Old Man Jennings had no intention of shoveling anyone else’s driveway. Doing his own was work enough. But that was before Widow Mae Perkins pulled out her duct-taped shovel.
He stopped and watched her struggle to lift the fluff-heavy load. She made it up to waist level and then the wooden handle snapped in half. The blade fwoomped into the snow. She dropped the remainder of the handle and stood there, wringing her mittened hands.
“Aww, shucks.” He dragged his shovel over to her driveway. She looked up at him. “Don’t you worry. I’ll take care of this for you.”
“Are you sure? It’s a lot of snow.”
“Psh! It’s nothing to a man like me.”
“Why, in my day—” He stopped. “It’s cold out here. Go inside and make yourself a cup of hot cocoa.”
“I’ll make you one as well.”
“That would be mighty fine of you.” He watched her walk back to her house. As soon as she went inside and closed the door, he declared, “I am an idiot. I should have said better stuff than that. I should have told her…”
He pulled his muffler over his nose. “Well. No sense in standing here, talking to myself. This stuff won’t shovel itself.” He pulled her broken shovel out of the snow and, not knowing what else to do with it, tossed it into her yard. It didn’t go very far, but at least it was out of his way.
He dug his shovel into the snow.
“Hold it, Mr. Jennings.” A collection of white threads latched onto his shovel and whisked it out of his hands.
Old Man Jennings frowned at the interloper, a short, skinny teenager dressed in a red and blue costume. His face was covered with a mask made out of the same material. “A man your age shouldn’t do hard work like this. Leave it to me, your friendly neighborhood web-slinger.”
“I can handle this.”
A dark-haired man in red and blue spandex landed next to the kid. “No. I can handle this.” He looked like he could beat junior fifteen days into next week. He smiled a very white smile. “I will freeze the snow into a solid mass. Then, I will pick up the whole thing and fly it to the middle of the Sahara. It will melt and—”
“I don’t want your help.”
Red and blue teenager took that as his cue. He dug into the snow, whistling ‘A Happy Working Song’.
Old Man Jennings snatched his shovel back. “And I don’t need your help either. Go away! Both of you!”
Red and blue spandex looked puzzled. “But helping old folks like you—”
“And don’t call me old folks! I may not be a spry thing like you and your skinny twin, but I am not an old folk.”
“But it’s our job to help people.”
He was all set to smack both of them with his shovel, but then inspiration hit him. “Fine. If you want to help poor, decrepit old me, you can shovel my driveway.”
The two red and blues high-fived each other.
“Just let me shovel this one.”
“You got a deal, Mr. Jennings.” said red and blue teenager.
Old Man Jennings watched them run over to his driveway. He smiled and resumed his shoveling.