Few knew that real estate tycoon, and unabashed 1 percent-er, Douglas Scrooge was the great-great-great grandson of Ebenezer Scrooge. But even though the fates of finance had smiled so radiantly upon Scrooge, his icy personality never thawed even a degree. (Unless, of course, one of his rent-controlled tenants croaked and the unit went fair market.)
So it was not surprising that when Scrooge was invited by his nephew for a joyous Christmas dinner, he barked, “Bah humbug, who needs the cholesterol?” But that night, let any man explain how Scrooge, having his key in the door of his plush San Vicente Avenue estate, suddenly saw the face of his deceased partner, Jacob Marley, whom he had often “scrooged,” so to speak.
“Hey, Jake, buddy-boy,” Scrooge said nervously. “How about I have my secretary FedEx you a check in the morning?” The ghost responded solemnly, “Tomorrow you will be haunted by a spirit when the bell tolls one.” Trembling, Scrooge uttered feebly, “My clocks don’t toll, they’re digital.” But alas, the ghost had disappeared.
The following day at 1 p.m. Scrooge was pacing in front of his plasma flat screen watching the Jets play the Giants. (He had five large on the Jets.) Suddenly the Ghost of Christmas Past appeared and the TV abruptly went black. Scrooge panicked until he remembered the TV was still under warranty.
Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the two were in the quaint Ocean Park neighborhood of Scrooge’s childhood, circa 1940. A wave of nostalgia momentarily swept over Scrooge. But soon he was pained by “For Sale” signs on cottages that 40 years later became multi-million dollar Sea Colony condos. “If only I had bought the whole damn block” Scrooge said ruefully.
Later than night, Scrooge was watching The Money Channel when the TV was again mysteriously turned off, this time by the Ghost of Christmas Present. As Scrooge fumbled for the remote, the two were suddenly whisked silently inside one of Scrooge’s rent-controlled apartment buildings on Pico Boulevard. It was the dwelling of Scrooge’s dutiful clerk, Bob Ratchet, and his adoring family.
Despite threadbare carpet and cracked windows, the Ratchets were gathered around the festive dinner table. When talk turned to Scrooge, Tiny Tim, lead rapper in “Disabled Defiance,” (bearing a striking resemblance to Eminem) blurted out, “Word, I oughta whack that dawg upside his head with my crutch.”
But Ratchet cautioned Tiny Tim, “On Christmas, we wish well to all in this world, even Scrooge.” And toast they did, but only after, under his breath, Tiny called Bob a “busta.”
At dawn on Christmas morning, Scrooge arose from slumber to see the Third Spirit, who was black and shrouded in a dark garment. “My wallet’s on the dresser. Take the cash but leave the ID, OK,” Scrooge said shakily. “Fool, I ain’t here to jack you, I’m the Ghost of Christmas Future!”
Suddenly, Scrooge found himself at the Woodlawn Cemetery on 14th Street. Horrified, he saw weeds growing around the dilapidated tombstone of Douglas Scrooge with the epitaph: “What good is his money now?”
Scrooge pleaded with the ghost, “Do I have any wiggle room? Hey, I’ve got a beachfront condo I stole in foreclosure. It’s yours! Whatdya say, pal?”
In the foreboding silence, Scrooge finally caved. “All right, I will honor Christmas in my heart. I’ll stand in lines shopping at the Third Street Promenade. I’ll go to the boring holiday parties and pretend to be interested in other people’s inane chit chat. But please assure me that I yet may change these shadows.”
But the ghost had vanished and Scrooge was asleep in his bed.
As he awoke he rushed to the window and opened it. He shouted to a gang banger below who was busy spray painting graffiti on a neighbor’s cement wall. “What’s today, my fine fellow?”
“Have you been sniffin’ glue, Pops? It’s Christmas.”
“Then it’s not too late!” Scrooge proclaimed gleefully.
And so it came to pass that Scrooge did all he promised and more. To Tiny Tim he became a second father, and tour promoter for “Disabled Defiance.” (Albeit for 15 percent of the gross.) To Ratchet, Scrooge became the model employer, giving him a raise to minimum wage plus a farthing, whatever a farthing is these days.
And Scrooge finally replaced the Ratchet’s carpet and cracked windows and even had the apartment painted. And for all of this Scrooge didn’t seek a rent increase pass through, though the thought crossed his mind.
And to his neighbors, Scrooge was no longer a greedy s.o.b. and was so nice in fact that it was a bit nauseating. And so in time it was said of Scrooge, by one and all, that he knew how to keep Christmas well. And, for that matter, he didn’t do a bad job with Chanukah either.
Wishing his readers a happy holiday season, Jack can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.