I have two correspondences in my hand. One for me, the other for you. Soon, you’ll find out why…
If only my spirit guide had noticed someone following me into the World of Literature- where all literary characters and gods live- a little sooner rather than later; or, if I hadn’t overlooked it myself, I may not be in the situation I find myself in this very day. It isn’t often I am caught unawares; but, just as sure as I am the Ghost of Christmas Past, a determined creature had been right on my cape tails. Unfortunately, it made its way through the portal into my world.
Although from a different place entirely, this mythical, gold-winged creature, Hermes was his name, had one job- to deliver a letter to me, obtaining my signature proving the letter, in fact, was delivered.
The look on his face had given me his account. He was extremely distressed to make this delivery. According to the creature, he’d disappointed his god, Zeus, the God of Lightening (and apparently everything else), and therefore, was tasked with this dreadful chore to make up for his mischievous behavior, and for the lies he had told.
Once he’d successfully completed the job he’d been given, his god would grant him absolution. He’d be able to enter back into the gates of his world far away from the World of Literature.
I thought it worth mentioning to you – if he’d returned home empty handed, he’d lose his appointed position as messenger to Zeus, which I believe vexed him most.
You see, Zeus ruled the skies and heavens, where one brother, Poseidon, ruled the sea, and the other brother, Hades, ruled the underworld. I’m telling you this, so you’ll understand where the World of Literature is in relation to the Greek Gods. Ours is an altered, second dimension to earth- one no human could observe, perceive, and certainly never enter.
Zeus, believing he was god of everything, and my god, being very curious, nosey even, studied other domains and realities, arguing Zeus had no rights to rule in the World of Literature.
Being proved wrong time and time again, Zeus eventually gave in. But, both gods were tricksters and couldn’t help themselves when it came to manipulating the other. They often found themselves snooping in the other’s affairs. This would turn into petty games, and at times, high-stake bets. Neither ended well.
Looking back, I honestly didn’t know what this secret information entailed; but, it was made very clear Zeus had shared these tidbits with my god. This is how my business affairs became known to all the fictional characters, including the god who created me, known to you as Charles Dickens.
So back to Hermes and my newest burden- the letter which he carried, and the reason he carried it. Because of a particular bet Hermes’ god had lost, Zeus knew he’d eventually have to ante up, so, when he came across the secret information about me, he’d decided to use Hermes and myself as pawns in a new scheme he’d wrestled up, or so the story goes according to this messenger.
As I recall, the letter sparkled a bit, seemingly alive in Hermes’ hand. I had a very bad feeling about this official document. It spat specks of fiery gold flashes that beckoned me. Even still, I was leery to accept it, yet simultaneously compelled to take it. Hands down, in all my years, this was the strangest dilemma in which I’d ever found myself involved. By the way, I’ve been in some doozies.
As a side note, before I could collect my letter, if I so chose, Hermes insisted I take his quill and scroll, endorse the scroll, and return it to his possession. Then, and only then, would the letter be released to me.
This official business had officially pushed me over the edge. I didn’t want the letter in the first place. I was told my signature must be gained to prove he’d done his duty, and so I could not deny I had received it. The words, ‘being duped’, ran through my mind on a reel.
I was way past weary when it came to entertaining the flitting herald. He zinged and darted, aggressively, on my right and on my left. The situation became zany, out of control. I had quickly lost power over my senses. Realizing there was no going back, no negotiating- I did it, I gave in. I took the quill, scrawled my name on the appointed line, then returned it.
This is where my madcap situation went south.
Instantaneously, I felt this burning sensation in my hand. I looked around, confused. Instead of finding Hermes, in his place was this too-soft-to-the-touch missive that danced around in my hand, summoning me to read it.
The implications of having it weighed on me, I wanted only to return it. I had many questions, but as I already knew, it was too late. There was no one there to return it to. I tried calling out to Hermes, but my attempts were empty. He had vanished.
I contemplated whether opening it was in my best interest. I reasoned that, as long as I was blind to the contents, I’d be protected, but if I did read it, I’d be held liable for whatever was inside. Self-preservation won- sealed, it remained.
Displeased was not really an appropriate word; but, for a lack of a better word, I’ll use it anyway. The letter was very displeased with where my thoughts had taken me. Again, it bounced in my hand as though it was built with some type of springing mechanism. Up and down, up and down, it threw a temper tantrum like a small, misbehaved child, which there was no need for. I knew what it wanted- for me to examine the silky script.
The bad behavior didn’t sway me as was intended. Don’t get me wrong, I was somewhat afraid, but I told myself I was, after all, the Ghost of Christmas Past. My decision remained. I was going to wait until I made it home, to my safe haven, to open it.
I wrapped my hand around it tightly and squeezed. I did this to draw an imaginary line, making my intentions clear- I was determined not to be pushed around by a simple, velvety-like missive. No sooner had I tucked it in the pocket of my cape, enormous feelings of guilt began to weigh in on my spirit. My perception began to shift. I knew I either had to hide the letter so no one other than myself knew of its location; or, I had to rid myself of it by destroying it, if that was even possible.
I’d wanted to be in my own dwelling, under my own roof, more than I’d wanted the taste of a rich, fine red wine. Inside the security and safety of my home, I’d be able to think, I’d be able to make the best decision on how to move forward without being pressured by those in the literary world.
So I traveled a southerly course, one not in proximity to the path I’d normally take. In fact, it was far off track from where I lived, but it kept with my plan to double back, making it home, hopefully, unnoticed.
I chose the way of the countryside, through a charming county called Hertfordshire. There, I came upon a young woman staring out over a lake, lost deep in her thoughts.
I knew this side of the literary world belonged to a different god, I just didn’t know which one- yet. I had hoped the lovely-looking creature ahead of me could shed a bit of light.
At the time, I’d thought my luck was changing for the better. No one ever accused me of being a ladies’ man. But, if I told her my story’s past, which I am very good at, then maybe she would consider speaking to her god on my behalf. She could find out what Dickens knew and report back to me. At this point, I didn’t know what his reception of me would be; therefore, I could use all the sponsors I could get.
I admit, I got a little carried away in my excitement, possibly approaching the lady a little speedier than I should have. I startled her from her thoughts- the look on her face was spitting mad. As I came upon her, I realized not only had my luck not improved, it was marginally worse.
Standing before me, a few short yards away, was none other than the Ms. Elizabeth Bennet. At the exact moment I recognized the miss, was the exact moment I knew I was in no better shape. Not only would she not help, she would judge me and my situation on site.
Oh ho! And her god, Jane Austin, another God of Literature, would only advocate for women. Never would she speak out for me.
I had to test my theory, to prove my point (I love to brag, so I’ll tell you, proving a point is a specialty of mine). I moved along passing right by the haughty Ms. Elizabeth- huffing, puffing up, and wagging her little finger at me. I had never stopped, I kept right on going. And, as I thought, she was still giving my ear a good thrashing. Even as I put a good bit of distance between the two of us, I could still hear the woman’s prattles.
Realizing I had no choice, I smothered that plan like I would a fire and took another channel home. Exhaustion was setting in from my travels, but I kept moving forward. Then I saw it- the river, Thames.
My spirits had somewhat lifted because I was closer to home; but, I wasn’t out of danger yet. I floated along the river when I felt a swooshing beat against my cape. I stopped, looked around to see where the offense was coming from- over there- hiding behind a tree, stood the ugliest boy I’d ever seen- Deputy Winks.
He was throwing stones at me, calling me a phony and a thief. He told me there was nowhere I could hide. I started to believe him. I passed him, pretending to myself I didn’t know why he was slandering my good name even as I began to put the pieces together. All I had to do was open the letter to confirm this double-edged sword.
As I’d entered the city, my impatience had begun to rattle me. I wanted more than anything to free myself of this guilt and dread. I considered burning the letter in one of the fire cans lining the city streets. Maybe destroying it would free me from this burden. I honestly didn’t know what the best move should be, but I had made my decision. I was sticking to it.
With my mind finally on task, when I thought no one was looking, I tossed the letter into the fire can. Boy, was that a mistake. As soon as paper met fire, a brilliant explosion commenced. Besides being taken aback, I was quite mesmerized by the splendor of it. The problem with that was, others noticed its abundant luminosity as well, and they came running, circling around it like a worship session.
I stood there stunned, not only by what my eyes had seen, but by all the people which had surrounded me. I heard my name being called from above, so I looked up to see who it was. There, hanging her head from the window was Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s Charwoman. She’d laughed, mockingly, offering me his curtains and bed linens, telling me to use them to stamp out the fire. I didn’t find her humor as funny as the others seemed to. In fact, I scoffed, because when the chance presented itself, I’d find a way to take care of her.
I was never so sure about anything. Dickens, or someone sent word, of my past deeds to the not-so-understanding people of literature. That, or the letter which the fire did not destroy, the one which found its way back in my cape pocket, had made me transparent to all. I was confounded. Well, I was until I saw him turn the corner. He pranced, almost giddily, toward me. He was as visible as a bright blue sky- it was Neckett, the Debt Collector.
The truth had detonated. This was about the Visits Past I owed Charles Dickens. I’ve paid many a Visit over the years, pocketing a few when things were tough. More than a few, if I’m being honest.
You see, in the World of Literature, our duties as characters are equivalent to currency. After we perform our duties we get a small percentage of it. Since my character only performs during the Christmas season, money is tight the rest of the year.
At one point, I’d thought I’d gotten away with it, which is the only reason I’ve been in denial this whole time. My nefarious acts were such a long time ago I truly believed he was too busy writing to notice. Apparently, he wanted what was due him.
I knew immediately why Neckett was coming for me, I knew exactly where I was going- to Debtor’s Prison. I was going to Marshalsea.
When Neckett approached me, he thanked me for making it so easy on him to find and arrest me. He jerked the letter out of my pocket, slowly, deliberately, while he took his time reading it. He wanted to further my humiliation and torture. Since I was surrounded by the good city folk, he knew I wasn’t going anywhere.
He pulled out his handcuffs, swinging them around his finger in circles like that was supposed to impress me. Once cuffed, Neckett told me I was being charged with Grand Larceny for theft and for not paying my debts. Then he carted me off to a roar of applause and cheers from the crazed crowd (what a rowdy bunch).
I must extend my confession. By now you’ve probably realized my crime wasn’t only stealing from Dickens. A few spells ago, I reached out to the old money-lender, Arthur Gride. Go figure, like a lot of characters around here, he’s a devious trickster, too.
When I couldn’t pay back the money he loaned me, he devised a plan with Zeus to retaliate against me, in turn, retaliating against Charles Dickens by humiliating him (Charles is a proud god).
So, here I am in this rather awkward, possibly long-lasting situation. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know when I get out of this, I’m going to murder Arthur Gride.
If you are lost, wondering why you’re reading this missive from me, listening to my story and the accounting of my recent past, it is my incarceration. It is the sole reason behind it all. I am stuck in a prison cell in the World of Literature hoping you will pass my story on to enough people who will pray to Charles Dickens for my release.
I haven’t been prosecuted yet, but at this point my future looks quite bleak. I’ve reached out to Charles Dickens to apologize for stealing from him, for causing him discomfort. So far, he’s refused me. I can tell you, I don’t see things changing any time soon.
The problem with this is that his anger toward me wouldn’t allow him to see things lucidly. The truth, no matter how injurious, is that if I am not released, the Christmas season could be ruined for many years.
If I am incarcerated during the holiday, I wouldn’t be able to perform my duties in A Christmas Carol. I’d be absent, non-existent, like I never was. It would change the entire plot and outcome of the movie. The film, the musicals- all of it- could possibly disappear forever.
As much as I hate to admit, one good thing has come from my meeting Hermes. I laugh when I reflect upon it. I pulled a little trick myself by relieving him of his quill, therefore giving me the opportunity to beg you, the good people of Earth, who want to save A Christmas Carol, to do as I have asked. Pray for my release.
If you help to free me, most importantly, you will save your beloved holiday movie. I make this solemn vow to you now, I will give the best performance of my life year after year. Also, I will never again steal. I will always pay my debts no matter how large they may be.
So, I implore you to go, go now, save this Christmas holiday and all future ones to come. Save A Christmas Carol.
I’ll be here, waiting…