As the hooker dream faded the image of a new, silent spirit appeared.
‘Bollocks, I won’t see that tenner again,’ said Scrooge, walking unbidden to the fog. He arrived at a graveside with a vicar intoning the usual bullshit about ashes and dust.
‘This Tim’s funeral?’ he asked, looking around. It seemed that the prospect of Bob and his wife not being able to attend had come true. Nobody had turned up, not even that half arsed special needs teacher Bob reckoned cost him an arm and a leg because the council wouldn’t fund it. The spirit shook his head and pointed to the grave diggers stood a few feet away, resting on their spades. One was holding a local newspaper and the headline was hanging upside down. Scrooge walked over and took the paper out of the man’s hand and read the lead story.
‘Another fifty or so deaths locally yesterday,’ he remarked. ‘Sounds like they still haven’t got a grip,’ as he ran his finger down the list of names, looking for Tim’s.
‘He’s not on there, he went long ago, nearly four weeks before the third spike,’ said the spirit. Scrooge scanned again, more carefully, until he found his name. He checked the date – it was only two months hence.
‘Is that my grave?’ he asked, pointing. The spirit nodded.
‘And they didn’t have to bother with restricting the number of attendees in your case,’ he said. ‘Practically a public service, if you ask me.’
‘Was it quick? How did I get it?’ asked Scrooge in quick succession.
‘I heard you were difficult,’ sighed the spirit. ‘No, it wasn’t quick, you gasped for hours while they tried to free up a ventilator, but then you croaked, in the end. You got it by carrying on as if nothing had happened, BTW,’ he added.
‘Does this have to happen?’ asked Scrooge, unable to take his eye of the gravestone. The spirit shook his head.
‘You could have opted for cremation, I guess. Or you could have taken the situation seriously, supported the NHS by taking sensible precautions, stayed at home whenever possible, worked from home, for goodness sake – it’s not hard.
‘Or, you could have dipped deep into those pockets of yours and paid actors to attend if that’s what really bothering you. Your nephew would have attended but he had a golf match and golf clubs have only just been allowed to re-open. You can hardly blame him,’ added the spirit. After a pause the spirit seemed to give up. ‘You know, holding meetings without masks, passing plates around, travelling to lower tier areas to grease an unsanitised palm, all of these things would have helped and might have prevented you catching the virus, but ultimately if you had withheld support for stripping the NHS, had avoided avoiding paying tax, had used your influence to hold the people to account who allowed the NHS to get into this position…but why am I saying all of this, if I had breath I’d be wasting it I guess,’ said the spirit turning back to the lonely funeral.
‘I’ll do it,’ said Scrooge, ‘I’ll change. I’ll follow the guidelines, pay above the minimum wage, have a word with my MP next time I take him out for a business lunch.’
‘And pay the right amount of tax?’ asked the spirit, not waiting for a reply. Some stretch objectives just waste ink, he guessed.