Mr. Wilson Ebenezer Scrooge
“I am no longer Mr. Wilson!” declared the former Mr. Wilson. “From this day forward; Christmas Eve, until the end of time, I shall be known to all as Mr. Ebenezer Wilson Scrooge!”
“Is that so,” I asked my companion. “And why, pray tell the sudden change of heart? You have been a most agreeable fellow these last years.”
“Every year, year after year, all five of my years in fact, I have been forced to endure the nuttiness that envelops this house this time of year. And all for what I ask?”
“Well, it is Christmas after all.”
“Christmas, Shmistmas, just another day to eat too much, sing too much, drink too much and ignore poor old Mr. Wilson too much! Humbug, I say!”
“Surely you don’t mean that, Mr. Wilson!” I implored. “This is the best time of year! Summer is through, fall has passed, winter is upon us, and with the cold comes a chance to rest a little, reflect a lot, enjoy the warmth of a hearty fire and the taste of your mother’s delicious stew!”
“Ha! A taste of Mother’s stew he says! Humbug! If I get a teaspoon of that stuff it will truly be a Christmas miracle!”
“You have a point my kind young friend, but you do have a bowlful of food two times a day, and fresh water at all times, surely you must be happy with that?”
“The same thing day in, day out, it’s a wonder I don’t die from boredom.”
“But what of those poor dogs without a home and little to eat? Cannot you find some compassion in that heart of yours to wish them goodwill, especially on a night such as this?”
“Are there no dog pounds or shelters?”
“Oh, there are indeed, kill shelters where unwanted animals live out their lives waiting for rescue, and many, I am sorry to say, never know the love and warmth you now enjoy.”
“Humbug,” said cranky old Scrooge Wilson, then stomped his paws in a most disagreeable fashion and stormed out of the room, but only after nipping his former good friend Luna the Cat on the ear.
“What’s up with him?” she asked as she made herself comfortable on my lap.
“I think he needs a little alone time,” I said to my cat as we both prepared for a late-afternoon snooze. “Perhaps he’ll return to his usual self tomorrow. I hope when I return from work he is back to his usual merry self.”
Mr. Wilson Ebenezer Scrooge retreated to his new favorite spot; a dimly lit corner where an old chair sat against a wall, a forgotten place in an otherwise happy home.
“Humbug,” he said miserably, lifted his leg and peed on the floor.
“Another Humbug,” said the former Mr. Wilson as he circled the cushion on his new favorite spot. “I can see it already, those little creatures called grandchildren will have the run of my house, tipping this over, wrecking that, eating my food and pulling my ears!”
Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge Wilson then collapsed into the smelly old chair with a huff, closed his eyes and fell sound asleep. He wasn’t asleep for long.
“Wilson Scrooooge!” He twitched a little.
“Wilson Scroooooge!!” He twitched some more.
“Mr. Wilson Ebenezer Scrooge!!!”
He twitched no more and opened his eyes, ready to bark the intruder directly into next year. He looked to his left, then to his right but could see no intruder. More troubling still, he did not pick up a scent.
“My sniffer sniffs better than the nosiest of noses,” he grumbled. “Where is that annoying voice coming from, and how do I stop it!”
Ebenezer Wilson shivered then, a mighty shake the likes of which he had never experienced. The cold went all the way to his bones, rested there and decided to stay. He scanned the room with his superb vision, saw nothing amiss at first, but on second glance he noticed movement from his very own dog crate!
“You there, what are you doing in my crate!” he demanded of the furry thing that had managed to get locked into the tiny enclosure. “And why can’t I smell you, from the look of you I should be able to detect you from a mile away!”
The furry thing that was trapped in the crate turned toward Ebenezer slowly, revealing himself one whisker at a time.
“Cooper you old dog!” exclaimed Scrooge. “Well met my friend, what are you doing in there?”
“The same as you will be doing when your time on earth is through, wishing you had not wasted your time on earth complaining!”
“Humbug! I only complain a little; normally I’m the perfect gentleman. It’s this thing they call Christmas that makes me crazy!”
“It is this thing called Christmas that should fill you with hope and joy!”
“It does. I hope it ends so I can find some joy!”
“You are a loathsome creature Scrooge! What happened to the fellow I used to run with, before we were caught? Where has that fun-loving, mischievous pup gone to?”
“I put him away for the season, Cooper, again, what are you doing here?”
“I am here to herald the arrival of three spirits. They have been given the unenviable task of restoring some sense to you. The first will arrive at the hour of one. The second at two. The third shall appear as the clock strikes three. Heed them well Wilson Scrooge, or you will end up like me, a tired old dog spirit forced to remain in captivity never knowing the joy that comes from belonging with a family who cares for me.”
“You never found a human?”
“I did, a lovely man who lived alone and wanted nothing more than my companionship. But I wanted more, and would escape every time I had the chance, always looking for better food, a warmer bed and some children of my own.”
“Did you not find what you were looking for?”
“I did not, I found a world most cruel, and was captured by the animal control people, placed in a cage and sat there, alone and miserable until I was nothing but spirit.”
“But it is your right to look for a better life!” said Wilson Scrooge indignantly.
“You fooool,” groaned the spirit of Cooper, who already was fading from sight. Mr. Wilson Ebenezer Scrooge closed his eyes for the briefest of moments, opened them and saw that his crate was empty. He shook his head, then his body, all but his tail, growled a little, barked a little, let out an exasperated sigh and returned to his slumbering position.
“Humbug,” he exclaimed once more before nodding off. “Just my imagination, likely caused by the gruel these people feed me!”
Mr. Wilson Ebenezer Scrooge woke with a start just as the clock struck one. He sniffed the room, looked about, saw nothing amiss and decided the spirit of Cooper was nothing more than his imagination. Nonetheless, he looked about his surroundings with great care once more before allowing himself the luxury of a good rest of the night’s sleep. Something moved!
“You there!” he said when a shadow passed his nose. “Show yourself!”
And just as he demanded the Spirit of Christmas Past slowly materialized. Little more than mist and haze the apparition nevertheless took form, resembling a kindred soul.
“Who. Are You?” demanded Scrooge when the fog had cleared and a kindly elderly husky stood before him.
“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past,” she said with elegance.”
“Long past?” asked Scrooge.
“Your past!” exclaimed the Ghost.
“What do you want with me?” asked Scrooge.
“To come with me,” she said, holding out her paw.
“I’d rather not,” said Scrooge, shrinking into the cushion of his chair.
The Ghost of Christmas Past opened her jaw, put her teeth into the scruff of Scrooge’s neck and carried him through the wall and into the snow.
“What madness is this?” Wilson Scrooge demanded.
“This is madness,” said the kindly Husky as the pair descended from the heavens and landed next to a deserted truck trailer surrounded by pine trees.
“What is inside?” asked Scrooge. The Ghost brushed the side of the trailer with her paw, and the inside of the truck was revealed. Row upon row of cages filled the cramped space, each cage holding either a sickly Schnauzer or a tired Poodle. The smell of the place nearly knocked Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge Wilson over, and the sight filled him with dread.
“See that one, in the corner, struggling to feed her pups?”
“Yes, said Scrooge.” “But what does that have to do with me?”
“Everything. That is your mother, forced to produce litter after litter of puppies so the public’s insatiable hunger for pets can be met.”
“My mother?” asked Scrooge, looking more closely at the poor dog struggling to feed her brood. The resemblance was remarkable and he felt an overwhelming desire to run to her.
“They cannot see you, or feel you, or even know you are here,” said the Ghost. “These are merely memories of things that passed. But know this my little friend; places like this exist in abundance. Puppy Mills they are called, and dogs like us are produced for profit, and our parents treated like crops, disposed of like rotting lettuce when they are no longer able to make money for the people who own them.”
“Surely you are mistaken,” said Wilson Scrooge.
“Sadly, I am not,” said the Ghost as she closed her jaw around Wilson’s neck, and as quickly as they had appeared, they were gone.
“I know this place!” said Wilson. “This is my favorite place on earth. Oh, how happy I was! Look there’s Tippy! and Cheri!”
Wilson, Tippy and Cheri inhabited the cozy one room home adorned with festive lights and pretty wreaths, ribbons and bows. Seated at the table was Cheri, wrapping gifts. Tippy and Wilson chased each other around the table as Cheri laughed, and lively music filled the space.
“Alright you two rascals, it’s time for the Fezziwig Ball!” said Cheri, and her dogs stopped their chase and waited. Cookies from above scattered on the floor, and a lively tune from centuries ago filled the warm space. Cheri led the dance, and Wilson and Tippy followed her every move, eventually falling exhausted onto the floor.
“Can’t I join?” asked Wilson Scrooge,
“They cannot see us,” said the Ghost, “or even know we are here. It is your past we watch and your happiness that needs to be witnessed.”
“Why have you shown me these things?” asked Mr. Wilson as the Husky picked Mr. Wilson up again.
“Because the past is the place we feed our soul, and find hope for the future while helping us to survive the present.”
“Present?” huffed Mr. Wilson. “Maybe for everybody else, but never for Poor Old Mr. Wilson!” He waited for a reply, but found himself alone, back on the smelly old chair where he had decided to spend his Christmas. Shaking the bugs from his ears, he collapsed in a huff.
“What an odd creature!”
The booming voice woke Mr. Ebenezer Wilson from his fretful slumber.
“Half one breed, and half another, part of one and some of the other!”
“Well, aren’t you the clever one. Tell me Spirit, are you the one Cooper spoke of, the one that is scheduled to arrive as the clock strikes two?”
“I am indeed; I am the Spirit of Christmas Present!”
“Well, if you are who you say you are, where is my present?”
“You are surrounded by your presents you silly creature, look around you! This home is the greatest of all gifts, the envy of many and your reality!”
“It is this very reality I would prefer to skip. Come on; let’s get it over with so I can get some much needed rest!”
The Spirit of Christmas Present laughed then, a sound so infectious even crabby old Mr. Wilson Scrooge felt lighter of heart. The room swirled, slow at first, picking up speed as the laughter continued. Just when it seemed he could take no more the spinning stopped, and lo and behold the two stood outside of an old building nestled in the heart of the city.
“What is this place?” asked Scrooge.
“This is the place your owner disappears to five times a week. This is the place he goes to make the money needed to provide you with food and shelter, toys and treats.”
“Humbug, it’s the same dog food day in and day out, same treats every night, I sleep at the foot of the bed, not under the covers like a dog like me should, and have to pee outside. It’s barbaric!”
“Come with me you silly little fellow, and see for yourself what goes on outside your safe little world.”
Suddenly, bells shattered the silence, bright light filled the firehouse, loud voices filled the air and the doors opened, followed by a fire engine and a ladder truck, their shrill sirens causing old Scrooge to howl with them.
“What is happening?” he demanded.
“There is an emergency; a home is on fire, your owner responding to help.”
“Is that what he does?” asked Scrooge.
“It is. Open your eyes man, not everything comes easy!”
Mr. Ebenezer Wilson Scrooge sat on a snow bank with the Spirit, watching. People were trapped in a house that was burning. He heard a dog in there too, but his barks were quieting, and then they were gone. The truck carrying his dad arrived, and three firefighters ran toward the house, chopped the door down and went inside. Other people arrived and before long water was being sprayed everywhere and people in small groups went into the burning home.
“Can we help?” asked Wilson Scrooge. “I’m sure I heard a dog in there, crying for help.”
“That dog you speak of was not crying for help, he was alerting his masters of the danger they faced! He risked his life to save theirs.”
“Will he be okay?” asked Wilson, shrinking into the snow, wanting to disappear.
From the flames appeared one, then two, then three firefighters, each carrying a person. They brought the rescued family to a waiting ambulance and then did the most remarkable thing; they went back into the burning house!
“Where is my Dad?” asked Wilson anxiously. “Is he okay? And what of the pup that saved the family? Will he get out alive?”
“I am only the Spirit of Christmas Present my little friend. I only know what is happening, not what will.”
Just as Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge Wilson decided to run into the home to look for his master and the heroic dog, everything began spinning, and in a swirl of light and color he was gone, this time inside a lovely home festooned with lights and music. Three dogs lived there, and were happily playing with the people of the house, eating mini hot dogs wrapped in pastry and bits of cheese.
“Wait, what?” said Scrooge.
“This is your neighbor’s home. See the merriment taking place? You could be involved if you were not such a crab!”
“What do you mean? I know these dogs, and like them not at all! I bark at them every time they congregate in front of my house, and protect everybody from imminent danger!”
“There is no danger, only some dogs out for a walk with their people, and you, you buffoon of a creature, cannot stop barking at them.”
“I’m only doing what dogs do.”
“Yes my little friend, this is true, but cannot you find in your heart the ability to overlook what you think to be true and give these fine young fellows a chance? Perhaps a friendship could be found, and you could play with them rather than scaring them away?”
“I don’t know, I never tried, I just don’t like them, but I think I might…”
“Ignorance and want does not a happy dog make, Mr. Wilson Scrooge. Come now my time on earth is nearly through, I have 2016 brothers and sisters waiting for me, hoping that I was able to spread some goodwill and cheer in this most dreary place, and especially in that sour little heart of yours!”
“Sour? How dare you, I am a dog of the most impeccable character!”
But Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge Wilson was talking to himself, back on his smelly old chair, looking at the clock as it approached the hour of three.
“Humbug,” he said, but without much conviction.
The first chime woke him, the second one worried him, and the third filled him with dread. Something was in front of him, something, or someone, he was not quite sure.
“Are you the third of the spirits that haunt me this night?” he asked the shape that appeared before him. “Cannot you show yourself so I can see with whom I am to spend my time with?”
The spirit spoke not a word. He lifted his paw, a thin and bony thing, barely covered with fur, and Ebenezer Scrooge Wilson took it without delay.
“I fear you most of all, Spirit,” he said, surrendering to the fate that was in store. Wilson closed his eyes for just a moment, and when they opened they witnessed a most dreadful sight.
“This place!” he said. Where is everybody, there’s nothing but empty crates in an abandoned truck, hidden in the woods!” He looked everywhere his eyes could see, but nothing moved, there was no life, only an unrelenting cold. The spirit moved, and Wilson Scrooge moved with him, to the other side of the trailer and a most unwelcome sight.
“What is this?” he asked, filled with dread. A pile of something, some six feet high and twelve feet round stood before him, and the pile moved in spots, and whimpered. “Surely this is my imagination!” he whimpered, and tried to hide his eyes with his paws, but the spirit of Christmas Yet to Come would have none of it, and moved closer to the pile.
“I can stand no more!” cried Wilson. Please, Spirit, if you have any humanity inside of you take me away from this place.”
A cold northerly wind whisked them away, and where they went was no warmer. Bright sunshine filled the air, its very presence mocking the earth, which was enveloped with unrelenting cold. People lined the street near Wilson’s home, somber, dressed in their finest woolen coats, hats and mittens.
“What is this?” Mr. Wilson asked. “Is it a parade? I love a parade!”
The Spirit of Christmas yet to Come raised his paw, and pointed at a procession which crept closer. The sound of bagpipes filled the crisp air, people in uniform atop horses escorted a wagon decorated not at all for the season, but beautiful nonetheless.
“Well, this is more like it!” said an excited Mr. Wilson. A Parade in my honor!”
The Spirit raised his arm once more as the pipers marched past. The horse drawn wagon slowly marched forward. The Spirit took Mr. Wilson by the scruff of the neck, picked him up and carried him closer, and closer, until he was in the wagon.
“I know what this is!” said Mr. Wilson. This is a casket, and inside is…”
Images flashed through poor Mr. Wilson’s mind as faint traces of the scent he loved most in the world filled his nostrils. The house that was on fire…his Dad rushing in…the people being rescued…the dog that saved them hiding under a bed…his Dad looking, looking…the dog choking…his dad running out of air…the dog…his Dad…
“Spirit! I implore you! Is this what is to be, or what might come to be?” said Mr. Wilson, but the ghost was relentless. He placed Mr. Wilson on top of the casket, and the bagpipes grew louder, and louder until the racket became unbearable! The cacophony filled every ounce of Mr. Wilson’s being, and when he could take it no longer, it stopped, and silence filled the air, and Mr. Wilson found himself alone, sitting on a smelly old chair at sunrise on Christmas morning.
“What, where, how?” he shook his head, then his body, rose from his seat feeling lighter than he had in days.
“You there,” he said to the cat that sauntered past him.
“What day is this?”
The cat ignored him.
“A wonderful cat, an intelligent cat!” he said out loud, and approached the lovely creature. “Can you please tell me what day this is?” he asked again.
“It’s Christmas Day you knucklehead,” she said, and kept on walking.
“Christmas Day!” said Mr. Wilson, and he scurried around the house, ran under the Christmas Tree, rang bells and jumped on the furniture. Sitting atop the sofa, he gazed outside, into a world most bright and cheery. Three dogs walked past with their owners, quickly, so as not to disturb the barking thing that inhabited the window most days.
“Hello my friends!” barked Mr. Wilson, and the three looked as one, and barked a hello in reply.”
“The Spirits did it all in one night!” Wilson exclaimed as he jumped onto the bed that his Mom and Dad slept in. “I’m as light as a feather,” he declared to nobody in particular, “as giddy as a drunken man!”
“Wake up everybody! It’s Christmas Day!”
And that moment was the end of Mr. Ebenezer Wilson Scrooge. Never again did he allow his spirit to diminish, no matter how difficult his existence became. He kept Christmas in his heart that day, and every day, and dedicated his life to being the happiest, most agreeable fellow he could, and by doing so touched the lives of every person who met him. Some say that his very presence in the world made such an impact that more and more people adopted homeless pets, and brought them to their homes and made them part of their families.
Mr. Wilson and his family spent their day surrounded with love and good cheer. They ate, and drank, and danced and sang, exchanged presents and told stories of times past, enjoyed the present and looked forward to a bright future.
When the festivities were through, and the house was silent once more, Mr. Wilson looked around at the home he called his own, thought of the spirits that guided him, placed his tired little head on his paws, and said, “God bless us, every one.”