AN ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS CAROL (pt.4) by Robert Cubitt

December 27, 2014

Continued from Part 3

“Oy, wanker. Hands off cocks and on with socks. Time for your next visitation.”

Smooge sat bolt upright, startled awake by the uncouth shouting.

“I beg your pardon. How dare you wake me in such a rude manner.”

“Ooh, ‘ark it him. Anyone would think you were something special, instead of a greedy wanker with no mates. Now, come on, I’m on a tight schedule. There’s old ladies waiting to be mugged ‘cos I’ve been detailed to this. Know wat I mean?”

“Do you mind telling me who you are first.”

“Never you mind who I am. Just let’s say I’m the ghost of Christmas Present. That’s the ghost of now, not the ghost of the present you got last year that you didn’t like and don’t know what to do with. Do what I  do and give it to someone you don’t like, you get me?”

“So I guess I’m supposed to follow you then?”

“That’s right, innit.”

Smooge rose from his bed and went over to the window. He climbed through and plummeted to the ground below. Above him the ghost’s head appeared through the window. “Personally I’m going to use the door, but you know your own business best.” The ghost called down. Smooge thought he heard the word ‘wanker’ again as the head disappeared from view.

Smooge groaned and pulled himself from the snowdrift that had fortuitously cushioned his fall. Beside him the ghost materialised. Smooge took a second to examine him. He was young, his face covered in volcanic pimples. He wore strange clothes. On his head perched a cap, the peak sticking out sideways as though the head had turned but the hat had stayed static. On its dome the initials N and Y were intertwined. Below that was a loose fitting jacket of bright red, a logo of some description on the breast. At his hips were loose fitting trousers that sagged and barely clung to the youth’s buttocks. Every few seconds he would hitch them up to prevent them descending further. Finally there were the soft white fabric shoes he wore, a strange tick like mark adorning the sides. They were totally unsuitable for the deep snow in which they now stood.

“Now, Bro, you gotta follow me. You get me?” The youthful ghost intoned, his head tilted to one side. The question was accompanied by a strange flick of the fingers of his right hand.

“Er, yes, I think I understand.” Why the ghost needed to ask for confirmation of understanding all the time Smooge couldn’t work out. The youth of today, with their strange language.

The ghost rose into the air and Smooge found himself rising with him. “This is sick” The ghost shouted. “Almost worth being killed in that drive-by.”

“I’m sorry you’re feeling nauseous.” Smooge sympathised. He’d had no idea the occupants of the spirit world could feel mortal discomfort.

“What you goin’ on about dude? Never mind. We’re ‘ere nah, innit.”

Smooge recognise the small, slightly shabby house of his nephew. The walls melted away to allow Smooge and the ghost to enter the living room. Within it were gathered his nephew, his wife and their two children. “Don’t worry, they can’t here you or see you.” The ghost advised Smooge.

“Now, Arabella, Boris, just one more parlour game and then you must go to bed. If you don’t then I shall summon your Great Uncle Smooge to scare you to bed.”

The children raised their hands to their face and shrieked in terror.

“Now, now, Tamsin my love. You should not encourage our children to think badly of their Great Uncle.”

“I’m sorry, Justin, but the old miser does nothing to earn either our affection or respect. I would encourage our children not to emulate him. Why, I would rather they were,” she paused for dramatic effect, “poor rather than that they became bankers.”

“Uncle Ebenezer isn’t that bad, you know. Why, he may yet turn out to be a good egg.”

“That is what I love about you Justin. So kind; so forgiving. But your Uncle is a lost cause. He cares only for money. He will die alone and unloved.”

“Much as I would like to believe differently, I fear you’re right, my love.”

“In these times of trouble he does nothing to ease our plight, does he?”

“He is of the belief that we’re all in it together, so why should he help us if he doesn’t help others?”

“Yes. Well, some are more in it together than others, apparently.”

The scene faded as the ghost took them away from the house and they drifted high above the roof tops .

“Where are we going now?” Asked Smooge.

“That’s for me to know and you to find out, copper. Oh, sorry, I mean you’ll see in a moment.”

Smooge blinked away the cold night air and when he opened his eyes once again he found he was in the tiny, dingy living room of Bob Scratchit’s house. Gathered around his clerk were the twelve children he believed were his own.

“I don’t mean to be rude, Father.” The eldest boy was saying. “But haven’t you and mother ever heard of birth control?”

“Now hush, Dappy.” His father said. “You know what joy you all bring us. Besides, if we had less children we’d lose our housing benefit.”

“What’s housing benefit?” asked a small, shrunken looking child.

“That’s money you get if you have too many children and can’t afford to pay your rent, stupid.” The oldest boy cuffed his sibling round the ear in a friendly manner, sending the small boy tumbling across the room.

“Now, don’t be unkind to Tiny Tim.” His father intervened.

“God bless us every one.” The small child said, shaking his head to clear the ringing in his ears.

“Yes, that’s right, Tiny Tim. Now, where’s your mother?”

“Upstairs with Mr Grace doing a curtain fitting.” Dappy reported.

“Well, who’d have thought that his curtains would fit our windows.” Bob beamed at the child. The child rolled his eyes at his father’s stupidity but said nothing.

“Now, what is Father Christmas going to bring us this year?” Bob smiled around the circle of children.

“A doll,” said a small girl who appeared to be addicted to the colour pink.

“Toy soldiers.” Said a medium sized boy.

“A hair dryer.” Said another boy, holding up a mirror and patting his hair into place.

“A Set of plumbing tools.” Suggested a rather stocky little girl wearing a boiler suit.

“World Peace.” Said Tiny Tim.

“Ah, Tiny Tim, would that were true.” Bob ruffled the hair of his youngest son.

“God Bless us every one.” Tiny Tim said.

“Yes, okay, Tim. No need to keep repeating yourself.”

The front door slammed and Elisa Scratchit breezed into the room, buttoning her blouse.

“Right then, Bob Scratchit. What have you brought us for our Christmas Dinner?” Elisa demanded to know.

“Well, my pay doesn’t go far, as you know my love, but thanks to Mr Smooge’s nephew’s benevolence I have managed to obtain a large, juicy rat. If I slice it thinly there will be enough for a piece each.”

“Oh, father.” Tiny Tim exclaimed. “You are so good to us. It’s been ages since we last had rat.”

“Well, you can all enjoy a little more. Mr Smooge has asked that I go around to do another curtain fitting tomorrow so I shan’t be here for lunch. Perhaps Mr Smooge may take pity on me and feed me a morsel from his own table.”

“You work so hard, Elisa. There is so little I can do.”

“Perhaps ‘do little’ should be your last name.” the woman sneered. “That would make me Mrs Doolittle. Mrs Elisa Doolittle. It has a nice ring to it. Wouldn’t it be loverly.”

“We shall miss you Mummy.”

“Do stop your whining, dear Tiny Tim.” Snapped his mother. “Now, where did you leave your crutch, we’re nearly out of firewood.”

“Surely you wouldn’t burn the boy’s crutch.” Bob protested.

“Of course not. I just want to send the little tyke out to get some wood from the yard.”

“Oh, that’s okay then. Off you go Tiny Tim.”

The boy hobbled obediently to the door, his brothers and sisters sniggering behind their hands.

Smooge turned to the ghost. “Will they truly eat rat on Christmas Day?”

“Unless there is a miracle.” The ghost gave Smooge an inquiring look.

“I knew I paid that man too much.” Snapped Smooge. The ghost gave his curious flick of the fingers and the two were immediately transported back to Smooge’s bedroom.

“Now be warned Bro.  The third and final ghost will be with you at the strike of three.” The apparition faded into the night, taking care to pocket a gold watch and chain as it left.

To be continued….

***************************************

Robert has always been keen on writing and has tried his hand at various projects over the years, but the need to earn a crust had always interfered with his desire to be more creative. After serving with the RAF, working as a logistics planner for Royal Mail and as a Civil Servant with the Ministry of Defence, Robert took up writing full time writing in 2012 and produced two works of fiction in rapid succession. In truth these had been “works in progress” while he had still been in full-time employment and just needed finishing off. Since publishing these books on Amazon he has focused on a new book. The Girl I Left Behind Me which will be published by Ex-L-Ence Publishing Ltd in December 2014, to be followed in the Spring of 2015 by a sequel.

In his spare time Robert enjoys playing golf, is a member of a pub skittles team and is trying, unsuccessfully, to learn to play the ukulele. To find out more about Robert Cubitt and his books or to read his weekly blog please visit his website robertcubitt.com or ‘like’ his Facebook Page. He can be contacted at robert.cubitt@robertcubitt.com

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