he would ever spend with his Emily. Juan, the security guard from across thelawn at the Texas capital, was going to be taking over as full time guard at theOld Land Office when the old man retired, instead of just filling in on the oldman’s days off.As the old man was sitting at Emily’s desk holding Emily’s ring from the littledisplay case in his hand, he heard a familiar ghostly rustling behind him, “Youknow I’m going to miss you when you are gone old man, “ the ghost of Bill said,” and I know the building will miss you too. Did you know I actually wrote a storyabout this place called ‘Bexar Script No. 2692’?
I did that back in the day when Iwas known as just William Porter, before I took the pen name of O. Henry. As Irecall, I paid quite a homage to this edifice.”“I’ll miss you too Bill, and all of your stories you’ve shared, but I don’t know how Iwill live without Emily.”“I wrote a Christmas story once,’ The Gift of The Magi’ and if I had the power togive you a gift this Christmas…”Just then the old man heard Juan coming up the stairs. He usually came over twice a night to visit with and check on the old man when he was working.“Amigo, I see that you are sitting at your favorite exhibit. I thought I heard youtalking to somebody. The ghosts in this place, no?” Juan said with a smile, butwith a slightly troubled look on his face, his eyes darting around into the darkcorners.“For me the favorite exhibit is the ‘curandero’ exhibit on the other side of theroom. The curandero are great healers in my culture. They can relieve not onlyphysical suffering but mental suffering also. The greatest curandara of all wasTeresita Urrea the Saint of Cabora, they have her Rosary over there in the case.”Juan lowered his voice and said, “It is said that those who wear the rosaryaround their neck and
can be healed of their suffering and their wish cancome true. But of course there are many tales of miracles, and ghosts, and myfaith is not strong enough to support all of these fables.”The old man just sat there staring at Juan and realized his concentration all theseyears had been so fixated on Emily that he scarcely remembered the stories of the other exhibits in the museum.Juan suddenly felt he had made the old man feel uncomfortable and said, “Well,Amigo, I’ve should be getting back to the Capital. I’ll be back later to see how youare doing.” And in saying that hurried down the stairs.The rest of the night Juan made his rounds of the capital building experiencing astrange melancholy sadness mixed with joy and happiness that he could notdefine. Every time he thought of his old friend the Watchman, the feelingsseemed to become so intense. Suddenly it came to Juan that somethingextraordinarily weird had taken place in the Old Land Office building. Juan ranacross the lawn from the capital to check on his old friend.
Available in the “Rolling Stones” collection of O. Henry’s work at Gutenberg.org.