BWW Blog: 'Another Suitcase' by Jeffrey Sanzel, Executive Artistic Director, Theatre Three
"God bless us-everyone." So what happens now? Or-rather-next? Since we've been at Christmas Carol for so long, there is almost always a discussion at some point about what happens after the story. So-Scrooge "became as a good a man ..." Does he stay that way? What happens to Tiny Tim? We know he does "NOT"(emphasis Mr. Dickens) die. What about Fred? The rest of the Cratchits. And how do their stories relate? Do they?
There have been innumerable books that have addressed this question. I've read many of them (most?). Some better than others. Some much worse. Some ... well, did a tree really have to die for this?
A number of years ago, it was suggested that wouldn't it be nice for Scrooge to connect with his long-lost fiancée, Belle. My immediate response was a strong objection. I think that potential happiness is not in the cards for Scrooge. His journey will be a solitary one. (There have been on or two books that have actually had him meet Belle, now a widow; at best mixed results. And I'm being kind. Veerrrry kind.)
After thinking about it for a number of years, I decided to propose my own sequel of sorts. As my penultimate blog entry, I am sharing "At the Last," which I wrote three years ago. I offer it as is ...
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas. See you once more, after the holiday.
At the Last by Jeffrey E. Sanzel
The old man startles awake.
He pulls at the loosely-tied dressing gown gapping over the stained nightshirt.
He climbs out of the chair and works his way to the head of the staircase, one slipper, half-on.
He peers down into the dim. The darkness only found before mid-day and just before twilight. One lamp burns in the house and that is behind him.
A moment passes. Another. Another.
No response. Shadows. Silence. He shuffles back to the chair, the half-slippeRed Foot catching on the balding rug.
As if he just remembered, he turns back and calls.
With a heavy sigh, he lowers down down down into the chair and the chair envelopes him, swallows him whole, the frail wisp of a frame barely denting a well-sprung cushion.
No, he thinks. No. Bob isn't here. Bob is gone. He's been gone two years. Or three. More? Yes. More. Gone.
They are all gone.
His gaze falls on far the window, covered in the heavy dark stuff, once rich purple, now faded eaten to dusty brown. The old man thinks about pulling them back. He thinks about opening windows shut for days. Weeks. More? More.
Oh, that's right. He's gone. Some illness some sickness something. Something took him ten-no fifteen (no?) years before. Perhaps. More likely it was the death of the boy. The little one. With the crutch. Who would ride on his father's shoulder. The boy's name ...
The doctors. There had been so many doctors. One after another. A long line of doctors of pills of tonics of needles of warm baths of cold baths of. The old man had opened his heavy purse and the doctors had reached in. The bottomless purse. Just after the joy. The doctors. One after another.
But the boy had died. Not then. But later. Some years later. But he had gone. And so had his father. After.
This time not a question. Not calling no. Just saying the name to conjure with. How Bob had come to the office after the joy, sometimes early often late. He would bring his family on a Sunday to eat at the old man's table, the six children, the wife. The wife. The wife who smiled at him but never smiled at him with her eyes. In her eyes her eyes her eyes there was no forgiveness. No charity. In her eyes were the days and weeks, the weeks and years of her husband's indenture. In her eyes the belief that nothing changes no one never not no. He understood those eyes.
There were the parties, too, in those later years, after the joy. The nephew and his dangerously beautiful wife. Always laughing. So happy. So much laughter. The old man never knew never understood the laughter. Sly looks exchanged glances and then. Laughter. The old man sat at the parties with the cup of hot punch fearing greatly fearing he would spill on the lush fabric that stretched across the too much furniture. Laughter.
The parties. The loud parties. The long parties. The late parties. He would smile and nod, little following what passed before him. And they laughed. And they laughed. What he could hear, he didn't understand. But fortunately, that was not much.