Zachariah Scrooge’s eyes sprang open, immediately focusing on the clock on the mantle. The time read 1 a.m.. Not moving his body, his eyes darted around the room. No sign of the second Spirit. Scrooge settled back into his bed, turning his head to face the ceiling. “Hello?” He called out with uncertainty. No response came. “Hello!” He called out again, louder. Still no response. Scrooge pressed the back of his head against the pillow, drawing the sheets under his chin. “Just another horrible dream.” He muttered.
The TV in the living room sprang to life. Loud music spilled from the speakers. Scrooge sat up, wasting no time in springing out of bed. He slowed down as he approached the living room. Moving at a snail’s pace, Scrooge peeked into the room.
The movie “The Blues Brothers” was playing on the television. Curious, Scrooge moved further into the room, eyes staying on the screen. “Yes, I remember this movie. It’s quite good, quite good!” His lips moved into a genuine smile as he watched Jon Belushi cartwheel down the aisle of the church presided over by none other than James Brown.
“Like that movie, eh?” A booming voice spoke from the couch. “It’s a good one. And just like Jake and Elwood, I’m on a mission from God, myself.”
Scrooge spun around and came face to face with a mountain of a man. At a height of six-foot-two, broad-shouldered, with dark blond hair. Scrooge stepped back slightly and shook his head in disbelief. “You…you’re John…”
The Spirit raised a large hand to stop Scrooge. “I was, but not anymore.” The Spirit stood up, smoothing out his trench-coat as he moved into the kitchen. “Now, who wants an orange whip?”
Scrooge couldn’t do anything but collapse back onto his couch. He leaned forward, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his palms. “All right, Spirit. I will take an orange whip. And while we’re at it, perhaps you can verify for me that you are indeed the Spirit of Comedy Present.”
“Right-a-mundo, Scroogey.” The Spirit said, walking back into the living room and handing the citrus beverage to Scrooge. “You wanna drink that here, or take it for the ride?”
Scrooge sighed and stood up, holding the drink in his right hand. ” I suppose take it with me.”
The Spirit clapped his hands together, grinning. “Great! Let’s go!” Scrooge watched as the Spirit snapped his fingers. Instantaneously, they were transported into a kitchen. It became obvious that whoever was the owner of this kitchen was absolutely infatuated with Christmastime. Numerous versions of Santa figurines lined the windowsill above the sink. Gingerbread men sat cooling on a rack next to the oven. The voice of Nat King Cole filled the air. “Man,” The Spirit said, looking around, “These guys love Christmas, huh?”
Scrooge looked around, eyes dancing furtively across the linoleum floor. “I feel like I know this place.” As soon as he spoke, Scrooge’s suspicion became fact, as he and the Spirit watched Aaron Grant enter the kitchen.
“Be back in a second, babe.” He called out. Scrooge watched as Aaron went to the cooling rack, expertly moving the gingerbread men down onto a plain white plate.
“Oh, hey, look at that! This is where Aaron lives,” the Spirit said, taking a drink of his own orange whip. Scrooge looked back at the Spirit, a look of slight shock on his face.
“What do you mean, ‘look at that!’? You’re the Spirit, you should know where we are going!”
The Spirit shrugged and smiled. “I’m just doing a job. Let’s follow him, shall we?” He nodded toward Aaron, who was leaving the kitchen, plate of cookies in hand. Before Scrooge could offer an objection, he found himself being pushed forward by the Spirit, moving silently behind Aaron. Scrooge and the Spirit watched as he placed the plate of cookies down on the coffee table and resumed his seat next to a red-haired young woman, colorful tattoos adorning her arms.
The Spirit let out a long, low whistle. “Well now, who’s that fine piece of work?” Scrooge looked up at the Spirit and couldn’t help but laugh.
“That, Spirit, is Stacey, Aaron’s love. So no, she’s not single.”
“Ah.” The Spirit shrugged again. “Bummer. But I digress. Let’s listen in on their conversation.”
Scrooge turned his attention back to Aaron and Stacey. Aaron was already working on a gingerbread man, nibbling at the head, while Stacey knitted a blanket. The pearls of the thread were determined, showing off the handiwork of someone adept at crafting goods just out of thread.
“What I don’t understand, Aaron,” Stacey started, keeping her eyes on the knitting. “Is what happened to Zachariah. He used to have a joy about him.”
Aaron shrugged, a shrug born more out of disappointment than indifference. “I wish I knew. It’s never been this bad, really. I mean, yeah, he’s had some rough spots, but we all have. I just wish he would open up a little, you know, talk to me about it.”
Stacey laughed softly. “You know he’s not going to do that, babe. The man does not like to talk about himself.”
Aaron nodded and sighed. “Yeah, I know. You know I invited him out here tonight, and just flat-out refused. And…” He crushed the remainder of his cookie into his palm, “He expects me to come into work tomorrow to work on some material.”
Stacey tossed down the knitting and glared at Aaron. “You’re not going anywhere tomorrow, mister!” She smiled and gave him a quick, playful punch in the arm, laughing softly.
Aaron grinned. “Oh, don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere tomorrow.” He leaned forward, he and Stacey sharing a small embrace. He leaned back, picking up the TV remote. “And hey, if he decides that maybe it’s time to end the partnership because I refuse to show up for work on Christmas Day, then maybe it’ll be for the best.” With a quick hit of the On button, Aaron and Stacey became awash in the glow of Netflix.
Zachariah stepped back in slight shock. “End the partnership? No, I never wanted anything like that. I just need to work, to find that one thing that I’ve been missing for God knows how long!”
The Spirit laid a massive hand onto Scrooge’s shoulder, squeezing gently. “But it seems that your drive has alienated those you once called friends. In short, you’ve become a jerk.”
Scrooge moved the Spirit’s hand off his shoulder with a quick shake. “I never meant to be like that. I just…There’s no excuse, Spirit. In my drive for comedic perfection, I’ve lost sight of the more important things in life. Things like friends; like a favorite song playing on the radio; like an..orange whip.” He sniffed and laughed, holding up his now-empty cup.
The Spirit nodded, knowingly. “Come on, Zachariah, time to get home.”
Immediately, Scrooge was back in his bedroom. He looked around the barren room. Save for his bed and a dresser, there was nothing that would make someone feel welcome. No pictures. No music. Even the pillows weren’t decent. “I can’t sleep in here,” Scrooge said aloud. He grabbed a blanket and moved into the living room. Turning on the TV, his eyes lit up when the image of Jake and Elwood filled the screen. They were singing, dancing, entertaining five-thousand of their closest friends. Zachariah’s eyes grew heavy as he heard this last bit of dialogue before falling asleep.
“Who wants an orange whip? Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips.”
To Be Concluded…