A Christmas Carol...Whistler style 

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'Twas the night before Christmas and dour Billy Scrooge was beside himself. Until moments ago, he'd been revelling in the day's accomplishments. Just that afternoon he'd 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 Cratchit's eyes and his muted cry of despair when he said, "And furthermore, you have 24 hours to get your sorry butt out of my company house."

"But Mr. Scrooge," Cratchit wailed, "Where will I go? Tiffney's about to have another baby."

Oh, it was priceless, thought Scrooge. Almost as good as kicking those begging scoundrels out of his office when they asked for a donation for Community Services. "What? Are there no food banks? Out with you."

So overcome with joy was he, he'd actually tipped the waitress who served him dinner every night at Tapley's. She, naturally, thought the dime left on the table had simply been overlooked.

But this Marley thing had shaken him. Just before bed, right after calling Cratchit to remind him he now had only 18 hours to vacate 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 timeshares, retail, coffee places and real estate development.

"Heed me," Marley had said. "Repent and be generous to all! Or be damned to wander the earth forever in the afterlife like me, Billy. It's not too late for you!"

"Humbug," Scrooge had replied. He loved that word, especially around Christmas. But he was agitated 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 had tickled his leg, under the covers. Opening his eyes, he screamed. At the foot of his bed sat a bearded apparition in patched bell-bottoms, a Leafs sweater, and an Export A toque.

"Wh-who are you?" he cried.

"The Ghost of Whistler Past, dude. Let's go."

In a flash Scrooge's bedroom disappeared and he was standing knee deep in mud in the parking lot of the old Mt. Whistler Lodge. Soft yellow light shone through the windows and loud rock music boomed within.

"I know this place," he said. "It's the Freaker's Ball."

The spirit led him inside. "Oh man," Scrooge said. "There's George and Rod, Paul and old Schultzie and Al. Oh wow!" His gaze wandered to the corner where a group with lit up eyes and face-spasmed smiles made merry. "Oh look, it's Charlie and Andy and... and me. Oh Spirit, these were such wonderful times. So full of hope and dreams and life lived for the moment."

As quickly as they'd arrived they were gone.

"I want to go back," Scrooge implored. "Why did you take me away? Where are we?"

They were outside a spare wooden shed. Kerosene light from a lantern illuminated a young couple within. A girl with long brown hair and comely features was packing her few belongings into a backpack.

"I'm out of here, Billy. You're turning into nothing but a greed-head. That's not my scene and it didn't used to be yours. We could have had a great thing together, but I'm not going to play second fiddle to your bank account. It's over."

"Oh you wicked, wicked Spirit," Scrooge cried. "That's my squat. That's Karen, the only woman who ever loved me."



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