The fog chilled Slutch to the bone. He never saw fog that behaved in this manner. It seemed to come from one place, directly behind the chapel in the cemetery, from where it spread over the rest of the graveyard. It resembled the artificial fog coming from machines in dancings and rock concerts, except that fog wasn’t this cold.
Slutch felt increasingly uncomfortable and the cold didn’t have much to do with that. The things both Ghosts showed him had made quite an impact on him. His mind had tried to explain the old memories shown to him by the Ghost of Christmas Past away as a dream or a sentimental mood but the things the Ghost of Christmas Present showed him could not be explained away that easily. No matter what the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come would show him, Slutch couldn’t imagine he would still be the same person tomorrow as he was yesterday. Too much had happened and too much had been seen.
In the meantime Slutch was freezing. The fog was still expanding and enveloped him completely.
“I wish I had brought a jacket” Slutch said, startled by the volume of his voice in this foggy world. He had always heard a voice would sound much harder and carry further when it was foggy but he never experienced it.
Slutch kept looking around but, by now, the fog had become so dense to see anything of his surroundings except a black form that appeared in the distance and slowly walked towards Slutch.
By the time the form was near Slutch he saw the form was in fact a man, dressed in high leather boots, a black thong that looked like leather, an SM-body armor and a black leather mask. In his right hand he held a long leather whip, similar to the one used in the Indiana Jones movies. The figure felt quite sinister to Slutch and he became more and more anxious.
“Are you the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come?” Slutch asked the SM-figure who nodded in reply.
“I must be honest with you, Ghost. Of all Ghosts I saw this night I fear you the most” Slutch said. “What is it you will be showing me?”
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come gestured with his whip in the fog, indicating that was the distance they had to walk. Slutch dawdled a little but apparently this Ghost had even less patience than the other two because he nudged Slutch in the way they needed to go, into the fog.
All of a sudden the fog was gone and they stood in a snow covered street. It was cold but the sun was shining. A group people was talking in the streets.
“All I heard he was dead for at least a week before the found him” a woman said.
“That is not surprising. Nobody missed him, probably. God knows the man had no friends” one of the men replied.
“Well, better men have left the face of the earth and I’m sure no one will miss this man” a second man said.
“True, but I heard his employees are in trouble. The new owner will probably throw them out” a second woman said.
“Well, he’s gone and may God have mercy on his soul” the first man said. “Let’s get going. There are more important things to do, like Christmas diner”.
Slutch turned to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
“That man they are talking about, is that me? Am I the person that won’t be missed?”
The Ghost shrugged as if he wasn’t interested. Or maybe he didn’t know the answer.
All of a sudden Slutch saw where they were. The building they stood in front of was the office of the same undertaker who had buried Jacob Arsely. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come motioned Slutch to walk inside. Slutch really didn’t want to go inside because this place still held some very bad memories from the time of Jacob’s death. Still, the Ghost didn’t take no for an answer and slowly pushed the frightened Slutch inside.
Once inside Slutch’s eyes needed to get used to the dark. He had forgotten how dark it was in here. Near the place where the coffin stood a young man was, crying. Slutch recognized him to be his nephew Cock, another clue he was the man the people outside had been talking about.
“If only you had listened” Cock cried. “Now you’re dead and hardly anyone mourns your passing. And you had such potential!”
Slutch walked up to his nephew to comfort him but his arm slid right through the young man. Slutch had forgotten once more he could not interfere in the things the Ghosts showed him. He silently cursed at both the Ghosts and himself.
“I should know by now I can’t touch the boy” Slutch thought. “Still, I feel a strong need to comfort him. I never felt that way towards him before. Another sign I’m no longer the man I was.”
The coffin was closed and there was no picture on the lid, so Slutch could not be sure it was him in there. Still, Cock here crying in combination with the things the people outside had said almost convinced Slutch he was the one that had died. He got angry.
“Was it the prostate cancer that killed me, Ghost?” Slutch demanded. “Did that little shit in the hospital actually “lose” the results and killed me in the process?” The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come nodded once.
“That little bastard! I’ll have his head for this” Slutch raged. But after only seconds he calmed down already. “I can’t have his head because I’m dead now. And when I go back it hasn’t happened yet. But he and I are going to have a little talk, that’s for sure!”
The Ghost nudged him again, indicating they had to go. Slutch looked over his shoulder one last time to see Cock lying over the coffin, crying so hard he might cause a flood. Ebenezer Slutch’s heart broke.
Slutch didn’t notice where they were walking to but soon he saw a place he hadn’t been for ages. They were at the bridge where Arsely saved him all those years ago from dying from pneumonia. Slutch was not happy to see a bunch of young men sitting there and was downright angry when he saw they were from his club.
“Ghost, what are they doing here? These are supposed to be working in the club.”
At the moment he saw Suckit arriving in his best suit, together with a guy he assumed was a lawyer.
“And Bob? Can we go back home now?” one of the boys asked.
“Unfortunately not, guys. Mr. Slutch didn’t leave a will and without a last will and testament the club, his house and our apartment goes to the oldest living relative, his mother. And she wants us out. She’s going to close the club and probably sell the rest. We won’t even get permission to get our belongings from the apartment because she’s afraid we’ll remove stuff from the apartment we have no right to have” Suckit said.
“Bob, sorry, but that is bullshit! Ebenezer Slutch was a terrible person and I don’t think anyone of us is sorry to see him gone but I refuse to believe he didn’t leave a will. He was smarter than that” the boy called Mace said. “And even if he didn’t leave a will, we bought most of the stuff in the apartment ourselves. They have no right to keep that from us”.
“That’s why I asked my old friend Wally here to help us out. He’s a lawyer and he will try to convince Mrs. Slutch to allow us entrance to the apartment. But where are George and William?”
The other guys started looking very nervous till one of them answered.
“Well, they saw a couple of good looking men and went with them to have a quickie for a few bucks. Once both guys had cum they refused to pay so George and William got annoyed and there was some pushing and shoving till one of the guys got really angry with George and hit him in the face. That sent William in a wild rage and he attacked that guy, only to be beaten almost to pulp by the other one. We ran over to intervene but the guy who got attacked proved to be a cop. He alerted his colleagues and George and William got arrested for assaulting a police officer. But they shouldn’t worry, one of the policemen said. Their asses would be everyone’s favorite recreational facility in jail” Mace answered.
“Damn it! I can’t take this anymore! Not now. Not while we should be mourning! Not now we lost so much! I just can’t do it” and Bob Suckit sank to his knees and started sobbing.
Slutch was moved Suckit was so sad because of his death, although he was sure losing the apartment was also part of it.
“This can’t happen, Ghost. Of course I have a will. I even filed it with my attorney …. who also happens to be my mother’s attorney! Damn!” Slutch said. He realized what had happened. Apparently his attorney wasn’t clean. He must have “forgotten” to file the last will and testament of Ebenezer Slutch, which caused all his belongings to go to the oldest living relative. Why did he ever choose that firm anyway? Because he’d been there with his parents occasionally and he wanted to have some connection to a time when he an his parents had still been a happy family? And than another thing hit him. He didn’t see Huge Tim anywhere.
“Ghost, where is Huge Tim? Why isn’t he here with the rest of them?” Slutch asked, dreading the answer.
Instead of an answer Ebenezer Slutch found himself back in the cemetery, next to a big headstone, saying:
Here lies Tim
His heart was a big as his body
Unfortunately so was the crack in it.
The hurt was too much to bear
So he needed to end it.
May in death he find the peace he was denied in life
Slutch dropped to his knees, his legs completely numb. Everything was gone. Jacob Arsely was gone. Their club, their save haven for the boys, was gone. Jimmy’s love for him was gone. He was gone, causing Cock terrible grief and pain. And now Tim, big and innocent Tim, was also gone because of the pain his insane father caused him. Nothing was as it should be. He heard a cry echoing over the cemetery and it took him some time to realize he made that sound himself.
“Ghost, tell me. Is this THE future or a possible future? Can I make amends? I have to make things right. I need to know if these events are written in stone or can still be erased.” Slutch begged but the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come didn’t answer. Instead he stared at Ebenezer with dark, unseeing eyes. Ebenezer realized he hadn’t seen the Ghost’s eyes at all yet. They were hidden behind the mask the Ghost was wearing.
“I can’t believe you three Ghosts showed me all of this if there was nothing I could do to change it. I know I can’t change the past but I need to know if I can change the future by being a better person in the present. Please Ghost, answer me!”
Ebenezer didn’t now for sure if the Ghost meant it as a response but the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come moved away, leading Ebenezer towards another tombstone. Ebenezer had to be careful because in front of the stone there was a freshly dug grave. The Ghost pointed at the tombstone.
“Ghost, who’s grave is this?” Ebenezer asked. The pointing finger was the only response he got.
“Ghost, please. Who’s grave is this? Please, answer me? Could you take of your mask?” Slutch asked, suddenly fearing the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come more and more.
The Ghost reached behind the mask to take it off while a voice that sounded like needles on glass said:
“Why, that grave is yours, of course, Ebenezer Slutch”.
“No, I don’t believe you” said Ebenezer and he rushed towards the tombstone to see for himself. Of course there wasn’t enough light so he had trouble seeing the letters engraved in the marble. But all of a sudden there was enough light although it looked strange. It was dancing like flames in a fire. Ebenezer turned around and saw the Ghost’s face was only centimeters away from his own. The light came from the eyes in that face that were blazing with fire. Ebenezer backed off until he felt he was on the edge of the grave.
“You want to know whether you can still change what is to come? Change requires courage, Ebenezer, and courage is something you lack” the Ghost said with his needle voice. “What’s wrong, Ebenezer? Does my face scare you? Yes, the future is not always pleasant to watch”.
Well, that certainly was an understatement. The Ghost’s face looked like that of a burn victim and Ebenezer now understood why the Ghost wore a mask. But it wasn’t because of the burn scars. The reason were his eyes. They wore just two holes in his face in which fires burned. Ebenezer felt the heat coming from the fires and tried to take one more small step backwards. He was balancing on the edge of the grave now.
“I didn’t think you would have the courage to really change. I never thought you would be strong enough to do what needed to be done to change your faith and the faiths of all those who depend on you and care for you. It was fun giving both Arsely and you hope you could learn from the past to change the future by effecting the present. But now the game is over. You’re lacking the strength you need so you’ll end up right here, at the cemetery as will Huge Tim. Your “boys” will be without a job and sooner rather than later they will all end up here in the cemetery” The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come said.
“You’re right, you know? In the end we’ll all end up here, at the graveyard. What you do with the time before you end up here matters!” Ebenezer screamed at the Ghost. “And if it takes me dying to make sure those who depend on me will be better off, so be it!”
“Brave words, Ebenezer Slutch. Now prove them!” and with that, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come gave Ebenezer a little push, causing him to lose balance. His feet slipped away from the edge and he fell in the grave.
And he fell and fell and fell until he hit the bottom of the grave, where he stayed.