A Christmas Carroll


Part Two – The Ghost of Ameobi Past

In the last episode, Ebeneezer Ashley had been visited in his home by the chicken-eating ghost of Fat Freddie Marley and warned to change his spendthrift ways. The KFC bucket-wielding apparition had predicted that Ashley would receive three visitors and would end up a changed man…

Ashley shivered slightly and slowly got back to his feet. He looked around the room. He checked under the bed and under the sheets. It was useless. There was no chicken there. He climbed back into bed. It can’t have been a dream. Maybe he’d had food poisoning from the Chinese food he’d ordered. That must have been it. And now he was having vivid hallucinations. But then why did his bed smell of fried chicken?

He paused to think. He often ate fried chicken in bed. Yep, no doubt about it – he was just hallucinating. He’d sleep it off no doubt. He pulled the sheets up high over his round face and willed himself to sleep.

He tossed and turned for about twenty minutes, but still there was disquiet in his mind. He pulled the blanket down a little to get some air, and saw something. Another figure. What had he eaten from the takeaway? This figure appeared to be a tall black man in a baseball cap, perched upon a mountain bike and chewing an apple. He chuckled to himself.

“Alreet?” asked the apparition. ‘Another apparition with a Geordie accent’, thought Ashley. ‘God, I hated these northern monkeys’.

“You look just like that lazy Ameobi. He’s a member of the frontline team, I think…” muttered Ashley, smiling to himself.

“Shola?” asked the apparition, in his deep baritone of a voice.

“No idea. The useless one. Been at the company since before my time. Could never get rid of him. Tried to send him to Stoke once. He still came back. Like a bastard boomerang.”

The apparition slowly chewed his green apple. “What do you want? If you’re after Marley and the bucket of chicken, it’s already gone” said Ashley, ruefully.

“Na. Come with me.”

“What?”

“Come sit on the back of me back. I’ll give you a backer.”

“Sure. This is all in my mind anyway…”

Ashley clambered out of bed, taking a moment to size up this Shola-like figure in front of him before shuffling around him and perching himself on the edge of the bike seat.

 *****

“We’re there”, rumbled the apparition gently.

“I’ve only just sat down.”

“Get off and have a look.”

Ashley could tell he was somewhere else. Outdoors. It was daytime, but he couldn’t see anything. The apparition was now wearing an oversized top hat, and it was obstructing Ashley’s vision.

“Did you change hat?” he asked, puzzled.

“Aye”

“Why?”

“I like lots of different hats.”

“Ok. So hang on… before I get off this bike, tell me who you’re meant to be?”

“Am.”

“What?”

“Who I am.”

“Whatever.”

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

Ashley chuckled at his own imagination. In his hallucination, Ameobi thought he was a ghost. And not just any ghost. A ghost with delusions of time travel. “You must take me for a monkey…” he mumbled, shuffling off the bike seat to stand beside the apparition.

“Recognise it?” asked the apparition, continuing to chew on the apple. His top hat had now changed to a flat cap. Ashley turned his eyes in front of him.

“I’m at school. Boarding school. Hang on, can they see us?”

“No.”

“Sure?”

“Aye.”

“All the kids are running around playing. But where am I?” asked Ashley, thinking aloud in that annoying style which enables a half-competent writer to vary the way he describes stuff so it doesn’t all sound the same, and uses less words. “I can see parents now. My parents aren’t here, though… The kids are going home with their parents. Where am I? Everyone seems so happy and playful.”

“It’s Christmas. Everyone loves Christmas.”

“I don’t.”

“You did. Walk alongside me…”

“Can I not get back on the bike?”

“Nar, move it, fatty.”

The apparition pedalled towards a wall in the school building at a leisurely pace, with an already-panting Ashley struggling to keep up. Once the bike had passed through the wall, however, Ashley stopped. He held out a podgy finger and gently poked it towards the wall. It passed through. He followed his finger and found himself in the room where had stayed on his first Christmas away from home. He saw a small boy, not quite podgy, playing with a toy on a small Christmas tree with a tear in his eye. He remembered. He had spent all that Christmas in the school with only the support staff for occasional company. No other kids. This would be the first of many Christmases he would spend alone. He swallowed his emotions and looked away from the child.

The apparition was still chewing his apple thoughtfully, but his flat cap had now become woolly hat with bear ears on the top. The apparition stared straight through him.

“What are you trying to prove?”

“You used to like Christmas. Until now, anyway…” He pointed the apple at the young Ashley, who was now staring out of the window forlornly. “Understandable I guess…”

“What purpose does this serve?”

“You seen the other kids. They all loved Christmas. Hell, you used to.”

“I was a child.”

“It’s not too late.”

“Listen, mate, this is all exploitation! You have no right to come into my bedroom, late at night, to try and abuse my emotions like this. You’re exploiting me for your own ends”.

The apparition’s slow laughter rumbled through the still air. “I thought this was in your imagination?”

“It is. And I want it to stop now!”

No sooner had he uttered those words than he was back in his own bed. He wiped a tear from his eye with a sausage-like finger. He picked up his pillow and flipped it so he could relax on the cool side. As he did so, he noticed something hanging from his finger. A decoration from his younger self’s Christmas tree. He smiled gently as he played with it between his fingers before putting it under his pillow. “Bloody vivid hallucinations” he muttered as he drifted off to sleep…

To be continued…

 

About Neil

28 years old. Geordie. Lived in Berlin almost three years. All-round canny lad.
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