Ebenezer Scrooge pretended not to notice the time. He dreaded the impending hour and to yet another ghostly visitor. Two fifty-nine a.m. became three a.m. Nothing. Three oh-one, he groaned. Oh-two. Oh-three. "Drat,' he said under his cold breath, whomever you are, please do not prolong my nightmare! Oh-four. Oh-five. Then, as suddenly as before, a ghostly specter appeared as if by magic by his bed. "Ohhhhh Scrooge "" another familiar voice beckoned. "Ohhhhh, Mr. Scrooge, wake up!"
He turned slowly to face " Ted Kennedy. No! This could not be happening to him! His face registered the horror. Kennedy was, or had been, his political nemesis! For years Scrooge had done everything he could do to undermine the progressive political work--even the very life--of the late Senator. It had been none other than Ebenezer Scrooge who had slipped the fateful Mickey to the then much younger Senator Kennedy's drink at the reunion party, knowing that he would be driving back to the Cape on that moonless night, July 18, 1969. Scrooge had not known that Kennedy would be accompanied by Mary Jo Kopechne, poor child, but nevertheless the Chappaquiddick incident worked to Scrooge's political advantage as the tragic death of Kopechne had successfully robbed America of yet another Kennedy who aspired to the presidency.
Little did he expect that Kennedy would become such a lion of the Senate as to be a constant roar in his political ear right up to and even after his death earlier on August 25, 2009. Under his steady leadership and unwavering support for the public good, Congress passed 850 bills into law that Kennedy either sponsored or co-sponsored. Despite a never-ending campaign to discredit him as a liberal, Kennedy overcame any tarnish to that label (which he always wore proudly), but also managed to be the most successful bipartisan voice in the Senate, even through the miserable Bush II years. Kennedy had died a hero to America. "Bah humbug!" Scrooge cursed under his breath.
"Senator Kennedy ," Scrooge said, with obvious trepidation. "I thought you were " dead."
Kennedy grinned and said, "I am dead." Yet the large figure of this noble Irishman standing next to him never looked better. "But not forgotten. And still well able to trouble your sleep, Scrooge."
"But you look nothing like my previous visitors." This Kennedy apparition looked--he hated to admit it--remarkably healthy . He was a ghost but unlike Ronald Reagan or John McCain, Ted Kennedy was dressed in beautiful blue robes that were very much like the royal gown a prince or king might wear in some fully imagined Camelot. Even his hair, although white, was perfect. Kennedy also moved easily and gracefully, which was a big surprise for Scrooge. Kennedy had a notoriously bad back that caused him to move in great pain. But apparently no more. Could it be that in the afterlife . . . ?
"Where I live these days, everyone has great health care," Kennedy deadpanned, as if reading his mind. Then he smiled. "Universal coverage.
Scrooge frowned. This encounter was already not going well. "Wherever that is, I'm sure somebody like me is paying for it. Shall we just go, then? I am old and this night has already tired me greatly."
"If that is your wish, Mr. Scrooge," Kennedy replied. "We do have a lot of work to do before our time together is through."
"Bah-humbug!" Scrooge said.
Scrooge found himself transported into a comfortable middle class suburb that looked oddly familiar. He rarely ventured into the suburbs. The great unwashed masses depressed him with their easily manipulated values and general lack of intelligence. He had made a fortune engineering their political opinions and had learned only to despise them. So why did he feel he knew this place?
"It's because this is where your nephew lives," Ted Kennedy replied.
"Can you read minds, too?" Scrooge was annoyed. Bad enough to have a dead Kennedy in his presence but to have a dead Kennedy in his head was too much to bear. And now his nephew! Was there no mercy in this nightmare?
"No, just faces and hearts." Kennedy pushed, a little too hard, against Scrooge's back, propelling him toward a bay window. Scrooge peered inside. He saw his younger brother's only son Bob--how many years had it been?--and Bob's lovely wife--Emma, was it? Or Anna. Or Beta. Something like that. Whatever her name was, they were clearly happy in their home at Christmas, surrounded by their children. He counted three, no four! The last time he had visited there had only been two, and that was back years ago when his brother was dying of cancer. How the children he recognized (he could not remember their names) had grown! They must be teenagers. Almost ready for college.
Scrooge despised the college educated. There students learned to think critically and to challenge authority. What good were they, then? Business majors were the only good ones. They knew what was important in this life. They usually became conservative Republicans. The ones who didn't usually became exactly what his nephew had become after college: a teacher. Fit for nothing but a life of low pay and hard work. No wonder he had become a Democrat!