A TAX SCAM CAROL – CHAPTER 4

Chapter Four

The Final Spirit

 

Ebenezer Trump had no sooner returned to his bedchamber, cap snugged tightly over his irreverent hair, under which thoughts of Tiny Mike Pence Sanders whirled a-gog, as though dancing to a fiddler filled with frenzy when a single skeletal hand penetrated the curtain surrounding its bed.

So unexpected this was, and so terrifying, the finger curling silently in an undeniable beckoning, that Trump near soiled his nightgown.  Behind the bony hand, a skeletal arm disappeared into the armhole of an ebony robe. Note! I say “ebony,” for there is no greater word to describe the blackness of that cloak, but it does it not justice. If ebony were compared to this cloak it would shine like the brightness of the noonday sun upon an unbroken snowfall. It was as if it were the opposite of bright, the very thing swallowing all warmth and mirth and the lingering scents of Sarah Sanders’ crispy and festive goose, amplifying in its place the memory of the dreadful lack of cheer from toast in his honor.

“What would you have of me, Spirit,” Trump asked, his voice a-quiver even though he had grown somewhat accustomed to the manner of Spectral travel, this hand, this skeleton frightened him more than all the imaginings of all the ghosts and devils which beweigh a long life.

From the ghost, silence. Again the finger curled in beckoning.

“No!” Trump found strength in his terror. “I shall not go to my grave this night, Spirit, for I am changed and have much for which I must atone.”

Again, the finger curled, and again Trump bent his will to resisting.

And in his mind came the single word:

-COME-

In that word was the whisper of the graves of men gone cold, the dreary moss upon the momento-mori, and none of the promise of a just reward for a life well lived. It was the chatter of spider-legs upon a frozen window pane, the clacking of the claws of grabs, the ravings of a madman, and the cold, irresistible sanity of impending death.

Trump found himself, quite without knowing how he began, leaning forward to reach the sleeve of the ghost.  With a final tremble he gently closed the tip of his finger and the tip of his thumb to the simultaneously rough and silky fabric of darkness, and all went dark.

“Spirit! What evil have you wrought? To what foul place have you brought me?”  The darkness about seemed as absolute as the darkness of the Spirit’s cloak, until, in the far distance a dim glow lit a familiar face.

His Face.

-I AM THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE- whisper-screamed the voice in his mind, and Trump was sure he would soon be headed to Bellevue.

“This is the future?” asked Trump, knowing but desperately hoping against certainty that his actions had not wrought this vile darkness.

-SOME TWO YEARS HENCE. IT IS THE FUTURE YOU HAVE SOWN, EBENEZER TRUMP.-

As the ghost spoke in his mind, the pair rushed forward so the countenance of Old Ebenezer Trump, for he had aged dramatically in the two years between now and then, had such a terrified aspect that Trump could scarcely bear to loop upon himself.  His jowls, once jauntily perched above his mandible like taunting, hateful cherubs, now hung so low as to waddle with his rapid breathing. His skin, usually a healthy and virile orange of hue had taken on a pallor only seen in the faces of those who know Death is knocking, and the butler refuses to leave the door be.

In his hand was his favorite device, has tele-communicater, which served primarily has his Twitter machine. From here, he maintained his empire, cast deep chills into the souls of his enemies, and decreed how his workers shall and must comport themselves, for and by his own example.

“Aha!, Spirit!  Life is worth living still in this grisly future you have shown me, for I can still tweet. I tweet, therefore, I am.”

-YOU MAY NOT TWEET. LOOK, EBENEZER TRUMP. LOOK AND SEE YOUR FOLLY-

Again, without Trump knowing how, his chin began to lift and he looked upon his older self once more. Panic was in the older man’s eyes. His thumbs tapped and tapped, seemingly in the same place. He moaned unintelligibly in the vision, so low and forlorn, that Trump know his pain must surely be grievous.

-TWITTER WAS OWNED BY THE RIVAL OF YOUR INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER. THEY HAVE CHOSEN TO RESTRICT ACCESS TO TWITTER. YOU CANNOT TWEET. THE NET IS NOT NEUTRAL-

There came forth from Trump such a cry that the shade itself seemed startled, vanishing briefly before rematerializing, its obsidian cloak flapping in a breeze created solely by the torment of Trump’s soul.

Fervently, Trump began patting the pockets of his dressing gown, searching for the Twitter machine. It must be here, he was never far from it at this time of day.

-YOU MAY NOT USE IT HERE-

“But I must, cruel Spirit. This is a future I cannot bear. I must contact Mr. Pai, and explain to that loser how sad the future is! Bah, Haters,” he cried, sounding all the while a petulant child who has lost his favorite toy for misbehaving and at the same time sounding every one of his seventy years, plus seventy and seven more.

-YOU MAY NOT USE IT HERE- the ghost again retorted.

It rang with such finality, such absolute certainty in the mind of Trump as to leave no doubt to the veracity of the statement. One may as well question the rising of the sun, or the beauty of a Prussian maiden. As best he could, Trump steeled himself, remembering that this was but a vision, and mayhaps a vision that was as malleable as the falling snow young Mike Pence Sanders so loved to shape into snowballs that rattled Trump’s windows.

“Very well, Spirit, I shall put it aside. But be not cruel! Torment me no more with this sight.” The old man Trump brought up the light in the chamber to better see his device, hoping for  malfunction. In doing so, he revealed the spirit. Note I do not say he illuminated the spirit, for the specter remained as dark as the February night. Rather, it was by the spaces not illuminated by the light in the room that Trump got his first good look at the Ghost of Christmas Future. Aside from the skeletal hands, it was all swirling impenetrable blackness, yet movements and shapes were somehow identifiable within all but the cowl. Trump dared not look there.  Not there, not ever.

-TAKE MY SLEEVE-

He did, and they were soon walking through a cold tunnel, drips of water echoing off the stones surrounding them. Scrooge’s breath plumed out in front of them in the cold air. There were no such plumes from the ghost.

All along the tunnel were round, wooden doors, banded in iron with twisted, blackened iron knockers. Some had ornate carvings of lions and gargoyles while others were plain. Still more had what appeared to be symbols, although Trump could not decipher even their origin, let alone their meanings. These doors radiated a menace, a new pocket of cold in the already cold tunnel, through in which Trump’s breath seemed to crystallize, as if on the edge of precipitating to the floor.

It was at one of these doors at which the spirit stopped.

-KNOCK THRICE-

“I do not want to see, Spirit. Have a kindess. Do not make me see what lies behind this frozen portal.:

-KNOCK-

-THRICE-

Trump warily grabbed the ring of the knocker, and though it burned his hand with the cold of it, he did as was bidden. The first two knocks clanged and echoed off the stone tunnel, but as soon as he struck the third he was in an overwarm room filled with such wails and creatures clad in black that he thought at first he had been transported to Hades itself.

Until, that is, he saw the tiny coffin and recognized the Sanders family among those clad in black.

-GO-
-SEE-

Trump stepped through the crowd, quite literally. Each step passed him through mourner. Here, Sean Spicer Sanders, there, old Kelly Anne Conway, her makeup streaking down her craggy face. Trump passed through each as if he were less than light itself. Finally, with dread, he approached the coffin.

Within, lay Tiny Mike Pence. His tiny body looked somehow even smaller in death, his wooden crutch placed alongside his body to help him walk through the gates of Heaven. Sarah Sanders wailed over the body of her lost child.

“Oh, no, Spirit. How can this have happened. Tell me? Oh, I implore you to tell me, and yet I fear the weight of the words you will utter.”

-YOU KNOW THE TRUTH OF THINGS-

And so he did, though scarce had he been so honest with himself.

-HEAR THEM-

And so he did, their words coming to him as clear as day.

“No Trump, then,” Paul Ryan whispered to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“No, and he better not show his face if he knows what is good for him. He better not.  We didn’t ask for much. We didn’t even ask him for money. All those lies I told for him for so long. I believed he would make things better. I lied and I lied and it killed my boy.

“Spirit…,” pleaded Trump.

-HEAR THEM-

“We didn’t even ask him for more money,” she went on. “When Tiny Mike’s condition worsened, we just needed some help. Trump did not provide insurance, and when we applied for Medicaid, we were told there was a three year wait. A three year wait for medicine!”

Trump wept.

“We saved what little we could, but it was not enough for even the most basic medicine. Trump could have helped us. Trump killed my boy!”

Trump fell to his knees, grabbing the green skirt of Sarah Sanders. “Forgive me,” he sobbed, “Oh, Sanders, forgive me!”

There was no answer. How could there be? This Sarah Sanders was yet to come, all the pain and fear and loss did not yet exist.

And then they were walking in the tunnel again, Trump unsure of the transition until he saw the skeletal hand upon the hem of his nightclothes.

“Oh sprit,” he pled. “Please tell me how I can undo what I have wrought.”

-SEE-

The other hand grabbed a new knocker, and again on the third knock Trump found himself elsewhere. This was a graveyard, a fresh hole atop a lonely hilltop. No graves were near, and the tree was withered as if poisoned by the body about to be planted underneath its broken old boughs.

There was a priest and there was a casket. There was nobody else.  The priest waited a long moment, looked about and seeing no mourners nor anyone else watching spat into the grave and walked away without administering prayers for the dead.

Alongside the grave lay a headstone, waiting to be placed at the gravesite.

-LOOK-

“I don’t wish to see this, Spirit.”

-LOOK NOW-

He looked. It was a simple stone, carved with little care. “Ibinezer Trump,” was the first line, misspelled and scrawled at a lazy slant.

“No, no, no,” he wailed.

The inscription was done much more clearly, in capital block letters to last the ages:

 

HE DIED AS HE LIVED:

ALONE AND UNLOVED

 

“Oh Spirit, you cruel creature, leave me. Leave me here. I am unworthy of the years I have left,” he cried, casting his twitter machine into the grave dug for his own self. He looked at the empty hole, adorned with no flowers, no widows in black, no wailing children or despondent grandchildren. No mark upon the world he had left other than the marker above Tiny Mike Pence’s grave.

“Leave me,” he repeated.

-THERE IS TIME-

And with this, a billion possible futures flowed through his head. Tiny Mike Pence, saved by medicine administered by a doctor who fled the war in Syria. The children of the world resplendent in food and clothing and medicine for any. The schools full, and the graduate levels especially with stipends to further their works in science and art.

And there was Tiny Mike Pence, not so tiny now, bouncing a gurgling baby off of a fully healed leg, laughing, and telling young Ebenezer what a great man he was going to become.

Trump wept again, and begged the spirit to return him.

“I have so much to do,” he sniffled. Giving the grave a final glance, he added “And so little time.”

This time fearlessly, Ebenezer Trump grabbed the sleeve of the ghost, and found himself in his bedchamber once again. The dawn light was streaming through the window, and the cries of the smallfolk starting the day in the street below wafted through the window.

Contributing Editor: Benjamin Jackson

Benjamin Jackson is a writer and father of a chronically ill teenager who somehow still likes him. His non-fiction and opinion pieces have appeared in Patch Media, WBUR's Cognoscenti, and the Penmen Review. His fiction and poetry has been published in New Millennium Writings, The Legendary, 50 Word Stories, and anywhere else he can con an editor into buying his work. He lives in Natick, Massachusetts with his daughter.

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