Summary: Grant Rashton is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. "A Christmas Carol" inspired this very short story.
Disclaimer: The Lyon's Den characters belong to their creators. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit is being made. Some of the dialogue that appears in this story is not my own but belongs to the writer of The Lyon's Den episode "Duty to Save."
Author: Tracy Diane Miller
The city exploded with the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas. And it would seem that there was no place in Washington that could rival Lyon, Lacrosse, and Levine in decking its halls. A mammoth Christmas tree with an incomparable array of lights, tinsel, and ornaments majestically held court in the firm's lobby. A bevy of colorfully wrapped presents of various sizes sat obediently at the base of the tree. The strains of "White Christmas", with its sickeningly hypnotic allure, filtered through the P.A. system. Even the aroma of roasted chestnuts being sold by several street vendors gave an almost Norman Rockwell feeling to the usually frenzied metropolis. There was no denying the fact that everyone seemed to be under the spell of the holiday season.
As he entered through the revolving doors of the firm, Grant Rashton silently cursed the hoopla and manufactured sentiment of the holiday season, which, to him, felt as superficial as the nips and tucks that the old society matrons subjected themselves to in order to maintain an illusion of youth. He had, in a nearly robotic fashion, written his
customary year-end charitable contributions and had thrown a couple of dollars into a few of those fire engine red "Salvation Army" kettles. He had offered the standard good wishes at the firm's holiday party. Now, it was Christmas Eve and all Grant wanted to do was to tie up some loose ends on several of his cases to guarantee his obscenely fat year-end and partnership bonuses. He also wanted for all the remnants of Christmas to just disappear.
A call of "Merry Christmas, Mr. Rashton" by one of the firm's inconsequential underlings (as Grant saw them) was met with an incisive scowl from the young junior partner as he walked towards the elevator. Grant entered his office, flung his overcoat across one of the smaller couches, and proceeded to the mini-bar. Pouring himself a Scotch, he journeyed to his desk, opened a file, and began working.
Grant had lost track of the hours when he heard a sound at his door. Looking up from his file, he saw Brit standing there. Her long, sheer white dress was the perfect match for her unusually ashen complexion.
"You know, Brit, you really should use your vacation time to take that trip that you've been talking about. The one where you go to some exotic place with plenty of sun." He retorted.
She said nothing. Rather, she slowly approached him. To Grant, it almost seemed as if she were floating, but he quickly dismissed that absurdity as a byproduct of the Scotch. Upon reaching him, she held out her hand. "Come", she uttered in a soft, yet unmistakably authoritative tone.
His first instinct was to call her on her strange behavior, but he instead decided to play along. Her hand felt cold. However, that was only the beginning of the bizarre events that were about to transpire. When Grant walked out of the office, he stood paralyzed by the sight that he witnessed: A group of unkempt young children with shell-shocked expressions on their tiny faces sat on the rows of small beds in the dank dormitory-type setting. The headmistress was scolding the smallest child standing before her. He was a young boy of about six, with dark hair, mud green eyes, and a defiant expression.
Grant shivered. He knew this place. He knew that child. But it was impossible.
Brit looked at him, as now even his face became white under the weight of recognition and disbelief.
He remembered that Christmas. His parents had just died and he had been sent to an orphanage in Macon, Georgia. Young Grant had been in the car with his parents at the time of the accident, but he had survived. At times, the little boy's grief at his loss competed with his anger at his parents. He loved them and they had abandoned him.
The headmistress' diatribe got louder as young Grant fought back his tears. "That poor little boy", Brit said, her voice shaking present-day Grant from his reverie, "to spend his first Christmas without his parents like that. No wonder he ended up hating Christmas."
"How? Why? Why are you doing this?" Was all he could offer in way of a response.
"Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Sometimes, you can change the end, if you're willing to understand and accept the beginning." She replied, cryptically. "Come". She demanded again.
The images disappeared in a whirlwind and before Grant knew it, he was alone and back at his office, sitting at his desk. His hand shook from the force of the dream. But it was just a dream. Grant knew that he had to pull himself together and finish his work.
A half-hour had passed before the lawyer received his next visitor. Standing at the door, in a provocative, low-cut black dress was Ariel.
"Now, that's what I call holiday cheer." He said, a mischievous grin crossing his face. Maybe the work could wait a while longer. If Grant were expecting his tensions to be relieved by Ariel in her very special way, he was about to be very disappointed.
Ariel gazed into his eyes, but said nothing. Instead, she walked out of his office. Perplexed, Grant arose from his seat and followed her. The sound of raised voices, familiar voices, arguing, shocked him:
"What did a hooker give you that I couldn't. Because I know that it wasn't better sex." She demanded.
"I didn't do a hooker." He countered.
Grant watched, well, himself and Ariel argue. He saw the betrayal and hurt in her eyes. She didn't believe him. She started to walk away from him. He grabbed her arm and turned her around. His caveman antics were met with a severe slap across the face.
Even as he watched his life play out before his eyes, Grant, the voyeur Grant, could feel the sting from the slap.
"No, that's not the way it happened." Grant realized.
Ariel, the Ariel that was his guide, turned from the scene that she, too, was watching, and said to him "If only you had told her the truth from the beginning. If only you had loved her more than you loved yourself and your desire to get ahead, then none of this would have happened."
"None of what? None of what would have happened?" He demanded.
There was no answer, only the familiar refrain of an all-too-real nightmare. Once again, Grant found himself back at his office with so many unanswered questions to what was happening to him.
He wasn't drunk, that much he knew. And he wasn't dreaming, not when his face still felt warm from the sting of that slap.
Grant wasn't one to run from anything, but whatever "this" was, he wasn't about to stick around to find out. He told himself that he didn't believe in the supernatural, even as he wondered whether the spirits of all those old coots, the deceased lawyers, had jumped right from out of those oil paintings adorning the walls of the various conference rooms, to wreck havoc on his mind.
Suddenly, Fineman appeared at his door. "Where are you going in such a hurry, Grant?" Fineman asked.
"Away from here", Grant answered curtly.
Grant proceeded towards the elevator and pushed the button. A telling ring was soon replaced by the open door of the elevator car. Grant stepped inside. However, no sooner had the elevator doors closed did Grant realize that he was no longer inside of the building, but outside at a cemetery.
This particular grave site was unkempt as weeds covered the tombstone. A single black rose was the sad testament to a death that so few had mourned.
"No one came to his funeral. "He was such a miserable excuse for a human being that most people were glad when he died." Fineman offered.
Grant looked at the tomb. "How did he die?" Grant asked, not sure that he really wanted to know the answer.
Fineman chuckled. "Don't you remember?"
Fineman removed the weeds that were covering the tombstone. Grant's eyes widened in shock when he read the inscription: "Grant Rashton, 1965-." There was no year of death etched into the marble.
"Wh-what-what is this?" Grant stuttered.
"It's your future. Unless you change it." Fineman said knowingly.
This time, Grant wasn't given an answer. If Rashton's ghosts knew the answer, they weren't talking. At least, not yet anyway.