Deep in the woods of West Virginia a dog lay sleeping in his secret cabin on a cold and exceedingly dark December night. His name was Dooley.
He awoke to the sound of a strong wind rattling the old wooden shutters on the north cabin windows.
“Humbug, what blustery winds dare wake me on this foul night?”
Another gust blew open the shutters and slammed the wooden slats hard against the sill.
“Go away you accursed wind. Let this sleeping dog lie!”
From the window a cold blue light pushed the darkness from the room.
Dooley rolled towards the light, again, cursing the intrusion.
“If this is another raccoon prank I’ll have your grimy little raccoon paws tacked to my wall by morning….!”
Leaping from his blanket Dooley ran to the window and pressed his nose against the frosty glass. There, hovering above the ground was a nearly transparent image of his long dead master, Roger.
“A projector ….the raccoons have a stolen a projector?”
The specter spoke, “No, Dooley, it is me, Roger.”
“If it were truly you, you’d be smoking a Swisher Sweet Outlaw Double Barrel Rum cigar”, Dooley challenged, “and besides, you have been dead for years. I saw you fall into that 200 barrel oil tank myself.”
“Alas, they don’t carry my brand here in purgatory… and you know as well as I do that I didn’t fall into that tank, I was nudged”
“Wait a minute, this isn’t one of those ghost intervention deals, is it?” Dooley said with a sigh.
“Please don’t get ahead of me Dooley, the other ghosts and I put a lot of work into scripting this visit.”
“Oh geeze, Roger, I thought I was through listening to your cheesy stories.”
“Do you want to get back to sleep tonight Dooley or not?”
“Get on with it, then”, Dooley relented.
“You were supposed to ask me why I was here.”
“Oh mysterious ghost, why are you here?”
“I am here for your welfare, Dooley. Tonight you will be visited by three spirits….”
Dooley interrupted, “So it’s the whole Dickens thing, past present future…my tombstone, rattling chains, poor people, seeing what might have been, yada, yada, yada…I get it. Listen, why don’t you and your friends come on in the cabin and do a group haunting. It would speed things up.”
“Dooley, the first spirit will not arrive until the clock strikes one in the morning.”
“I can see the others spirits peeking from out behind the old goat pen. They are all here aren’t they, Roger?”
“And you know we don’t have a clock to strike…”
After a pause and some mumbling amongst the spirits the cabin door blew open. Three shadowy figures slithered into the room. Roger, the only one that glowed, stood in the doorway, shook his head, and then spoke.
“I can’t say I like what you’ve done to the place Dooley.”
“Really?” Dooley said incredulously. Looking to other spirits he asked, “What do you guys think?”
The spirit of Christmas Past said he thought the place could do with a shag throw rug and perhaps a little more avocado and orange in the paint scheme.
The spirit of Christmas Present said he liked the overall look but would like to see some stainless appliances.
The Spirit of Christmas Future said he thought Dooley had captured a timeless simplicity in his arrangement of the principle elements.
“Ok Dooley, my part in this is over. Before I go I just wanted say what a good friend you were to me over the years. I couldn’t have survived out here without you. I hope when the time comes you’ll find me here in the mist and join me in my endless wanderings. Goodbye for now old friend.”
Roger’s glow faded slowly until his image was completely gone.
Dooley stood, staring at the empty doorway. A tear ran down his snout. It was true, he had missed Roger.
“Forgive me Roger!” he shouted at the empty doorway. “When I pushed you into that oil tank I was only thinking of myself, the money in your mattress, and control of the bacon supply. I was a fool.”
The three remaining spirits looked awkwardly at each other. The Spirit of Christmas Future spoke.
“It appears that we are no longer needed here. In two minutes you have grasped the gist of what we wanted to convey this cold December night. Sleep well knowing you still have time to make amends for your past regressions.”
“Since we are cutting this short and I never got the chance to look at my own tombstone may I ask how long I have left in this world?”
“Do you want that in dog years or calendar years?”
“Calendar will be fine.”
“The length of one’s life is determined by many things, but taking into consideration living alone, excessive bacon intake and lack of exercise I give you another 24/25 months. On the other hand, if you acquire some friends, eat some leaner foods and find a purpose in your life that involves some physical activity….you may live well into your upper teens. You have a choice. Any other questions before we go?”
“I have no questions for the Spirit of Christmas Present….in fact; I don’t really understand the need for a spirit to show me what I am experiencing right now….”
“It’s a Union requirement, three Spirit minimum on holidays.” they explained.
“I see.” said Dooley, “Future and Present are free to go if you like. Thank you for your time. If Past wouldn’t mind staying a bit, I do have something I’d like to discuss.”
The Spirits whispered something between themselves. They were a bit embarrassed because they had car pooled. Future and Present agreed they would wait outside behind the goat pen and then they left cabin.
“So what is it, Dooley?” asked Past
Three hours later the Spirit of Christmas Past joined his two shivering co-workers behind the goat pen.
“For heaven’s sake, what took you so long?”
“Well”, sighed Past, “the dog asked me if it would be possible to go back to the day before Roger died to see if he could figure out what made him snap and push Roger into the oil tank. It seemed like a reasonable request. When we got there he suddenly pointed off to the left and shouted “Bigfoot!” I couldn’t help but look. When I turned back around he was gone. I searched for two and a half hours in the surrounding woods, but he was nowhere to be found.”
Together, the three spirits agreed to keep the loss of the dog in the past a secret. If word ever got out there might literally be hell to pay.
Deep in the woods of West Virginia, a dog lay sleeping in a secret cabin. His name was Dooley. It was an exceeding bright and warm July morning.
He awoke to the sound of Roger’s voice.
“Wake up Dooley, I have to go look at that 200 barrel oil tank this morning…thought you might want to come along.”
Dooley rolled over and said, “Not this time Roger,….not today.”