|A Belated Christmas Carol of Sorts|
Written by monty_radio on Friday, 6th Jan 2017 15:59
The Marley deal was dead, no doubt about it. Scrooge looked again as the knocker smiled in a kindly, fair-play sort of fashion, then slowly faded away. He turned the key and entered his very own gloomy arena. A large chunk of ceiling, disturbed by the mere turning of the key, struck him as he climbed the rickety stair to the upper section.
“Needs a lick of YTS paint”, he muttered to himself, as he peered in vain via the stump of candle that had been loaned to him by an acquaintance who remembered that he had once seen better times.
Suddenly he froze as a clanking figure stood before the bedroom door. It was his old business partner.
“What are those chains you wear?”
“I wear the chains I forged in life: FFP, loans, such old players of life’s game as have journeyed far – every link unbreakable, Scrooge. I had plans, great and noble plans – four, five of them; I who had once spent mightily. But point by point my doings forged this chain.”
“You were always a good man of business,” said Scrooge. “Business, business! Fan-kind was my business!”
“Ah”, cried Scrooge, “you are but a piece of undigested TWTD cheese. Who is it that listens to you!”
The apparition faded away, leaving Scrooge to wonder if indeed he had ever heard from him at all.
Scrooge dropped towards the foot of the same old table that had known his presence for 15 years and more. He crawled across the floor and hoisted himself up onto his bed via a hard-gained drawer.
“One point nearer,” groaned Scrooge. “Let sleep come when it will.”
But during this holiday season there was no respite nor yet rest from ancient wounds. A hoary-haired figure stood at the foot of the bed. “I am the ghost of Christmas Past.”
In an instant Scrooge was whirled into a holly-strewn haze. Blurred figures appeared on a bleached tube as insistent music thumped: games paraded before them and seeming heroes of bygone dyers, long-gone gates and a shimmering saint or dos.
“Where is the point of the Christmas season?” cried Scrooge.
“Scrooge, Scrooge! When you were young you sought more than one point,” declared Christmas Past. “Your horizon has contracted; hopes like melting snow.”
No sooner did the past slip away than Scrooge found himself once more in the gloom of the present. He turned from the press of that moment to conference with himself.
“Alone against the world,” he cried. “If the world wishes, so be it!”
But such blissful solitude was not to be. A red-caped figure now shook the bed, bellowing, demanding to be heard, singing in raucous tones that lacked the festive cheer for which the times cried out.
Scarcely had Scrooge turned away when there before him sat a new hooded figure.
“You have no face,” cried Scrooge. “You seem to be able to take a seat, and yet not be present. May I count you as attending here, or nay?”
“I am here for the season, present, yet not present. Make of me what you will in your computations. I am one of thousands.”
“But you who live in the future know all, O spirit. Will I yet see you seated again in Christmas seasons yet to be?”
Mercilessly, the cowled figure turned away, and in silence pointed to a window that seemed to have been transferred from some other time or place.
“Look through the transferred window, Scrooge. What do you see?”
“I see young men playing whilst men in fur overcoats throw Christmas guineas onto the pitch. I see them arm-in-arm walking together to sleek, fast chariots. I hear rumours of names thrown towards me. I sound aloud those very names for myself, but they do not look back. They do not approach, but rather, scurry into those golden chariots heading for places that speak of mystery and magic: Preston, Wigan. They journey afar to make the sounding of their names yet greater, but me, they heed not. Must it yet be so Spirit? Must men yield to the claims of those for whom golden sovereigns mean but little?”
Scrooge clutched at the skirts of the hooded figure, but once more, he was alone.
“Are these very apparitions the signs of things that must be? Or are they such as only may be?”
“What day is it today, boy?”
“Why Sire, tis the feast of Stephen, and all London town is coming to call upon us, all arrayed in white and black. I follow from a distance, Sire, for Father says we have not money enough to pay for such a spectacle."
“Then," said Scrooge, throwing down a great bundle of banknotes, “do you know the shop that stands on the corner of Great St Alf’s and St Bob’s?”
“Indeed I do, Sire”
“Then betake yourself to that great emporium and purchase ten tickets. You and yours shall partake of the feast of football that shall follow upon this great and glorious festival. You shall yet know joy this day. Surely great things shall be commenced upon this day that shall banish inconsistent dreams forever.”
And Tiny Tabb cried out "Amen!"
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