A/N: Okay, well, I've wanted for years to do my own twist on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I started doing one using the Nemo characters, but it seems that fell by the wayside. Finally, this year, I'm stubborn. Now I am going to try my best to update this consistently, although some of the chapters may come after Christmas.
It's tradition in my family to watch Muppet Christmas Carol every year, and it's my favorite version of the story I've seen so far. So there will be some references to that version in this one – but I did buy the actually Charles Dickens novel and have studied that a lot. I've tried to keep as close to the book as I can, and certain bits of the writing in there will be in my story here. I strongly recommend anyone who is a fan of the story to read the actual book – Charles Dickens has a particular and really cool effect on your writing style. Also, the only OC I use in this story is I little character I made way back when, since the story needs a Tiny Tim. grin"
Chapter 1: Old Mr. Hudson
Sheriff Marley was dead to begin with – as dead as the doornail on his coffin. He had been dead for nearly seven years now, and the only person that really grieved his death at all was also his business partner in life, and his clergy and undertaker after he was buried in the ground.
Sheriff Marley and William Hudson had been business partners for many, many years, and had together run the Hudson & Marley counting house - an old, dismal warehouse at the city street corner. Once Marley had died, Hudson carried the business along on his own. And, after all these years, the sign out front still read "Hudson and Marley", for Hudson had never sponged out his deceased partner's name.
He was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Mr. Hudson - a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! He possessed every trait that made a fellow unpleasant. He was as cold and sharp as a flint, as secret, as self-contained, and as solitary as an oyster. It seemed he was affected by neither the warmth nor the cold. Everybody in town knew him, but nobody liked him or even dared to speak to him.
However, if you truly by some fantastical whim did feel the need or desire to grace the old car with your presence, you could almost always find him working away at his desk at the counting house. In fact, that's exactly where we find him now as we begin our story.
The counting house, as I had described it before, was a bleak, dark, and dismal place. Despite the wishes of his bookkeepers, Hudson always kept the place stone cold and never so much as put a single log or a meager lump of coal to burn in the fireplace. According to his miserly way of thinking, the warmth and light of a fireplace was a waste of money.
The head bookkeeper of the counting house was young Lightning McQueen, an impoverished but loyal worker for his boss. Hudson had only allowed young McQueen to warm himself during work hours with a single, humble candle – and on especially cold days, he would allow a worn-out cotton blanket McQueen brought from home. It barely provided any warmth at all, but it had to be better than nothing.
It just so happened that this particular day was Christmas Eve, a time when Hudson was at his worst. Hudson hated Christmas – every little thing about it. While the normal Christmas Eve bustle went on around him, he treated it like any other day, working away in his counting house.
Keeping by his dimly-lit candle and his worn-out cotton blanket, young McQueen copied letters and did his bookwork dutifully, glancing up out of the corner of his eye every once in a while at the clock. He cast a glance over at his fellow bookkeepers, and then cautiously over to his master. Doc was quiet and busy as always, and the only general sound that could be heard in the room at that moment was the ticking of the clock and the scribbling of the bookkeepers' pens.
"Uncle Will!!" A cheery voice suddenly broke the silence and the front door of the counting house opened up without a single knock preceding it. Doc finally looked up, and in came a young Chevy Impala low-rider with a purple metal flake paint job that was as bright as the smile on his face. In one wheel, he carried a Christmas wreath. "Merry Christmas to ya, Uncle Will!"
Doc only glared. "Ramone, how many times have I told you to not bring any of that merry rubbish of yours in my counting house?" he growled.
"Rubbish?" Ramone repeated. "Aw, c'mon, man! Lighten up, yeah? It's Christmas!"
"Christmas…" Doc muttered. "What right do you have to be merry,? You're poor enough…"
"Well, what right do you have to be such a grump?" Ramone grinned. "You're rich enough."
Lightning smiled and managed to stifle a chortle.
Doc only shook his head and begrudgingly went back to his work, grumbling something about retiring to Boca.
"I just don't get what you have against Christmas, mi tio."
Doc looked right at him. "Ramone, I live in a world of idiots. What else is Christmas than I time for paying money you don't have? If I could have it my way, every idiot that goes about with a 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be roasted with his own turkey and buried with a stake of holly through his chrome!"
At this, Lightning and the bookkeepers each gave a quiet but horrified gasp.
"Uncle, please!" Ramone begged as he backed away slightly. "Take a bromo-seltzer or something!"
"Ramone," Doc insisted, "you keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."
Ramone sighed and shrugged. "Okay…you're right. There's not a lot that I've financially benefited from in my life, Uncle. But I'll say that Christmas is the one day of the live-long year that feeds every spirit that accepts it. And although it's never put a piece of silver or gold in my trunk, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good, and I say God bless it!" he announced.
"Viva la Navidad!!" Lightning gave a sudden cheer in his butchered Spanish without thinking. When he was met with a severe glare from his boss, he quickly stopped and buried his fender back into his bookwork.
"Another word from you," Doc threatened his clerk, "and you'll be spending your Christmas pouring through the classifieds!!"
Lightning winced a bit behind his book at the reprimand and remained silent as ever. Ramone glanced from the young clerk to the old car. "Hey, c'mon, tio, lighten up on the poor guy," he tried.
"I'll handle my business the way I wish, nephew." Doc insisted.
"Come on, Uncle, don't be mad!" Ramone pleaded. "Come and have Christmas dinner with me and Flo tomorrow!"
Hudson tipped an eyebrow. "Why ever did you get married, Ramone?"
"Uh…Porque caí en amor?"
"English, nephew." Doc glared.
"Because I fell in love."
At that, Doc gave a laugh under his breath. "Love… That's the only thing in the world stupider than a 'Merry Christmas'!"
Ramone shook his head. "I give up, uncle. I should go. Have a good one, amigo!"
"Good bye, Ramone." Doc muttered.
"A Merry Christmas, tio!"
"Good bye, Ramone."
"And a Happy New Year!"
"Good bye, Ramone!"
The young Impala turned and proceeded to the door without an angry word. He stopped long enough to mount on the door the Christmas wreath he had brought in.
"Merry Christmas, Ramone." Lightning smiled.
"Merry Christmas, Lightnin'." Ramone smiled back as he left.
Doc only shook his head and had just started to get back to work when someone else entered the counting house. In taking his leave, Ramone had let in two more unexpected guests – a smaller yellow Fiat and an even smaller blue forklift.
"Pardon-a me," the Fiat addressed Doc, "this is-a the workplace of Hudson & Marley, no?"
Doc looked up at them. "It is," he answered.
"Do I have-a the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Hudson or Mr. Marley?"
"As of today, Sheriff Marley has been dead for seven years." Doc answered begrudgingly.
"Senor, I am-a Luigi Amiro, and this is-a Guido." He motioned to the blue forklift next to him. "We represent-a the Ranft Charity Foundation."
Doc frowned a bit. "What do you want?"
"Well, at this festive-a time of the year, Mr. Hudson, our foundation goes about-a to collect donations for all of-a the ones around us that are-a less fortunate and poor and-a homeless," Luigi explained.
Doc blinked, momentarily interested. "Are there no prisons? Union workhouses? Poor houses?"
"Plenty of-a those, sir, unfortunately."
"Ah, well, good to hear." Doc replied simply, returning to his work.
"We collect-a these donations in hopes of-a providing food and-a shelter for them. Now," Luigi added jovially. "What shall-a I put-a you down for?"
"Nothing." Doc replied bitterly.
"Oh, you wish-a to remain anonymous?"
"I wish to be left alone." Doc sneered. "I do not make myself 'merry' at Christmas and I cannot afford to make anyone else 'merry'. You want something from me? I support the poor houses – the homeless must go there."
"Those drafty old-a houses?" Luigi repeated in horror. "Many of-a the homeless cannot afford to-a go there, Mr. Hudson. And some would-a rather die!"
"If they'd rather die, they'd better do it and decrease the surplus population!" Doc snapped.
Both Luigi and Guido looked horrified by his brashness.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen." Doc motioned a tire towards the door.
Luigi gave a frown. "Fine. We can take a hint!"
"Hint??" Guido repeated as they drove for the door.
"Oh, shut up." Luigi glared at Doc. "Very well! We leave in a huff!"
"La vostra madre era un criceto!!" Guido announced to Doc.
"Do not waste-a your words on that buffoon, Guido." Luigi told the little forklift.
As the two of them left, Doc swung the door shut. He turned and was about to return to his desk when he heard a horn beep at him outside, a sign of yet another unexpected visitor. Now getting angry, Doc turned and swung the door back open to see who it was now.
Standing there at the end of the entry slope was a young and seemingly shy red fire truck. He was apparently selling his own-made Christmas wreaths, as he had them hanging along his sides. Silent at first, the fire truck looked a bit intimidated by the irritated, old Hudson Hornet that had stormed to the door. But, glancing at one of his wreaths he held in his tire, he smiled a bit and held it up as if offering it.
Doc only glared and slammed the door shut. As the old car turned around, his eyes wandered up to the wreath Ramone had hung up on his way out. He might as well help the fire truck orphan re-supply.
The fire truck had disappointedly started to drive away when he heard the door of the counting house open up again. Hopeful, he turned just in time to see Doc throw at him (with impressive force) the wreath from his door. Recoiling from the hit straight to his front, the fire truck's lip quivered and he raced off as fast as he could away from the counting house.
Slamming the door once more, Doc spun around to face his young clerk, who was currently gawking in horror at what he had just seen. Lightning quickly took the hint and got right back on his bookwork like nothing had ever happened.