A Christmas Crisis
A parody based on
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
by L. Roger Quilter
From the obituary column of the New York Financial Advisor
Dec 23rd 2050
Noted Business Man Dies at Xmas Dinner.
Stooge, Edward (The Sneezer). It is with regret that the board of directors of Moneymaking Markets announces the demise of our esteemed CEO, Edward (the Sneezer) Stooge, who passed away suddenly at our annual staff Xmas dinner, catered by us, featuring the best in our commercial line of cuisine, available at ten percent off on Boxing Day. Don’t forget our New Year’s Bazaar, where prices will be slashed by thirty percent. This includes everything in our vast array of merchandise, except for some items like food, furniture, clothing, computers, cameras and cosmetics.
Mr. Stooge suffered a coronary heart attack following dessert, consisting of scrumptious custard laced with the finest South African brandy, the best in our inventory, poured over the richest plum pudding, also available for dieters in low-fat style, while supplies last.
He slipped slowly into a coma and never recovered. Fortunately, his Havana cigar was retrieved before it landed on our newest line of Oriental carpet, available very shortly, and his cognac, (his fourth) had not been touched and was poured back into the decanter.
Mr. Stooge, born in Manhattan on Xmas Day 2000 his father unknown as he was conceived from a test tube experiment with a Bronx hooker, relocated following the birth by our paid-off judiciary.
He was educated at Yale, Harvard and the School-of-Hard-Knocks University, where, due to an unfortunate allergy he earned the moniker, ‘Sneezer’ from his classmates.
Following graduation, Mr. Stooge inserted himself as our CEO assisted by the Brooklyn and Queens Mafia families and had been permanent chairperson since.
His hustle and bustle was enhanced by his animosity towards the religious theme of Xmas, which tended to lower our profits. His profound knowledge of business matters enabled our company to triple our income each Xmas season.
Left to mourn is the board of directors, who have already been contacted by the Mafia regarding Mr. Stooge’s successor. Members of both families were seated next to Mr. Stooge when he collapsed.
At Mr. Stooge’s request, Moneymaking Markets Incorporated will open for business as usual. The funeral will take place after midnight on January 1st 2051, following our gigantic New Year’s Eve bash. This will enable our staff to attend the funeral as it will be outside their normal business hours
Flowers and wreaths may be purchased at all our fine stores. In order to raise funds for a fitting memorial to the deceased, prices of these floral tributes have been increased significantly.
* * *
“Ed, ‘The Sneezer’ Stooge, it’s time to pay for your sins.” Was this a figment of his imagination? The eerie voice came from behind a blank wall. Then, suddenly, a shadowy figure passed through the wall and hovered above him.
What in Hell are you talking about? Stooge, dressed in an expensive suit covered in custard, brandy stains and cigar ash, appeared nonplussed as to his location.
“Your life’s work is not very encouraging, is it? I notice you claim no religious association.” The shadow had little substance.
“Whaddaya mean?” Indignation showed on Stooges heavily lined features, “I can tell you right now, I took my business from the bottom to number one. We did very well with the aid of some of my Sicilian associates, but I paid them from my own personal hoard. Our company’s religion is to sell arms to warring factions, Arabs, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Catholics and Protestants. Lots of market space there.”
“It’s your views on Christmas,” the Specter went on, “You were too commercial in your outlook. You called it Xmas and started advertising in September.
“You have to be concise. Christmas is too long a word and everyone knows what Xmas is. And don’t berate me about not being religious and starting too early. How about Joseph and Mary? They started the whole shebang nine months before the event.” Edward was working up a rage. “Let’s face it, what’s Xmas without a celebration? It’s a holiday.”
“It is a Holy day,” ghostly rage was being vented. The phantom’s visage contorted in disapproval at the crass, commercial outlook exhibited by Edward. “Everywhere in the world, homes are decorated and the few remaining fir trees are covered in tinsel, lights and ornaments. They don’t look like trees now; just bare stands to hang gifts. Joseph and Mary walked barefoot to a lowly manger, decorated with manure and smelling of animal urine. There were no Christmas or Xmas cards then. They came later, when some unscrupulous businessman wanted to turn a buck or two. The feast you attended consisted mostly of sugar, fat and cholesterol filled products that killed you. Perhaps you were ashamed of your lowly birth, but Jesus wasn’t.”
“Hey, my parents were Rhodes scholars and came from the affluent society.” The lie fell easily from Ed’s food-stained lips.
“You need a lesson in humility,” said the ghost, who was fading as he looked down with a sorrowful look on his face, “You’re lucky that the fates have decreed that you will have a second chance.”
* * *
“Ouch!” Ed groaned and held his face where he had just been slapped. He opened his eyes and stared around. He was lying on the floor of the Moneymakers ballroom, his managers staring down at him. He realized that he had fallen in a drunken stupor and his death and obituary were only nightmares.
Just like Ebenezer Scrooge in that old tale, he thought to himself. Now, what do I do? Two waiters picked him up and seated him in the chair he had tumbled from. His head was in a whirl Brandy fumes and cigar smoke tasted bitter in his mouth.
I must make some radical changes in my life, he thought. In fact, I’ll start right now. I just can’t carry on the way I used to. Ed made a big decision.
Looking his staff right in the eye he said, “Goddamn it, the party’s over. Get to work. I want the plans drawn up for Easter. I want the salesman with the lowest sales crucified. Nail that useless cripple, Tiny Tom, on a cross and put him on display. That’ll draw the crowds and it will save us paying his benefits.” He shifted his gaze and growled, “Why did you pour my brandy back in the bottle? Fetch it immediately.”
“Gee, Boss, we thought you had died.”
“Another cigar, Mr. Stooge?”
Ed smiled and said, “The theme will be that we all have our cross to bear. Make sure you get lots of thorns and scourges, we gotta make this as realistic as possible.”
“I’ll start right away on a suitable candidate, Sir. Boy, will those salesmen ever hustle their butts now.”
The entire staff moved with alacrity to carry out the new orders.
Ed puffed contentedly on his cigar and then drained his brandy. His glass was immediately refilled. Leaning back, Ed smiled and declared aloud, “It’s Xmas, for Christ’s sake, did anyone expect a happy ending?”
◊ ◊ ◊
L. Roger Quilter
Les Quilter, 85 years young, an English born Canadian has been published in three anthologies. His sense of humor evolved from his education in London, England and many years in the Royal Canadian Navy.
He submitted a novel in an on-line contest under his real name, Leslie R. Quilter, and received a certificate which read, “For HER Outstanding Novel.” He changed to L. Roger Quilter as a result.