‘t is the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la. So, on the second day of Christmas, this writer gives to you: part 3 of a modern Christmas Carol.
Part one of this story can be found here.
The story below is — of course — based on ‘A Christmas Carol‘ by Charles Dickens. Heck, I borrowed from it most liberally. You might be surprised how much I did not change.
Anyway, this story is of course completely fictional and meant as an attempt at humor. Any resemblance to actual persons is a coincidence. Really.
The Second of the Three Spirits
Awaking in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore, and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts together, Scrooge had no occasion to be told that the bell was again upon the stroke of One. He felt that he was restored to consciousness in the right nick of time, for the especial purpose of holding a conference with the second messenger dispatched to him through Jacob Marley’s intervention.
He lay upon his bed, the very core and center of a blaze of ruddy light, which streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed the hour. It was not the normal light of his television. This idea taking full possession of his mind, he got up softly and stepped out of the bed.
An older woman stood there, in a toga, a spiked crown on her head, who bore a glowing torch. Beneath the crown she had a bob brown hair. She stood next to his kitchen counter, a bowl of peaches by her elbow.
“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”
“Spirit,…” said Scrooge submissively, “..conduct me where you will. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I.”
“It is tragic that you made these actions necessary,” the ghost said. “You gave us no choice. Touch my robe!”
Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast.
“My robe, man,” the ghost said. Scrooge moved his hand.
The room vanished, the fake fire, the ruddy glow of the television, the hour of night, and they stood in the city streets on Christmas morning, where (for the weather was severe) the people made a rough, but brisk and not unpleasant kind of music, in scraping the snow from the pavement in front of their dwellings, and from the tops of their houses: whence it was mad delight to the boys to see it come plumping down into the road below, and splitting into artificial little snow-storms.
The spirit led him straight to Scrooge’s clerk’s; for there he went, and took Scrooge with him, holding to her robe; and on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit’s dwelling with the sprinklings of her torch. Think of that!
Inside, up rose master Igor, Cratchit’s friend, dressed out but poorly in an off-the-rack Brioni suit, but brave in rolex, which make a goodly show for their paltry cost; and he laid the cloth, assisted by master Lev, second of Cratchit’s friends, also brave in rolex.
Bob Cratchit’s third wife, Judith, had recently left him, telling her friends and family, “For a variety of reasons that I know as a spouse and a nurse… he has become a different man.”
All that was left of their union was their son, Tiny Tim. On Christmas, for reasons drawn up by legal representation after a long bitter proceeding, Tiny Tim and the children from Cratchit’s previous marriage, Andrew and Caroline, were in their father’s care on Christmas.
“Bozhe Moi. What has ever got your precious father then,” said Igor.
“There’s father coming,” cried the two young Cratchits, who were everywhere at once.
In came little Bob, the father, with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before him; and his thread-bare tailored Alan David suit darned up and brushed, to look seasonable; and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. His mostly bald head and glasses flared in the light.
Bob sighed, with a declension in his high spirits; for he had been Tim’s blood horse all the way from Ukraine, and had come home rampant.
“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Lev.
“As good as gold” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much. He told me, coming home on our private jet, that he hoped the people saw him in the Ukraine, carrying his sign ‘School strike for the Climate’ for people have to take action now.”
“You and your climate change,” Lev told Tiny Tim, ruffling his hair. “Like the meddling in US elections, these are lies perpetrated by the Ukrainian government.”
“My message to you is the same as to everyone – that is to unite behind the science and to act on the science,” Tiny Tim shouted. His activist little sign was heard upon the floor, and away went Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by his brother and sister to his stool beside the fire to calm down; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs to reveal a set of silver cufflinks—as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby—compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer; Masters Igor and Lev went to fetch the goose, with which they soon returned in high procession.
After a busy time of working, at last the dinner was all set.
“A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!”
Which all of them re-echoed.
Tiny Tim remained silent, for he was a selective mute, and diagnosed with Asperger’s and OCD. His mind was wholly filled with the looming demise of mankind through climate change. A fact both his father and the two Ukrainian friends vehemently denied.
“Tim must work on his Anger Management problem,…” Scrooge said, “….then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!”
The ghost beside him looked at Scrooge disapprovingly. “I pray for you.”
“I know that’s not true,…” Scrooge replied. “….Unless it is meant in the negative sense.”
The ghost shook her head and sighed. “Shall I tell you if Tiny Tim will live?”
“I see a vacant seat,” replied the Ghost, “in the poor chimney corner, and a crutch without an owner, drowned in sea water. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die. All children will die.”
“Bah, humbug covfefe!…” Scrooge decried. “..Fake news.”
Dinner was over and the children went to the fire as Bob Cratchit and his two friends worked on at the table. They were busy preparing another information package filled with information for the state department. They had drinks in hand.
“To Mr. Scrooge!” said Bob; “To Mr. Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast!”
“The Founder of the Feast indeed!” cried Lev, checking his Cayman Islands bank account.
They raised their glasses and drank deeply. They were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time; and when they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the Spirit’s torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon them, and especially on Tiny Tim, separating the waste produced during the meal, until the last.
By this time it was getting dark, and snowing pretty heavily; and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets, the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens, parlors, and all sorts of rooms, was wonderful.
And now, without a word of warning from the Ghost, they stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses of rude stone were cast about, as though it were the burial-place of giants; and sand spread itself wheresoever it listed—or would have done so, but for the frost that held it prisoner; and nothing grew but moss and furze, and coarse, rank cacti. Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery red, which glared upon the desolation for an instant, like a sullen eye, and frowning lower, lower, lower yet, was lost in the thick gloom of darkest night.
“What place is this?” asked Scrooge.
“A detention center for illegal immigrants,” the ghost replied.
Scrooge frowned. “They should really have built a wall here. And make Mexico pay for it.”
Passing through the mud and stone, they found a tiny cell. Three children, one of whom was a baby, watched the light, that through the hole in the thick steel door shed a single ray of brightness into the awful room. Joining their filthy hands over the rough table at which they sat, they wished each other Merry Christmas and clanked together their cans of brownish water; and one of them — the elder, with his face all lined and puffy from crying– struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in itself. They feared what the night would bring, they had no more clean clothes for the baby, the guards might not feed them, and they missed their parents terribly, but for a moment, a glimmer of happiness fell upon them.
“I pray for them too,” the ghost said.
Scrooge’s face hardened. “We’re rounding ’em up in a very humane way, in a very nice way. And they’re going to be happy because they want to be legalized. And, by the way, I know it doesn’t sound nice. But not everything is nice..”
At length they came to a new house, a fancy mansion. Inside, Scrooge and the ghost encountered Scrooge’s eldest son, laughing.
It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humor. When Scrooge’s son laughed in this way: holding his sides, rolling his head, and twisting his face into the most extravagant contortions: Scrooge’s son’s girlfriend, Kimberly, laughed as heartily as he. And their assembled friends being not a bit behindhand, roared out, lustily.
“Ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
“And then Natalia said that she had dirt on Crooked Hillary but I had to pretend we were adopting children, as I live!” cried Scrooge’s son, “Everybody believed it too!”
The friends in the room were all Indians. They’d recently bought apartments in the Gurgaon complex in India and this dinner was part of the deal. Some called it corruption, but not Scrooge’s son.
“Why do it?” asked one of them of Scrooge’s son.
“Honestly,” the son said. “I would gain the old man’s favor. Like his own father, he demands we are winners. It keeps us sharp, and I would call this a win. It took me 41 years to see that we are much alike. We both like to attack.”
“He is a great man,” the Indian said. “As are you.”
One by one those present tried to outdo one another in praise for the Scrooges.
“We must go,” the Ghost said.
Scrooge begged like a boy to be allowed to stay until all the guests had finished. But this the Spirit said could not be done. And so they went.
Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they visited, but never with a happy end. The Spirit stood beside sick beds; on foreign lands, rich only in sand and death, and they were close at home; by struggling men, and they were broken in their hope; by poverty, or disease not covered by their paltry insurance. In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery’s every refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the door, they looked, and taught Scrooge his legacy.
The bell struck twelve.
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.
Part four of this haunting tale will appear on the morrow, revealing the final ghost.