Twas the night before Christmas and Billy Scrooge didnt know whether to be tickled pink or scared witless. Until just a minute ago, it had been a day of giddy excitement. Hed fired his long-time bean counter and whipping boy, Cratchit, for having the temerity to ask for both a raise and Christmas day off. He remembered the forlorn look in Cratchits eyes and howl of despair when he said, "And furthermore, you have 24 hours to get your sorry butt out of my company house."
"But Mr. Scrooge, where will I go? Where will the kids go? Lucindas going to have another baby."
Oh, it was priceless, thought Scrooge, a hint of a mean smile crossing his dour face.
Hed celebrated by actually tipping the waitress who served him dinner every night at Tapleys. She, of course, thought the dime left on the table had simply fallen out of his pocket, been overlooked. A nightly fixture in the corner booth, he knew everyone there and everyone knew him, though none spoke to the man they referred to sarcastically as Sweet William, and none were spoken to by him. Thats the way he liked it, uh-huh, uh-huh.
But this Marley thing had shaken him. Just before bed, right after hed called Cratchit and reminded him he now had only 18 hours to get out of his house, the ghost of Bob Marley his old business partner not the reggae singer had floated into his room. Scrooge and Marley had been instrumental in building Whistler. Their interests extended beyond the mountains themselves to hotels, condos, T-shirt shops, coffee places, housing and restaurants.
"Heed me," Marley had said. "Repent and be generous to all whom your holdings touch or be damned to wander the earth forever in the afterlife like me, Billy. Its not too late for you."
"Humbug," Scrooge had replied. He loved that word, especially around Christmas. But he was a bit worried about the three spirits Marley had warned would visit him as the hours grew long.
At the stroke of one, Scrooge woke with a start. Something, a mouse maybe, had shinnied up his leg, under the covers. Opening his eyes, he screamed. At the foot of his bed stood an apparition in patched bell-bottoms, stretched shapeless sweater, a beard and Export A toque.
"Who are you?" he cried.
"The Ghost of Whistler Past, dude. Lets go"
Scrooge couldnt believe his eyes. In a flash his bedroom disappeared and he was standing knee deep in a mud puddle in the parking lot of the old Mt. Whistler Lodge. Soft yellow light shone through the windows and loud rock music pulsated from within.
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