A Commsmas Carol

Martyn Warwick
By Martyn Warwick

Dec 22, 2014

Scrooge quietly soils himself.

Scrooge quietly soils himself.

TelecomTV proudly presents A Commsmas Carol, penned by Mr Martyn Warwick. It's an early 21st century rendering of that seasonal classic, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (in case you were confused) and, for added authenticity, Mr Warwick is breaking his wordy assemblage into 'numbers' as the great man himself was wont to do. It is, of course, completely fictional - any similarities between the characters below described and any persons living or dead, are purely coincidental. We hope you enjoy the first installment and we urge you to watch out for more Commsmas Carol numbers over the festive Christmas/New Year period. 


Part, The First.

Jobs was dead: to begin with. There was no doubt whatsoever about that. Scrooge and he had once been partners but Scrooge, being a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous sort of a CEO was far too much of a skinflint to pay someone to paint-out Jobs's name and so there it still was, all those years later, in faded gold lettering above the door of the cupboard where the executive lavatory bucket was kept. It read, 'Scrooge and Jobs. Purveyors of the overpriced abacus to the gullible of the world."

That year, the Valley endured cold, bleak, biting weather. By Christmas Eve the temperature had fallen to a miserable 78 degrees Farenheit. Outside in the gloomy, grey, gloaming the locals, wheezing up and down on their Segways, had ceased their interminable texting and instead were reduced to sending semaphore messages to one another in desperate attempts to keep warm. The resultant high-speed accidents had already resulted in tears, histrionics and several scraped knees.

Inside, the door to Scrooge's office was open so that might keep an eye on his mini-skirted executive assistant, Pearly Scratchit, who was sat in a dismal cubbyhole across the corridor, having her hair enamelled. "You'll want all the day off tomorrow, I suppose?" said Scrooge over the roar of the flamethrower. "Yes please Mr. Scrooge", she simpered, "I have some small business on Capitol Hill where I must go and cook a goose or two."

"Your politico-culinary aspirations seem to me to be as misguided are they are inconvenient. Go, but I want you to be here all the earlier on the day after tomorrow", growled Scrooge. Scratchit promised she would be there betimes and then was gone from the office in cloud of hairspray and a twinkling of Laboutin kitten heels.

She ran pell-mell to that little bistro on Castro where she had a healthy little snack of decaff low-fat whipped yeast sprinkled with alfalfa seeds and quinoa nibs washed down with a seasonal sugar-free eggnog latte made with seven million year-old quintuple-distilled sparkling water drawn-up by the hand of Mexican virgins from the veriest depths of the magic well at Cupertino. The snack cost her over a month's salary, but it was worth it and, after all, Christmas comes but once a year. Except in Menlo Park, where, as everyone knows, it is always the season to be jolly.

For some time after his minion's departure Scrooge bent his attention to the comics section of the Wall Street Journal and when eventually he looked up again he was surprised to see standing before him a couple of portly gentlemen in unbecomingly tight Jaeger bicycling combinations. They were seated on a tandem, the rear saddle of which had been replaced with what appeared to be a small cabinet of easement built of chased teak. A small, frog-like man was perched upon the top. Scrooge had not heard either them nor their velocipede enter his office and was somewhat taken-aback.

"Mr. Scrooge?" asked the slightly less sweaty of the pair. Scrooge nodded, warily. Encouraged, the visitor, leaning beguilingly over the front handlebars and showing a disconcertingly hairy décolletage, doffed his Stetson and drawled, "My name is Ebbers. "This", he indicated the diminutive figure behind him, "is Mr. Lay. At this festive season of the year it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for poor vendors and semi-destitute network operators who suffer greatly at the present time. Many are in want of the basic necessaries of a billionaire lifestyle while hundreds of others are desperately in need of the more common, workaday comforts of the ordinary multi-millionaire."

"What? Are the annual bonuses insufficient then?" asked Scrooge.

"We are afraid they are nowhere near as generous as they were in our day", chorused the two gentlemen in unison. "They are woefully reduced now although agitators and the pinko-liberal cabal in control the gutter press would have the lumpen proletariat believe that they remain munificent."

"And are there no lobbyists?", asked Scrooge. "Are corporate budgets so reduced that they can no longer afford to grease the wheels of commerce by treating their target audience to slap-up dinners, the best of wines, bags of cream buns and vacations in Bermuda?

"Indeed, there are still many, many lobbyists", said Mr. Ebbers. "For like politicians and regulators, they are always with us. It is the way of the world and, noblesse oblige, it is for us to pay them to curry favour on our behalf and a bleeding fortune it costs. Hence this appeal to your better nature."

"And the slave factories of China?" They remain in operation, I trust?"

"They do, and a veritable boon they are", returned the sepulchral tones of Mr. Lay, from the depths of the commode into which, in his agitation, he had slipped. "But we need so many more of them and that requires tax breaks and political preference, and that, I am afraid, costs serious money."

"And do the marketing and PR departments remain full of vim, vigour, bugle oil and bullshit?", asked Scrooge.

"They do, sir, they do. As you can tell from the foetid and colourful vapours swirling around their palaces of endeavour that the marcom mills continue to grind away remorselessly by day and by night."

"Ah!, said Scrooge, "I was afraid that things had come to such a pretty pass that you might actually be asking me for a charitable donation. But as, overall, things seem to be holding up pretty well, I bid you a good evening. I pray you be wary of the jaws of the mantraps on the way out. It's a cold night either to be mending a puncture or emptying a commode."

Thereafter Scrooge busied himself with setting and checking the various alarms and booby-traps in and around the counting-house and then, tucking the ends of his sable mink frock-coat into his cashmere pleasure pants, he left for Santana Row.

As was his wont Scrooge eschewed the blandishments and entreaties of the barkers and dancing-girls cavorting in the flickering light of the naphtha flares outside the Tesla automobile emporium, and went on to take his usual seven course dinner in his regular three-Michelin-starred restaurant. From there, having beguiled a couple of the evening hours with a pint of fine Armanac and his bank-book, he went home to go to bed.

It was, after all, close to six pm and time for Valley folk to retire for the night to dream dreams of glory, wealth, fame and patent lawsuits before rising at one in the morning to jog the 26 miles to the gym, work out for several hours, have a quick blood transfusion and run the 26 miles back. Then, into the Lycra for the 17 mile bike ride to the cafe  close by HQ, consume a nourishing stack of 10 pancakes, maple syrup, and a dozen lumps of seasoned wood,thinly sliced and cunningly decorated to look like bacon, drink two gallons of the blackish, brackish water that passes for coffee in that part of the world and still beat the first wetback cleaner into the office.

Scrooge lived alone in a 27-bedroomed mansion which had once belonged to his deceased partner and by the time he had garaged his Ferrari and fed his pet tiger it was pitch-black and in the hills the coyotes were howling.

Safe now behind the razor wire and automatic machine gun emplacements Scrooge was about to plop his pinkie onto the fingerprint reader by his front entrance when he noticed something different about the solid gold ornamental door knocker encrusted with sapphires, emeralds and diamonds his personal shopper had acquired in Tiffany's Ash Wednesday sale. It was a knocker no longer but Jobs's phantom face!

It had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. But it was not angry or ferocious and looked at Scrooge as Jobs used to look in life during those of his rare, less violent and vituperative moods. Ghostly spectacles were perched on its ghostly nose while below a scrawny, translucent neck disappeared into a fraying and greenish-tinted collar of what had once been a black Armani T-shirt. Scrooge blinked and then peered once more at the peculiar phenomenon, only to find that it was a knocker again!

Scrooge considered what has just happened and, putting it down to the effects of that last noggin of "Truffle Oil and Rhubarb Surprise" the sommellier had persuaded him to have (on the house, naturally) he entered his small, weekday-only elevator and pushed the button for the master bedroom. Once there, he donned his silk romper suit, slid between the satin sheets of his Emperor Ming triple-kingsize bed and fell into an exhausted sleep.

He was suddenly awakened, he knew not how much later, by a dreadful clanking noise and a distinct smell of apple puree. The noise and the scent was coming up the stairs and then directly towards his bedroom door and then straight through his bedroom door, even though it was double-locked and bolted!

Scrooge, his hair standing up on end like the badger-hair bristles of his best Geo. F Trumper (of London) shaving brush, quietly soiled himself as the spectre began to croak. "Scrooge", Scrooge, look at me", moaned the ghastly apparition, "I must wear through all eternity the macintosh I made in life", and giving out a blood-curdling cry that again put Scrooge's intestines into spasm, it pointed a bony finger at the ragged trench-coat wrapped around its insubstantial form and indicated the metal links that tailed out behind it, disappearing through the bedroom door and on down the palatial staircase like a rusty, musty, dusty bridal train.

The chain was made up of telex machines, Strowger exchanges, a rare example of the famous Alcatel E10, a Nortel DMS 10, several yards of copper and gutta-percha transAtlantic cable and countless hundreds of variegated cellular handsets together with desktop and personal computers of various shapes and sizes. All these were interspersed with tomes containing the protocols and reference manuals of Signalling System 7, while bringing up the rear was a huge brassbound container, the size of an early IBM mainframe, within which was contained the etched granite slabs detailing the secret inner workings of Windows Vista known in life only to the Grand Imperial Poobahs of the Los Gatos Lodge of the Ancient and Worshipful Order of Antedeluvian Aardvaarks. (and as we all  know, aadvark never hurt anyone).

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasping his hands before his face cried, "Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?" The ghost moaned "Tonight you will be haunted by three spirits. You must bear-up and stick-it-out, as it were, for without their visits you too will be doomed to tread the same dreadful, tortured path that I am doomed to tread.  Expect the first spirit tomorrow, when the bell tolls one."

"But, O Spirit, I shall be by then wide awake and running to the gymnasium for my daily workout with the Indian clubs.", said Scrooge. "Not tonight you won't be", replied the ghost. "You can expect the second spirit on the next night at the same hour and the third upon the next night when the last reverberating echo of the midnight bell has ceased its doleful tintinnabulation".

Then the spectre, with much wailing and incoherent lamentations simply dissipated in a puff of smoke leaving behind only the lingering odour of an overheating hard disk.

Scrooge remained gibbering quietly on his knees for a long moment before dragging himself to his feet and tottering off for a much-needed shower and a change of night attire. Then, suddenly needing a quiet lie-down he returned to his bed where he fell instantly asleep - until, that is, a white effulgence, more brilliant even than the illumination from the legendary LG 20EN33 Ultra Bright LED monitor suddenly bathed his bedroom in eye-searing luminosity.
The clock struck twelve and then a sweetly seductive voice, speaking from the depths of the ethereal glow, whispered, "Scrooge, I am the Ghost of Commsmas Past. You can call me Randall."

To be continued ...

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