CHRISTMAS FICTION: Ghosts visit a nasty old showman to unmask his not-so-entertaining lies and life. 836 words. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.
The darkened penthouse of Scrump Tower on Christmas Eve….
Ebenezer Scrump, asleep after hours of heavy tweeting, is jolted awake by loud clanking sounds and a terrifying sight.
Scrump: Who are you?
Ghost: Look upon me, Scrump, for I am the Ghost of Your Past.
Scrump: What do you want of me at this hour, ghost?
Ghost: I’m here to show you the errors of your ways.
Scrump: Errors? Where are you taking me?
Ghost: The Peace Center in Greenville, S.C.
Scrump: Looks familiar.
Ghost: As it should. The date is Feb. 13, 2016, the occasion a Republican presidential debate where you insisted you always opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
I fought very, very hard against us going into Iraq!
Ghost: You repeated that often during the campaign. But now behold Sept. 11, 2002, months before the invasion. It’s a New York radio studio, and here was your reply when asked by Howard Stern if you favored invading Iraq.
Yeah, I guess so.
Ghost: You later lied about this repeatedly.
Scrump: A little white lie is all.
Ghost: Was it a little white lie, too, when you claimed you never crashed the dressing rooms of beauties at your Miss USA Pageants to catch them undressed and cop a feel?
Scrump: Absolutely untrue. Never happened.
Ghost: Behold the 2003 pageant in San Antonio.
He’s here again!
Call the cops!
Get out of here, you creep!
Scrump: I thought it was the men’s room. It was all a big mistake.
Ghost: Was this, too, a big mistake? Observe Burbank, Ca. in 2005.
Scrump: I see a bus.
Ghost: The Access Hollywood bus, with you and that obsequious toad, Billy Bush. You said this about women.
You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I don’t ever wait.
Scrump: A little kiss, what’s the harm?
Ghost: Only a kiss? Listen.
And when you’re a star, they’ll let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.
Scrump: Locker room talk. You know how it is when boys get together.
Ghost: Boys? You were 59.
Scrump: Please stop. Why do you torture me so?
A second ghost appears. “Look upon me, the Ghost of Your Present, and observe.
Scrump: Why is my son, Baron, laughing himself silly? What is he watching on TV?
Ghost: Saturday Night Live. He loves Alec Baldwin.
Scrump: I beseech you to stop.
Ghost: Now cast your eyes on Indianapolis, Ind. A small house, fallen into disrepair.
Scrump: Who lives here?
Ghost: Bob Cratchit and his family, facing a penniless Christmas now that Bob has lost his job — one of hundreds of Carrier jobs you didn’t save despite vowing to save them all. It’s Monday night, and the Cratchits are watching TV.
Scrump: But not The Celebrity Apprentice, which I still profit from.
Ghost: They stopped watching after you publicly ridiculed Tiny Tim’s disability.
Scrump: Please, spirit, no more.
Ghost: It gets worse. The Cratchits are a Nielsen family.
Scrump: Take me away, please.
Ghost: Behold the security agency that offers the critical daily briefings you irresponsibly reject.
Scrump: Borrrrring. I don’t need security briefings. I’m very smart.
Ghost: Smart, when you don’t read?
Scrump: False! I like nothing better than curling up with a good tweet.
A third ghost appears.
Scrump: Who are you?
The Ghost of Your Future, bearing footage of you on Dancing With The Stars, hardly a presidential activity.
Scrump: But if they asked me…
Ghost: They didn’t ask you to tango wearing one of your stupid long ties.
Scrump: They’re part of my brand.
Ghost: Not in Berlin,
Ghost: This is your first private summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Scrump: But why is she racing out of the room screaming?
Ghost: Instead of shaking hands, you groped her.
Scrump: Please, torment me no further.
Ghost: There’s more: in Russia the opening of your five-star Scrump Vladivostok.
Scrump: Huge hotel deal.
Ghost: And huge conflict of interest. That’s you on a horse trail in the Urals, riding shirtless with Vladimir Putin.
Scrump: Must we go on?
Ghost: Yes, to a televised trial.
Scrump: Judge Judy?
Ghost: No, she becomes your attorney general when Jeff Sessions isn’t confirmed. This is an impeachment trial — yours — in the U.S. Senate. Behold Kellyanne Conway testifying about your foreign policy.
Crimea desperately needs a luxury golf resort.
Scrump: What happened to my Republican support?
Ghost: You will lose much of it when you mount your SCRUMP sign on the White House.
Scrump: I can bear no more. Why have you taken me to this graveyard, ghost?
Ghost: Read the tombstone.
Scrump: Must I?
Ghost: You must.
Scrump: It says, “Here lie the democratic principles undermined by our woeful president.”
Ghost: What say you now?
Scrump: I implore you, no more. I’ve seen the errors of my ways.
Ghost: One more thing, Ebenezer Scrump.
Scrump: End the comb over?
Ghost: No, doofus. End the tweets.
This story first posted here on December 20, 2016.