Fiction: A Christmas Carol (Part 1)

(A few things before we get started …

-I was going to post the entire manuscript for “B.J. Mendelson’s A Christmas Carol” on December 25th, but it’s way too long and I’m still working on it. It will probably be done in February, so rather than make you wait, I’m going to post the book as a series of blog posts.

-This is a draft. You’re getting it for free. So yes, there may be typos and other little things here and there that need to be fixed. I’m aware of them. I will be publishing this book later in 2019, and when I do, they will be fixed. Also, the manuscript may be different from what you read here when it’s finished. I usually hire an editor or two to go through everything, and that’s my plan here if I can put the money together. I also want to hire an artist to add some illustrations to the final version.

-Finally, if you like this, please share it with others.

Thank you and Merry Christmas,

-B.J.)

B.J. Mendelson’s A Christmas Carol

By: Charles Dickens and B.J. Mendelson

Introduction

William O’Leary was dead. There is no doubt about that. The death certificate was signed by a Lakeside Hospital physician and then later by the mortician at the Heafey Heafey Hoffmann Dworak Cutler Mortuaries & Crematory. Ronald Chump signed it too, although it was unnecessary for him to do so. In his mind, Ronald’s name was good as gold for anything he chose to put his name on, and it was certainly true among some in the business community. Although the general public may point to Chump Airlines, Chump Casinos, and Chump: The Game — A real thing that actually exists — to suggest otherwise. Regardless, Old William was as dead as a doornail.

Now, we don’t mean to say that we know, of our own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a doornail. We might have been inclined to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade, but the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and our unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the planet is done for. You will, therefore, permit us, Charles Dickens and B.J. Mendelson, to repeat, emphatically and for the hearing impaired, that William O’Leary was as dead as a doornail.

Did Ronald Chump know William was dead? Of course, he did. Of course! How could it be otherwise? William’s children, Maryanne, William Jr., Elizabeth, and Robert, had told Ronald so, and why would they lie about such a thing? Ronald and William were business partners for many years. Ronald was also William’s sole executor, his sole friend, and sole mourner. Or so that’s what Ronald thought anyway on that last one. Ronald was surprised to see such a crowd at the funeral for that very reason, but then in his defense, there isn’t exactly much to do in Omaha, Nebraska on a weekday morning.

And even Ronald, the alleged sole friend of William O’Leary, was not so cut up by the sad event of William’s passing. He was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral and solemnized it with an undoubted bargain between prayers concerning his latest venture, an outdoor shopping mall in nearby Gretna, Nebraska. Ronald was never one for prayers. His crippling inability to read led him to sit with his arms folded for most of the affair that day. Given the surprisingly large audience gathered, however, Ronald seized every opportunity he could to remind the crowd of how big and important Ronald felt he was. For example, during the eulogy for William, Ronald listed off his recent business accomplishments. He then also made numerous references to the size of his penis, and intimated that it was bigger than the deceased’s. We will let you decide which of these was more shocking to the audience gathered that day.
The mention of William’s funeral brings us back to the point we started from. There is no doubt that William O’Leary was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story we are going to share. First, because William emigrated to America on the RMS Transylvania in 1929, and people from that country have a poor habit of not remaining dead. Second, and more importantly, If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot — say St. Cecilia Cathedral on Page Street for instance — literally to astonish his son’s weak mind.

Ronald never painted over William’s name. There the old sign stood, relocated from downtown Omaha years after the funeral, perched above the management office door at the mall in Gretna: The Ronald Chump & William O’Leary Organization. Known informally as Ronald and William. Sometimes people new to the business called Ronald ‘Ronald’, and sometimes ‘William’, but Ronald answered to both names because it was all the same to him.

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Ronald! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous sinner with the smallest of hands! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his orange cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating, Queens-accented voice. A frosty and failed science project lived upon his head, and on his eyebrows. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced the mall office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas. External heat and cold had little influence on Ronald. No warmth could warm, nor wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. Nor did the giant bugs of Nebraska. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Ronald never did.

The mall in Gretna was modeled after a busy neighborhood in Victorian London. Willian’s idea. He once visited Woodbury Common in Central Valley, New York, a highly successful outlet mall, and remarked on how wonderful the stores looked, fit within a replica of an old New England town square that was the hallmark of the Commons. William thought a vibrant little Victorian London town, out in the dull Nebraska landscape between the states two population centers of Lincoln and Omaha, would create quite a tourist attraction in its own right. And William, although he wouldn’t see it in his lifetime, was correct. Shoppers from nearby Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and even South Dakota often came to William and Ronald’s outlet mall to shop. He was always the smart one in their relationship. The visionary. But Ronald was good with the money, tracking every penny as though each one was a piece of his own blackened soul.

But none of those shoppers ever stopped Ronald at the mall as he did his daily rounds to meet with store managers There was nobody to say, with gladsome looks, “Yo, Ronald, what’s up?” No children of family’s shopping asked him for anything, and no tourist ever inquired the way to such and such a place. Even for directions to the Mutual of Omaha Building, which was the one skyscraper in the city skyline and often impossible to miss heading west on Interstate 80. Even the mall security dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw Ronald coming, they would tug their owners into a store entranceway; and then wag their tails as though to say, “Even I wouldn’t sniff that guy’s asshole.”

The homeless people that littered the mall parking lots also never stopped Ronald, although their origin is worth remarking here as it was not something William had imagined: It should be stated first that they were not actually homeless, but students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. Students, who were at the mall working their second job as re-enactors of the Dickensian poor. Third job, in some cases, after they finished their shift at the mall’s Brooks Brothers or Le Creuset outlets. This was Ronald’s contribution to the project, to be certain. Their job? To remind shoppers of how much better off the shoppers are than to other residents of the state of Nebraska, as outlet malls are often visited by the wealthy most of all. This was a marketing tactic Ronald enjoyed employing as it brought a ring of authenticity to the Victorian recreation that William dreamed up. The students were tasked with encouraging shoppers to continue buying the newest and most expensive items, lest they fall behind in society’s view and become just like the recreation street urchins themselves. Something that never failed to work, as capitalism depends on a permanent underclass to scare those above them from joining their ranks.

Manipulative? Sure. But what did Ronald Chump care? It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance. He was only interested in their money and the acquiring of more of it. That is, until one night. One unlike any that had come before it. The events of which we will share with you now.