The Tower of Ebenezer Trump, Fifth Avenue, day.
It being the season, two portly gentlemen (from the Salvation Army), pleasant to behold, stood with their hats off before Donald Trump.
“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Trump, said one of the gentlemen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer generally at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
“Are there no prisons?” asked Trump.
“Plenty of prisons” said the gentleman.
“And the homeless shelters?” demanded Trump. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman. “I wish I could say they were not.”
“The food banks and Medicaid are in full vigour, then?” said Trump.
“Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their terrific course,” said Trump. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Trump replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“Nothing,” repeated Trump. “Since you ask me what I wish, that is my answer. I can’t afford to make idle people merry. It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”
Mar-a-Lago, Florida residence of Ebenezer Trump, evening.
Having read all the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker’s-book, Trump left the mansion and examined the night, then realizing that it was a suitable time to tweet, @ebenezer#landslide: “A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December, when I pay a day’s wages for no work. VERY UNFAIR.”
He realized that he had locked himself out.
There was nothing at all in particular about the knocker on the door except that it was very large. And then, let any man explain if he can, how it happened that Trump, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change: not a knocker but Chris Christie’s face.
Christie’s face had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath of hot air.
As Trump looked fixedly at this phenomenon it was a knocker again.
There was nothing on the back of the door, so he said, “Pooh, pooh, what the hell” and closed it with a bang.
He sat down with a strange, inexplicable dread. There was a clanking noise, deep down below, from the wine cellar (Trump wines all). The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound.
“It’s humbug!” said Trump. “I won’t believe it.”
The same face, the very same. Christie, with a chain clasped about his middle. It was long and wound about him like a tail. His body was transparent; so that Trump, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.
Trump had often heard it said that Christie had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now.
“Who are you?” said Trump, caustic and cold.
“Ask me who I was.”
“Who were you then?” said Trump, raising his voice.
“In life I was a sovereign power in New Jersey, and your most deeply loyal supporter when there were but few… Chris Christie.”
“You are fettered,” said Trump, trembling. “Tell me why?”
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it of my own free will. The final coil is as long as the tailback on the George Washington Bridge.”
It was a habit with Trump, whenever he became thoughtful, to thrust out his chin and narrow his eyes.
“Don’t be flowery, Christie. Your mistake was not the act, but to be caught in the act.”
“I was always a good friend to you,” wailed Christie.
He continued, “I am here tonight to warn you, Eb, that you have a chance and hope of escaping my fate. You will be haunted by three spirits. Without their visits you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. “
The apparition walked backwards from him, and floated out upon the bleak, dark night.
“Bah! Humbug!” said Trump, but felt in his heart the yearning for wise counsel from Kellyanne Conway.
Mar-a-Lago, early morning.
Christie’s ghost had warned Trump of a visitation when the clock bell tolled one.
The hour bell sounded with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy ONE. Light flashed up in the room and Trump found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor – like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium. He wore a tunic of the purest white; and round his waist was bound a lustrous belt.
“Who, and what are you?” Trump demanded.
“I am the Ghost of Christmas past.”
“Long past?” inquired Trump.
“No. Your past.”
There followed a series of visions, of a past that Trump recognized; his heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self. He corroborated everything, remembered everything, and underwent the strangest agitation, until Trump saw himself older, a man in the prime of his life. His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later years; but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice. There was an eager, greedy motion in the eye, which showed the passion that had taken root, and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall.
In this scene he was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“Another idol has displaced me,” said the girl softly, “and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.”
“What Idol has displaced you?” he rejoined.
“A golden one.”
“This is the even-handed dealing of the world!” Trump said, without reserve.
“I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one” she said, “until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. I know how strong and irresistible it must be. Can even I believe that you would choose a dowerless girl – you who, in your very confidence with her, weigh everything by Gain: I do release you. With a full love of him you once were. May you be happy in the life you have chosen!”
She stood and they parted.
“Spirit!” said Trump in a broken voice, “remove me from this place.”
“I told you these were the shadows of things that have been,” said the Ghost. “Do not blame me!”
The Spirit and the light faded. Kellyanne was not responding.
Trump was overcome by an irresistible drowsiness, and sank into a heavy sleep.
Mar-a-Lago, early morning.
Trump awoke in a blaze of ruddy light and which, being only light, was more alarming than a dozen ghosts. He began to think that the source and secret of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room; a strange voice called him by his name, and bade him enter.
Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth cakes, and seething bowls of punch, all thereof that bore the brand of Trump on their labels, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam.
In easy state upon this couch, there sat a Jolly Giant, glorious to see.
“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”
“Spirit,” said Trump, submissively, “conduct me where you will.”
“Touch my robe!”
Trump did as he was told, and all the feast vanished instantly.
Trump held tightly to the robe. They were lofted together high over the Eastern Seaboard, and came to settle finally in a street in Queens, New York, that to Trump had familiarity. This was indeed one of many a street that his father Fred had built to mean standards but with great profit, the father who had made his fortune there in the suburbs and had bidden his son to do the same, only to be defied.
“Why are we here?” asked Trump. “This is Bob Cratchit’s house!”
“It is” said the Spirit.
“He was one of my first employees” said Trump, “but he was a loser. A loser.”
“There are some upon this earth like you” returned the Spirit, “who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry and selfishness in our name…”
“Cratchit wanted to increase the minimum wage, bigly” protested Trump. “For all our workers, even Mexicans. Crazy!”
“Let us join the family” said the Spirit, finally pushing away Trump’s grip on his robe, leading him into the four-room house.
Mrs. Cratchit was dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in ribbons, which are cheap to make. An active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and in came Cratchit’s crippled son, Tiny Tim, escorted by a brother and a sister to his stool before the fire.
Bob proposed: “A merry Christmas for us all, my dears. God bless us!”
“God Bless us every one” said Tiny Tim, the last of all. His father held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.
“I see a vacant seat,” said the Ghost, to Trump, “in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”
“No, no,” said Trump, “Cratchit has good insurance cover, including pre-existing conditions. Say he will be spared!”
“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? What was your true meaning, to repeal and replace Obamacare? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor child.”
While Trump remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. They left the Cratchit house and as they stood together in an open place Trump noticed that the Spirit’s hair was suddenly gray.
“Are Spirit’s lives so short?” asked Trump.
“My life upon this globe is very brief” replied the Ghost. “It ends tonight.”
And with that he vanished. Trump, lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist, along the ground, towards him.
He looked again at his cell phone. Still no response.
Street in Queens, New York, early morning.
“I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?” said Trump.
The Spirit answered not, but pointed downward with his hand.
“You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us,” Trump pursued. “Is that so, Spirit?”
The Phantom moved away, and Trump followed. They scarcely seemed to enter the city, for the city seemed to spring up about them.
They were on Wall Street. The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of businessmen. Trump advanced to listen to their talk.
“No,” said a great fat man with a monstrous chin, “I don’t know much about it either way, I only know he’s dead.”
Trump knew these men, perfectly. They were from Goldman Sachs.
“What has he done with his money?” asked a red-faced gentleman.
“I haven’t heard,” said the man with the large chin, yawning. “He hasn’t left it to me. That’s all I know.”
“Nobody knows how much it is,” said another. “Certainly not the IRS.”
“He was still being audited when he died,” said the red-faced gentleman, grinning.
“Spirit!” said Trump, shuddering from head to foot. “I see. I see. The case of this unhappy man might be my own. My life tends that way.”
The Spirit took him forward until he recoiled in terror, for the scene had changed, to Fifth Avenue, and Trump Tower. There were no police blockades, no inconveniences to Gucci or Tiffany customers, no curious bystanders, no media trucks or dishes…but who was this, leaving as her limousine pulled up?
Kellyanne, shedding not a tear, as composed and glacial as only she could be, assured of her future and fortune.
Trump reached out in despair and desperation, calling. But his voice was not heard.
“If there is any person in the town who feels emotion caused by this man’s death,” said Trump, quite agonized, “show that person to me, Spirit, I beseech you!”
The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a moment, like a wing; and withdrawing it, revealed a single thumb, pointing down.