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A Rat Rhyme After
Christmas Carol Before

The corpse was wearing a tailed jacket that was more holes, cobwebs and dirt then anything else. It waved to Lo and walked toward him. Lo backed away from the monster that was coming at him. Lo turned to run and nearly ran into it. The mouth had numerous yellowed teeth, some cracked from use. Lo restrained himself from throwing up. The creature about it's mouth and a voice made dry from ages dead said, "Mr. Granes, I presume?" Lo could think of no way to answer as the thing took his hand and started shaking it. The feeling of flesh like dried paper and the look of those milky white eyes one with a fine monocle in it, "I am the Right Honorable Cedrall Bedrallson, ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, most people call me Cecil though. Mind I find the title ghost to be rather limiting to my actual being and the fact that I have to understand a holiday I've never heard for more frustrating then anything. Still I am up to a challenge and what say we begin this ever daunting one?" Cecil clapped Lo's back and turned him to leave, "At first I felt the prospect of showing a man his future to be utterly futile. After all that is dealing with things not totally set out but I can tell you personally if someone told me my lunch for the next few months I would be damn sure not to have that," taking a moment to think and Lo was going to ask something just as Cecil began again, "I do suppose that is why I am doing this. If you were left to make the choices things would end up this way. But if you were to know what you were going to do then perhaps things would work out different. ah yes here we are. Care for a seat?"

It seemed to Lo that Cecil had just had him walking circles in the bus depot but before Lo was a pair of brown chairs and Cecil offering him a seat. The room was dark and there was a table with a small candle. It seemed a lot of people had turned out for something. Lo wasn't sure what but the murmur of impatience set him off to something import happening. Lo sat and Cecil pointed to a podium a few rows in front of them. After a few moments a slightly older Lo walked to the podium. Tapped some cards. Got ready to speak and turned and sat down.

People booed and Lo turned to Cecil, "And I didn't read something big deal."
"Actually it is. Most of these people had read your book of stories and had come to see you. I did not find your work to be the best I have read. Still there was some quality it what you wrote. They were rather unimpressed and the fact that your audience so easily spurned you made you feel unloved by your mass. Wait here it comes." As Cecil had mentioned the crowd lash back at low and began hurling things at him, "That's not the worst of it." The action froze as people began throwing paper and drinks at the other Lo. Cecil stood and began walking as Lo chased after him.
"I get it I'm suppose to know that I have to read something to a crowd. No problem I'll do that."
"It's much more then that Mr. Granes. You see not only did people come to see you and were disappointed so were you. As you will see."

They were in the study of Lo's house. His twin sat writing and finally stopped. Reread what he wrote. He balled it up and made a basket from across the room. Cecil began applauding.
"What's he doing?" Lo questioned.
"A minor athletic feat I would believe."
"The work, what's he working on?"
"Poems. Not working as he wants them to work. So in frustration he imagines himself an athlete."
"Why though?"
Cecil shrugged, "I think because he is failing at writing and takes some pleasure in the fact he can still be a paper ball throwing champion."
"He's failing?"
"That is correct. He is behind on stories and being forced to sell things. The contract is nearly up and soon he will have legal bills on top of it. All very tragic."
"And one poetry reading could have changed that?"
"No, more then that. Realizing he could talk to people and was not alone could have changed that. Still maybe one reading would give him enough money to continue for a while." As they talked things were disappearing and Lo was growing old. The passage of time was becoming apparent. The room was being vacated of furnishings until finally it was empty and a very old Lo sat writing still. The basket, long gone, was over flowing with paper. Then after exhaling for a long moment even the old man was gone. A groups of people started walking through a clean house looking at things.

"Ok so I die and never get great and my house gets sold. A moot point but still."
"Did you not see his pain and loneliness? Were you not aware of the fact he was tired of being without someone?"
"Yes... a little."
"If you continue with a closed heart not only will you be alone but any chance at connecting with people will be lost. In short Mr. Granes it is by rejecting the people that love you do you find yourself in this misery."
"What about Kelli?"
"She moved on."
"To what?"
"A family. She was able to get a job and a family because unlike you who cut off all ties with people once a year. A once a year that slowly increased in size until it was the whole year. She dealt with them and ended up happier."
Lo looked at the people that were rapidly coming in and out and finally said, "You are aware this is rather a corny way to find out my future. I mean why not something more dark and foreboding. There doesn't really make me want to change."
Cecil looked at Lo, the milky eyes piercing Lo's soul, "If you wish to continue in your current state and end up that old man so be it but I can only show what could be it is left to you."

With those words the old house faded. Lo's house replaced it the couch beneath his back and the ceiling far above. Lo turned and looked at the framed picture. The room was much brighter now but still it was only morning. Lo was not tired but didn't have a great urge to change things either. Instead he stood up. Walking to his desk he looked at the sympathy cards and started writing responses.

© Sal Ponce 2001