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George's Christmas Carol

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By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers (with assistance by C. Dickens)

Bob Cratchit turned the thermostat up a notch, to take the chill off the 49-degree room, steeled his courage and walked up to the boss, who was oiling his shotgun.

"Sir," said Cratchit, "I was wondering if you would be considering a holiday bonus this year, so that I can buy a small -- a very small -- goose for our family's Christmas dinner."

"Bah, scumbag!" said Dick. "You lazy bum, trying to sponge off us hard-working citizens. Don't try to bamboozle me; go f*ck yourself. Or go talk to George: He's the compassionate one."

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But George just smirked at his misfortune and, citing budgetary constraints, ordered the poor man back to his ice-cold cubicle.

Later that evening, in his chambers above the offices of George & Dick Inc., George was lying in his comfortable bed when he heard a most unsettling metallic sound. A huge door creaked open. A cold wind roared through the room, smelling of mold and sulphur.

The visage of his departed partner, Umsfeld, stood next to the bed, wrapped in chains.

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"Why are you here, dear friend?" asked George. "And, by the way, you look awful!"

"I cannot stay long. I came to alert you that you will receive three visitations this night. Pay attention to what they say and you might yet save your soul -- and might not wind up looking like me. I wish someone had visited me with advice, as I committed great crimes in our joint ventures. I must go. Remember the three visitors."

And with that, Umsfeld vanished back into the mist, dragging his rattling chains behind him.

George thought the grotesque vision must have been part of a bad dream; he pulled the covers over his head and soon was back to sleep, occasionally moaning loudly.

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST

The first visitation appeared, hovering over the bed, at the last stroke of midnight. George awoke.

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"Are you one of the visitors that Umsfeld told me about?" said George, his voice quavering in fear.

"Yes, 'tis I, the Ghost of Christmas Past. I am here to remind you of your younger self, of what you've lost over the years in your pursuit of power and approval. Come with me," said the figure. "Here, take my hand."

And with that they flew through the air (and the constraints of time) and landed in a living room of George's parents. A younger George was stretched out on the couch.

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Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)
 

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