(With apologies to Charles Dickens)
Stave Four: The Ghost of Daddy Future
I looked and saw a figure about my height, a little taller. He was dressed elegantly in a three-piece suit that looked like it came out of a steampunk store. I liked it.
I looked down at myself, I was anxious to see if I was wearing the same clothes I had on when I was with the last spirit. To my surprise, I had on nice clothes: slacks, a nice shirt and a sweater. At least now I didn’t feel out of place… Not that anyone could see me.
“Let me guess,” I said. “The ghost of Christmas future.”
The ghost nodded with a smile. “Right you are,” it said. “Are you ready?”
“I guess so,” I shrugged.
“Well then,” he said. “Have a seat.”
I took a seat in the room I found myself in. I looked around. I had never seen this room before. I noticed it was decorated nice for Christmas. There was a tree, decorations throughout the room and, from what I could see, in the next room. There were some voices coming from the kitchen. I saw someone come into the living room, a man. Something about him seemed familiar. An older man followed him into the room. I could tell it was me! I still had some hair and I had finally lost some weight.
“So, how’ve you been, Dad?” the first person asked.
I couldn’t believe it. It was The Boy. He was grown up and he had finally gotten out of the house. It really was Christmas.
“I’ve been well,” my shadow said to him. Both were talking for a minute when two kids came into the room and began to climb on The Boy. It didn’t take much for me to figure out these were his children.
“Ow!” The Boy said. “What the… Will you get off me?”
I smiled. The Boy was finally getting a taste of his own medicine. It took a couple of decades, but he was figuring out what it was like to try talking to someone and be pestered by children. As my uncle told me when kids were hanging on me when trying to talk to someone: The torch has been passed.
The Boy continued to rid himself of the monkey-child while talking to his father. I was enjoying the interference he was getting while trying to do something. “Oh my God!” The Boy said, “Will you go bother your mother, please.”
While all of this was going on, a woman came into the room. She was dressed nice for the occasion. I could tell it was The Oppressed.
“What are you doing to your father?” she asked the child. The child didn’t answer. He just laughed while he continued to throw himself at my son.
A man, the husband of The Oppressed followed his wife into the room. A girl also came into the room and approached The Oppressed. She informed her mother she wanted to watch something.
“You watched something on the way to your uncle’s,” The Oppressed informed her daughter. How about you spend some time playing with your cousins?”
I think that was one of the worst things the child could have heard, and she lost her mind. She was furious and threw herself on the couch and began to cry.
“I just want to watch something, Mom!” she protested. “Why can’t I?”
The Oppressed rolled her eyes and muttered, “Oh my God!” I was enjoying this, and I could tell my shadow was enjoying it as well. I thought back to many times when I thought I could do something, and my children wouldn’t have it.
The Boy looked at my shadow and asked, “Dad, what’s so funny?”
“Nothing,” my shadow said as it sipped on some Christmas cheer. “Absolutely nothing.”
The Oppressed left the room, followed by her daughter who was continuing to clamor for a screen. Just then, Lovie entered with a carrying case in her hand. She met everyone with the greetings of the season. After extending the warmest of wishes to everyone, she set the case down on a table and removed her coat. An impatient meowing could be heard from the case.
“Alright,” she said. “Alright, let me get my jacket off.” She took off her jacket and hung it up. She then opened the case and removed her cat and held it close to her, praising her for being such a good kitty during the ride. She looked around the room and greeted everyone individually with a smile and a, “Hello.” After greeting everyone, she took a seat and continued to hold her cat. People asked where her dog was. She told them the dog was home alone and she would be back in time to be able to feed and walk it.
While The Boy was trying to talk to Lovie about how things had been, his son kept jumping on him, not giving a minute’s peace to hear the answer to her question. I was enjoying this and asked the spirit if it had any beers with it.
“Beers?” the spirit asked. “Why would I have beers? I’m a Christmas spirit.”
I was going to mention the previous spirit, and the many generous gifts that adorned my house compliments of that spirit, but I didn’t. There was too much going on in front of me, I didn’t want to take my eyes off of the action going on at The Boy’s house.
The daughter of The Oppressed continued to protest her cruel life without a screen. In the middle of the lamentations, Slick and Slugger made their appearance. They drove together in Slick’s car. Everyone said hello to the boys, even the younger children who were pestering their parents much to my delight. The Boy was about to say something to me, but his son continued to assault him. The Boy saw me laugh.
“It’s not funny, Dad.”
“Yes, it is,” I corrected him.
“How is it funny?” he asked me. “He doesn’t do this until I need to talk to someone.”
“You don’t say,” I said, pretending to be surprised. “You mean things are quiet, and then you want to say something and then, suddenly, he needs to run his mouth over you?”
He opened his mouth like he was about to say something, but nothing came out of his mouth. He looked like he was about to think of something, but his son crashed into him again, much to the delight of me and my shadow.
“Tell you what,” The Oppressed said to her daughter. “Let’s play with the present you got for Christmas. You brought it with you so you could show everyone and play with it.”
She didn’t want to. She wanted to play with a screen that The Oppressed had brought with her.
“This is why I don’t have kids,” Lovie said with a smile. “I just have my kitty, and she loves me!”
“Your cat’s stupid,” Slugger said.
“Shut up!” Lovie said. “I’ll teach you some manners in front of our nieces and nephews.”
Slick didn’t say anything. He just sat down and talked to my spirit about his job and how life was treating him. The Boy’s son proceeded to run across the room and just missed the wall as he left.
“Crash!” The Boy yelled. “Will you take it easy indoors?”
I saw Wife enter the room with The Boy’s wife. She took a seat next to my shadow. The Boy moved over to make room for his wife to sit down. As soon as she did, their son got between the both of them and pushed his father away. The child wanted time with his mother.
“Sweet justice,” I said.
The Oppressed and her husband announced to the guests that it was time for dinner. Hostess, host and guests made their way into the dining room. There was a large table beautifully decorated and set, with food from one end to the other. There was a beef roast, mashed potatoes, three different vegetables. Bottles of wine were placed here and there on the table. Some of the men were having a beer before dinner and brought their beers to the table instead of having wine. The kids were drinking Coca-Cola. Everyone sat down to dinner. Adults helped children make their plates. The Boy helped his son make a plate. His son took one bite of the food and started to run around the house.
“Oh my God,” The Boy said. “Will you sit for five minutes and eat?”
I was enjoying this. I could tell my shadow was enjoying it too. Wife reminded him that he did the same thing when he was his son’s age.
“Stop!” my son said. “You’re going to get hurt.”
“Our time grows short,” the spirit said. “We must leave soon.”
I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to see what else my grandchildren were going to do. I wanted to see what my children were going to do. I wanted to see what else people were going to say. I wanted to see what would be served for dessert. Would there be presents? There was so much I wanted to see, but I couldn’t see. I felt a yawn coming. I closed my eyes when I had to yawn. I was tired and I felt a blanket on me before I could open my eyes.