The second spectre

“Oh! Dave!”
“Oh! Dave!”
Ebenezer opened his eyes. What was that noise?
“Oh! Dave! Finally. Come on wake up”
“Here we go again. Ebenezer thought to himself “more dreams”. He opened his eyes and there lying next to him in bed was as ugly a man as he had ever seen. In the distance the church clock could be heard chiming twelve. Simms didn’t hear it, he was too busy staring at a face inches from his own.
“Alright Dave, what’s occurrin’?” the figure asked, a broad grin contorting his grotesque features.
“My name is Ebenezer and what is occurring is that I am dreaming and you, sir, are a mere figment of my imagination”
“A figment? Don’t you recognize me Dave?”
“Ebenezer” Simms retorted
“That’s what I said. Now come on Dave, don’t you recognize me? Will this help?” The man pulled back the sheets to reveal a scrawny torso covered in a shirt with a strange picture of a devil on it.
“Ryan? Is that you?”
“Yes, Dave it’s me and about time too. How could you forget me so quickly? I’m hurt”
“What a strange dream this is. Mike Blaisdell first and then you. What a night!” Simms exclaimed.
“Oh! Dave, Jacob warned me you might be like this so I’ll try and explain it again. OK? Mike was the Ghost of Christmas Past, I won’t lie to you I knows he told you this cos I passed him on the way here and I am the Ghost of Christmas Present and quite frankly I’m as sick of waiting for you to get with the programme as I am waiting for Richardson to grow some balls. In fact I’m so bored of waiting I’m not going to do it any more so here we go.” The spectre clicked his fingers and the room changed instantly. They had returned to the Sheffield Arena but this time it was a very different scene. Few of the seats that he had seen packed a few moments ago now held people. A game was being played on the ice but it was not going well for the home side. Simms could hear his own voice trying to raise some support from the crowd but those that were there seemed listless and disinterested.
“Look at it Dave” the spectre said. “What do you see?”
“Sheffield Arena again. If I’m going to dream can’t I at least have a bit of variety? The Bahamas might be nice”
“Oh! Dave! Enough of this dreaming stuff. I’ve had to come all the way from Barry to do this, on Christmas Eve. Do you know who busy it gets?”
The away team scored and part of the crowd vented their frustration with half-hearted boos.
“They’re not much good are they Dave?” the spectre asked
“It’s Ebenezer! They’d have been better if you had stayed” Simms replied.
“I knows your name and you knows why I didn’t stay. Do we really need to go over it here?”
“You could have stayed”
“Yes, I knows. I could” said the spectre “but I wanted to do strange things like feed and clothe my wife and children. Anyway, you wanted a change of scenery and you wanted to go south and seeing as tonight is all about showing you things I thought we’d do both”. The spectre clicked his fingers and the view changed to a room high above a different arena. Two men were sitting sipping what looked to Simms like expensive wine from fluted crystal glasses. One held a newspaper up for the other to see and they laughed uproariously.
“Do you knows these men Dave?” asked the spectre.
“Yes, it’s Black and Moran, a dark-hearted pair as you’d ever care to meet” Simms spat “Look at them, acting like the own everything, making money when no others can.”
“Oh! Dave .Do I detect a note of jealousy?”
“Jealous? Pah. Why should I be jealous? What have I to be jealous about compared to them? I am known throughout the land whilst they are not. I have countless medals and trophies. Where are theirs? The only gold and silver they can show comes with the sound of a ringing till attached.” Simms crowed.
“Not bothered about money Dave? Now we’re getting somewhere. Tidy. I have one more place to show you”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t bothered about the mon…” Before Simms could finish the spectre had clicked his fingers again and they stood watching a group of young men huddled in a cold run down kitchen. Bob Sarich sat amongst them looking dejectedly at the cold bowl of thin gruel that stood before them. As they watched a fight broke out over the last lump of potato in the pot.
“See Dave, see why I didn’t come back when this is what you reduce your employees to? Look at them they’re little more than savages fighting over the crumbs and morsels that are all they can afford. How does this make you feel?”
“I have a wage structure to stick to. It is not my fault. We are only able to pay their worth.”
“Are these men worth this? I won’t lie to you Dave that is shameful. Do you think Messrs Black and Moran pay their players like this? Shall we see? Don’t make me click my fingers again Dave”
“It’s… oh forget it. I have to keep the finances balanced. You showed me the arena, you can see what it is like. I can’t change anything! Simms cried. He had gripped the front of the spectres shirt pulled his face towards him as he shouted his final words.
“You knows what. I’m wasting my time here, I’m off back to the island but I’m warning you. You have one visitation left tonight and it I knows you won’t like it. Anyway I’ve got to go now I want to be back before Brad, the baby, goes to sleep.” With that the spectre left Simms and he was once more in his own bed. This dream was beginning to sour. He lay looking at the ceiling, wondering what would come next. As it transpired, he didn’t have long to wait.

The third spectre

Simms’ first two visitations were forced to awaken him from his slumbers, the third had no such difficulties. Simms was wide awake as the church bell tolled twelve for the third time that evening.
“OK, OK I’m awake. Where are you”? Simms tried to sound unworried but inside he was beginning to become somewhat perturbed by the evening’s events. At first there was no reply to his question but after a few moments a great shape emerged from the gloom. It was dressed in a black cloak with the hood pulled up about its face. Simms peered under the hood.
“Ron, Ron is that you?” The spectre didn’t reply, it just lifted a bony hand towards the door and turned and moved towards it. Simms noted that the spectre did not appear to walk but to float although it was impossible to tell for sure as the robe obscured any feet it may have concealed.
“I’m not going. You can’t make me I’m sick of this. I’m staying here in bed! Do you hear me?” Simms cried defiantly. The spectre showed no sign that he had heard anything Simms said but continued to the door. As it grasped the door knob Simms’ world whirled around him and he found himself next to the spectre.
“I said I didn’t want to see this, you can’t make me” Simms turned away from the spectre only to find he was still facing the door and it stood by his side. It was as though he had never moved.
“Very well, let us get this over with. Open the door if you will and I doubt I shall like what I see but I will be damned if I will do this without a sound. You may keep your counsel but I guarantee that I shall not”.
What Simms saw as the doors opened stilled his tongue. Dark, brooding storm cloud scudded overhead causing a dim grey light to be cast feebly over the barren, desolate landscape that stretched as far as the eye could see. Here and there it was just possible to discern signs of digging amidst the weeds and debris. Simms looked about with an expression of distaste. As he walked across the desolation the spectre never moved from his side and yet never appeared to move.
“Why have you brought me here? What is the place? Simms looked at the spectre awaiting a reply. The only reply he received was, once again, a skeletal, bony finger pointing, this time, towards a clump of scrub close to where they stood.
“You brought me all this way to see some grass?”
The finger continued to point.
Warily Simms walked toward the clump of grass. As he got closer Ebenezer could see something in the grass. It was covered in moss and dirt but it looked like some sort of signage. The words were almost all obscured and all Ebenezer could see was Y ro ct.”Yroct, what does Yroct mean? Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to answer”. He ripped tufts of grass from around the sign and began to wipe away the moss. It wasn’t perfect but when he had finished he could clearly see “Ye Pro ect”
“Is this the Yes Project? I know, I know, you won’t say. But it can’t be, it just can’t. Philips signed the contracts before he left. This is going to be built, I’ve been given guarantees? What will happen to the Steelers? What will happen to me? Is this real? You’re supposed to be the Ghost of Christmas Future, I know that so surely you can give me some sort of sign. What can I do? What can I do?
The spectre said nothing.
“So, “ said Simms as a wave of dejection washed over him “this is my future. This is what I have to look forward to. What if I change my ways? That would help right? It’s never too late and all that. I’ll be a better man. I know I can be, I can be anything you want me to be, just tell me what to do.
The spectre said nothing.
“You’re not going to tell me what do are you. Well, can we at least go back now please? I’ve had enough of this place. I’ve seen my future and I don’t like it OK. Just take me home”.
The spectre said nothing.
“Why are we still here? Oh… I get it I’ve got to work it out for myself” Simms sat on a convenient hillock and put his head in his hands. What was he going to do? He sat that way until it came to him.

Christmas Day

Ebenezer looked up and realised he was back in his own bed, sun was streaming through the curtains. He jumped to his feet, hurriedly pulled his trousers and top coat over his nightgown, ran down the hall, down the stairs and out of the front door into the street. Simms grabbed the first boy he could find.
“How would you like to earn a silver shilling?” He asked
“Whooah, what sort of boy do you think I am!” The boy recoiled from Simms and then composed himself as he struggled to remember his manners.”Sorry sir, but my mother told me never to accept money from strangers”
“But I’m no stranger. I know you, you’re young Robert aren’t you, Mrs. Dowd’s youngest. Your mother took a loan out with me a few months ago.
“That she did sir and if it weren’t Christmas and I’d been brought up not to tell people what I think of them I’d repeat what she used to call you. T’would turn the frosty air blue it would sir.”
“Yes, yes I’m sure, sorry about that. Now will you run this errand for me or must I find another boy who will?”
“No, sir. I will run your errand for you. Simply tell me your needs and I shall complete them as quickly as possible for I should definitely like a shiny silver shilling of my very own.”
“Well, in that case it shall be yours. I need you to run down to the butchers and buy me the biggest turkey they have. Then I want you to take it to the Sarich house on Broughton Lane. Tell them it is with my compliments and they should cook it for their Christmas dinner!”
“Are you sure?” The boy asked.
“Of course I’m sure, I’ve seen the light. I’ve spent too long trying to save money. If I want the Steelers to win again I must spend money, more money than anyone else, more than the league tell me I can. We’ve won when we were spending more money and we shall win again. I have seen the way forward!”
“Oh, great but that wasn’t what I was talking about”. Young Robert said.
“Well, what then?”
“Do you know what time it is?”
“No, I got up in a bit of a hurry”
“It’s about 10 o’clock and the turkey in the butcher’s window weighs about 30 pounds and at 20 minutes a pound that’s… that’s… that’s some time tomorrow”
“I see what you mean. What can I do then?”
“Leave it with me, I’ve got an idea. You want something that’s like a big fat turkey but isn’t, am I correct?”
“You are, what do you suggest?”
“Wait here” With that the boy shot off around the corner at a run. Within minutes he was back with something took under his arm.
“What is it?” Simms asked
“It’s Brad Cruikshank” Robert replied.
“God help us, one and all” cried Simms.


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