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As Long as We Remember...

December 19, 2002

A Jenita Christmas Carol - The Prologue

David 'Kip' Koontz

(Editor's Note! What follows is a parody of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This time the setting is historic Frederick at the present.)

Evita Peron was dead to begin with. There was no doubt about that. It happened many years ago. It made the papers, radio and television.

Countless books, a musical, a movie have proven the point, though Jeneezer Scrooge, the mayor of Frederick, still holds fondly the memory of her idol, especially in the way she deals with others.

Especially in the way she deals with those who oppose her point of view.

There are those who say Jenita has a cold heart, that no warmth could warm her, no wintry weather chill her. No wind that blew was bitterer than she, no falling snow more intent on its purpose. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail and sleet, could boast the one advantage over her in that it could be said, they "came down" handsomely, and Jeneezer never did.

They point to those to whom she promised jobs, yet did not follow through as proof.

They point to those whom she let go, or forced out - and those she still strives to remove from her path - as examples.

The fact she denied her people water (except a chosen few) is proof they, too, cry.

They point to the promise broken in the way she operates her government, that her "fresh approach" is no fresh approach at all as proof of her cold-heartedness as well.

Rarely does one stop Jeneezer on the street to wish her good wishes for fear of the potential gruff response they may receive. No beggars ask her for help, no children ask her the time, rarely does one inquire into the health of Jeneezer Scrooge.

Some say even that blind people's dogs pull their master away from Jeneezer as she approaches and wag their tails at her as if to say, "No eye is better than the evil eye that passes."

Not long ago - of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve, old Jeneezer Scrooge sat busy in her mayor's office.

It was cold and bleak, biting weather. You could hear those walking through the streets stomping their feet and ringing their gloved hands in efforts to stay warm.

It was past three and many employees had hoped they could leave early for the holiday, but Jeneezer, known for making staff work in even the worst of conditions, would have none of that.

The door to Jeneezer's office was open so that she might keep her eye on her staff to make sure they kept to their tasks.

Jeneezer had the heat turned down low - no better way to save money Ms. Scrooge thought, so the staff had to bundle up in sweaters, coats and scarves to stay warm.

Jeneezer was startled by a cheerful cry of "Merry Christmas, Jeneezer Scrooge!" It was Aldermen Bill Hall and Dave Lenhart who had come to City Hall to implore Jeneezer to allow the staff to be allowed to leave early.

"Bah!" said Jeneezer. "Humbug!"

Misters Hall and Lenhart, frosty from the outside cold, but warm of heart from the spirit of the season, responded: "Christmas a humbug, Jeneezer? You don't really mean that."

"I do," said Jeneezer. "Merry Christmas! What right of you to be merry, even thinking that inside of City Hall will get us sued by the ACLU!"

"Come now Jeneezer" the two responded, what right of you to be so glum? What reason do you have to be so morose? You have successfully managed to get on the front page of the paper almost every day this year - something you stated you so wanted to do - you should be happy!"

"Bah!" and "Humbug" came her only reply.

"What else can I be," she returned, "when I live in such a world of fools as this? Having to deal with aldermen! Having to deal with boards and commissions! Having to deal with the public! Merry Christmas? Bah! Humbug!"

Jeneezer continued: "Everyone one of you who run around with Merry Christmas on your lips should be boiled in a bowl of my potato soup and buried with a stake of Shamrocks through your heart!"

"Jeneezer?," the aldermen pleaded.

"You speak out of turn - I did not recognize you, so you hush, and, as you keep Christmas in your way, let me keep it in mine!"

Daringly, Alderman Hall responded: "Christmas is a good and happy time, a time for love and good cheer."

Alderman Lenhart continued: "And of charity and goodness to others and - though some may not like the religious implications of the day - it must be remembered as the day of our Savior's birth and it does me well to celebrate so I say, 'God Bless it!'"

At that several of the staffers applauded. To which Jeneezer shouted, "Do not let me hear another word from you or you will, like Gary Hessong and those who have gone before you, lose your position!"

Aldermen Hall and Lenhart, tired of the confrontation, bid Jeneezer farewell, though Alderman Lenhart did tell Ms. Scrooge that despite it all she could come to his house, should she want, on Christmas Day for supper.

"Goodbye," was all the response they received.

As they left, Jeneezer's assistant, Eva, rushed into Ms. Scrooge's office crying, "As the aldermen left, they let in two gentlemen from the Weinberg Center who are requesting a donation!"

"Send them away," she said as the two poked their heads into Jeneezer's office.

"What do you want?" Jeneezer snapped.

"We're sorry to disturb you Ms. Scrooge, but in the spirit of the holiday, we were hoping you would donate to help keep the arts alive in Frederick. After all, since you forced the Weinberg to privatize and fired Mr. Seal, we need all the help we can get."

"Arts! Humbug! Never went there, never will!," shrieked Jeneezer.

"Aren't there barns you can perform in - it would most likely be cheaper! And those fancy instruments! Play the wash tub and with sticks, you uppity artsy type should just be sent to the prisons or be put in the street!"

"But Ms. Mayor, the arts improve the quality of life in our community and even help attract business!" the two pushed on...

"Bah, the arts bring us no business...they are simply a drain on the budget!" she responded.

"But Ms. Mayor, this is how you wanted it to be, the public supporting the Weinberg on their own, and we need all we can get to be successful, so how much can we put you down for?" they asked.

"Nothing" she responded.

"Oh, so you wish to remain anonymous?"

"No, I am not giving you a thing and I ask that you simply now leave my office, or I shall, with the help of my staff, escort you out of here, hurl you down the stairs and help decrease the surplus population! Artists! Bah!," Ms. Scrooge responded.

At that, the two stunned men turned and meekly offered a "Merry Christmas" as they hurried out the door.

With that, her staff - now that it was 5 o'clock - asked Eva, Jeneezer's assistant, to inquire if they could leave and also have the next day off to celebrate the holiday.

With a glare in her eye she accepted their request and inquired upon Jeneezer.

"All they want is time off! For holidays, for inclement weather, what do I pay them for? They take this day to pick the pockets of the government when there is plenty for them to do here!," Jeneezer exclaimed.

"I agree," said Eva, "but it customary to give employees off for the holiday."

"All right, all right, but tell them to be in extra early the next day," Jeneezer concluded.

Several hours later Jeneezer took her dinner as usual at her pub then went home to bed.

Now, there was nothing at all particular about the knocker of the door of her house, except that it was very large.

Now, let it be known that Jeneezer had not seen the movie Evita in months, yet that night as she approached her home, she saw something that even she could not believe. On that knocker was the face of Evita Peron.

As she stared at her idolís face she realized it looked not angry or ferocious, but simply looked as Evita did in her pictures, hat and all!

Her eyes were wide open, yet motionless.

That, and its odd coloring, made it a horrible thing upon which to gaze.

Jeneezer briefly turned away from the face only to find that when her gaze returned to the knocker it was simply that.

Jeneezer, startled, put her key in the door and entered her home thinking she must have simply had some bad crab dip at the restaurant.

Inside, her yellow door of welcoming slammed shut as the howl of wind and the crash of thunder sounded around her.

Wide-eyed, Ms. Scrooge scurried to her sitting room to light a fire (with only one log) and put the oddities that just occurred behind her - believing definitely that what she had experienced had only come from eating that bad dip.

"I'll fire that damn cook!," Jeneezer declared, as she sat next to the fire to read her current book, "The Life and Times of Leona Helmsley."

It was at that time the racket and clatter began again, wind howling, water sounds crashing upon the outside of her windows, "Hey, neighbor, I already reported you once, I will do it again for wasting water!" Jeneezer shouted as the sound of a storm raged inside her home.

At that time, Jeneezer looked in disbelief as she saw a specter as she heard what, at first, she thought was a chorus singing, "Jenita!" but found it was a chorus singing, "Evita!"

And then, there she was, in the white gown and gloves she is most famous for, as she stood on the balcony of the Casa Rosada. It was Eva Peron!

"Dear Eva, why do you come to me in such a fashion? With all this noise - it may be against the noise ordinance and I might have to report you!," Jeneezer exclaimed.

Evita cut her off with a wave of a hand declaring, "Look at me, Jeneezer! See my chains, the chains forged in a lifetime of selfishness and the neglect that comes from having to always be right!"

Jeneezer chimes in: "But Evita, you did wonderful things, the crowds, they adored you, I envy you and so want to be like you - I fashion my governing style as much after you as I can!"

"You fool, look at me" Evita declares, "Do I look like I am happy?" I have come to know that serving one's own purpose as I did, and you do, does not make for a very pleasant after-life!"

"Again, look at my chains forged for the contempt of mankind! You have these chains, too, Jeneezer, and your link is growing daily! I am here tonight to tell you that you must examine your life because, while power and control may seem fun while alive, it causes one to do things that plague you through eternity and you must turn the tide!," Evita declared.

"But Evita, I do not know of what you speak, and I am not sure you are actually here - you are a figment of my imagination as a result of some bad crab dip given to me by a cook who will soon be fired!," Jeneezer pronounced.

"Jeneezer Scrooge, I did not recognize you, so you may not speak! Listen, for tonight you will be visited by three spirits, who may help you change your ways - if, and only if, you will take heed to what they say! Be wise and be aware, for I am only here to help you learn from my experience - do not end up like me. Prepare for when the clock strikes twelve...!" Evita stated as she - like the wind - whooshed out the yellow door of welcoming which blew open to allow the departing spirit to exit the home.

It was promptly shut up tightly again.

Jeneezer, unsure of what just occurred, decided that an Irish coffee was the appropriate beverage she needed, fixed one, and headed to bed.

(Join Us Tomorrow For Chapter Two of A Jenita Christmas Carol here on The Tentacle)

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