(With apologies to Charles Dickens)
Stave 3: The Ghost of Daddy Present
I was back in my bed as if nothing had happened. I looked at my clock. It was 1:55. I had five precious minutes to rest before the next ghost came to visit me. Farley certainly didn’t care much if I got any rest on the night before the most wonderful time of the year. I put my head back down and thought of everything I saw and witnessed with the first ghost. These beings certainly had a lot of energy. I wondered why they were haunting me instead of my kids. The kids had more energy than me or anyone else in the house. Why should the ghosts haunt me?
As I was thinking about this, I noticed a bright light flashing from downstairs. The light made its way up the stairs, in the hall and under my door into the room. I looked at my clock just as my phone made the sound of the bell signifying 2:00. Maybe if I stay here the ghost will come upstairs and find me. That would give me a couple more minutes before I’m forced on to the next display of shadows I need to see.
A voice from downstairs boomed, “Gregory!”
Again with the “Gregory”. What is it with these people, or ghosts, or whatever it is Farley sent to me?
“Gregory!” the voice called again.
“What?!” I yelled back, remembering that no one can hear anything as long as the ghosts are around. It’s like asking my kids to do something. Say it as loud as you want, they’ll never hear you.
“Come on downstairs, and bring your robe. Polite company tonight!”
Wonderful, we’re leaving the house again. I got out of bed and put on my robe. I went to the stairs and it looked like all of the lights downstairs were on. Again, it’s like my kids are around.
The only thing was, none of the lights in the rooms downstairs were actually on. I followed the stairs to the living room. Whatever the light was that lit the whole house, it seemed to be coming from the tree. These ghosts sure liked messing with the Christmas Tree.
I looked out at the room and saw kegs and bottles of beer. everywhere. There were small kegs and large kegs. There were bottles of all sizes. I didn’t know where they came from. I didn’t care where they came from. Over the kegs and bottles were chilled glasses resting on shelves. I adjusted the belt of my robe and marveled at the sight before me. It was like Christmas. Wait… I reminded myself it actually was Christmas!
I briefly took my eyes off the hoppy glory and goodness to notice who the voice was coming from. He was sitting in a chair, dressed in jeans and a hoodie. He had his feet up. No shoes, just socks. I wondered where this polite company was coming from if he was just in jeans and a hoodie with no shoes. He was sipping from a glass. Judging by the looks of the glass and what was in it, he was drinking a dark beer, maybe a stout.
“Have a beer,” he said. “And hurry up. We need to go soon.”
I walked up to a shelf and grabbed a glass. I poured myself an ale. “Where are we going?” I asked as I poured.
“You’ll find out,” he said to me. These ghosts just love to keep me in suspense. Oh well. At least there’s a glass of something nice to keep me busy while I’m finding out.
We drained our glasses and he got up from his chair. “Let’s go,” he said. I put my glass down and went with him to the door. He opened the door and said, “After you.” I walked through the door and, instead of stepping outside, I immediately found myself at my in-law’s house where my family goes every year for Christmas.
I looked around. Everything was the way it is when we visit. The table was set. I could smell dinner cooking in the kitchen. I looked over at the ghost. It was dressed up for dinner. New pants, nice shirt, nice shoes. I looked down at what I was wearing. I was still wearing the same robe I put on when I got out of bed.
“Hey!” I said to the ghost. “Where are my nice duds?”
The ghost just shrugged. What was this about? Ghosts can wake me up. They can decorate my house as they see fit. They can transport me to different houses without me leaving my own house. Is it too much to ask for me to wear something nice even if people can’t see me? I mean, it’s important enough the ghost gets to change its clothes.
Spirit and I found our way to the living room where the family was seated. We were talking away about the year we had and what the kids got from Santa Claus Christmas. I could see everyone seated in the room, including me. I was on the couch with Wife.
Suddenly, The Boy came into the living room. He jumped on the couch, landing, between me and Wife. I tried to move The Boy so I could be next to my wife, but he wasn’t having any of that.
The ghost looked at me and asked, “Does this always happen?”
“Just wait,” I said. “We just got here.”
I saw myself trying to say something to Wife. I was glad that at least my shadow had nice clothes. Every time I was talking to Wife, The Boy just had to say something. My mother-in-law announced dinner was ready and we all went to the dining room for dinner. We made our way to the room and found our seats at the table. I tried to take a seat next to Wife, but The Boy pushed me away and informed me that was his seat. I went to the other side of her, but I found Lovie already seated there. She looked at me with a smile. I needed to remind myself that it was Christmas.
The ghost shook his head. “Wow,” he said. “Do you ever get to see your wife?”
I told him that if I was lucky, we’ll get a night or two without children infiltrating our bedroom.
We all sat down to dinner. My mother-in-law is a great cook. We passed this, took that, and took, poured, and scooped food and gravy on our plate. The Boy insisted on a lot of this and a lot of that. The ghost noticed what The Boy was taking himself and what he wanted other people to put on his plate for him.
“Is he going to eat all of that?” The ghost asked me.
“Dear God, no,” I said to it.
We made our plates and began eating. The Boy got bored not long after we sat down to eat and started to walk around the room, and then the house. The ghost looked at me. I just shrugged.
I tried to say something to my wife, but every time I tried just happened to be the same time one of my children needed to say something. Even The Boy went back to the table to “say something” to my wife if he thought I looked like I was about to say something.
Dinner finished. Everyone helped to clear the table and bring things to the kitchen. After things were cleared, we retired back to the living room where we rested on chairs and couches with full hearts and stomachs. I thought this was my chance to sit with my wife, but The Boy and Lovie already settled in on either side of her. I found another place to sit that wasn’t as close to Wife as I would have liked. I asked The Boy for a hug. He said, “No.” I asked Lovie for a hug. She just looked away from me and snuggled in closer with my wife. Slick and Slugger were on their phones. The Oppressed was playing with one of her new toys.
I looked at the ghost to make my point, but it was gone. I looked around. No ghost. No house, even. I looked and saw a house I had never seen before. It was decorated for Christmas, alright. There was food cooking. I could smell it.
“Hi there,” a voice behind me said. “Merry Christmas!”
Next: The Ghost of Daddy Future