A Christmas Boner

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Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of our most beloved and well-known stories. This is mostly because it’s in the public domain, so you can remake it with Muppets or cartoon characters or a hollow-eyed motion capture Jim Carrey without paying anyone a dime. This latest adaptation puts a new twist on the classic holiday tale of redemption and generosity: Scrooge has a boner throughout the entire story. Pretty much everything else in the book is left untouched, except that Scrooge is constantly adjusting himself to try and conceal his erection, which never really works since everyone can totally tell what he’s trying to do.

A Christmas Boner is firmly (ha!) in the spirit of other classic novel reimaginings such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Huckleberry Finn Robotic Edition where you immediately get the premise and don’t actually need to read the whole thing. However, if you are a sixteen year old boy and are forced to read it for a book report, you may find it more fun to read the version that has the word ‘boner’ in it nearly four hundred times. In fact, you might just say that A Christmas Boner really puts the ‘dick’ in Dickens! (Do not say this.)

You can also download the entire book to read on your e-reader in MOBI (Kindle), ePub (everything else), or Word formats. It’s also available on Amazon Kindle, where I am trying to make it be for free.

PREFACE

 

I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful Friend and Servant, C. D. December, 1843.

 

I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly little ebook, to put the word boner into Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic nearly four hundred times.

Your faithful Guy making public domain works way more lowbrow, C. L. December, 2013


STAVE I: MARLEY’S GHOST

 

MARLEY was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. From the moment Marley was interred, Scrooge had a permanent boner. There is no doubt whatever about that as well. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it, then immediately got a boner: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, 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 my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail. And Scrooge, as you’ll recall, had a permanent boner.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. He had a permanent boner, but he wasn’t an idiot. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend with a permanent boner, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain. As solemn as you can be when you’ve got a throbbing boner, that is.

The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead, and that Scrooge had a permanent boner. These two things must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s Father died while not having a boner 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, non-boner-sporting gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot—say Saint Paul’s Churchyard for instance— literally to astonish his son’s weak mind.  Scrooge never painted out Old Marley’s name. Didn’t particularly want to climb the ladder with a boner and wave it around up there while he painted. There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, and very frequently just blurted out “Boner!” but he answered to all names. It was all the same to him.

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, permanently erect, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster with a permanent boner that all the other oysters don’t want to hang around with. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait and his penis; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice, whenever anyone worked up the nerve to talk to the old guy with a permanent boner, usually on a dare. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin, and very probably on his boner, since it was everywhere else. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge, and certainly little influence on the boner, which was permanent. No warmth could warm, no 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, and no boner more permanent. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. 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 Scrooge never did. From his fully erect status, that is.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?” For the most part, this was because of the boner. No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, since they were forbidden from talking to the old man with the boner. No man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge, even though he was more suited than anyone to point them the way (with his boner.) Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, his pants giving him away before he rounded the corner, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master! But seriously, if you could see this thing…Woof!”

But what did Scrooge 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, which they did anyway because of the boner, was what the knowing ones call “nuts” to Scrooge. Nuts were also what Scrooge called his two testicles, which resided below his permanent boner.

Once upon a time—of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve—old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house with a huge boner. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the non-bonered people in the court outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already— it had not been light all day—and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.

The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters sans boner. Despite his thick boner, Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and if the clerk came in with the shovel, he’d risk inadvertently glancing at the boner, and the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.

“A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

“Bah!” said Scrooge, shifting in his chair to try and conceal his boner. “Humbug!”

He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.

“Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t boner that, I mean—! You don’t mean that, I am sure?”

“I do,” said Scrooge, as he crossed and uncrossed his legs. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.”

“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? I mean, besides the obvious.” Scrooge’s nephew pointed at Scrooge’s crotch. “You’re rich enough, anyway.”

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug,” then lifted himself off his chair a bit to try to adjust his boner inconspicuously.

“Don’t be cross, uncle!” said the nephew, pretending there was something very interesting up on the ceiling.

“What else can I be,” returned the uncle, “when I live in such a world of fools as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for having a permanent boner but working a job you’re not allowed to wear sweatpants to; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ‘em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart, and given a permanent boner of his own. He should!”

“Uncle!” pleaded the nephew.

“Nephew!” returned the uncle sternly, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine. By having a gross old boner that never goes away.”

“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew, who was suddenly very interested in some dirt under his fingernails. “But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge. “Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!” Scrooge looked down at his crotch and threw his hands up in a ‘what the hell?’ kind of gesture.

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, flaccid, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it! Plus, I’m in a pretty good mood in general since I don’t have an embarrassing permanent boner.”

The clerk in the Tank, who also did not have an embarrassing permanent boner, involuntarily applauded. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark for ever.

“Let me hear another sound from you,” said Scrooge, spinning to face the clerk, his boner continuing to wobble after he’d turned, “and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation! You’re quite a powerful speaker, sir,” he added, turning back to his nephew, his boner wobbling slightly less this time, as the turn was less sudden. “I wonder you don’t go into Parliament.”

“Don’t be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us to-morrow. Our tablecloth is long enough that if you’re already seated when the other guests arrive, nobody will have to look at your boner.”

Scrooge said that he would see him—yes, indeed he did. He went the whole length of the expression, and said that he would see him in that extremity first.

“But why?” cried Scrooge’s nephew. “Why? Also, please do not mention your extremities.”

“Why did you get married?” said Scrooge, as he loosened his belt one notch.

“Because I fell in love.”

“Because you fell in love!” growled Scrooge, as if that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas or a permanent boner. “Good afternoon!”

“Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before that happened. Even in your pre-boner days. Why give it as a reason for not coming now? My marriage or the permanent boner?”

“Good afternoon,” said Scrooge, thinking better of it and taking his belt out an additional hole.

“I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends? Besides, you know…”

“Good afternoon,” said Scrooge, making a mental note to do some laundry since all his boxer shorts were dirty and the briefs he were wearing were wildly constrictive.

“I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute and shockingly erect. We have never had any quarrel, to which I have been a party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I’ll keep my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!”

“Good afternoon!” said Scrooge. Thirty seconds more of this and he was unzipping his pants.

“And A Happy New Year!”

“Good afternoon!” said Scrooge, reaching for his pants fly.

His nephew left the room without an angry word, notwithstanding. He stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on the clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge; for he returned them cordially, sans boner.

“There’s another fellow,” muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: “my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family and average of eleven erections per day, talking about a merry Christmas. I’ll retire to Bedlam.”

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge’s nephew out, had let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold since they did not have permanent boners, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge’s office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

“Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe,” said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list. “Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley? Oh, I can see from your permanent boner that you must be Mr. Scrooge.”

“Mr. Marley has been dead these seven engorged years,” Scrooge replied. “He died seven years ago, this very night.”

“We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner,” said the gentleman, presenting his credentials. “Wait, it doesn’t say liberality on this form, it says tumescence. We have no doubt his tumescence is well represented by his surviving partner.”

It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous word “liberality,” Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and shifted back and forth in his chair a couple of times to work his boner into a less uncomfortable position, and handed the credentials back.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, and most of their afflictions are, how shall I put this, not so comical in their nature, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge, attempting to cover his lap with his ledger.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again. His friend stifled a giggle.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge, as he decided the ledger only called more attention to his boner and placed it back where it had been. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, who had noticed his partner’s laughter and was now trying not to laugh at Scrooge’s boner himself. “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge, wishing that his boner could be described as anything other than ‘in full vigour.’

“Both very busy, sir.” The gentleman’s cheeks were turning red and he had trouble getting the words out.

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge, who was now seriously going to need to unzip his fly very shortly. “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 endeavouring 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, and the massive Yule logs are felled. Why make this any more hard on them. Our guidelines for spending donations are firm and rigid. What shall I put you up for? I mean down for? I mean—”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous? That might be tricky sir, due to your…”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned that are looking into permaboner cures. They cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population and national gross boner length. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”

“But you might know it,” observed the gentleman. “You of all people…”

“It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own boner, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point with a man who already had such a prominent one, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, an even fatter erection, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.

Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, much like a normal penis belonging to someone who was not Scrooge when that person gets a non-permaboner, that people ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way. The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall, one towering edifice to another, became invisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. The cold became intense. Severe shrinkage occurred in 99.999% of the town’s men. In the main street, at the corner of the court, some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered: warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture. The water-plug being left in solitude, its overflowings sullenly congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice. The brightness of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed. Scrooge’s sprig and berries remained tightly constricted within his pants, and ruddy faces turned pale again when they saw his package straining at the fraying fabric. Poulterers’ and grocers’ trades became a splendid joke, possibly the second biggest joke in town: a glorious pageant, with which it was next to impossible to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do. The Lord Mayor, in the stronghold of the mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor’s household should: merry and with boners not lasting more than four minutes on average; and even the little tailor, whom he had fined five shillings on the previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the streets, stirred up to-morrow’s pudding in his garret, while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef, promising to not make any jokes about how “she was on her way to the butcher for beef but didn’t need to walk all the way over there now” should she encounter Scrooge.

Foggier yet, and colder. Piercing, searching, biting, tumid cold. If the good Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit’s nose with a touch of such weather as that, instead of using his familiar weapons, then indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose. The owner of one scant young nose, gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed by dogs, stooped down at Scrooge’s keyhole to regale him with a Christmas carol: but at the first sound of

“God bless you, merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay!”

Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer sensed the imposing boner from the other side of the door and fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.

At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, stuck his hand in his pocket and flipped his boner up behind the waist of his pants, and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on his hat, all the while making eye contact with a spot about six inches to the right of Scrooge’s head.

“You’ll want all day to-morrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge, already feeling the pants waistband support method giving way.

“If quite convenient, sir.”

“It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, making furious adjustments with his pocketed hands, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I’ll be bound?”

The clerk smiled faintly, steadfastly not lowering his gaze.

“And yet,” said Scrooge, realizing the adjustments were futile and letting his hog flop forward, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”

The clerk observed that it was only once a year. He started to add that if it were a permanent condition, day in and day out, he could understand how it would bother Scrooge, but opted not to press his luck.

“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin and immediately regretting calling attention to his pockets. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning.”

The clerk promised that he would; and Scrooge walked out with a growl, taking great care not to brush anything off the clerk’s desk with his boner as he walked past. The office was closed in a twinkling, and the clerk, with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted no great-coat), went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honour of its being Christmas Eve, and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman’s-buff, grateful to be free of the looming, omnipresent boner for over twenty four hours.

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern while the kitchen staff imitated his boner with rolling pins and wooden spoons behind his back; and having read all the newspapers and come across no cures for permaboners, beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker’s-book, went home to bed. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again. It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the other rooms being all let out as offices, which had a very reasonable rent if you didn’t mind occasionally turning the corner and encountering a mean old man with a boner. The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands, lest he stub his boner on a stone and be reduced to a crumpled heap. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.

Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. Scrooge often heard passersby snickering that this seemed fitting. It is also a fact, that Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the city of London, even including—which is a bold word—the corporation, aldermen, and livery. Rock hard boners were not considered fancy. If they were, this may have been different. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley, since his last mention of his seven years’ dead partner that afternoon. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, 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 Marley’s face. Scrooge quickly looked to make sure it was indeed his key in the lock and not his boner. It had happened before.

Marley’s face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar, or a bitter man with a permanent boner in a melancholy tavern just a few minutes earlier. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead, his face clearly not straining to conceal a boner that was entering its seventh consecutive year. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression. Or perhaps it had just seen a man with an uncontrollable, unceasing erection.

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, or that his hardened dong suddenly went limp, would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.

He did pause, with a moment’s irresolution, before he shut the door; it was a habit he’d adopted after one too many instances of slamming the door on his boner, and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the sight of Marley’s pigtail sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the back of the door, and except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, and the only thing sticking out into the hall was his own boner, so he said “Pooh, pooh!” and closed it with a bang.

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above, and every cask in the wine-merchant’s cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up the stairs; slowly too: trimming his candle as he went, the wax gradually softening and reducing in size in a grim parody of his own priapistic genitals.

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Parliament; but I mean to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broadwise, with the splinter-bar towards the wall and the door towards the balustrades: and done it easy. There was plenty of width for that, and room to spare, even if Scrooge turned sideways and factored his erection into the width measurement; which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom. Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn’t have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge’s dip.

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that. Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. Let fewer people see his boner. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do that.

Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber-room. All as they should be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the sofa; a small fire in the grate; spoon and basin ready; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall, the poor stressed crotch sagging as it always did. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire-guard, old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and a poker. Nobody with a boner that wouldn’t go away in any of them

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and his nightcap; his nightly pause where he stood there fully naked in the hopes that he might witness his wiener slowly soften and lower itself now barely a pause at all after so many years of disappointment; and sat down before the fire to take his gruel.

It was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a bitter night. He was obliged to sit close to it, and brood over it, before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel. The fireplace was an old one, built by some Dutch merchant long ago, and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures. There were Cains and Abels with huge biblical boners, Pharaoh’s daughters eyeing slaves who had boners; Queens of Sheba eyeing the oft-forgotten King of Sheba’s royal boner, Angelic messengers descending through the air on clouds like feather-beds, their boners pointed towards the heavens, enbonered Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats, their boners long enough to use as oars, hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts. It all seemed fairly obviously prophetic, now that Scrooge thought about it. And yet that face of Marley, seven years dead, came like the ancient Prophet’s rod, and swallowed up the whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first, with power to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have been a copy of old Marley’s head on every one.

“Humbug!” said Scrooge; and walked across the room, as if following the lead of the beacon that was his ever reliable boner.

After several turns, he sat down again. As he threw his head back in the chair, his glance happened to rest upon a bell, a disused bell, that hung in the room, and communicated for some purpose now forgotten with a chamber in the highest story of the building. Possibly that the person below needed their breakfast brought to them because they couldn’t get out of bed because of an embarrassing boner that just wouldn’t go away. It was with great astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he looked, he saw this bell begin to swing. It swung so softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound; but soon it rang out loudly, and so did every bell in the house.

This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but it seemed an hour. The bells ceased as they had begun, together. They were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down below; as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine-merchant’s cellar. Scrooge then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as dragging chains. He had always just assumed that it was a metaphor for some onerous affliction they had to deal with, like a permanent boner or… Well, Scrooge had never really been able to imagine a more onerous affliction than a permanent boner.

The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door.

“It’s humbug still!” said Scrooge, lifting his lower half off his chair and tugging on the seat of his pants to try to readjust them into a more comfortable position. “I won’t believe it.”

His colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, “I know him; Marley’s Ghost!” and then, unlike Scrooge’s boner, fell again.

The same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely while checking his dead friend for any sign of a boner, permanent or otherwise) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His body was transparent; so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.

Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now. No boner either, he noted somewhat bitterly.

No, nor did he believe it even now. Though he looked the phantom through and through, and saw it standing before him; though he felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes everywhere but his cold resistant boner; and marked the very texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin, which wrapper he had not observed before; he was still incredulous, and fought against his senses.

“How now!” said Scrooge, caustic and cold and stiff as a flagpole as ever. “What do you want with me?”

“Much!”—Marley’s voice, no doubt about it. Just then Marley noticed Scrooge’s erection and his eyes went wide.

“Who are you?”

Marley stared straight ahead for ten uninterrupted seconds before shaking his head and blinking his eyes as if just then hearing Scrooge’s question.”Ask me who I was,” he managed to stammer while suddenly becoming very interested in the fire.

“Who were you then?” said Scrooge, raising his voice. “You’re particular, for a shade.” He was going to say “to a shade,” but substituted this, as more appropriate. He shimmied up and down a few inches in his chair, attempting an inconspicuous adjustment.

“In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley. Look, could you not point that thing at me?”

“Can you—can you sit down?” asked Scrooge, looking doubtfully at him.

“I can. How are you able to with that—”

“Do it, then,” Scrooge snapped.

Scrooge asked the question, because he didn’t know whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair; and felt that in the event of its being impossible, it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation. Speaking of embarrassing explanations, Scrooge feared that one of his own was rapidly approaching. But the ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used to it. Sitting, that is. Not seeing a friend with a permanent boner.

“You don’t believe in me,” observed the Ghost. “Either that or you’re really into ghosts. I hope you don’t believe in me.”

“I don’t and I’m not,” said Scrooge.

“What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses? And it’s OK if you are. I’m not into spectro myself, but I know people who are. I could introdu—”

“I don’t know,” said Scrooge. “And I’m not ‘into spectro’ whatever that is!”

Marley smiled and winked at Scrooge. “Sure, I understand. Why do you doubt your senses?”

“Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato, a hallucination that is the product of a cumulative effect of seven year continuous boner. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”

Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, though many were often made at his expense because he always had a boner and everybody found that pretty hilarious. Nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his boner.

To sit, staring at those fixed glazed eyes, in silence for a moment, would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce with him. There was something very awful, too, in the spectre’s being provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own. Scrooge could not feel it himself, which was a blessing since he was already in severe discomfort from his constant boner, but this was clearly the case; for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven

“You see this toothpick?” said Scrooge, returning quickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned; and wishing, though it were only for a second, to divert the vision’s stony gaze from himself.

“I do,” replied the Ghost.

“You are not looking at it,” said Scrooge.

“I assumed that you were using ‘toothpick’ as a slang term for your erection,” said the Ghost, looking up at Scrooge’s hand. “I found it a bit odd and self-deprecating. But now I see that you actually meant a toothpick, notwithstanding.”

“Well!” returned Scrooge, “I have but to swallow this, and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of enbonered goblins, all of my own creation. Humbug, I tell you! humbug!”

At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that Scrooge held on tight to his chair, leaving his prominent pants tent unshielded, to save himself from falling in a swoon. But how much greater was his horror, when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before his face, figuring there was no point in trying to hide the elephant in the room any longer. Also, he made a mental note that if people were going to mistake his metaphors for references to his boner, he should be making more references to elephants and fewer to toothpicks.

“Mercy!” he said. “Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me? Of course, your ghastly presence is a mere trifle compared to the struggle of having a seven year boner, but still!”

“Man of the worldly mind and still unexplained permaboner!” replied the Ghost. “Do you believe in me or not?”

“I do,” said Scrooge. “I must. But why do spirits walk the earth, and why do they come to me? And can you do anything with your magic ghost powers about this boner?”

“It is required of every man,” the Ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world—oh, woe is me!—and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness! Of course, if I were the big man upstairs I’d probably  make an exception about you walking among your fellowmen if you were sporting a permanent chubster, but I can’t speak for him unfortunately.”

Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain and wrung its shadowy hands.

“You are fettered,” said Scrooge, everything except his rock solid you-know-what 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 on of my own free will, just like I would expect someone in your condition to do us all a favor and gird your loins, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?”

Scrooge trembled more and more, yet his boner remained steadfast.

“Or would you know,” pursued the Ghost, “the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”

“Can you stop saying weight, length, full, heavy, and long?” Scrooge asked as he glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see nothing.

“Jacob,” he said, imploringly, inching his knees forward and back in what he thought was a subtle permaboner adjustment but Jacob totally could tell what he was doing. “Old Jacob Marley, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, Jacob!”

“I have none to give,” the Ghost replied. “It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men. Men without eternal boners. Nor can I tell you what I would. A very little more is all permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere, and even if I could, I would not choose to linger in a room where the only other person had a stiffy that never went away. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house—mark me!—in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before me!”

It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became thoughtful, to put his hands in his breeches pockets and give the ol’ PB a reassuring touch. Pondering on what the Ghost had said, he did so now, but without lifting up his eyes, or getting off his knees.

“You must have been very slow about it, Jacob,” Scrooge observed, in a business-like manner, though with humility and deference. It was not difficult to speak with humility when you were known as the permanent boner guy.

“Slow!” the Ghost repeated, sounding very concerned about what Scrooge was doing with his hands.

“Seven years dead,” mused Scrooge. “And travelling all the time!”

“The whole time,” said the Ghost. “No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse. But fortunately no permanent boner.”

“You travel fast?” said Scrooge.

“On the wings of the wind,” replied the Ghost. “No strange bulges to reduce my aerodynamics.”

“You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years,” said Scrooge.

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance. It was very similar to the cry Scrooge had made about two weeks into the permanent boner when he realized it wasn’t going away.

“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself. “Admitedly it’s a low bar, but you never ruined a business deal by having a boner during negotiations.”

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. Boner relief was not my business, but in hindsight it probably should have been since it evidently would have been a highly lucrative business considering how much the afflicted seem to desire a cure. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

It held up its chain at arm’s length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and it might have been since there was no detectable permanent boner to add to the grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.

“At this time of the rolling year,” the spectre said, “I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? It’s not like any of them had a gross boner thrusting in my direction that I was trying not to look it. Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly. The parts of his body that were not in a constant state of rigidness began to quake, that is. The permanently rigid parts remained as they had been: rigid. Scrooge’s boner, mostly.

“Hear me!” cried the Ghost. “My time, unlike your cursed erection, is nearly gone.”

“I will,” said Scrooge. “But don’t be hard upon me! I have plenty of that going on already! Don’t be flowery, Jacob! Pray!”

“How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see, I may not tell. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day, thinking that your…well, condition, was caused by my presence.”

It was not an agreeable idea, Jacob sitting there, thinking the boner was caused by him. Scrooge shivered, and wiped the perspiration from his brow.

“That is no light part of my penance,” pursued the Ghost. “I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer. If I had been given a chance to avoid your fate, the fate of a permanent boner, you had better believe I’d have taken it. I mean, Jesus!”

“You were always a good friend to me,” said Scrooge. “Of course, that was before I was walking around with this thing. It was definitely much easier to be a good friend when you could go out in public with me without worrying about shrieking mothers and furious husbands. Nevertheless, thank’ee!”

“You will be haunted,” resumed the Ghost, “by Three Spirits. And haunt you as it may, the boner doesn’t count as one.”

Scrooge’s countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost’s had done. It was the only thing of his that had fallen low in quite some time.

“Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?” he demanded, in a faltering voice, quite unlike his unfaltering boner.

“It is.”

“I—I think I’d rather not,” said Scrooge, giving the waistband tuck another chance and failing.

“Without their visits,” said the Ghost, “you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, when the bell tolls One, when the hour hand points like a stubby boner that leans slightly to the right, and the minute hand is like a standard non-leaning boner.”

“I know how a clock works! Couldn’t I take ‘em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?” hinted Scrooge.

“Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate. Speaking of strokes, have you tried maybe giving it a little…?” Marley curled his hand and made a little up and down motion, but Scrooge sadly shook his head that he had tried and it had been futile. “Well, look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!”

When it had said these words, the spectre took its wrapper from the table, and bound it round its head, as before. Scrooge knew this, by the smart sound its teeth made, when the jaws were brought together by the bandage. He ventured to raise his eyes again, and found his supernatural visitor confronting him in an erect attitude, with its chain wound over and about its arm. “Erect attitude?” Scrooge thought to himself. “Who says that? I’ve had this boner for too long…”

The apparition walked backward from him; and at every step it took, the window raised itself a little, the way a normal, not belonging to Scrooge boner would, so that when the spectre reached it, it was wide open.

It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which he did. When they were within two paces of each other, the tip of Scrooge’s boner within a pace and a half, Marley’s Ghost held up its hand, warning him to come no nearer. Scrooge stopped.

Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear: for on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory. They were very similar to the noises Scrooge made a few hours after he drank a potion that he’d bought off a shadowy stranger in an alley that was supposed to relieve his priapism but instead turned out to be mayonnaise that had sat out in the sun for a few days. The spectre, after listening for a moment, joined in the mournful dirge; and floated out upon the bleak, dark night.

Scrooge followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity. After testing the window to make sure it wasn’t going to suddenly slam shut on his dingus, he looked out.

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. They eyed his boner suspiciously, and kept their distance. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. Scrooge recognized the woman. She covered her infant’s eyes every time Scrooge passed her in the street. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever. And yet, for all their chains and wailing, Scrooge noted that none of them bore on their faces that special misery of the permanently enbonered.

Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded them, he could not tell. But they and their spirit voices faded together; and the night became as it had been when he walked home: just another night with a boner.

Scrooge backed up a few inches, then carefully closed the window  and examined the door by which the Ghost had entered. It was double-locked, as he had locked it with his own hands, and the bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say “Humbug!” but stopped at the first syllable to make a rather substantial pants adjustment. And being, from the emotion he had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse of the Invisible World, or the dull conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness of the hour, or the lightheadedness from his heart struggling and failing to pump blood away from his crotch; much in need of repose; went straight to bed, without undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant, his bedsheet raised ever so slightly in the center like the big top tent at a three ring circus.


STAVE II: THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS

 

WHEN Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes and his ferret boner was endeavouring to pierce the bedcovers, when the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. So he listened for the hour.

To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven, and from seven to eight, and regularly up to twelve; then stopped. Twelve! It was past two when he went to bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must have got into the works. Lousy phallic objects… They ruin everything! Twelve!

He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this most preposterous clock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve: and stopped. Did this qualify as morning wood yet or was there a different term for middle of the night wood?

“Why, it isn’t possible,” said Scrooge, “that I can have slept through a whole day and far into another night. It isn’t possible that anything has happened to the sun, and this is twelve at noon!” Then Scrooge remembered that eight years ago he would have found the idea of a seven year boner impossible as well.

The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed, and groped his way to the window. He was obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown before he could see anything; and could see very little then. As he shifted back and forth, his boner rubbed against the window pane as well, clearing a separate spot in the frost at the level of his navel. All he could make out was, that it was still very foggy and extremely cold, and that there was no noise of people running to and fro, and making a great stir, as there unquestionably would have been if night had beaten off bright day, and taken possession of the world. He knelt down and peered through the boner hole as well. Nothing. This was a great relief, because “three days after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge or his order,” and so forth, would have become a mere United States’ security if there were no days to count by.

Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought it over and over and over, and could make nothing of it. The more he thought, the more perplexed he was; and the more he endeavoured not to think, the more he thought. It worked the same way whenever he tried to ignore his constant boner.

Marley’s Ghost bothered him exceedingly. On a scale where “not bothered at all” was a zero and “seven year boner” was a ten, it ranked about an eight. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked all through, “Was it a dream or not?”

Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone three quarters more, when he remembered, on a sudden, that the Ghost had warned him of a visitation when the bell tolled one.  He resolved to lie awake until the hour was passed; and, considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to Heaven or wish away his boner, this was perhaps the wisest resolution in his power.

The quarter was so long, that he was more than once convinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously, and missed the clock. At length it broke upon his listening ear.

“Ding, dong!”

“A quarter past,” said Scrooge, counting, and wishing as he did every morning that his clock made a less humorous sound.

“Ding, dong!”

“Half-past!” said Scrooge. A simple ‘ding’ would really suffice as an alarm.

“Ding, dong!”

“A quarter to it,” said Scrooge. A standard alarm buzzer would also do just fine.

“Ding, dong!”

“The hour itself,” said Scrooge, triumphantly, “and nothing else!” He glared at the clock, vowing to buy himself a new one for Christmas.

He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now did with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy ONE.  Light flashed up in the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn. Scrooge silently wished it would go back to saying “Ding, dong!” Its juvenile mockery was much less terrifying.

The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which his face was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude (it was really more like a 49% recumbent attitude, but the boner, which refused to be recumbent at all, bumped it up a point to half-recumbent), found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow.

It was a strange figure—like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child’s proportions. Children and old men were Scrooge’s two least favorite groups of people to sport the boner around, so this was not a welcome sight. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. Scrooge hoped the spirit would not think the boner was related to its smooth, tenderly blooming skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Ditto for that, Scrooge thought. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. Pretty much there was nothing about the weird looking spirit that Scrooge would want associated with him popping a boner. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm.

Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. ‘Oh, come on!’ Scrooge thought to himself the time that twenty spirit wangs appeared and none of them were even slightly erect. And in the very wonder of this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear as ever.

“Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?” asked Scrooge, raising his knees in bed to try to make the elevated area of the sheets less noticeable.

“I am!”

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.

“Who, and what are you?” Scrooge demanded, sort of turning to the side as he realized that the knee ploy hadn’t worked at all.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

“Long Past?” inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature. He had a brief moment of terror when as he turned, his boner snagged the sheets, pulling them into an obscene cluster and making the bulge even more pronounced than it had been. He shook the sheets loose and tried to pretend like nothing had happened.

“No. Your past.”

Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked him; but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered.

“What!” exclaimed the Ghost, “would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give? Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow! And honestly, in terms of asking people to cover stuff up, you’re pretty much the pot calling the kettle black here.”

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any knowledge of having wilfully “bonneted” the Spirit at any period of his life, while at the same time acknowledging that he may have grown a bit lax in his boner-bonneting over the years. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there.

“Your welfare!” said the Ghost.

Scrooge’s eyes widened. Could that mean with he hoped it meant? Could seven years of hardness finally be at their end? The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately:

“Not that welfare, boner miser. Your reclamation! Take heed!”

It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by the arm.

“Rise! and walk with me! Well, I see you’ve taken care of the first part already. Just walk with me then!”

It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown, and nightcap; that he had a cold upon him at that time; and that for the love of god he had a solid boner emanating from the center of the flimsy material of his gown. The grasp, though gentle as a woman’s hand, was not to be resisted. “It’s a man,” Scrooge told himself. “Easy boy.” He rose: but finding that the Spirit made towards the window, clasped his robe in supplication.

“I am a mortal,” Scrooge remonstrated, “and liable to fall. Have you ever tripped and fallen and landed on a boner? I’ve never given birth but it has to be just about as painful.”

“Bear but a touch of my hand there,” said the Spirit, laying it upon his heart, “and you shall be upheld in more than this! There we go! Say, you’re into my gentle hands, huh?”

As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter day, with snow upon the ground. Invigorated by the brisk country air, Scrooge’s boner thrust upward at least five degrees more than usual, much to his dismay.

“It’s been like that for seven years, by the way. It’s not your hands. Good Heaven!” said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, as he looked about him. “I was bred in this place. I was a boy here!”

The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, though it had been light and instantaneous, appeared still present to the old man’s sense of feeling. Scrooge suddenly realized that he was in the middle of nowhere sporting a newly invigorated boner as a smooth fleshed spirit touched him gently. This was very alarming. He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten!

“Your lip is trembling,” said the Ghost.

“Don’t get any ideas,” Scrooge replied. “It’s been like this for seven years and has nothing to do with you. I cannot emphasize that enough.”

“And what is that upon your cheek?”

Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice, that it was a pimple; reaching inside his pockets he flipped his boner up behind the waist tie of his gown and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would.

“You recollect the way?” inquired the Spirit.

“Remember it!” cried Scrooge with fervour; “I could walk it blindfold, but won’t, because the second most painful thing after falling directly on a boner is walking into an object boner first.”

“Strange to have forgotten it for so many years!” observed the Ghost. “You must have been *cough* distracted by other matters. Let us go on.”

They walked along the road, Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, and tree from his non-bonered years; until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys were in great spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad fields were so full of merry music, that the crisp air laughed to hear it! Boys laughing at Scrooge was nothing new, but none of these boys ran and hid, or burst into tears after accidentally seeing the part of Scrooge that was on their eye level coming toward them.

“These are but shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “They have no consciousness of us. You can sport that bad boy freely.” Scrooge felt weird about this, but let the boner flip down from the waist of the gown and let it point where it would. After a few minutes, nobody screamed and ran, so he figured it was OK, though he still was suspicious that the spirit had other motives.

The jocund travellers came on; and as they came, Scrooge knew and named them every one. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them! Why did his cold eye glisten, and his heart leap up as they went past! Why did his seven year boner surge with the youthful glee of a mere two year boner? Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted at cross-roads and bye-ways, for their several homes! What was merry Christmas to Scrooge? Out upon merry Christmas! What good had it ever done to him? One seven year boner and a nighttime abduction by a gentle-handed spirit, that was what.

“The school is not quite deserted,” said the Ghost. “A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.”

Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed. And he decided to retuck his boner if visits to solitary children on school playgrounds was part of their agenda.

They left the high-road, by a well-remembered lane, and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick, with a little weathercock-surmounted cupola, on the roof, and a bell hanging in it. It was a large house, but one of broken fortunes; for the spacious offices were little used, their walls were damp and mossy, their windows broken, and their gates decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables, yet even the cock of the walk lowered its head in deference to Scrooge’s mighty boner as they passed; and the coach-houses and sheds were over-run with grass. Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state, within; for entering the dreary hall, and glancing through the open doors of many rooms, they found them poorly furnished, cold, and vast. There was an earthy savour in the air, a chilly bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow with too much getting up by candle-light, not too much to eat, and the grim prophecy of future permaboners.

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be: without an erection that, try as he might, just would not go away.

Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle from the mice behind the panelling, not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door, not the terrified shriek of a nun clutching her rosary tighter as she noticed his boner, not a clicking in the fire, but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a softening influence, and gave a freer passage to his tears.

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his younger self, intent upon his reading. Scrooge figured that it was technically less weird to be blatant about his boner in front of his past self, so he let it flop. Suddenly a man, in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood. Scrooge hastily retucked.

“Why, it’s Ali Baba!” Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. “It’s dear old honest Ali Baba! Yes, yes, I know! One Christmas time, when yonder solitary child was left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor boy! And Valentine,” said Scrooge, “and his wild brother, Orson; there they go! And what’s his name, who was put down in his drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus; don’t you see him! And the Sultan’s Groom turned upside down by the Genii; there he is upon his head! Serve him right. I’m glad of it. Smug non-boner having rogue… What business had he to be married to the Princess!”

To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying; and to see his heightened and excited face; would have been a surprise to his business friends in the city, indeed. They might not have believed it were the same sour man they regularly encountered, if not for the telltale boner.

“There’s the Parrot!” cried Scrooge. “Green body and yellow tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head; there he is! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called him, when he came home again after sailing round the island. ‘Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you been, Robin Crusoe?’  The man thought he was dreaming, but he wasn’t. It was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday, running for his life to the little creek! Halloa! Hoop! Halloo! Those two never would have been friends if one of them had a permanent boner. Stuck on a desert island with just one other guy and he’s always sporting wood? Forget about it!”

Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character, for neither Scrooge nor his erect penis had experience a rapid transition in many years, he said, in pity for his former self, “Poor boy!” and cried again.

“I wish,” Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and grounding himself with a reassuring clutch of the ol’ PB, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff: “but it’s too late now.”

“What is the matter?” asked the Spirit. “You seem to be enjoying all of this quite a bit, and yet you’re crying?”

“Nothing,” said Scrooge. “Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that’s all.”

“I bet you wish you had.” The Spirit waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“That’s not what I meant!”

The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand: saying as it did so, “Let us see another Christmas!”

Scrooge’s former self grew larger at the words, and sadly, though it seemed impossible, so did his present self’s boner, and the room became a little darker and more dirty. The panels shrunk, the windows cracked; fragments of plaster fell out of the ceiling, and the naked laths were shown instead; but how all this was brought about, Scrooge knew no more than you do. He only knew that it was quite correct; that everything had happened so; that there he was, alone again, when all the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays.

He was not reading now, but walking up and down despairingly as if awaiting a prognosis from a doctor about an embarrassing and painful medical condition. Scrooge looked at the Ghost, and with a mournful shaking of his head, glanced anxiously towards the door.

It opened; and a little girl, much younger than the boy, came darting in, and putting her arms about his neck, and often kissing him, addressed him as her “Dear, dear brother.”

“Saaaay, a little action!” said the Spirit, glancing at present Scrooge’s midsection.

“Dammit Spirit, that’s my sister!”

“I have come to bring you home, dear brother!” said the child, clapping her tiny hands, and bending down to laugh. “To bring you home, home, home!”

“Home, little Fan?” returned the boy.

“Yes!” said the child, brimful of glee. “Home, for good and all. Home, for ever and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be now that whatever was bothering him for the past seven years has gone away, that home’s like Heaven! He spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was going to bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come home; and he said Yes, you should; and sent me in a coach to bring you. And you’re to be a man! A good, decent, respectable man who can walk around as he pleases without fear of being slapped by a woman for accidentally having part of him brush past her in the market as she leans over to inspect the produce,” said the child, opening her eyes, “and are never to come back here; but first, we’re to be together all the Christmas long, and have the merriest time in all the world.”

“I don’t remember that part being so on the nose,” Scrooge muttered.

“You are quite a woman, little Fan!” exclaimed the boy.

The Spirit elbowed Scrooge in the ribs.

“Sister!” Scrooge snapped.

She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his head; but being too little, laughed again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace him in a fashion that Scrooge had not embraced anyone in for seven long years. Then she began to drag him, in her childish eagerness, towards the door; and he, nothing loth to go, accompanied her.

A terrible voice in the hall cried, “Bring down Master Scrooge’s box, there!” and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster himself, who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension, and threw him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him. He then conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parlour that ever was seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows, were waxy with cold. Still, since they were not in a room with a guy with a permanent boner, Scrooge and his sister seemed relaxed, almost carefree, compared to the people Scrooge routinely encountered these days. Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wine, and a block of curiously heavy cake, and administered instalments of those dainties to the young people: at the same time, sending out a meagre servant to offer a glass of “something” to the postboy, who answered that he thanked the gentleman, but if it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he had rather not. Master Scrooge’s trunk being by this time tied on to the top of the chaise, the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly; and getting into it, drove gaily down the garden-sweep: the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray.

“Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered,” said the Ghost. “But she had a large heart! And quite the set of cans by the end.”

“So she had,” cried Scrooge. “You’re right. I will not gainsay it, Spirit. God forbid! Wait what was that last thing you said?”

“She died a woman,” said the Ghost, “and had, as I think, children.”

“One child,” Scrooge returned.

“True,” said the Ghost. “Your nephew!” He paused for a few seconds. “That means she had sex.”

Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly, “Yes.”

Although they had but that moment left the school behind them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city, where shadowy passengers passed and repassed; where shadowy carts and coaches battled for the way, and all the strife and tumult of a real city were. There were eight million stories in the city. At least one of them had a permanent boner. It was made plain enough, by the dressing of the shops, that here too it was Christmas time again; but it was evening, and the streets were lighted up.

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Scrooge if he knew it.

“Very funny,” Scrooge asked when he saw that the warehouse was the headquarters of a wholesale produce business named Bonner’s. They moved on to another warehouse and the Ghost asked Scrooge if he knew this one as well.

“Know it!” said Scrooge. “Was I apprenticed here!”

They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh wig, sitting behind such a high desk, that if he had been two inches taller or forced to sit awkwardly because of a thick boner he must have knocked his head against the ceiling, Scrooge cried in great excitement:

“Why, it’s old Fezziwig! Bless his heart; it’s Fezziwig alive again!”

Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the clock, which pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his hands; adjusted his capacious waistcoat even though such an act was not necessitated by a seven year boner; laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his organ of benevolence; and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice:

“Yo ho, there! Ebenezer! Dick!”

“He meant the other apprentice,” Scrooge snapped before the Spirit could say anything.

Scrooge’s former self, now grown a young man, not restrained by the shame of a workplace boner, came briskly in, accompanied by his fellow-‘prentice.

“Dick Wilkins, to be sure!” said Scrooge to the Ghost. “Bless me, yes. There he is. He was very much attached to me, was Dick. Poor Dick! Dear, dear, I so much preferred having that poor dick attached to me than this poor dick attached to me.”

“Yo ho, my boys!” said Fezziwig. “No more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer! Let’s have the shutters up,” cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, “before a man can say Jack Robinson!” Saying ‘Jack Robinson’ was a superstition of Fezziwig’s. He believed it warded off extended boners. Scrooge had always silently humbugged it.

You wouldn’t believe how those two fellows went at it! They charged into the street with the shutters—one, two, three—had ‘em up in their places—four, five, six—barred ‘em and pinned ‘em—seven, eight, nine—and came back before you could have got to twelve, panting like race-horses. Scrooge had often been compared to a race horse over the past seven years, but not because of his panting.

“Hilli-ho!” cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk, with wonderful agility the non-engorged so often take for granted. “Clear away, my lads, and let’s have lots of room here! Hilli-ho, Dick! Chirrup, Ebenezer!”

Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn’t have cleared away, or couldn’t have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. Without having to stick their hands in their pockets every thirty seconds to make adjustments it was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room, as you would desire to see upon a winter’s night.

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and lovable, the products of Fezziwig’s normal-duration boners. In came the six young followers whose hearts they broke and boners they limpened. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid, with her cousin, the baker. In came the cook, with her brother’s particular friend, the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master; trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one, who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress when he accidentally bumped into her from behind and turned out to have had a boner. In they all came, one after another; some shyly (they had boners), some boldly (no boners), some gracefully (ditto), some awkwardly (boners), some pushing, some pulling; in they all came, anyhow and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping; old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them! When this result was brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping his hands to stop the dance, cried out, “Well done!” and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter, especially provided for that purpose. But scorning rest, upon his reappearance, he instantly began again, though there were no dancers yet, as if the other fiddler had been carried home, exhausted, on a shutter, and he were a bran-new man resolved to beat him out of sight, or perish.

There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer. Scrooge wondered if eating a bunch of Cold Boiled might prove to have boner reducing properties. It certainly sounded like it ought to. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley.”  Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them, (something Scrooge knew a thing or two about); three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking.

But if they had been twice as many—ah, four times—old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that’s not high praise, tell me higher, and I’ll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig’s calves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. No positive light ever issued from Scrooge’s boner. The closest thing he’d ever had was the time a butterfly landed on his pants right on the tip of it, then took off after a couple seconds. It had actually been really embarrassing at the time, but in retrospect it was pretty cool. Anyway, back to Fezziwig. You couldn’t have predicted, at any given time, what would have become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and curtsey, corkscrew, thread-the-needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig “cut”—cut so deftly, that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger.

When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas and a new year devoid of abnormally lengthy boners. When everybody had retired but the two ‘prentices, they did the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the lads were left to their beds; which were under a counter in the back-shop, which Scrooge just now realized was a really crappy living situation. Maybe his seven year boner was the result of the utter lack of boners he’d gotten during the time he spent sleeping under a counter in a back-shop next to a guy named Dick.

During the whole of this time, Scrooge had acted like a man out of his wits. His heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self. He corroborated everything, remembered everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent the strangest agitation, strange it that it was unlike his typical agitation, which was related to his very uncomfortable permaboner. It was not until now, when the bright faces of his former self and dick and Dick were turned from them, that he remembered the Ghost, and became conscious that it was looking full upon him, while the light upon its head burnt very clear.

“A small matter,” said the Ghost, “to make these silly folks so full of gratitude. So full, so swollen, so bulgy with gratitude. So near the point of bursting, but unable to with gra—”

“Small!” echoed Scrooge, cutting the Ghost off. He couldn’t recall the last time he’d uttered the word, it hadn’t really applied to the past seven years.

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig from their horrible bed beneath the counter where even if he’d been able to convince a lady to come back there, he probably wouldn’t have been able to get it up with Dick so close by and then on the off chance he had, he’d probably have hit his head on the counter and passed out on top of her: and when he had done so, said,

“Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise? You’ve surely spent fifty times that much on anti-boner snake oil.”

“It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. He’s much like a man’s johnson in that respect. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ‘em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”

He felt the Spirit’s glance, and stopped.

“What is the matter?” asked the Ghost.

“Nothing particular,” said Scrooge.

“Something, I think?” the Ghost insisted, glancing down at Scrooge’s crotch.

“No,” said Scrooge, hitching his gown up out of habit. “No. I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now. That’s all. Try not to get a boner that lasts seven years, is what I’d say. And don’t spend your youth sleeping under a counter next to a guy named Dick.”

His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance to the wish; and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by side in the open air.

“My time, unlike your schlong, grows short,” observed the Spirit. “Quick!”

This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any one whom he could see, but it produced an immediate effect. Not on Scrooge’s boner, which remained as firm now as it had been the day it first popped up seven long years ago. Again Scrooge saw himself. He was older now; a man in the prime of 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, restless motion in the eye, which showed the passion that had taken root, and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall. Still, there was no visible boner, so Scrooge thought that, all things considered, he was looking pretty good.

He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.

“It matters little,” she said, softly. “To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do by doing some pretty freaky stuff to your boner,  I have no just cause to grieve.”

“What Idol has displaced you?” he rejoined, calmly sitting still with no need to adjust his pantaloons.

“A golden one.” At the mention of gold, Scrooge noticed that his former self started to adjust his pantaloons.

“This is the even-handed dealing of the world!” he said. “There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; not even the rumored ‘permanent boner’ would be as hard, if they even exist, which I strongly doubt. And there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!”

“You fear the world too much,” she answered, gently. “All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you.” At the mention of gain, former Scrooge’s hands went to his pockets.

“What then?” he retorted as he acted like he was fishing around for change or a mint or something, even though anybody watching could obviously tell what he was doing. “Even if I have grown so much wiser, what then? I am not changed towards you.”

She shook her head.

“Am I?”

“Our contract is an old one. It was made when we were both poor and content to be so, until, in good season, we could improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry. You are changed. When it was made, you were another man. And you also get a boner every time someone mentions money or business or contracts, which is really the main reason for this breakup. It’s so weird.”

“I was a boy,” he said impatiently, abandoning all pretenses and blatantly tugging at the crotch of his pants to avoid the fabric rending from the strain.

“Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are,” she returned. “I am, since women fortunately cannot get boners. That which promised happiness when we were one in heart, is fraught with misery now that we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of this, I will not say. It is enough that I have thought of it, and can release you.”

“Have I ever sought release?”

“In words. No. Never.”

“I certainly have over the past seven years!” Scrooge remarked to the Spirit.

“In what, then?”

“In a changed nature; in an altered spirit; in another atmosphere of life; another Hope as its great end. In everything that made my love of any worth or value in your sight. If this had never been between us,” said the girl, looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon his erection; “tell me, would you seek me out and try to win me now? Ah, no!”

He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in spite of himself. But he said with a struggle, “Like right now? With this whole thing going on down there? I’d probably give it at least ten minutes.”

“I would gladly think otherwise if I could,” she answered, “Heaven knows! When I have learned a Truth like this, I know how strong and irresistible it must be. But if you were free to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I believe that you would choose a dowerless girl—you who, in your very confidence with her, weigh everything by Gain: or, choosing her, if for a moment you were false enough to your one guiding principle to do so, do I not know that your repentance and regret would surely follow? Do I doubt you’d ever be able to get it up to consummate our love knowing how meager my father’s net worth is? I do; and I release you. With a full heart, for the love of him you once were.”

He was about to speak; but with her head turned from him, she resumed. While her head was turned, Scrooge took the chance to reach into his pantaloons and perform a full-hand readjustment that took about fifteen seconds in total.

“You may—the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will—have pain in this. A very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the recollection of it, gladly, as an unprofitable and thus unerotic dream, from which it happened well that you awoke and soon resumed getting a stiffy over interest rates. May you be happy in the life you have chosen!”

She left him, and they parted after scrooge sat around for another five minutes until Scrooge’s former self deemed himself flaccid enough to walk around town without reprisal..

“Spirit!” said Scrooge, “show me no more! I thought you were the Ghost of Christmas’ Past, not the Ghost of Boners Past! Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?”

“One shadow more!” exclaimed the Ghost.

“No more!” cried Scrooge. “No more. I don’t wish to see it. Show me no more!” How many times had he heard people wail those words over the past seven years.

But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, from behind of course, and forced him to observe what happened next.

They were in another scene and place; a room, not very large or handsome, much like Scrooge’s boner, but full of comfort, unlike Scrooge’s boner. Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl, so like that last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw her, now a comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter. The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more children there, than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count; and, unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty children conducting themselves like one, but every child was conducting itself like forty. A plump old maid, dozens of screaming children; all that was missing from the room being the ultimate boner killer was a male nurse applying an ice pack directly to his rager. And yet, Scrooge’s boner remained. The consequences were uproarious beyond belief; but no one seemed to care; on the contrary, the mother and daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very much; and the latter, soon beginning to mingle in the sports, got pillaged by the young brigands most ruthlessly. What would I not have given to be one of them! Though I never could have been so rude, no, no! I wouldn’t for the wealth of all the world have crushed that braided hair, and torn it down; and for the precious little shoe, I wouldn’t have plucked it off, God bless my soul! to save my life. As to measuring her waist in sport, as they did, bold young brood, I couldn’t have done it; I should have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment, and never come straight again. And yet I should have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips; to have questioned her, that she might have opened them; to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a blush; to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of which would be a keepsake beyond price: in short, I should have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest licence of a child, and yet to have been man enough to know its value.

Sorry. I don’t know what got into me there, going on about touching Scrooge’s ex and her kids like that. I apologize for my outburst. Let’s focus all our contempt on Scrooge and his boner, shall we, and not on my desire to touch the matron’s lips or remove a shoe from one of her children.

But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such a rush immediately ensued that she with laughing face and plundered dress was borne towards it the centre of a flushed and boisterous group, just in time to greet the father, who came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys and presents. Then the shouting and the struggling, and the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter! The scaling him with chairs for ladders to dive into his pockets, despoil him of brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him round his neck, pommel his back, and kick his legs in irrepressible affection! If he had a boner, like I may remind you that Scrooge permanently did, it would have been incredibly awkward. The shouts of wonder and delight with which the development of every package was received! The terrible announcement that the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll’s frying-pan into his mouth, and was more than suspected of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a wooden platter! Scrooge was so unnerved by this announcement that he felt his boner start to limpen. But then came the immense relief of finding this a false alarm, and it stiffened right back up again, firmer than ever! The joy, and gratitude, and ecstasy! They are all indescribable alike. It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions got out of the parlour, and by one stair at a time, up to the top of the house; where they went to bed, and so subsided.

And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever, when the master of the house, having his daughter leaning fondly on him, sat down with her and her mother at his own fireside; and when he thought that such another creature, quite as graceful and as full of promise, might have called him father, and been a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life, his sight grew very dim indeed. His boner, however, remained as firm as a roll of quarters you get from the bank.

“Belle,” said the husband, turning to his wife with a smile, “I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon.”

“Who was it?”

“Guess!”

“How can I? Tut, don’t I know?” she added in the same breath, laughing as he laughed. “Mr. Scrooge?” she chuckled, dangling a finger limply to the floor, then quickly stiffening it toward the ceiling.

“Mr. Scrooge it was. I passed his office window; and as it was not shut up, and he had a candle inside, I could scarcely help seeing him, his solid chubby was like a horse and buggy accident I couldn’t look away from. His partner lies upon the point of death, I hear; and there he sat alone. Quite alone in the world, I do believe. And whatever grief he was feeling obviously did not impact his horniness enough to soften his D.”

“Spirit!” said Scrooge in a broken voice, “remove me from this place.”

“I told you these were shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “That they are what they are, do not blame me or waggle that thing back and forth in my general direction!”

“Remove me!” Scrooge exclaimed, “I cannot bear it! My rod is getting brittle from the cold, but I’m at the point where if it snapped in half I might not even mind that much!”

He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon him with a face, in which in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him, wrestled with it.

“Whoa!” cried the Spirit. “The wrestling is not necessary! Seriously, cut it out, I’ll take you—Oh god it poked me! It poked me in the thigh!”

“Leave me! Take me back. Haunt me no longer!” Scrooge made a few pelvic thrusts to ram his point home, literally and figuratively.

In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle since the Ghost was expending all its strength to try to keep Scrooge’s boner away from him, Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and bright; and dimly connecting that with its influence over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head.

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher covered its whole form; but though Scrooge pressed it down with all his force, he could not hide the light: which streamed from under it, in an unbroken flood upon the ground, much like how when Scrooge would try to hold his bag of laundry in front of his crotch to hide his boner, he could not hide the sight of the bulge from people who observed him from the right angle, and besides, everyone knew what he was trying to do anyways.

He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible drowsiness; and, further, of being in his own bedroom.  He gave the cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed; and had barely time to reel to bed, before he sank into a heavy sleep, his boner fluttering slightly every time he emitted a weary snore.


STAVE III: THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS

 

AWAKING in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore that bent his boner back to a particularly uncomfortable down pointing angle, and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts together, Scrooge had no occasion to be told that the bell was again upon the stroke of One. He felt that he was restored to consciousness in the right nick of time, for the especial purpose of holding a conference with the second messenger despatched to him through Jacob Marley’s intervention. But finding that he turned uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which of his curtains this new spectre would draw back, he put them every one aside with his own hands; and lying down again, established a sharp look-out all round the bed, his boner turning as he did, like an observant periscope on a submarine. For he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its appearance, and did not wish to be taken by surprise, and made nervous.

Gentlemen of the free-and-easy, non-permanent-boner sort, who plume themselves on being acquainted with a move or two, and being usually equal to the time-of-day, express the wide range of their capacity for adventure by observing that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter; between which opposite extremes, no doubt, there lies a tolerably wide and comprehensive range of subjects to engage in when not hampered by the sort of erection that makes even a simple pitch-and-toss impossible, and that would make manslaughter into a tabloid sensation with headlines like “Murder Boner.” Without venturing for Scrooge quite as hardily as this, I don’t mind calling on you to believe that he was ready for a good broad field of strange appearances, and that nothing between a baby and rhinoceros would have astonished him very much. Scrooge hoped that if a rhinoceros appeared, it would not think that his permaboner was caused by him taking ground up rhino horn as an aphrodisiac, that might make things even more awkward.

Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was not by any means prepared for nothing; and, consequently, when the Bell struck One, and no shape appeared, he was taken with a violent fit of trembling. His boner shook back and forth like one of the poles that mark the gates in slalom skiing after a skier’s ski clips it. Five minutes, ten minutes, a quarter of an hour went by, yet nothing came. All this time, he lay upon his bed, the very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy light, which streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed the hour with the tip of his boner at the epicentre of it all; and which, being only light, was more alarming than a dozen ghosts, as he was powerless to make out what it meant, or would be at; and was sometimes apprehensive that he might be at that very moment an interesting case of spontaneous combustion, without having the consolation of knowing it. At last, however, he began to think—as you or I would have thought at first; for it is always the person not in the predicament of having an endless boner who knows what ought to have been done in it since they are so preoccupied with worrying about said endless boner, and would unquestionably have done it too—at last, I say, he began to think that the source and secret of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room, from whence, on further tracing it, it seemed to shine. This idea taking full possession of his mind, he got up softly (except for his boner), and shuffled in his slippers to the door.

The moment Scrooge’s hand was on the lock, a strange voice called him by his name, and bade him enter. He obeyed, his confident, surging boner belying his nervousness.

It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. He had walked through it with a boner thousands of times. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge’s time, or Marley’s, or for many and many a winter season gone. 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 boner-like sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters that if you didn’t have a seven year long boner, you might consume in your efforts to attain one, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, other fruits that could be described with sexual adjectives, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see; who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty’s horn or a upward sloping boner, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door.

“Come in!” exclaimed the Ghost. “Come in! and know me better, man! Not that well though, if that’s what you’re thinking, and it looks like you are.”

Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this Spirit as the head of his boner rose to greet him. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been; and though the Spirit’s eyes were clear and kind, he did not like to meet them.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”

Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. The garment hung so loosely that if the Spirit had a boner, you might not even be able to tell. Scrooge made a mental note to look into this type of garment. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also bare, though their size indicated that the Spirit’s boner, though concealed, might be prodigious; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanour, its joyful air, and its jolly, undetectable boner. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust.

“You have never seen the like of me before!” exclaimed the Spirit. “That’s why you’re so aroused!”

“Never,” Scrooge made answer to it. “But that has nothing to do with this,” he said, gesturing downward.

“Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family; meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later years?” pursued the Phantom. “By the way I’m not offended. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not willing to take you up on it, and plus, I probably wouldn’t even feel a thing because of the size difference, but I still find it kind of flattering.”

“A, this has nothing to do with you, and B, I don’t think I have,” said Scrooge. “I am afraid I have not. Have you had many brothers, Spirit?”

“More than eighteen hundred,” said the Ghost. “I can give you their numbers if you want. Surely at least one of them must be into your sort of thing.”

“A tremendous family to provide for!” muttered Scrooge, ignoring the Spirit’s offer.

The Ghost of Christmas Present rose, towering over Scrooge and his boner.

“Spirit,” said Scrooge submissively, “conduct me where you will. I went forth last night on compulsion, and I learnt a lesson which is working now. To-night, if you have aught to teach me, let me profit by it. But if you take me to any playgrounds with young boys on them, give me a chance to perform a quick tuck beforehand so nobody thinks I’m there for the wrong reasons.”

“Touch my robe! Yeah, I thought you’d like that. You can rub it against it if you want.”

Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast, though he opted not to rub his boner against it.

Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, meat, pigs, sausages, oysters, pies, puddings, fruit, and punch, all vanished instantly. So did the room, the fire, the ruddy glow, the hour of night. Pretty much everything vanished except for Scrooge’s resilient boner, and they stood in the city streets on Christmas morning, where (for the weather was severe) the people made a rough, but brisk and not unpleasant kind of music, in scraping the snow from the pavement in front of their dwellings, and from the tops of their houses, whence it was mad delight to the boys to see it come plumping down into the road below, and splitting into artificial little snow-storms. Scooge noted with some dismay that some of the boys had constructed a snowman, and placed an additional upward-pointing carrot at its crotch level. He had to assume that was meant to represent him.

The house fronts looked black enough, and the windows blacker, contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs, and with the dirtier snow upon the ground; which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and waggons; furrows that crossed and re-crossed each other hundreds of times where the great streets branched off; and made intricate channels, hard to trace in the thick yellow mud and icy water. The sky was gloomy, and the shortest streets were choked up with a dingy mist, half thawed, half frozen, whose heavier particles descended in a shower of sooty atoms, as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had, by one consent, caught fire, and were blazing away to their dear hearts’ content. There was nothing very cheerful in the climate or the town, and yet was there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest summer sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain. Perhaps this was because Londoners had come to the collective realization that chimneys were pretty much the boners of their houses, thrusting forever skyward, steadfast and erect.

For, the people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee; calling out to one another from the parapets, and now and then exchanging a facetious snowball—better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest— laughing heartily if it went right and not less heartily if it went wrong, but most heartily if it hit someone in the crotch and they happened to have a boner, which greatly increased the recipient’s pain. The poulterers’ shops were still half open, and the fruiterers’ were radiant in their glory. There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen without boners, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. Oh sure, Scrooge thought. But when this broad-girthed guy, shining in the fatness of his growth winks in wanton slyness at girls and glances demurely at the hung-up mistletoe, they scream and call the constable. There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers’ benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people’s mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, squat and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner. Oh sure, Scrooge thought. But when this squat guy entreats and beseeches you to carry him home and eat his biffin after dinner, people… Scrooge decided to stop examining the produce in such detail, it was just getting him worked up. The very gold and silver fish, set forth among these choice fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that there was something going on; and, to a fish, went gasping round and round their little world in slow and passionless excitement. “Check out that guy’s boner,” they appeared to gasp.

The Grocers’! oh, the Grocers’! nearly closed, with perhaps two shutters down, or one; but through those gaps such glimpses! It was not alone that the scales descending on the counter made a merry sound, or that the twine and roller parted company so briskly, or that the canisters were rattled up and down like juggling tricks, or even that the blended scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the nose, or even that the raisins were so plentiful and rare, the almonds so extremely white, the sticks of cinnamon so long and straight like Scrooge’s boner, the other spices so delicious, the candied fruits so caked and spotted with molten sugar as to make the coldest lookers-on feel faint and subsequently bilious like they’d just seen Scrooge’s boner. Nor was it that the figs were moist and pulpy, or that the French plums blushed in modest tartness from their highly-decorated boxes, or that everything was good to eat and in its Christmas dress; but the customers were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day, that they tumbled up against each other at the door, crashing their wicker baskets wildly, and left their purchases upon the counter, and came running back to fetch them, and committed hundreds of the like mistakes, in the best humour possible, at least until they crashed into a guy with a massive erection, at which point their Christmas cheer would have likely vanished in an instant; while the Grocer and his people were so frank and fresh that the polished hearts with which they fastened their aprons behind might have been their own, worn outside for general inspection, and for Christmas daws to peck at if they chose.

But soon the steeples, the most holy of architectural boners, called good people all, to church and chapel, and away they came, flocking through the streets in their best clothes, and with their gayest faces. And at the same time there emerged from scores of bye-streets, lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable people, carrying their dinners to the bakers’ shops. The sight of these poor revellers appeared to interest the Spirit very much, for he stood with Scrooge beside him in a baker’s doorway, and taking off the covers as their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their dinners from his torch. And it was a very uncommon kind of torch, for once or twice when there were angry words between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good humour was restored directly. For they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And so it was! God love it, so it was! Of course if they’d bumped into Scrooge, lurking about the market with his Christmas Day boner, it would have been a different story. Constables called, etc.

In time the bells ceased, and the bakers were shut up; and yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all these dinners and the progress of their cooking, in the thawed blotch of wet above each baker’s oven; where the pavement smoked as if its stones were cooking too.

“Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch?” asked Scrooge.

“There is. My own.”

“Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?” asked Scrooge.

“To any kindly given. To a poor one most.”

“Why to a poor one most?” asked Scrooge.

“Because it needs it most.”

“Look, I guess I wasn’t clear, but what I was hinting at is: could you sprinkle that torch on my boner and make my boner go away?”

The Spirit shook his head sadly. “I understood what you were getting at the entire time,” he said. “But no.”

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, after a moment’s thought, “I wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, should desire to cramp these people’s opportunities of innocent enjoyment.”

“I!” cried the Spirit.

“You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day, often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all,” said Scrooge. “Wouldn’t you?”

“I!” cried the Spirit.

“You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day?” said Scrooge. “And it comes to the same thing.”

“I seek!” exclaimed the Spirit. “I seek—I’m sorry, what were you saying? I got distracted because snow started to accumulate on the bulging area where the top of your boner juts out of your gown and it was really hard to talk and gawk at it at the same time. What were you saying?”

“Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in that of your family,” said Scrooge, dusting the snow off the crotch of his gown.

“There are some upon this earth of yours,” 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, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us. Plus, who the heck are you to accuse me? You’re strutting around in public with an incredibly prominent boner.”

Scrooge promised that he would; and they went on, invisible, as they had been before, into the suburbs of the town. It was a remarkable quality of the Ghost (which Scrooge had observed at the baker’s), that notwithstanding his gigantic size, he could accommodate himself to any place with ease; and that he stood beneath a low roof quite as gracefully and like a supernatural creature, as it was possible he could have done in any lofty hall. This ability to reduce his gigantic size at will made Scrooge all the more suspicious that his torch harbored secret boner-reducing abilities, but after the stern rebuke he recieved the last time he questioned him, he opted to keep it to himself.

And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in showing off this power of his, or else it was his own kind, generous, hearty nature, and his sympathy with all poor men, that led him straight to Scrooge’s clerk’s; for there he went, and took Scrooge with him, holding to his robe; and on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit’s dwelling with the sprinkling of his torch. Think of that! Bob had but fifteen “Bob” a-week himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his Christian name; and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed house! Scrooge tried to angle his boner so that some of the dust fell upon it, but the spirit saw what he was doing and blew the dust out of the air before it had a chance to land on Scrooge’s dong.

Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit’s wife, dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in ribbons, which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence; and she laid the cloth, assisted by Belinda Cratchit, second of her daughters, also brave in ribbons; while Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoes, and getting the corners of his monstrous shirt collar (Bob’s private property, conferred upon his son and heir in honour of the day) into his mouth, rejoiced to find himself so gallantly attired, and yearned to show his linen in the fashionable Parks. And now two smaller Cratchits, boy and girl, came tearing in, screaming that outside the baker’s they had smelt the goose, and known it for their own; and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage and onion, these young Cratchits danced about the table, and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the skies, while he (not proud, although his collars nearly choked him) blew the fire, until the slow potatoes bubbling up, knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out and peeled. Peter Cratchit’s collar was definitely compensating for something in the boner department, Scrooge thought. He looked up at the Spirit, hoping he didn’t read his thoughts just there as he was musing about Peter Cratchit’s boner, but the Spirit’s expression gave no indication one way or another.

“What has ever got your precious father then?” said Mrs. Cratchit. “And your brother, Tiny Tim! And Martha warn’t as late last Christmas Day by half-an-hour?”

“Here’s Martha, mother!” said a girl, appearing as she spoke.

“Here’s Martha, mother!” cried the two young Cratchits. “Hurrah! There’s such a goose, Martha!”

“Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how late you are!” said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her a dozen times, and taking off her shawl and bonnet for her with officious zeal.  “We’d a deal of work to finish up last night,” replied the girl, “and had to clear away this morning, mother!”

“Well! Never mind so long as you are come,” said Mrs. Cratchit. “Sit ye down before the fire, my dear, and have a warm, Lord bless ye!”

“Does father still work for that horrible man who’s always sporting a chubby?” Martha said as she approached hte fire. “Like, even when he’s walking aroun—”

“No, no! There’s father coming,” cried the two young Cratchits, who were everywhere at once. “Hide, Martha, hide!”

So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the father, with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before him; and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed, to look seasonable; and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore a little crutch, and had his limbs supported by an iron frame! Oh, the cruel irony that Tiny Tim’s bones were weak, whereas Scrooge prayed every day that his bone would soften and atrophy.

“Why, where’s our Martha?” cried Bob Cratchit, looking round.

“Not coming,” said Mrs. Cratchit.

“Not coming!” said Bob, with a sudden declension in his high spirits; for he had been Tim’s blood horse all the way from church, and had come home rampant, if not raging. “Not coming upon Christmas Day!”

Martha didn’t like to see him disappointed, if it were only in joke; so she came out prematurely from behind the closet door, and ran into his arms, while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim, and bore him off into the wash-house, that he might hear the pudding singing in the copper. Ah, the simple, boyish pleasures of hearing pudding singing in the copper, Scrooge thought. Might he might return to that innocent time, and also the time before he got this accursed permaboner.

“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.

“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see, and who gave wicked men permanent boners. I think we need to have a word with his Sunday school teacher if she’s going on about that last one.”

Bob’s voice was tremulous when he told them this, and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty. Scrooge was about to joke to the Spirit that they were talking about a boner he got in church, but then it turned out that they actually were. It turned out to be the only thing on Tiny Tim that wasn’t constantly growing more frail and weak. Scrooge was glad he’d kept his mouth shut.

His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and back came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by his brother and sister to his stool before the fire; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs—as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby—compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer; Master Peter, and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose, with which they soon returned in high procession. Scrooge watched carefully, taking pains not to let his erect penis brush against anything. Who knew what Tiny Tim had touched. Whatever horrible, withering disease the boy had, Scrooge was pretty sure you didn’t want it coming into contact with your genitals.

Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course—and in truth it was something very like it in that house. Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah! Scrooge wanted to believe that it was the first time a man had ever had a boner while surreptitiously watching a family carve a goose, but knew in his heart there was a very good chance it wasn’t.

There never was such a goose. There was never such a boner. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration, and at least one of them (the last one) applied to Scrooge’s boner as well. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all at last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone—too nervous to bear witnesses—to take the pudding up and bring it in.

Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose—a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed. The greatest horror, that a bitter old man with a hard-on might be watching them in silence from outside never occurred to the Cratchits, and that is probably for the best.

Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm. Scrooge had never thought of his boner as ‘pudding-like’ but the hardness and firmness of this pudding made him reconsider it as a potential description. It was blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing. Not as much as they would have blushed to know that a father’s boss had observed their every word and movement with a raging woody from just outside, but still, a decent amount of blushing.

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit’s elbow stood the family display of glass. Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle. Scrooge pressed his D back in against his stomach as he watched in an effort to relieve some of the accumulated stress it had built up from sticking straight out all night.

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:

“A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!”

Which all the family re-echoed.

“God bless us every one!” said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

He sat very close to his father’s side upon his little stool. Bob 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. Scrooge eyed the boy’s hand and wondered if maybe a little withering might actually not be such a bad thing. His mind raced as he tried to figure out a way to casually get the boy to cough on his boner and make it seem like an accident.

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before in anything not related to a cure for a permanent boner, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

“I see a vacant seat,” replied the Ghost, “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 Scrooge. “Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared. And hey, did you happen to see anything about whether this thing goes away?” Scrooge gestured at his the bulge in his gown.

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population and national gross boner length.”

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief and throbbing, oh the throbbing.

“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is, and What the national gross boner length is, and How long it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust! To hear the insect with the boner denouncing his brethren without boners, when really he is the outlier since insects don’t technically have cocks and he’s some weird genetic freak.”

Scrooge bent before the Ghost’s rebuke, and trembling cast his eyes upon the ground. But he raised them speedily because he didn’t like looking in the direction of the organ that had caused him so much grief. Plus, inside they were saying his name.

“Mr. Scrooge!” said Bob; “I’ll give you Mr. Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast!”

“The Founder of the Feast indeed!” cried Mrs. Cratchit, reddening. “I wish I had him here. I’d give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he’d have a good appetite for it. Then I’d whack him right in that horrible shrivelled boner of his with that shovel we use to roast chestnuts.”

“My dear,” said Bob, “the children! Christmas Day. Plus, how can a boner be erect and shrivelled at the same time?”

“I bet he’s found a way! And it should be Christmas Day, I am sure,” said she, “on which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, firm, engorged, turgid, unfeeling man as Mr. Scrooge. You know he is, Robert! Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow! You’ve had to sit in a room with that thing.”

“My dear,” was Bob’s mild answer, “Christmas Day.”

“I’ll drink his health for your sake and the Day’s,” said Mrs. Cratchit, “not for his. Long life to him! The longer the better, for he’ll have to suffer what you’ve assured me must be severe pain. I wouldn’t know since women don’t get boners, let alone seven year boners. A merry Christmas and a happy new year! He’ll be very merry and very happy, I have no doubt, or at the very least it will look like he is from the waist down!”

The children drank the toast after her. It was the first of their proceedings which had no heartiness. Tiny Tim drank it last of all, but he didn’t care twopence for it. Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. The mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party, which was not dispelled for a full five minutes, when Scrooge realized that the shadow was boner shaped, and that he was actually casting it from outside the window, and moved out of the light.

After it had passed away, they were ten times merrier than before, from the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being done with. Bob Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his eye for Master Peter, which would bring in, if obtained, full five-and-sixpence weekly. The two young Cratchits laughed tremendously at the idea of Peter’s being a man of business; and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the fire from between his collars, as if he were deliberating what particular investments he should favour when he came into the receipt of that bewildering income. Pharmaceuticals perhaps, vitamins and tonics, the likes of which might prevent his fellow man from falling victim to boners that last the better part of a decade. He imagined there might be a killing to be made in that market. Martha, who was a poor apprentice at a milliner’s, then told them what kind of work she had to do, and how many hours she worked at a stretch, and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for a good long rest; to-morrow being a holiday she passed at home. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord some days before, and how the lord “was much about as tall as Peter;” at which Peter pulled up his collars so high that you couldn’t have seen his head if you had been there. All this time the chestnuts and the jug went round and round; and by-and-bye they had a song, about a lost child travelling in the snow, from Tiny Tim, who had a plaintive little voice, and sang it very well indeed.

There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty; and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker’s. But, they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, contented with the time, and most importantly, none of them were suffering from a boner that had lasted nearly as long as two United States presidential administrations; and when they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the Spirit’s torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon them, and especially on Tiny Tim, until the last.

“Got a thing for cripples, eh?” asked the Spirit with a wink and a point to the boner. “You into stumping, eh?”

“You know I’ve had this since before we got here!” Scrooge snapped back.

By this time it was getting dark, and snowing pretty heavily; and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets, the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens, parlours, and all sorts of rooms, was wonderful. Here, the flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner, with hot plates baking through and through before the fire, and deep red curtains, ready to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness. There all the children of the house were running out into the snow to meet their married sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, and be the first to greet them. Here, again, were shadows on the window-blind of guests assembling; and there a group of handsome girls, all hooded and fur-booted, and all chattering at once, tripped lightly off to some near neighbour’s house; where, woe upon the single man who saw them enter and got horny and got a boner and it turned out to be of the seven year variety—artful witches, well they knew it!

But, if you had judged from the numbers of people on their way to friendly gatherings, you might have thought that no one was at home to give them welcome when they got there, instead of every house expecting company, and piling up its fires half-chimney high. Blessings on it, how the Ghost exulted! How it bared its breadth of breast, and opened its capacious palm, and floated on, outpouring, with a generous hand, its bright and harmless mirth on everything within its reach! The very lamplighter, who ran on before, dotting the dusky street with specks of light, and who was dressed to spend the evening somewhere, laughed out loudly as the Spirit passed, though little kenned the lamplighter that he had any company but Christmas and a grouchy old miser attempting to keep his boner from flopping around too much!

And now, without a word of warning from the Ghost, they stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses of rude stone were cast about, as though it were the burial-place of giants who died with boners and whoever buried them didn’t bother digging the grave deep enough to accommodate the boner so it just stuck out of the ground and also when the giants died they turned to stone because of magic so their stone boners marked their gravesite for all to see. It was embarrassing, but saved money on tombstones. And water spread itself wheresoever it listed, or would have done so, but for the frost that held it prisoner; and nothing grew but moss and furze, and coarse rank grass. Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery red, which glared upon the desolation for an instant, like a sullen eye, and frowning lower, lower, lower yet, was lost in the thick gloom of darkest night.

“What place is this?” asked Scrooge.

“A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of the earth. The main difference between you and them is that they chip away at hard rocks with tools and you’ve got a rock hard tool.” returned the Spirit. “But they know me. See!”

A light shone from the window of a hut, and swiftly they advanced towards it. Passing through the wall of mud and stone, they found a cheerful company assembled round a glowing fire. An old, old man and woman, with their children and their children’s children, and another generation beyond that, all decked out gaily in their holiday attire. The old man, in a voice that seldom rose above the howling of the wind upon the barren waste and a limp wang that seldom rose above to even a forty-five degree angle, was singing them a Christmas song—it had been a very old song when he was a boy—and from time to time they all joined in the chorus. So surely as they raised their voices, the old man got quite blithe and loud; and so surely as they stopped, his vigour sank again.

The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his robe, and passing on above the moor, sped—whither? Not to sea? To sea. To Scrooge’s horror, looking back, he saw the last of the land, a frightful range of rocks, behind them; and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as it rolled and roared, and raged among the dreadful caverns it had worn, and fiercely tried to undermine the earth. His boner stuck out in front of him, leading the way out to sea as if it were a mighty little tugboat rescuing a broken down old freighter.

Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league or so from shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed, the wild year through, there stood a solitary lighthouse, the boner of all nautical signalling structures.  Great heaps of sea-weed clung to its base like matted old man pubic hair, and storm-birds —born of the wind one might suppose, as sea-weed of the water—rose and fell about it, like… Well, no comparison really sprang to mind for creatures hovering in the general airspace around Scrooge’s boner. He was grateful for this and decided that they rose and fell about it like the waves they skimmed.

But even here, two men who watched the light had made a fire, that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. Joining their horny hands over the rough table at which they sat, they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog. The way that you could tell their hands were horny was that they were stroking each other’s boners with them. One of them: the elder, too, with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship might be: struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in itself.

Again the Ghost sped on, not a moment too soon for Scrooge who had no desire to see what the lighthouse keepers had planned for after the song, above the black and heaving sea —on, on—until, being far away, as he told Scrooge, from any shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel, the look-out in the bow, the officers who had the watch; dark, ghostly figures in their several stations; but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a Christmas thought, or had received a sexy Christmas card from their wife and was going to great pains to conceal the erection brought on by it or spoke below his breath to his companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with homeward hopes belonging to it. And every man on board, waking or sleeping, good or bad, limp or stiff, had had a kinder word for another on that day than on any day in the year; and had shared to some extent in its festivities; and had remembered those he cared for at a distance, and had known that they delighted to remember him.

It was a great surprise to Scrooge, while listening to the moaning of the wind, and thinking what a solemn thing it was to move on through the lonely darkness over an unknown abyss, whose depths were secrets as profound as Death, perhaps even containing the secret as to why the hell this curse of a boner just wouldn’t go away: it was a great surprise to Scrooge, while thus engaged (and engorged) to hear a hearty laugh. It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge to recognise it as his own nephew’s and to find himself in a bright, dry, gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smiling by his side, and looking at that same nephew with approving affability!

“Ha, ha!” laughed Scrooge’s nephew. “Ha, ha, ha!” For several moments, Scrooge assumed he was laughing at the bulge in his gown caused by his boner, and tried to cover it in a panic. But then he remembered that he was as much a phantom as the Spirit, and let it flop freely again.

If you should happen, by any unlikely chance, to know a man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge’s nephew, all I can say is, I should like to know him too. Introduce him to me, and I’ll cultivate his acquaintance and laugh at men with hilarious boners along with him.

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour. We’re all very fortunate that seven year boners are not as contagious. When Scrooge’s nephew laughed in this way: holding his sides, rolling his head, and twisting his face into the most extravagant contortions: Scrooge’s niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily as he. And their assembled friends being not a bit behindhand, roared out lustily.

“Ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha!”

OK, once you spend a little time with it, the laugh gets kind of annoying.

“He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live!!” cried Scrooge’s nephew. “He believed it too! Plus, the boner!”

“More shame for him, Fred! Even more than that boner that I bet is also somehow shrivelled brings him!” said Scrooge’s niece, indignantly. Bless those women; they never do anything by halves. They are always in earnest.

She was very pretty: exceedingly pretty. With a dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face; a ripe little mouth, that seemed made to be kissed—as no doubt it was; all kinds of good little dots about her chin, that melted into one another when she laughed; and the sunniest pair of eyes you ever saw in any little creature’s head. Altogether she was what you would have called provoking, you know, of maybe a nice five minute boner; but satisfactory, too. Oh, perfectly satisfactory.

Hey, I’m the narrator and I perv out on the broads that Scrooge observes with his permaboner. If you don’t like it, read something by Emily Dickinson.

“He’s a comical old fellow,” said Scrooge’s nephew, “that’s the truth: and not so pleasant as he might be. However, his offences carry their own punishment, and I have nothing to say against him. Well, maybe that it’s hilarious that he has a constant hard dong. I’ll say that.”

“I’m sure he is very rich, Fred,” hinted Scrooge’s niece. “At least you always tell me so when you’re not fixated on the hardness of his dong.”

“What of that, my dear!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “His wealth is of no use to him. He don’t do any good with it; all the charities have banned him from their premises, the orphanages and children’s hospitals especially. He don’t make himself comfortable with it, or at least as comfortable as you could be with that horrible weiner of his jutting out from between his legs at all times. He hasn’t the satisfaction of thinking—ha, ha, ha!—that he is ever going to benefit US with it.”

“I have no patience with him,” observed Scrooge’s niece. “I’m always worried I’m going to trip and fall onto it and it’s going to bounce up and down like a springy doorstop and probably make that same sound too.” Scrooge’s niece’s sisters, and all the other ladies, expressed the same opinion. Scrooge thought it was curious that they had all considered the sound his boner might make if it were to be given a good flick. He took the smallest solace in the fact that they were all wrong about the sound.

“Oh, I have!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “I am sorry for him; I couldn’t be angry with him if I tried. Who suffers by his ill whims! Himself, always. For the past seven years at least. Here, he takes it into his head to dislike us, and he won’t come and dine with us. What’s the consequence? He don’t lose much of a dinner and we don’t have to lower the legs on one of our chairs so he can fit his crotch under the table.”

“Indeed, I think he loses a very good dinner,” interrupted Scrooge’s niece. Everybody else said the same, and they must be allowed to have been competent judges, because they had just had dinner; and, with the dessert upon the table, were clustered round the fire, by lamplight. Scrooge eyed the room for any signs of pudding so he might assess it’s hardness and firmness

“Well! I’m very glad to hear it,” said Scrooge’s nephew, “because I haven’t great faith in these young housekeepers. What do you say, Topper?”

Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge’s niece’s sisters, for he subtly crossed his legs to conceal his budding stiffy while answering that a bachelor was a wretched outcast, who had no right to express an opinion on the subject. Whereat Scrooge’s niece’s sister—the plump one with the lace tucker: not the one with the roses—blushed. She had totally noticed.

“Do go on, Fred,” said Scrooge’s niece, clapping her hands. “He never finishes what he begins to say! He is such a ridiculous fellow!”

Scrooge’s nephew revelled in another laugh, and as it was impossible to keep the infection off; though the plump sister tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar; his example was unanimously followed.

“I was only going to say,” said Scrooge’s nephew, “that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses some pleasant moments, which could do him no harm. After all, that boner’s not getting any harder. I am sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can find in his own thoughts, either in his mouldy old office, or his dusty chambers, or the horrible little back alley clinic he’s surely resorted to by now in a desperate attempt to find a cure. I mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he likes it or not, for I pity him. He may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he can’t help thinking better of it—I defy him—if he finds me going there, in good temper, year after year, and saying Uncle Scrooge, how are you? How is your boner? I heard you sat on it funny last week, can I bring you an ice pack? If it only puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds, that’s something; and I think I shook him yesterday.”

It was their turn to laugh now at the notion of his shaking Scrooge and helping him onto an ice pack to soothe his swollen member. But being thoroughly good-natured, and not much caring what they laughed at, so that they laughed at any rate, he encouraged them in their merriment, and passed the bottle joyously.

After tea, they had some music. For they were a musical family, and knew what they were about, when they sung a Glee or Catch, I can assure you: especially Topper, who could growl away in the bass like a good one, and never swell the large veins in his forehead, or get red in the face over it. After all, there were enough swollen, large veins and reddened body parts in the room at the moment. Scrooge’s niece played well upon the harp; and played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing: you might learn to whistle it in two minutes), which had been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the boarding-school, as he had been reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past. When this strain of music sounded, all the things that Ghost had shown him, came upon his mind; he softened more and more (ONLY IN TEMPERAMENT, DUH); and thought that if he could have listened to it often, years ago, he might have cultivated the kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands, without resorting to the sexton’s spade that buried Jacob Marley.

But they didn’t devote the whole evening to music. After a while they played at forfeits; for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself, his first divine boner still three? Four? Five years away? When did our Lord and savior get his first boner? Was it blasphemous to suggest it might have been as early as three? Or as late as five? Is that even late? I’m not sure when they start happening. Look, you know what? Let’s forget I brought it up. Stop! There was first a game at blind-man’s buff. Of course there was. And I no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he had eyes in his boots. My opinion is, that it was a done thing between him and Scrooge’s nephew; and that the Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker, was an outrage on the credulity of human nature. Knocking down the fire-irons, tumbling over the chairs, bumping against the piano, smothering himself among the curtains, wherever she went, there went he! He always knew where the plump sister was. He wouldn’t catch anybody else. If you had fallen up against him (as some of them did), on purpose, he would have made a feint of endeavouring to seize you, which would have been an affront to your understanding, and would instantly have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister. She often cried out that it wasn’t fair; and it really was not. But when at last, he caught her; when, in spite of all her silken rustlings, and her rapid flutterings past him, he got her into a corner whence there was no escape; then his conduct was the most execrable. For his pretending not to know her; his pretending that it was necessary to touch her head-dress, and further to assure himself of her identity by pressing a certain ring upon her finger, and a certain chain about her neck; was vile, monstrous! No doubt she told him her opinion of it, when, another blind-man being in office, they were so very confidential together, behind the curtains. Needless to say, the whole thing disgusted yours truly, who would have gone about harassing and molesting the plump sister in an entirely different, more dignified manner.

Scrooge’s niece was not one of the blind-man’s buff party, but was made comfortable with a large chair and a footstool, in a snug corner, where the Ghost and Scrooge were close behind her, close enough that had Scrooge been material in the room, he would have given her at least one or two inadvertent boner pokes. Inadvertent Boner Pokes was also the name of one of the musical trios that Fezziwig had hired for his Christmas party one year. But she joined in the forfeits, and loved her love to admiration with all the letters of the alphabet. Likewise at the game of How, When, and Where, she was very great, and to the secret joy of Scrooge’s nephew, beat her sisters hollow: though they were sharp girls too, as Topper could have told you when he wasn’t slobbering all over my plump sister—THE plump sister! THE plump sister! Not my! There might have been twenty people there, young and old, but they all played, and so did Scrooge; for wholly forgetting in the interest he had in what was going on, that his voice made no sound in their ears, he sometimes came out with his guess quite loud, and very often guessed quite right, too; for the sharpest needle, best Whitechapel, warranted not to cut in the eye, was not sharper than Scrooge; blunt as he took it in his head to be.

The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood, and looked upon him with such favour, that he begged like a boy with an adult size boner to be allowed to stay until the guests departed. But this the Spirit said could not be done.

“Here is a new game,” said Scrooge. “One half hour, Spirit, only one!”

It was a Game called Yes and No, where Scrooge’s nephew had to think of something, and the rest must find out what; he only answering to their questions yes or no, as the case was. The brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed, elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal, a live animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes, and had a boner, and lived in London, and walked about the streets, and wasn’t made a show of, and wasn’t led by anybody, and the boner had lasted longer than three years, and didn’t live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a market, and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, and it had lasted longer than five years, or a bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear. At every fresh question that was put to him, this nephew burst into a fresh roar of laughter; and was so inexpressibly tickled, that he was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. At last the plump sister, falling into a similar state, cried out:

“I have found it out! I know what it is, Fred! I know what it is!”

“What is it?” cried Fred.

“It’s your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge!”

Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal sentiment, though some objected that the reply to “Is it a bear?” ought to have been “Yes;” inasmuch as an answer in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts from Mr. Scrooge, supposing they had ever had any tendency that way; and others thought that the answer had been fairly obvious once the questions shifted to being boner-related and stated that they had just not answered out of politeness and a desire to keeping the game going.

“He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure,” said Fred, “and it would be ungrateful not to drink his health. Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our hand at the moment; and I say, ‘Uncle Scrooge! Ma you remain healthy except for any and all hilarious conditions related to your wiener and butt.'”

“Well! Uncle Scrooge! Wiener and butt!” they cried.

“A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, whatever he is!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “He wouldn’t take it from me, but may he have it, nevertheless. Winer and butt! I mean, Uncle Scrooge!”

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart, that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech and an imperceptible erection, if the Ghost had given him time. But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his nephew; and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels.

Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they visited, but always with a happy end. The Spirit stood beside sick beds, and they were cheerful; on foreign lands, and they were close at home; by struggling men, and they were patient in their greater hope; by poverty, and it was rich; by impotence, and they were virile. Scrooge wondered aloud why this last one didn’t work in reverse, after all, he’d been in the presence of the Spirit all night, but the spirit just shushed him and said not to ruin the moment. In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery’s every refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge his precepts.

It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form (rock hard boner), the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of it, until they left a children’s Twelfth Night party, when, looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he noticed that its hair was grey.

“Are spirits’ lives so short?” asked Scrooge.

“My life upon this globe, is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “Just as certain as your boner ends three inches out from your belly button, it ends to-night.”

“Oh come on, it’s at least four. It’s cold out here!” cried Scrooge. “Wait, did you say to-night?”

“To-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing near.”

The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at that moment.

“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw? Please say it isn’t a boner. If Spirits have boners that could be mistaken for claws, I don’t think I can bear to be in your presence any longer.”

“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. Pretty much the way that you’d expect any children to look after  they’d spent the night with an old man with a permaboner. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

“Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!” exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. And yet, Scrooge would have traded places with them in an instant if it meant ditching the Ol’ PB for good.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. It was the same reaction people had in the early days of his permaboner, when they tried to tell him that it really wasn’t that noticeable.

“Spirit! are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more. He was terrified that one of the children was going to impale his rod with a flaming pitchfork or something.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased and replaced with a drawing of a wang in permanent marker. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!”

“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.

“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”

The bell struck twelve.

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him, towards his boner.

 


STAVE IV: THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS

 

THE Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, approached. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee, being careful to pluck up his gown at the last minute since kneeling pulled the fabric back to it really accentuated his swollen penis; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded. Once again, Scrooge noted that the Spirit fashion world was really brining their A game in terms of boner concealing garments.

He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved. At least it’s not laughing at my boner, Scrooge thought. He certainly had lowered the bar for what he deemed a successful encounter with a stranger, he thought next.

“I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?” said Scrooge. He shifted his weight back and forth a few times to let his erect johnson at least make its presence known.

The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its hand.

“You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us,” Scrooge pursued. “Is that so, Spirit?” Now he was actually getting kind of offended that the Spirit refused to acknowledge his erection. Without taking care to disguise his movements, Scrooge stuck his hand in the pocket of his gown and unstuck his boner from his thigh. It sprung free and shot up into the the fabric of the gown. Scrooge looked up to see if the Spirit had noticed.

The upper portion of the its garment was contracted for an instant in its folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its head. That was the only answer he received.

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a moment, as observing his condition, perhaps taking in the true magnitude of a seven year boner which surely by now must be the talk of the Spirit community, and giving him time to recover.

But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, and a ghost penis of indeterminate firmness, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black.

“Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed, “Despite the steadfast hardness of my junk, I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart and willing erection. Will you not speak to me?”

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them, as straight and true as a seven year boner.

“Lead on!” said Scrooge. “Lead on! The night, unlike my boner, is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!”

The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him. Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress, which bore him up, he thought, and carried him along.

They scarcely seemed to enter the city; for the city rather seemed to spring up about them like a metropolitan boner, and encompass them of its own act. But there they were, in the heart of it; on ‘Change, amongst the merchants; who hurried up and down, and chinked the money in their pockets, and conversed in groups, and looked at their watches, and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold seals; and so forth, as Scrooge had seen them often.

The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men. Observing that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk.

“No,” said a great fat man with a monstrous chin who looked like he never had gotten a boner that wasn’t caused by ham, “I don’t know much about it, either way. I only know he’s dead.”

“When did he die?” inquired another.

“Last night, I believe.”

“Why, what was the matter with him? I mean besides the obvious” asked a third, taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box and gesturing to his crotch. “I thought he’d never die.”

“God knows,” said the first, with a yawn.

“What has he done with his money?” asked a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his nose, that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock. Scrooge couldn’t help but imagine the man’s weenus had a simiar pendulous growth on it and thought for a second he might vomit onto the streets of the future.

“I haven’t heard,” said the man with the large chin, yawning again. “Left it to his company, perhaps. He hasn’t left it to me. That’s all I know. Don’t know if I’d accept it if he had, on the off chance that horrible boner curse is transferred along with it.”

This pleasantry was received with a general laugh, followed by every man in the group involuntary crossing their legs at the thought of such an affliction.

“It’s likely to be a very cheap funeral,” said the same speaker; “for upon my life I don’t know of anybody to go to it. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer?”

“I don’t mind going if a lunch is provided,” observed the gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. “But I must be fed, if I make one.”

Another laugh. Oh, come on! That guy is getting a laugh at my expense, thought Scrooge! At least my boner was usually behind at least one, usually a couple layers of clothing. That thing on his nose is just waggling around in the wind!

“Well, I am the most disinterested among you, after all,” said the first speaker, “for I never wear black gloves, and I never eat lunch. But I’ll offer to go, if anybody else will. Besides, it might be an open casket, and I hear that boners are like fingernails and hair in that they keep growing for a few days after somebody dies. When I come to think of it, I’m not at all sure that I wasn’t his most particular friend; for we used to stop and speak whenever we met. Bye, bye!”

Speakers and listeners strolled away, and mixed with other groups. Scrooge knew the men, and looked towards the Spirit for an explanation.

The Phantom glided on into a street. Its finger pointed to two persons meeting. Scrooge listened again, thinking that the explanation might lie here. Inside his hood, the Spirit narrowed his eyes at Scrooge, trying to figure out if he actually didn’t understand who they were talking about or if he was just trying to buy some time.

He knew these men, also, perfectly. They were men of business: very wealthy, and of great importance. He had made a point always of standing well in their esteem: in a business point of view, that is; strictly in a business point of view. In a physical sense, he had made a point of standing well over ten feet from them at all times, per their request.

“How are you?” said one.

“How are you?” returned the other.

“Well!” said the first. “Old Scratch has got his own at last, hey?”

“What, did Old Scratch have a ‘round the clock rager as well?”

“No, you idiot. I meant he was a bad, unkind person.”

“Oh,” returned the second. “Cold, isn’t it?”

“Seasonable for Christmas time. You’re not a skater, I suppose?”

“No. No. Something else to think of. Good morning!”

Not another word. That was their meeting, their conversation, and their parting. A pretty crappy interaction, Scrooge thought. He wondered if being ‘a skater’ was code for some deviant sexual thing.

Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the Spirit should attach importance to conversations apparently so trivial; but feeling assured that they must have some hidden purpose, he set himself to consider what it was likely to be. They could scarcely be supposed to have any bearing on the death of Jacob, his old partner, for that was Past, and this Ghost’s province was the Future. Nor could he think of any one immediately connected with himself, to whom he could apply them. But nothing doubting that to whomsoever they applied they had some latent moral for his own improvement, he resolved to treasure up every word he heard, and everything he saw; and especially to observe the shadow of himself when it appeared. For he had an expectation that the conduct of his future self would give him the clue he missed, and would render the solution of these riddles easy. Evidently Scrooge’s boner had finally drawn enough blood away from his head to render him simple minded. I mean, come on man! It was pretty damn obvious what was going on here.

He looked about in that very place for his own image; but another man stood in his accustomed corner, and though the clock pointed to his usual time of day for being there, he saw no likeness of himself among the multitudes that poured in through the Porch. It gave him little surprise, however; for he had been revolving in his mind a change of life, and thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried out in this. Perhaps he was abroad, maybe in Sweden undergoing one of those controversial boner-reducing medical procedures he’d heard whispers of. The rumor was they’d been outlawed in England due to the use of human corpses.

Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with its outstretched hand. When he roused himself from his thoughtful quest, he fancied from the turn of the hand, and its situation in reference to himself, that the Unseen Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made him shudder, and feel very cold, made his testicles retract up close to his body, though his boner remained unchanged.

They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated before, although he recognised its situation, and its bad repute. Scrooge was not enthusiastic about penetrating it for the first time. Even when you weren’t marching around town with a solid wang, that sounded pretty weird. The ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched; the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets; and the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery. Having a boner in public was always mortifying, but Scrooge never thought that he might get stabbed over it until now.

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, beetling shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor within, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a charcoal stove, made of old bricks, was a grey-haired rascal, nearly seventy years of age; who had screened himself from the cold air without, by a frousy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters, hung upon a line; and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of calm retirement. As creepy as he and his shop were, since his hog wasn’t jutting out of his pants all day long, people seemed to respect him and want to do business with him.

Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this man, just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the shop. But she had scarcely entered, when another woman, similarly laden, came in too; and she was closely followed by a man in faded black, who was no less startled by the sight of them, than they had been upon the recognition of each other. After a short period of blank astonishment, in which the old man with the pipe had joined them, they all three burst into a laugh. Scrooge’s hands were instinctively halfway to his pockets before he remembered that they couldn’t see his wiener, and he relaxed.

“Let the charwoman alone to be the first!” cried she who had entered first. “Let the laundress alone to be the second; and let the undertaker’s man alone to be the third. Look here, old Joe, here’s a chance! If we haven’t all three met here without meaning it!”

“You couldn’t have met in a better place,” said old Joe, removing his pipe from his mouth. “Come into the parlour. You were made free of it long ago, you know; and the other two an’t strangers. Stop till I shut the door of the shop. Ah! How it skreeks! There an’t such a rusty bit of metal in the place as its own hinges, I believe; and I’m sure there’s no such old bones here, as mine. Ha, ha! We’re all suitable to our calling, we’re well matched. Come into the parlour. Come into the parlour.” Scrooge hoped he wasn’t about to witness some twisted “Skater” sex party. Even if it limpened his boner instantly, he didn’t know if it would be worth it if he had to watch these four going at it.

The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod, and having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night), with the stem of his pipe, put it in his mouth again. Rods and pipes galore. The room was packed with phallic imagery before Scrooge and his boner even penetrated it!

While he did this, the woman who had already spoken threw her bundle on the floor, and sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool; crossing her elbows on her knees, and looking with a bold defiance at the other two.

“What odds then! What odds, Mrs. Dilber?” said the woman. “Every person has a right to take care of themselves. He always did, even when he couldn’t get his own Dilber to lay flat! Ha!”

“That’s true, indeed!” said the laundress. “No man more so. And please don’t use my last name as a slang term for penis.”

“Why then, don’t stand staring as if you was afraid, woman; who’s the wiser? We’re not going to pick holes in each other’s coats, I suppose?”

“No, indeed!” said Mrs. Dilber and the man together. “We should hope not.”

“Very well, then!” cried the woman. “That’s enough. Who’s the worse for the loss of a few things like these? Not a dead man, I suppose.”

“No, indeed,” said Mrs. Dilber, laughing.

“If he wanted to keep ‘em after he was dead, a wicked old screw,” pursued the woman, “why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime? I mean, I assume something like that doesn’t happen naturally.” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “I heard people say that it came from rubbing pieces of gold on it. Anyway, if he had been, he’d have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by himself, pointing up towards the ceiling like the world’s saddest maypole.”

“It’s the truest word that ever was spoke,” said Mrs. Dilber. “It’s a judgment on him.”

“I wish it was a little heavier judgment,” replied the woman; “and it should have been, you may depend upon it, if I could have laid my hands on anything else. I laid my hands on everything. Everything. Like I was going to be in a room with that thing and not give it a squeeze! Ha! Open that bundle, old Joe, and let me know the value of it. Speak out plain. I’m not afraid to be the first, nor afraid for them to see it. We know pretty well that we were helping ourselves, before we met here, I believe. It’s no sin. Open the bundle, Joe.”

But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this; and the man in faded black, mounting the breach first, produced his plunder. It was not extensive. A seal or two, a pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, a pair of pajama pants that hung suspiciously loose in the crotch, and a brooch of no great value, were all. They were severally examined and appraised by old Joe, who chalked the sums he was disposed to give for each, upon the wall, and added them up into a total when he found there was nothing more to come.

“That’s your account,” said Joe, “and I wouldn’t give another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not doing it. Who’s next?”

Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little wearing apparel, two old-fashioned silver teaspoons, a pair of sugar-tongs, a leather belt with the cryptic phrase “Tuck behind here for maximum D restraint” written on the back of it with an arrow pointing to a specific spot, and a few boots. Her account was stated on the wall in the same manner.

“I always give too much to ladies. It’s a weakness of mine, and that’s the way I ruin myself,” said old Joe. “That’s your account. If you asked me for another penny, and made it an open question, I’d repent of being so liberal and knock off half-a-crown.”

“And now undo my bundle, Joe,” said the first woman.

Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience of opening it, and having unfastened a great many knots, dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff.

“What do you call this?” said Joe. “Bed-curtains!”

“Ah!” returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward on her crossed arms. “Bed-curtains that encircled his night-boner for seven plus however many years in the future this is!”

“You don’t mean to say you took ‘em down, rings and all, with him lying there with a necrorection?” said Joe.

“Yes I do,” replied the woman. “Why not? The weird thing was, no matter where I was in the room, that thing seemed to be pointing at me. It was like looking at the Mona Lisa.”

“You were born to make your fortune,” said Joe, “and you’ll certainly do it.”

“I certainly shan’t hold my hand, when I can get anything in it by reaching it out and giving it a squeeze, for the sake of such a man as He was, I promise you, Joe,” returned the woman coolly. “Don’t drop that oil upon the blankets, now.”

“His blankets?” asked Joe.

“Whose else’s do you think?” replied the woman. “He isn’t likely to take cold without ‘em, I dare say.”

“I hope he didn’t die of anything catching? Eh?” said old Joe, stopping in his work, and looking up. “Did you take these sheets down before or after you gave his boner a squeeze?”

“Don’t you be afraid of that,” returned the woman. “You’d be lucky to even feel the slightest tickle down there at your age and after all the filth you’ve come into contact with over the years.” She shot a pointed look at Mrs. Dilber, who hung her head in shame. “Ah! you may look through that shirt till your eyes ache; but you won’t find a hole in it, nor a threadbare place, unlike his pants. It’s the best he had, and a fine one too. They’d have wasted it, if it hadn’t been for me.”

“What do you call wasting of it?” asked old Joe.

“Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure,” replied the woman with a laugh. “Somebody was fool enough to do it, but I took it off again to get another look at his trademark thruster. If calico an’t good enough for such a purpose, it isn’t good enough for anything. It’s quite as becoming to the body. He can’t look uglier than he did in that one. And it was an ugly boner, in case there was any doubt in your minds. Ugly as hell.”

Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they sat grouped about their spoil, in the scanty light afforded by the old man’s lamp, he viewed them with a detestation and disgust usually reserved for other people viewing him cavalierly displaying his boner in public, which could hardly have been greater, though they had been obscene demons, marketing the corpse itself.

“Ha, ha!” laughed the same woman, when old Joe, producing a flannel bag with money in it, told out their several gains upon the ground. “This is the end of it, you see! His eternal hard schlong frightened every one away from him when he was alive, to profit us when he was dead! Ha, ha, ha!”

“Spirit!” said Scrooge, shuddering from head to foot. “I see, I see. The case of this unhappy man might be my own. They might be describing another resident of this town who had a permaboner and was a terrible miser. I must reach out to this man when I return to the present, as we certainly must be able to pool our considerable wealth to fund a search for a cure for our peculiar, incredibly awkward condition. Or at least maybe he would have a smaller boner than me and I could get everyone to make fun of him for it. My life tends that way, now. Merciful Heaven, what is this!”

He recoiled in terror, for the scene had changed, and now he almost touched a bed: a bare, uncurtained bed: on which, beneath a ragged sheet, there lay a something covered up, which, though it was dumb, announced itself in awful language and shameful, protruding stub from the center of the covered mass.

The room was very dark, too dark to be observed with any accuracy, though Scrooge glanced round it in obedience to a secret impulse, anxious to know what kind of room it was. A pale light, rising in the outer air, fell straight upon the bed; and on it, plundered and bereft, unwatched, unwept, uncared for, was the body of this man sporting a sad little necrorection, as Joe had so charmingly referred to it.

Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady hand was pointed to the head, even though Scrooge could tell it couldn’t take its eyes off the boner. The cover was so carelessly adjusted that the slightest raising of it, the motion of a finger upon Scrooge’s part, would have disclosed the face. He thought of it, felt how easy it would be to do, and longed to do it; but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss the spectre at his side. Plus, pulling it aside might reveal the dingus, and Scrooge had seen enough erect wieners over the past seven years to last him a lifetime.

Oh cold, cold, rigid, firm, erect, dreadful Death, set up thine altar here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command: for this is thy dominion! But of the loved, revered, and honoured head, thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released; it is not that the heart and pulse are still; but that the hand WAS open, generous, and true; the heart brave, warm, and tender; and the pulse a man’s which pumped blood towards his genitals when needed and (excepting one specific case) away when it no longer was. Strike, Shadow, strike! And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to sow the world with life immortal!

No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge’s ears, and yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. He thought, if this man could be raised up now, what would be his foremost thoughts? Avarice, hard-dealing, covering his boner in shame, griping cares? They have brought him to a rich end, truly!

He lay, in the dark empty house, with not a man, a woman, or a child, to say that he was kind to me in this or that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be kind to him. A cat was tearing at the door, and there was a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. What they wanted in the room of death, and why they were so restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to think. The image of the rats gnawing on the man’s dead boner briefly flitted past Scrooge’s eyes and he involuntarily gasped in horror.

“Spirit!” he said, “this is a fearful place. In leaving it, I shall not leave its lesson, trust me. Let us go!”

Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the head. Surely he was not suggesting that Scrooge could cure his own condition by giving the dead body’s boner a squeeze, like the woman he’d overhead talking to Joe? Or even worse, touching it tip-to-tip with his own?

“I understand you,” Scrooge returned, “and I would do it, if I could. But I have not the power to pull back the cover any more than I have the power to will away this painful, lengthy boner, Spirit. I have not the power.”

Again it seemed to look upon him.

“If there is any person in the town, who feels emotion caused by this man’s death,” said Scrooge quite agonised, “show that person to me, Spirit, I beseech you! And laughter or happiness brought on by the fact that his boner is still sticking up in the air long after he died does not count.”

The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a moment, like a wing; and withdrawing it, revealed a room by daylight, where a mother and her children were.

She was expecting some one, and with anxious eagerness; for she walked up and down the room; started at every sound; looked out from the window; glanced at the clock; tried, but in vain, to work with her needle; and could hardly bear the voices of the children in their play. Scrooge had seen mothers behave this way before, every time he came within fifty feet or so of a playground.

At length the long-expected knock was heard. She hurried to the door, and met her husband; a man whose face was careworn and depressed, though he was young. There was a remarkable expression in it now; a kind of serious delight of which he felt ashamed, and which he struggled to repress. Scrooge had also seen this expression before, when business colleagues first learned of his condition and had to pretend like they were offering him serious condolences while trying to suppress uproarious laughter.

He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding for him by the fire; and when she asked him faintly what news (which was not until after a long silence), he appeared embarrassed how to answer.

“Is it good?” she said, “or bad?”—to help him.

“Bad,” he answered. “But very, very funny. Extremely funny.”

“We are quite ruined?”

“No. There is hope yet, Caroline.”

“If he relents,” she said, amazed, “there is! Nothing is past hope, if such a miracle has happened.”

“He is past relenting,” said her husband. “He is dead. But his boner lives on. And some guys were taking bets about when it was going to droop, and I bet the longest amount of time, and everyone thought I was an optimistic fool, but everyone else’s window has come and gone and he’s still rocking one hell of a stiff dong, so I won, my dear. I won!”

She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke truth; but she was thankful in her soul to hear it, and she said so, with clasped hands. She prayed forgiveness the next moment, and was sorry; but the first was the emotion of her heart: the emotion of having won a substantial amount of money for betting about how long a corpse’s boner would last.

“What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last night, said to me, when I tried to see him and obtain a week’s delay; and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid me; turns out to have been quite true. He was not only very ill, but dying, then.”

“To whom will our debt be transferred?”

“I don’t know. But before that time we shall be ready with the money; and even though we were not, it would be a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his successor. Even if he’s just as miserly, at least he won’t have that horrible boner jutting out at you as you beg for an extension. We may sleep to-night with light hearts, Caroline!”

Yes. Soften it as they would, their hearts were lighter. The children’s faces, hushed and clustered round to hear what they so little understood, were brighter; and it was a happier house for this man’s death! The youngest child was so moved that he uttered his first word: “Bonaw,” and everyone laughed at the adorable mispronunciation. The only emotion that the Ghost could show him, caused by the event, was one of pleasure.

“Let me see some tenderness connected with a death,” said Scrooge; “or that dark chamber, Spirit, which we left just now, will be for ever present to me, and I can’t bear an additional horrible thing to be for ever present to me.”

The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar to his feet; and as they went along, Scrooge looked here and there to find himself, but nowhere was he to be seen. The poor bastard really must have more brains in a half-inch of his boner than in all of his head if he hadn’t figured it out by now. They entered poor Bob Cratchit’s house; the dwelling he had visited before; and found the mother and the children seated round the fire.

Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy little Cratchits were as still as statues in one corner, stiff as seven year boners, and sat looking up at Peter, who had a book before him. The mother and her daughters were engaged in sewing. But surely they were very quiet!

“‘And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them.'”

Where had Scrooge heard those words? It sounded like a Bible verse, but he hadn’t been allowed in a church for seven years. At the time, the ban seemed like piling on, since Scrooge hadn’t even tried to go to church for at least a decade before that. If anything, being banned made him want to go more, just show up and start waggling it around with his hands on his hips during the Eucharist or something. As for the words, he had not dreamed them. The boy must have read them out, as he and the Spirit crossed the threshold. Why did he not go on?

The mother laid her work upon the table, and put her hand up to her face.

“The colour hurts my eyes,” she said.

The colour? Ah, poor Tiny Tim!

“They’re better now again,” said Cratchit’s wife. “It makes them weak by candle-light; and I wouldn’t show weak eyes to your father when he comes home, for the world. It must be near his time.”

“Past it rather,” Peter answered, shutting up his book. “But I think he has walked a little slower than he used, these few last evenings, mother.”

Scrooge had a sinking feeling in his stomach. Perhaps Cratchit was just walking slower because he had a boner that wouldn’t go away. Oh, please let it that. I wasn’t serious about waggling it around during the Eucharist, he pleaded silently.

They were very quiet again. At last she said, and in a steady, cheerful voice, that only faltered once:

“I have known him walk with—I have known him walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder, very fast indeed.”

“And so have I,” cried Peter. “Often.”

“And so have I,” exclaimed another. So had all.

Scrooge stood there with his boner as the family choked back sobs. He really wished he was back in the corpses bedroom. He’d even take a brief tip-to-tip session over this. It would be a lot less awkward.

“But he was very light to carry,” she resumed, intent upon her work, “and his father loved him so, that it was no trouble: no trouble. And there is your father at the door!”

She hurried out to meet him; and little Bob in his comforter —he had need of it, poor fellow—came in. His tea was ready for him on the hob, and they all tried who should help him to it most. Then the two young Cratchits got upon his knees and laid, each child a little cheek, against his face, as if they said, “Don’t mind it, father. Don’t be grieved!”

If Scrooge had stood with a boner at the manger in Bethlehem itself while the wise men presented their gifts to the newborn baby Jesus, he would not have felt more awkward.

Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke pleasantly to all the family. He looked at the work upon the table, and praised the industry and speed of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. They would be done long before Sunday, he said.

“Sunday! You went to-day, then, Robert?” said his wife.

“Yes, my dear,” returned Bob. “I wish you could have gone. It would have done you good to see how green a place it is. But you’ll see it often. I promised him that I would walk there on a Sunday. My little, little child!” cried Bob. “My little child!”

He broke down all at once. He couldn’t help it. If he could have helped it, he and his child would have been farther apart perhaps than they were.

“Look, I’ll even take a tip-to-tip session of moderate length,” Scrooge told the Phantom. “Just get me out of here. I can’t be packing wood when there’s a man sobbing in the same room.” The Ghost ignored him.

Bob left the room, and went up-stairs into the room above, which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christmas. There was a chair set close beside the child, and there were signs of some one having been there, lately. Poor Bob sat down in it, and when he had thought a little and composed himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what had happened, and went down again quite happy. Scrooge evidently saw all of this happen from the living room, where he stood with his boner and the Phantom.

They drew about the fire, and talked; the girls and mother working still. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness of Mr. Scrooge’s nephew, whom he had scarcely seen but once, and who, meeting him in the street that day, and seeing that he looked a little—”just a little down you know,” said Bob, inquired what had happened to distress him. But not before saying, “Down, which is the opposite of the way my uncle’s wiener used to always point!” but then when Bob didn’t laugh the nephew saw that he was actually broken up about something, which turned out to be the death of his crippled son, and he felt really awkward about it. Almost as awkward as Scrooge felt now. “On which,” said Bob, “for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever heard, I told him. ‘I am heartily sorry for it, Mr. Cratchit,’ he said, ‘and heartily sorry for your good wife.’ By the bye, how he ever knew that, I don’t know.”

“Knew what, my dear?”

“Why, that you were a good wife,” replied Bob.

“Everybody knows that!” said Peter.

“Very well observed, my boy!” cried Bob. “I hope they do. ‘Heartily sorry,’ he said, ‘for your good wife. If I can be of service to you in any way,’ he said, giving me his card, ‘that’s where I live. Pray come to me.’ Now, it wasn’t,” cried Bob, “for the sake of anything he might be able to do for us, so much as for his kind way, that this was quite delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim, and felt with us. And it was only because that awful man with his awful boner who employed me happened to be his mother’s brother.”

“I’m sure he’s a good soul!” said Mrs. Cratchit.

“You would be surer of it, my dear,” returned Bob, “if you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn’t be at all surprised— mark what I say!—if he got Peter a better situation.”

“Only hear that, Peter,” said Mrs. Cratchit.

Scrooge shifted uncomfortably, thinking that the point had pretty much been driven home now, and that they could probably be moving along. He stuck his hands in his gown’s pockets and gave the Ol’ PB a squeeze. It felt good, reassuring. He could understand what the awful woman at Joe’s had been getting at.

“And then,” cried one of the girls, “Peter will be keeping company with some one, and setting up for himself.”

“Get along with you!” retorted Peter, grinning.

“It’s just as likely as not,” said Bob, “one of these days; though there’s plenty of time for that, my dear. But however and whenever we part from one another, I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim—shall we—or this first parting that there was among us?”

“Never, father!” cried they all.

Scrooge squeezed his boner again.

“And I know,” said Bob, “I know, my dears, that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he was a little, little child; we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.”

“No, never, father!” they all cried again.

“I am very happy,” said little Bob, “I am very happy!”

Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from God!

Another squeeze. During this one, the Phantom elbowed Scrooge in the ribs to get him to cut it out.

“Spectre,” said Scrooge, removing his hands from his pockets and smoothing out the front of his gown as much as one can smooth out something that has a boner sticking out of the center of it. “Something informs me that our parting moment is at hand. I know it, but I know not how. Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead?”

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come stared at Scrooge in disbelief for about fifteen seconds solid, before conveying him, as before—though at a different time, he thought: indeed, there seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were in the Future—into the resorts of business men, but showed him not himself. Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight on, as to the end just now desired, until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment.

“This court,” said Scrooge, “through which we hurry now, is where my place of occupation is, and has been for a length of time. I see the house. Let me behold what I shall be, in days to come!” Even though he felt childish about it, Scrooge crossed his fingers in the hopes that he would see his elderly self without a boner.

The Spirit stopped; the hand was pointed elsewhere.

“The house is yonder,” Scrooge exclaimed. “Why do you point away?”

The inexorable finger underwent no change.

“Oh, you want to play that game?” Scrooge asked in an irritated tone. “The pointing game? You want to play that? Well I can point too!” He spun around and thrust his pelvis at his office, his erection jutting towards the building like a finger beneath the gown. “How do you like that?” Scrooge asked the Phantom, giving him a few more decisive thrusts. “Bah!”

Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and looked in. It was an office still, but not his. The furniture was not the same, and the figure in the chair was not himself. He was about the same height as Scrooge and his hair was the same color, but the lack of a throbbing permanent boner was a dead giveaway that it was a different person. The Phantom pointed as before.

He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither he had gone, accompanied it until they reached an iron gate, as hard and foreboding as his peen currently was. He paused to look round before entering.

A churchyard. Here, then; the wretched man whose name he had now to learn, lay underneath the ground. It was a worthy place. Walled in by houses; overrun by grass and weeds, the growth of vegetation’s death, not life; choked up with too much burying; fat with repleted appetite. Plus some of the gargoyles that sat atop the cemetary walls had huge, nasty boners. A worthy place!

The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape.

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”

The Spirit was immovable as ever.

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, EBENEZER SCROOGE. Some punk kids had painted an O over the second E in his first name, and then a big X over the EZ so that it now read EBONER SCROOGE.

“Am I that man who lay upon the bed?” he cried, upon his knees, his boner sticking out from his gown like a tombstone out of the freshly tilled earth.

The finger pointed from the grave to him, to his crotch, and back again.

“No, Spirit! Oh no, no!”

The finger still was there. So was the boner.

“Spirit!” he cried, tight clutching at its robe, “hear me! I am not the man I was, except for the boner which is still there. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse, except for my boner, which believe me, I would also change if I were able. Why show me this, if I am past all hope and if you don’t have a cure for priapism?”

For the first time the hand appeared to shake.

“Good Spirit,” he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: “Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, as well as the shadows cast upon the Cratchit family by my boner, by an altered life!”

The kind hand trembled.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart and my rod, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future, in all three of them I will happily display my fatty. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within both me and my hog. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach, for they may have lessons relevant to us permanently stiff. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone, as well as that graffiti that makes it look like my name is EBONER!”

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but he was strong in both his entreaty and his crotch salami, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.

Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost, as firm and steadfast as Scrooge’s penis had been for the past seven years.


STAVE V: THE END OF IT

 

YES! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in! Wait a second… Scrooge looked down at his crotch. That was not the best and happiest! His penis, permanently erect for the past seven years had fallen limp! It hung between his legs like a sad little boneless thumb. He no longer had a boner!

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future without a boner!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed, not bothering to flip his D up or conceal it with a hand inside his pocket. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this sudden debonering! I say it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees, and without anything pointing up at you from the center of my gown as I am on my knees!”

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions and lack of boner, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears. His johnson sagged downward in an appropriately old man manner, and appeared to have developed several stretch marks over its seven year stint of firmness.

“They are not torn down,” cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, “they are not torn down, rings and all. They are here—I am here and I am flaccid! Nay, I am limp as a noodle!—the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled, as my horrid permaboner was dispelled. They will be. I know they will!”

His hands were busy with his garments all this time; turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, squeezing his wiener through the pockets and relishing how squishy it was, making them parties to every kind of extravagance.

“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying and rolling onto his stomach without fear of snapping his boner in half for the first time in seven years in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocooen of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy, I am soft as an overcooked piece of spaghetti. I am as giddy as a drunken man, and as unable to get it up as a really drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo! No boner!”

He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing there: perfectly winded, his hands on his hips, just feeling it hang down between his legs.

“There’s the saucepan that the gruel was in!” cried Scrooge, starting off again, and going round the fireplace. “There’s the door, by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered! There’s the corner where the Ghost of Christmas Present, sat! There’s the window where I saw the wandering Spirits! There’s the bed where my corpse lay and I thought I might have to go tip-to-tip with it to get rid of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come! It’s all right, it’s all true, it all happened. Ha ha ha! No boner!”

Really, for a man who had been engorged and out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs!

“I don’t know what day of the month it is!” said Scrooge. “I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Spirits. I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby and about as liable to get an erection as one as well. Never mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. They don’t get boners! Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!”

He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer; ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding; hammer, clang, clash! Oh, glorious, glorious!

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist, no boners; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; He felt his D withdraw even closer to his body in the brisk morning air and relished the sensation; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious!

“What’s to-day!” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

“EH?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder. “My mom says I’m not supposed to talk to you!”

“It’s gone!” cried Scrooge exuberantly. He knelt upon the window to proudly display the flatness of his gown to the boy. He ran his palm up and down the crotch area to emphasize the lack of boner. “What’s to-day, my fine fellow?”

“To-day!” replied the boy. “Why, CHRISTMAS DAY.”

“It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. They got rid of my boner! Of course they can! Hallo, my fine fellow!”

“Hallo!” returned the boy, still looking about just in case the man he’d been warned about since birth had got a lookalike without a boner to distract him from the window while the real guy snuck up behind him with a boner.

“Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.

“I should hope I did,” replied the lad.

“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there?—Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?”

“What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy. Evidently the boy, who was still not convinced the conversation was not taking a sexual turn, had an encyclopedic knowledge of the inventories of local poultry merchants.

“What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”

“It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.

“Just like my non-erect penis!” Scrooge resisted the urge to say. “Is it?” he actually said. “Go and buy it.”

“Walk-ER!” exclaimed the boy.

“No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell ‘em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown!”

The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast. No distracting boners messing with his concentration or aim.

“I’ll send it to Bob Cratchit’s!” whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. “He sha’n’t know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob’s will be!” Joe Miller, whoever the hell that is, probably would have been offended by the remark if it hadn’t come from the man who had been an utter laughingstock for the past seven years due to the fact that he always had an erect penis when he walked around town.

The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady one, as Scrooge was still learning how to go about routine motions without a throbbing, omnipresent boner, but write it he did, somehow, and went down-stairs to open the street door, ready for the coming of the poulterer’s man. As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the knocker caught his eye.

“I shall love it, as long as I live!” cried Scrooge, patting it with his hand. “I scarcely ever looked at it before. What an honest expression it has in its face! It’s a wonderful knocker!—Here’s the Turkey! Hallo! Whoop! How are you! Merry Christmas!” Evidently, going limp was making Scrooge spout unrelated words and expressions at random. The boy was more afraid of him now than he ever had been during the PB years.

It was a Turkey! He never could have stood upon his legs, that bird. He would have snapped ‘em short off in a minute, like sticks of sealing-wax or a boner that lasts so long that the wiener grows brittle and fractures in half.

“Why, it’s impossible to carry that to Camden Town,” said Scrooge. “You must have a cab.”

The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy, were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and chuckled till he cried. Losing the boner had clearly caused him to go off the deep end. Perhaps he’d developed Stockholm syndrome with the damn thing or something.

Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to shake very much; and shaving requires attention, even when you don’t dance while you are at it. But if he had cut the end of his nose off, he would have put a piece of sticking-plaister over it, and been quite satisfied. He shaved in the nude, by the way, so he could keep an eye on his floppy ween, and was still crying the entire time. It was quite a sight.

He dressed himself “all in his best,” meaning the pants that had the least visibly stretched crotch from holding back a boner for longer than a pair of pants had ever been intended to hold back a boner, and at last got out into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth, as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present; and walking with his hands behind him to show off his lack of telltale bulge, Scrooge regarded every one with a delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humoured fellows said, “Good morning, sir! A merry Christmas to you!” And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all the blithe sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears.

He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he beheld the portly gentleman, who had walked into his counting-house the day before, and said, “Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe? Oh, I can see from your permanent boner that you must be Mr. Scrooge.”  It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met, whether he would even recognize him without a firm penis pointing up at him; but he knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it.

“My dear sir,” said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and taking the old gentleman by both his hands. “How do you do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of you. A merry Christmas to you, sir!”

“Mr. Scrooge?” The portly gentleman did a triple take at Scrooge’s crotch, not bothering to even attempt to hide his surprise.

“Yes,” said Scrooge. “That is my name, and I fear it may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon. And will you have the goodness”—here Scrooge whispered in his ear. “It went limp!”

The portly gentleman started to call for a constable, so Scrooge quickly leaned back in and whispered some non-boner related stuff.

“Lord bless me!” cried the gentleman, as if his breath were taken away. “My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious?”

“If you please,” said Scrooge. “Not a farthing less. A great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you. Will you do me that favour?”

“My dear sir,” said the other, shaking hands with him and still shooting disbelieving looks at where the boner used to be. “I don’t know what to say to such munifi—”

“Don’t say anything, please,” retorted Scrooge. “Come and see me. Will you come and see me?”

“I will!” cried the old gentleman. And it was clear he meant to do it, now that there wasn’t the danger of Scrooge’s charity being contingent on weird boner-related demands.

“Thank’ee,” said Scrooge. “I am much obliged to you. I thank you fifty times. Bless you!” Scrooge felt like a horse who had just had their blinders removed, he saw the world in a whole new light now that he wasn’t constantly having to tuck and retuck his hard D up behind his belt.

He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and showed off his lack of erection to those children’s concerned mothers, and hustled away quickly when they still preferred to have nothing to do with the old man who seemed so intent on making his genitals everyone’s business, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk—that anything—could give him so much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew’s house.

He passed the door a dozen times, before he had the courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash, and did it:

“Is your master at home, my dear?” said Scrooge to the girl. Nice girl! Very. Easy Scrooge, he thought. No need to tempt fate by gawking at pretty girls. He quickly thought about the hideous laundress crone from the future, naked and rolling around on the floor as honey was drizzled on her from above. That took care of any burgeoning boners, now and probably for about a month to come.

“Yes, sir.”

“Where is he, my love?” said Scrooge, putting his hands on his hips and doing a few subtle pelvic thrusts to emphasize his lack of boner.

“He’s in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. I’ll show you up-stairs, if you please.”

“Thank’ee. He knows me,” said Scrooge, with his hand already on the dining-room lock. “I’ll go in here, my dear.”

He turned it gently, and sidled his face in, round the door, so that they could see who it was but not yet see that his below the belt situation had changed quite a bit overnight. They were looking at the table (which was spread out in great array); for these young housekeepers are always nervous on such points, and like to see that everything is right. People without painful, embarrassing medical conditions such as seven year boners have the time and energy to worry about such trifles.

“Fred!” said Scrooge.

Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started! Scrooge had forgotten, for the moment, about her sitting in the corner with the footstool, or he wouldn’t have done it, on any account.

“Why bless my soul!” cried Fred, “who’s that?”

“It’s I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred?”

Let him in! It is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier. His niece looked just the same: surprised to see that he no longer had his trademark boner. So did Topper when he came. So did the plump sister when she came. Especially the plump sister. Oh, the plump sister… So did every one when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful boner-free happiness!

But he was early at the office next morning. Oh, he was early there. If he could only be there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his heart and flaccid dong upon.

And he did it; yes, he did! The clock struck nine. No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open, that he might see him come into the Tank. As he waited, Scrooge had to stop himself from reaching into his pockets to make boner adjustments out of habit.

His hat was off, before he opened the door; his comforter too. He was on his stool in a jiffy; driving away with his pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine o’clock.

“Hallo!” growled Scrooge, in his accustomed ‘guy with a seven year permaboner’ voice, or as near as he could feign it. “What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?”

“I am very sorry, sir,” said Bob, in his accustomed ‘guy cowering because his boss has a very imposing seven year boner’ voice. “I am behind my time.”

“You are?” repeated Scrooge. “Yes. I think you are. Step this way, sir, if you please.” Scrooge splayed his legs wide open, stuck his hand inside his pocket, and jutted his thumb up toward the ceiling to simulated his former affliction.

“It’s only once a year, sir,” pleaded Bob, appearing from the Tank. “It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir.”

“Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,” said Scrooge, “I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore,” he continued, leaping from his stool, pulling his hand out of his pocket to remove the appearance of a boner, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again; “and therefore I am about to raise your salary!”

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat. But then he noticed the flatness of Scrooge’s pants crotch. He did at least a quintuple take at it. “Where…But…Boner…How…Hog…Weiner?” he stammered.

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness and bonerlessness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Just two guys without boners, having a meal together, oh it shall be grand! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a bonerless man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them, because it was much better for people to laugh at him because he didn’t have a boner than to laugh at him for having a raging permaboner that never went away for seven years; and for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms, like a nasty, lengthy boner. His own heart laughed, and his dick remained limp: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards (not necessarily by choice: he just could never get it up again. I guess a seven year boner drained all the life out of his willie); and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

Boner.
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4 Comments

  1. Bruce T. says:

    Brilliant, if wooden in parts.

  2. Beavis says:

    I can’t believe how totally juvenile this is.

  3. Lin says:

    I finally managed to read the entirety of A Christmas Carol.

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