Scrooge thought he’d only put his head on the pillow when he became aware of a hand rocking his shoulder.
‘I’m the spirit of coronavirus present,’ said the spirit while Scrooge changed his underwear for the second time in a night.
‘You guys should work for the Special Forces, or Amazon,’ muttered Scrooge. ‘What is it with you spirits. Are you going to show me more poor choices made in ignorance? Are you going to vilify me for not knowing how this was going to pan out, only now we have 20/20 hindsight?’ he asked. The spirit gave a heavy sigh, this was going to be a tough gig.
‘No, the past is the past but for the record most of the population got it before the government seemed to. The government and people like you who found it greatly inconvenient,’ he said, adding, ‘and still do.’ Scrooge was impressed: he’d never considered spirits outside of a bottle before but if he had he was sure he wouldn’t have considered they’d have chips on their ethereal shoulders, or even attitude already.
‘I’m going to show a present that was avoidable,’ said the spirit, pointing to the now familiar fog. Scrooge reluctantly made his way to the fog, emerging in his nephew’s dining room. His nephew was sat with his wife with a modest turkey sat between them.
‘Did you invite your uncle Ebenezer?’ asked Fred’s wife. She’d socially distanced queued for an hour to pick her turkey up from Marks and Sparks, despite being cut up and breathed all over by morons who didn’t seem to understand the meaning of the words ‘pandemic,’ ‘space’ or ‘fuck off you ignorant twat’.
‘I did, and the old fart turned me down, quoted tier 4 restrictions at me,’ answered Fred, examining the chateauneuf du pape, fifteen quid a bottle. ‘Saved me a trip to Aldi for a cheapie vino,’ he conceded.
‘Not good enough for their la-de-da plonk. I was right to turn him down,’ said Scrooge turning to the spirit. The spirit rolled his eyes, no mean feat for a vision. Probably easier with CGI, guessed Scrooge. He was aware that Fred’s wife was talking.
‘If he comes, and I hope one day he does, you’re to share the same wine with him that we enjoy,’ she said. Scrooge felt his heart swell. ‘Just don’t give him the bottle, he drinks like a fucking fish,’ she added. The spirit tugged at scrooge’s arm and took him to another vision.
The bells were ringing and alarms were sounding. Men and women in substandard PPE were dashing around tending to patients left, right and centre. Scrooge was aware of a young boy on a ventilator gasping for breath.
‘I know him,’ he said, ‘no, don’t tell me, it’ll come to me.’ The spirit of coronavirus present gave another sigh.
‘It’s Tiny Tim,’ he said. Scrooge had to look again – the spirit said he was in the avoidable present.
‘Shouldn’t he be retired or dead by now?’ he asked. The spirit was really regretting getting this one.
‘If you’re referring to the singer, yes, he is dead now. But this is a boy, the son of your PA, and he’s looking odds on favourite to join his namesake,’ he said. Scrooge looked again – of course it was Bob’s boy, Bob had the fucking stupid picture on his desk that Scrooge hid whenever clients turned up.
‘Why’s Bob not with him?’ he asked, pulled both ways. Inside he felt Bob should be at his boy’s side at his hour of need, but didn’t really want to consider paying him sick leave, family time or whatever employees insist on when they lose a child. A day off shouldn’t be a problem as long as it wasn’t next Wednesday as he had an important visit on. The spirit looked at Scrooge and Scrooge realised that the spirit knew every thought that went through Scrooge’s head. On the plus side it saved a lot of explaining, he guessed.
‘Visitors aren’t allowed, even when their loved ones are dying. Plus, Bob and his wife are self isolating and probably won’t get to the funeral either. So your Wednesday meeting should be OK as long as Bob’s finished his isolation.’ The spirit shuffled his chains a little in frustration.
‘Look, I’ve just about had my fill of you. Another spirit will visit in an hour or so. Depends on Southern Rail,’ he said, vanishing, depositing Bob back in his bedroom. Taking another slug of whisky, Scrooge slipped back into a fitful sleep.