‘Twas a Still Night at Devil’s Hole

By Victoria Quynn

‘Twas a still night at Devil’s Hole, when in the bunkhouse
Not a creature was stirring, not even a louse.
The socks were all tossed by the stove without care,
Along with Wheat’s boots, muddied up by his mare.

The bandits were nestled all snug in their bunks,
Dreaming of gold coins, nothing like monks!
And Kid in his long johns and Heyes’ hand on his cards,
Both asleep in their cabin; all quiet in the yard.<

When near the Hole entrance, there arose a loud noise,
Waking Kyle on guard duty; he thought it the boys.
But knowing they slept, he got up rightly quick,
And blinked to make sure his eyes played no trick.

The full moon so bright gave a daylight-y glow
To an early winter landscape void of white snow,
But there, unbelieving, in one place he stuck:
He beheld a small sleigh pulled by eight bucks.

The elderly driver waved at our fellow,
Whose mood was surely more frightened than mellow.
When to Kyle’s mind came a thought not deceived:
That he had forgotten—it must be Christmas Eve!

Mounting his horse, he spurred toward the compound,
Following the sleigh, he watched it land down,
On the roof of the bunkhouse; where the bucks stood
All antlered and velvet, he’d shoot if he could.

“Oh Lobo! Oh, Preacher! Now, Kid, and now, Heyes!
“Please, Wheat, and please, Hank, confirm now my gaze!”
He closed his eyes, opened, but there surely quick,
The driver alighted; it must be St. Nick!

He was dressed as was told in the poem of old,
Arrayed in white fur, bundled up for the cold.
He held a large pipe tight in his teeth,
And winked at poor Kyle, who doubted belief.

Nonetheless, he watched as St. Nick climbed the chimney,
With bag and with belly, now how could that be?
The opening so small mattered not; down he dove.
Kyle thought he’d get stuck, and wind up in the stove!

Before Kyle could dismount, he looked up once again
To see ‘ole St. Nick salute to his friend.
How could he do whate’er he did,
Climb down a pipe and be out, quick as Kid?

So the intruder with white beard leapt into the sleigh,
Spoke not a word as the bucks pulled away.
“Wait!” called Kyle, as they slid out of sight,
St. Nick winked once more, whispered, “Good night.”

Kyle ran to the bunkhouse, pushed open the door.
A sleepy man groaned, “What the heck’s the uproar?
The blond man burst out, “You won’t believe what I saw!”
Wheat wisecracked, “Yeah, we know, could it be Santa Claus?”

“How’d you know?” asked our Kyle. “You must’ve guessed.”
He grinned and lit up. “But you won’t believe the rest.”
“Let’s see,” yawned Lobo, as the others all woke,
“He—you—brought us presents, and now you’re sure broke?”

They looked round and saw socks neatly nailed to the wall
Stuffed full of gifts, and new boots, gloves, for all.
Kyle looked on in awe. “See, I told ya he came.”
Wheat thumped his back, “Yeah, but you got the wrong name.”

“The guy’s name was Kyle, not Santa Claus or St. Nick.”
Kyle said, “It was really him; it isn’t a trick.”
“Don’t worry,” Wheat laughed, “it’s really nice.
But it’s funny to hear it might be the mice.”

Heyes and Kid rushed in, with guns at the draw
And lowered them—nothing amiss, and no law.
“We heard some noise,” noted Heyes, “What’s going on?”
“Nothin’,” said Wheat, “’cept Santa Claus is gone.”

“Santa Claus?” laughed Kid, then he looked all around,
Scanning the presents, he spoke with a frown,
“Kyle, you’re on guard duty, why are you here?
Did someone get past you? Did you have too much beer?”

Hank grinned. “Kyle told us how Santa Claus came.”
“It’s nice what he did; wish I’d done the same.”
Kid looked through the gifts. “Heyes, there’s some for us, too.
And for Kyle as well, so we’d have no clue who.”

Heyes smiled. “Thanks, Kyle, that’s generous—I’m impressed.
Was a really nice plan, so we wouldn’t guess.
Where’d you get all the money? Did you save up all year?
Santa Claus, ha! Please make it all clear.”

But Kyle looked at each one, and his joyful heart sank.
They thought he robbed them of cash, or even a bank!
Finally, Preacher came into his sights.
He was the one who might tell it right.

“Now boys,” he began, “let’s think this all through.
What young Kyle here says, might full well be true.
Whether St. Nick or elsewise, someone was here.
You can think what you want, but I’ll make my thoughts clear.

“There’s more told of this day, of someone who came,
We can laugh if we want, but we all know his name.
Santa Claus or another, believe as you will.
Whatever you call him, he lives in us still.”