Little Leon trudges aimlessly through the festively decorated pedestrian zone of his hometown. Somehow, he doesn't seem to be interested in what's happening around him. People, packed with shopping bags, push past him. Everyone has something to do, everyone is hectic. Every now and then, Leon stops and takes a look in the windows of the department stores and toy stores. For him, it's all out of reach, and Christmas will probably be pretty bleak again this year.
Leon lives with his mother in a simple rented apartment in one of those high-rise buildings outside the city. His father left the family when Leon was little. His mother has never spoken of him, but Leon often notices that she is very sad. Especially on such occasions as Christmas. The little money his mother earns with her part-time jobs just about gets them by. How she would love to fulfill a special wish for her son for once, to surprise him with a festive gift table at Christmas.
But that will remain just a dream again this year. Tonight, when the children in the houses all over have their presents out, Leon will sit with his mother by candlelight and a few treats and read a Christmas story for children with her.
A mountain bike like that, that would be!
A mountain bike like that, that's what it would be, Leon thinks to himself as he stands in front of the Wörner bike store, as he has done so often in recent weeks. He has often talked about it, especially when his buddies go out on their bikes in the spring. But his mother always says that's out of the question.
At some point, Leon started saving for it, but the few euros that have come together are not nearly enough. He already had very clear ideas about what his mountain bike should look like, like the black one in the back, the one with the gold lettering.
Leon plods on. Past the department store, where a Santa Claus sits in the toy department and reads a Christmas story for children. Should he sit down there? He could pass the time there, and it's nice and warm there, too. And the Christmas cookies that the friendly saleswoman hands out to the children aren't to be scoffed at either. But Leon can't really listen. His thoughts keep wandering to that mountain bike that he just can't get out of his head.
“Not bad, the main thing is that we have each other”.
At supper, he again tells his mother about the bike. And again his mother tries to tell him that unfortunately there is no money left for it. It hurts her soul that she cannot give her child this joy. And she remembers that all this would not be a problem if the father had stayed with the small family back then. “Now she has that expression on her face again,” Leon thinks, “where you can see exactly that she is very sad.” And then he takes her in his arms, hugs her tightly and says, “It doesn't matter, the main thing is that we have each other.”
Until Christmas, Leon has been in front of the bike store many times. “His” mountain bike is still standing where it has been all Christmas. It seems as if no one but he is interested in it. And when he stands there like that in front of the store and dreams, he suddenly sees himself riding around on this bike. With his buddies, and they're all jealous of his new bike, desperate to take it out for a spin. Oh, that would be wonderful.
Leon is also in town again on December 24. His mother is at home, wants to decorate the modest apartment a little and prepare Christmas dinner. This Christmas dinner, which usually ends with his mother reading him a children's Christmas story. Leon is old enough to understand that the money for such a bike is just not enough. But sad he is anyway.
A bag full of money
This time he stays in front of the store until closing time. Inside, there was a real rush until just now, and many a bike was still being sold. Only his mountain bike didn't find a buyer. Luckily, he thinks, and watches as the sellers start to prepare for closing time.
Everyone is in a good mood and looking forward to a nice Christmas after the stress of the last few days. A middle-aged man, probably the boss, Mr. Wörner, goes from cash register to cash register, collecting thick wads of cash in a brown leather bag. He'd rather lock that up in the safe at home over the days before he can take it to the bank after Christmas.
Leon continues walking, and this mountain bike will probably remain a dream forever. Suddenly, Mr. Wörner, the owner of the bike store, overtakes him quickly, passes him carelessly, crosses the street and stops behind a car. Uiuiui, Leon thinks, what a sled. He seems to be earning good money with his bicycles.
What he sees takes his breath away
And then what he sees takes his breath away. Mr. Wörner puts the bag down behind his car, starts rummaging in his coat pockets, opens the back door to put something in the car, opens the driver's door, gets in – and just drives away! Leon can't believe his eyes – the bag with all the money is standing there all alone in the parking lot. When Leon can finally think clearly again, he goes over, takes the bag and is quite confused in his head. Now I could buy as many bikes as I wanted, he thinks at first, but, no nonsense, his mother has always raised him to be honest, as tempting as this situation is.
The nearest police station is only a few hundred meters away, and the officers are astonished when suddenly a young boy stands in front of them with a bag full of cash. A friendly policeman offers Leon cookies and Coke and begins to record the usual formalities. The moment they are almost done, a completely distraught middle-aged man storms into the police station – Mr. Wörner from the bike store.
Realizing rather quickly what a big mistake he had made, he had turned around and raced back to his parking spot. But only to find that the valuable bag was gone. He couldn't care less that there was a little boy sitting there right now talking to a police officer. He has to get rid of his huge problem immediately, describes the whole dilemma and hopes that the officers will immediately initiate a large-scale manhunt.
Who could be happier?
The police officer's composure almost drives him up the wall, and when the officer on duty asks the little boy whether he's Mr. Wörner from the bike store, he loses his composure. But before he can really start ranting, the policeman bends down behind the counter, pulls out a bag and asks with a broad grin whether it is possible that Mr. Wörner is talking about this bag. Then pure relief creeps into his face, and Leon thought he could hear whole boulders falling from Mr. Wörner's heart.
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And then a dream comes true
Now it only remains to be clarified who was happier. Mr. Wörner, about the fact that his day's takings were still there in full, or Leon, who was actually allowed to choose a bicycle as a finder's reward. Mr. Wörner went with him to the bicycle store, unlocked the door and Leon was allowed to take his bike home, this black mountain bike with the golden lettering, as a thank you.
Leon never knew how much money was in the bag, but compared to the generous finder's fee, it must have been a considerable sum.
When his mother wants to read the obligatory Christmas story for children with him in the evening, Leon only has eyes for his bicycle. And overjoyed, he says to his mother: “What I have experienced today is a Christmas story for children and adults“. And his mother thinks to herself, “If I were to write a book about his life, this story would get a chapter all to itself.” A chapter about Leon's best Christmas.