A Spooky Kind of Marriage

Ken and Kendra chose Halloween for their divorce. It made perfect sense to them. Their marriage had been one long horror story since their wedding reception. With costumes, no less. Ken’s Uncle Irving showed up at the wedding reception drunk. Later they found Kendra’s aunt, Alice, in the closet with Uncle Irving. It was not a pretty sight.

On the way to their honeymoon, the car had four flat tires all at the same time. The bed in the inn where they were staying broke during their first sexual encounter. And these were simply omens of things to come.

During the honeymoon, Ken got food poisoning, Kendra was bit by a rabid dog. While they shared a hospital room, their nurse was the spitting image of Nurse Ratched. And she behaved like her as well. It was becoming pretty obvious God did not want them to have a honeymoon.

Finally, they came home. And found that burglars had broken into their new house and trashed the place. Ken went back to work and was told to pick up his walking papers. Kendra was given her pink slip too. “Cut backs,” she was told.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Kendra’s favorite aunt, Hortense, died. At the funeral, Ken couldn’t help himself. He laughed out loud during the eulogy. Kendra pinched him hard. He had a sore spot from the pinch. His dermatologist told him it was cancer.

They started looking around for help. They went to a gypsy, Drina, and she supposedly removed the curse. Then they saw on tv that she was arrested. She was impersonating a gypsy and didn’t have a license to impersonate a gypsy. Who knew you needed a license? They went to a Catholic priest and he suggested an exorcism. Instead of delivering them from a demon, the exorcism invited more demons in.

They went to a Rabbi and he pronounced that the couple were Canaanites and worshippers of Baal. Then he said, “Let my people go.” Turns out his name was Moshe and he was practicing his lines for a new version of “The Ten Commandments”.

The procession of bad events during their marriage was like a Mardi Gras parade on steroids. After two years of broken legs, broken arms, poison ivy, legionaire’s disease, the swine flu, and poor employment prospects, they both decided they had had enough. They loved each other but enough was enough. They were not meant to be together. And they were definitely not soul mates.

They went down to the courthouse to receive their final divorce decree from the judge. They waited and waited, then they were told the judge was running late. By the end of the day, it was announced the judge had died. From food poisoning no less. As they walked out of the courthouse, the stone arch above the door pulled loose and fell, missing the two of them by six inches.

At that, Ken looked at Kendra. Kendra looked at Ken. Kendra said, “You go east, I’m going west.”

“Fine with me,” Ken agreed.

And off they went running in opposite directions.

Six months later, Kendra’s mother received a short note from her daughter. “Mom,” it began. Kendra always called her mother Mom. It seemed the right thing to do. “I arrived at the Mombai airport on April 7. And I am catching an Air India flight to Nepal. Love, Dra.”

She gave the ticket taker her ticket, crossed the boarding walkway, ducked and entered the small twin-engined air craft. She looked around for an empty seat. She saw one at the front and headed for it. She took her seat and buckled her belt. Then she looked at the man sitting next to her. It was Ken.

Later, in the day, CNN, Fox News and the other news organizations announced that an Air India plane had disappeared. The flight had last been seen flying somewhere over the Himalayas.

All one announcer could say about the ill-fated flight was this. “Let’s hope they landed in Shangri-La.”

Happy Halloween everybody.

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Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Mama, This One’s For You

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight is for Mother’s Day. It is song, Beth Hart’s “Mama, This One’s For You“.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers out there. We love you and thank you for putting so much into making us who we are.

And I have to say that Beth Hart has never sounded better than she does on this one.

Classic Uncle Bardie: Three Cats’ Christmas

Like “A Bob Crachit Christmas”, I posted this one back in December, 2013. Even though Christmas has passed, I thought this would be a nice reminder. Hope you enjoy as much as I did writing it.

Three cats under the Christmas tree
Buster, Sister, Mama Peaches
All purring their yuletide carols
On this the night before Christmas.
They’ve kneaded their joy, now they rest
Curled up next to tinsel and snow,
Dreaming their dreams of Santa Paws
Meowing his jolly ho-ho-ho,
Hoping for some kitty-katnip
And a ball of yarn for their play.
Maybe a mouse or even two.
They dream and sleep this night away
But soon will come the Christmas morn
And all will be right with these three
For they will wake with a good stretch
And a big yawn under that tree
After a game of give-and-take.
They’ll hurry for their bowls of food
And munch and crunch and lick their paws
Clean and they’ll be in the best of moods.
Then they’re off for the Big Outside.
But before they rush out they take
One last turn ‘round the Christmas tree
Just so the three can celebrate
How long long ago a Babe
In a manger lay in the cold
Without a blanket or cover,
And no more than a few hours old,
When one scrawny and feral cat
Crawled in and curled about the Child
And kept the Baby warm that night.
Let Him sleep with a sweet, sweet smile.
The morning came, the sun did rise
Up east and warmed the Child below
While the cat slinked away, no more
To be seen but all the cats know:
How that Cat gave all that he had
Enough to keep away the freeze.
So now in heaven there’s a Cat
That never has to scratch for fleas.
As our three cats go out to roam
This Christmas day they take delight.
It was one of them, some Unknown
Company to Jesus that night.

Classic Uncle Bardie: A Bob Cratchit Christmas

This is a repost from way back yonder in 2013. 2016’s been such a bah humbug of a year I thought you, my friends, deserved an extra special story for this fine Christmas day. So here is one that is loosely based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

Ebenezer Scrooge was dead, had been dead for two years now. Everything he owned, his business, his savings, his house, even his cherished collection of exotic door knockers, everything with the name of Scrooge upon it he willed to Bob Cratchit.

Before he died, and after the incident with the ghosts, Scrooge had grown kinder and kinder. His business prospered even more than it did before that particularly frightening episode with the three ghosts. In the old gentleman’s waning years, he developed a special affection for his trustworthy clerk. Bob Cratchit became the son he always wanted.

It was the day before Christmas Eve. The staff at Marley, Scrooge, & Cratchit came in to work for a bit of good cheer, and their Christmas bonuses. Bob Cratchit was a generous man, so they were very pleased with the envelopes he delivered into their hands. With a “Merry Christmas and God bless us each and every one” from their employer, they were all out of the office by noon.

“Lock up as you go out,” a prematurely gray Cratchit called from his back office to his young assistant, Irving.

“Yes, sir.”

Bob Cratchit heard the door close, and he was alone with his mug of cider. It would be a lonely Christmas this year. All the members of his family were off on holiday expeditions, and he was left alone without anyone to share the Nativity with. There had been a time when the family cherished each other for themselves, when he had been Tiny Tim’s only horse, when they were poor, and happy.

It seemed as if only Bob Cratchit had escaped their good fortune unscathed. His wife, Mary, was always off on one of her little trips these days. This Christmas she was up visiting their oldest daughter in Edinburgh. Martha had married a count. Or was it a baron? Bob couldn’t quite get it straight which. They had a new baby for Mrs. Cratchit to spoil. How he missed Mary’s cooking. She had to be the best Christmas-goose-cook in the whole of England.

His son, Peter, was abroad this year with several of his playboy friends. Belinda, his youngest daughter, was on tour in Wales, acting in the latest Globe Players Production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”.

The most disappointing of all was Tiny Tim. The operation Scrooge had paid for healed him of his affliction and Timothy Cratchit was no longer Tiny. He was now an Esquire, a very successful solicitor, and a Right Honourable Member of Parliament. He would be with the Tory Party leaders this Christmas on a retreat or some such thing which his father had nary an idea about.

Though proud of his family, they were never around anymore and he no longer found delight in the blessings bestowed upon them. Only the business brought him any satisfaction these days. And he wasn’t very good at that.

Things began to go downhill shortly after Scrooge’s death. In the two years since the funeral, he had managed to loose most of his benefactor’s capital. Upon reflection, Cratchit really couldn’t understand why but he knew he had to get to the bottom of things, and soon. Or Marley, Scrooge, & Cratchit would close its doors forever. Though he had done everything the way Scrooge had taught, the books were all in the red. Soon it would be Debtors’ Prison for Robert Elroy Perciville Cratchit.

He finished off his cider and thought how much he missed those long winter nights with Mr. Scrooge, or Ebenezer as he insisted Bob call him. As they drank their mugs of smoking bishop, that Christmas punch Londoners especially cherished, they warmed themselves by the old man’s fireplace. Ebenezer passed along his tidbits of business acumen, secrets of a master business magician to his apprentice. But, without Scrooge to cast his spell, the business was falling apart. The younger man had perhaps a year left, then bankruptcy.

It was getting late, almost night, when Bob Cratchit finally bundled himself up, his shoulders stooped with the weight of money and its worries. Money was not the root of evil but the worry of it must surely be.

He walked out into the London fog and locked his office door behind him. The bell of the church nearby tolled six. The street lamps were already lit. Soon the city would be dark, except for what little light the lamps gave off.

“Would you care for a carriage, sir,” a coachman offered from his horse-drawn taxi.

“No, thank you. I believe I’ll walk.”

Though the night air was nippy, it was not chilly enough for him to deny himself a brisk evening walk. He loved this time of year when the city streets and the lights from the houses along the way reminded him of earlier Cratchit family yuletides when they were poor. The simple joys of a Christmas pudding, a Yule log, and the unwrapping of their meager gifts. But that was then. Now the Cratchits were a wealthy merchant family, and as stylish as could be. All of London envied them their good fortune.

“Then Merry Christmas, sir,” the coachman said.

“A very Merry Christmas to you as well.”

As he strolled along, he passed a court yard. Workmen were finishing their repairs on the gas pipes. Several ragged men and boys stood around the brazier nearby and warmed their hands. Bob Cratchit walked past them and past the ancient gothic church. He dropped a coin into each of the beggars’ hands as he came upon them and wished each a Merry Christmas. He walked past a number of houses, the smell of roast turkey and goose and hen and Christmas pudding from them filling his nostrils with the happiest of smells. Strolling along the streets were bands of carolers, singing their “God rest ye merry gentlemen.”

Bob Cratchit made his usual stop for his supper in one of several of the taverns along the way home. He read his newspaper, then had his usual conversation with the tenants of the tavern. After an hour or so of this, he was out the door and back into the fog and the frost. Soon he found himself standing at the front of the house Scrooge had willed him.

He walked through the old black gateway to the house. He placed his key in the door and turned it. As he went inside, he felt a chill pass through him, a bit chillier than the night air that he was escaping. He shook himself free from the feeling and closed the door and stepped into the dark room that had become his home. He went to light a fire in the large fireplace but decided against it. Instead he lit a candle.

Standing there in the dark with only the candle for light, he looked up at the large portrait of a smiling Ebenezer Scrooge hanging from the wall. But tonight the old man was frowning back at him. Bob Cratchit closed his eyes, then opened them again. His benefactor was not frowning. He was smiling as he always did.

“Now I’m seeing things. Perhaps this is what Ebenezer meant by humbug.”

As he retired deeper into the cavity of the house, he found himself inside his bedroom. It would be another long, lonely night in this gloomy bedchamber Scrooge once occupied.

He closed the heavy door behind him and quickly dressed into his long night shirt and crawled in beside his bed warmer. He blew out the candle that he sat on the bedside table. Soon he dozed off.

Startled awake by some eerie sound, he sat up.

A squeak, perhaps from a mouse that had chosen his room for its home. But it didn’t sound like a mouse.

An icy breeze filled the room. The window was open, he guessed. He looked over at it. The window was closed. He shivered.

Slowly a translucent gray mist moved through the door.

Bob Cratchit grabbed his quilt and pulled it over his head as he lay back in the bed. Then he worked up his courage and he pushed the quilt down. After all, he was a modern nineteenth-century man. Humanity had banished all its needs for fear. Scientific progress was its destiny.

So what was there to be afraid of?

Absolutely nothing.

He lit his candle to abolish his fear. Then he looked over at the book on his bedside table. The title on the cover read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the distance, the church bell struck midnight.

Bob Cratchit looked up at the door. His face turned pale.

Wh-wh-wh-what.

Before him stood a large specter.

“Bob Cratchit, Ebenezer Scrooge sent me,” the unearthly visitor whispered. “I am the Ghost of Business Past.”

God bless you everyone and a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from your friend, Uncle Bardie.

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

I am running a little late on this one. I just wanted to wish all of you a Merry Festivus. My excuse was I was looking for some stuff for that pipe of Santa’s. Seems Santa ran out and it’s my job to keep him supplied. Anyway Merry Festivus. And to quote Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone.” After the Festivus celebration, we need it.