the family car is in the garage and they’ve got no money for Christmas.

Nome continued. “Mrs. Pintera had $100 set aside for the kids Christmas presents but they need a computer more than Christmas presents. She asked me if we could fix this one up for $100. I told her I was sure we could fix it up for less than half that much.

Cactus Jack was squinting into Mrs. Pintera’s yard sale PC. “You couldn’t make this thing into a computer for $500. It’s got Windows 95.” Jack looked at Nome and snickered. “You might a bit off more’n you can chew, sweetheart.”

Nome ignored Jack and turned to me. “I figure we give them one of the refurbished computers, load it with everything and tell her that all we had to do was put her parts in a used case. We tell her it costs $10 so she won’t think its charity. They live in that old green house on the left side of Mulberry so we can drop it off after work tonight and save her a bus trip.

I like it, lets do it,” I nodded

Jack slapped his knee and hooted. “Where am I? Brother Beno’s? You saps are easier than a two-dollar hooker. If I fell for every phony sob story I’d be out of business in a week. I’m getting the hell outta here fore I break out in tears.” Jack headed for the door.

Nome yelled after him, “and just what are you doing for Christmas “Cactus Scrooge.”

Jack hesitated at the door. “I believe I’ll snuggle up with a bottle of Jack Daniels in front of my brand new 24 inch Viewsonic LCD monitor and order myself a shiny new 357 magnum off’n E-Bay. Merry Christmas suckers, Ho Ho Ho.

We knocked on the Pintera’s door just after six on Christmas Eve. A radiant, smiling Mrs. Pintera opened the door and invited us in. A beautifully decorated Christmas tree spread its branches over a pile of expensively wrapped gifts. Happy children scampered about the house. I thought, Cactus Jack was right, we got conned.

Mrs. Pintera saw the look on our faces and blushed. “I don’t know how it happened or what’s going on but about an hour ago three men just marched in with all this stuff. They didn’t say a word. They set up the tree and brought in all those presents and then they left. I guess it must be a church or something.”

I put the computer on the floor. “I’ll go out to the car and get the monitor.

Oh we don’t need one,” she said, “They brought us a beautiful 24-inch Viewsonic LCD monitor.

Pintera’s four year old tugged at my pants leg “Santa Claus brought it, we saw him. He had a white beard and everything,” he said seriously.

His older brother added, “his beard was white but his mustache was yellow and he wore cowboy boots.”

I bent over and asked the little guy, “Did Santa have a sleigh and reindeer?

No sir, he just had a white pick-up truck, but it had antlers.

I looked at Nome. There were tears in her eyes and she was shaking her head. “That old phony,” was all she said.

Merry Christmas from your friends at The Computer Factory, San Marcos!

 
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