“Mr Scrooge!” said Bob after opening the door. Ebeneezer saw the surprise in Bob’s face and was pleased. This was surely a tumultuous occasion and surprise was the order of the day. “What… is there-“
“Relax Bob, I’m just here to see you and your family,” he said with a smile.
“But it’s Christmas Day.” Bob looked past Ebeneezer and down the street for clues as to the reason for the visit. Then he looked at the large bird his boss was holding out. He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t presume it was a gift. Perhaps Scrooge’s oven was broken. Perhaps…
“This is for you,” said Scrooge, clarifying things but not really.
“But… erm, won’t you come in?”
“Don’t mind if I do!”
Bob took the bird by the neck and stood aside to let Ebeneezer enter. He entered, removing his hat as he did so. “Hey honey! It’s Mr Scrooge!” shouted Bob and Ebeneezer could tell by the inflection he was shouting a warning. That was fine. They didn’t know why he was here. Bob’s wife appeared, wiping her hands on her apron. Bob saw the horror in her face and held out the bird before she could say anything. “Look what Mr Scrooge has brought us!” he said with a fixed grin and pleading eyes.
“My dear woman,” interrupted Ebeneezer with a chuckle. “I know this is highly unusual but I’ve had a very strange night and if you’d let me stay for dinner I shall tell you all about it.”
“Of course you can stay for dinner,” said Bob. “This will feed a small army!”
“I’m supposed to cook that?” she asked.
“How? It’s huge.”
“Just…” said Bob handing her the goose, I think it was. It was big. She nearly toppled when she took the full weight of it.
“I hope you’re not in a hurry,” she said before struggling into another room with it.
After taking his coat Bob led Ebeneezer into a room that contained a load of kids. Ebeneezer considered all of their faces as he was introduced to them. The children smiled back at him. The last child was Timothy.
“And this is Timothy,” said Bob. Ebeneezer nodded and approached the child. He placed his hand gently on Timothy’s soft golden hair. “I’ve heard a lot about you,” he said. The child did not seem fazed by the stranger touching him. “Marvellous,” said Ebeneezer, again considering all of the children. “Have you had a good Christmas so far?” he asked them. They all agreed that they had even though there were very few signs of anything that would constitute a good Christmas. Nothing in the way of presents or festive foods.
“Please, sit down,” Bob implored him after moving a female child from an armchair. The child moved without protest and Ebeneezer fair collapsed into the vacant seat. It had been many a long year since he’d been on his feet for so long, and though he felt younger after the previous night’s adventures he felt the exhaustion in his legs as soon as they weren’t bearing his weight.
Nine hours later the goose was cooked. Mrs Bob had cut it into quarters to get it in the oven but laid out on the small table it still looked and smelled delicious. Mr Scrooge sat at the head of the table. A wary Bob on one side and an openly hostile Mrs Bob on the other. Facing Mr Scrooge was Timothy. Poor Timothy. Poor Tiny Timothy who only hours before had been at the bottom of a grave.
“This is delicious, Mrs Bob,” said Ebeneezer. “And this family, you truly are blessed.”
Mrs Bob snorted.
“I mean it,” continued Ebeneezer, not put off at all for he had expected such a reaction. “Last night I had an experience that has changed me.”
“An experience?” enquired Bob, politely.
“An experience. An epiphany to be more accurate, I’ll spare you the details because frankly you’d think me insane. But rest assured I’ve seen the error of my ways. I haven’t been a good p-“
“No,” said Bob. “You’re a good… you’re under pressure.”
“To think what I could have had. To see this. To think of the life I’ve wasted in the pursuit of wealth and what do I have to show for it?”
“A big house,” said Mrs Bob.
“Yes, a big empty house that I rattle about in all alone. But look at this!” said Ebeneezer, pointing his fork at each child.
“You know about Timothy, don’t you?”
“Yes my dear woman, I know more than you could imagine.”
“And yet you still say we’re… we’re blessed.”
“It’s the plight of young Timothy that’s brought me here.”
Bob and Mrs Bob looked at each other as Ebeneezer gazed at Tim who was enjoying the feast.
“What exactly is going on?” asked Mrs Bob and after dabbing his mouth with a napkin Ebeneezer explained.
“I was shown that my actions have brought nothing but misery to other people. I’ve been a dick. A total dick and everybody close to me has been repulsed. I can’t go back in time. I know that. I wish I could. Go back to when I had a chance at a happy life, a life full of love, such as yours.”
“People can change,” suggested Bob, hopefully.
“I’m old now, it’s too late for me. I had my chance. Children, children are our future. Children like Tim.”
“Tim needs an operation,” said Mrs Bob fixing Mr Scrooge with a cold stare.
“Oh indeed his does. Without it he will dead before March.”
Timothy started choking and his back was slapped by a sister.
“So will you assist us?”
“My dear woman, nothing would give me more pleasure.”
“Oh Mr Scrooge!” said Mrs Bob, grabbing his wizened hand and shaking it. “You’d really do this?”
“Yes,” and with that Mrs Bob dissolved into tears. “But I can’t.” Mrs Bob stopped crying.
“Well, it wouldn’t be right for me to help out financially, would it?”
“I’ve amassed my fortune by being a dick and alienating all that I held dear. Now, it’s not much of a moral story if I was to use this fortune for good.”
“Well, what would it be? Be a dick, get loads of money and then use that money to help you?”
“That’s okay isn’t it?”
“No, for you see had I not been a dick I’d be as poor as you! I’d be in no position to help! So was it a good thing I was a dick all those years? It’s good for Timothy, for sure. I could save his life but what message is that? I’ve ruined my life, I’ve ruined yours. If I were to now just throw my money around then surely the message would be ‘be a dick until you’ve got enough money to help people’?”
“So what are you saying, exactly?” asked Bob.
“Those ghosts wouldn’t have visited me if I were destitute. Well I’ve burnt all my money and I am. I spent the last of my money on our dinner. There is no money. Hey, Bob, I burnt it all at the office, it was roasting! The ghosts will not bother visiting me again.”
“What ghosts? What about Tim?”
“Relax, I will help you and Timothy all I can with moral support.”
“Moral support, that’s not going… there must be something… what will we do?
“I will ask you daily if U OK HUN? And I help you tend Tim’s grave.”
Again Timothy started choking.
“That won’t help!” said Mrs Bob, again dissolving into tears. “We need money,” she sobbed.
“Well, you could always do what I did. Get a better job. But watch out, if you do get rich some ghosts are going to try to guilt trip you out of it. Better to stay poor. Don’t know why the ghosts didn’t visit you, Bob, and show you a better path, to be honest. Instead of making me, an old man, some sort of prize.”
“I’d like you to leave,” said Bob, discovering his spine.
Ebeneezer then stood up, saluted, and moonwalked out of the Cratchit’s hovel.