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Elsinger Scrooge


Title: Elsinger Scrooge
Rating: G
Summary: Frank Elsinger meets some ghosts.

    Frank Elsinger was on the warpath.  At the moment,  he was ranting about budgets,  tests and equipment.
    One of the things that had him going was a letter from Edie Thompson,  a woman from his past.  The letter was an invitation to her wedding.  Of course,  Elsinger would not admit that this was what had him steamed,  but it was.
    "Ax-on!"  He yelled.
    Peter came limping into his office.  He had broken his leg on an assignment.
    "What is it, Elsinger?"  He asked as he sat down.
    "These tests you've ordered . . .  this equipment . . . it's too much.  You won't get it.  Any of it."
    Peter blew up.
    "What do you mean?   I need that equipment to do my job!"
    "I think you need to get back to doing your job!"  Frank countered.
    "I'll have it done by Christmas!"  Peter ranted.
    "That's okay,  because you will be working on Christmas Day."  Peter's eyes bugged out of his head.
    "Hey, wait a minute, I have vacation coming."  Elsinger shook his head.
    Peter came bursting into the conference room where the others were gathered.
    "He can't do this!"  The others looked up.  They knew he had been going to see Elsinger,  so they weren't surprised when,  he came back in this foul mood.
    "He cancelled my vacation."  Peter was going to use his vacation time to recuperate from his broken leg.
"He also recalled the tests that I ordered."  The others smiled.  Elsinger at his best,  they thought.
    "Uh, Pete,  what do you say I go and talk to him for you.  Maybe I can get your vacation time back for you."  Peter looked at Matt skeptically.
    When Matt walked into Elsinger's office,  he could see that Frank was still grouchy from his conversation with Peter.
    "Hey, Frank, Merry Christmas." Matt paused slightly.
    "I'm sorry,  I just thought that you were going to say, 'Bah, Humbug'."
Frank scowled.
"Anyway, I came to see if I could talk you into giving Peter some time off - it being Christmas and all."  Matt laughed awkwardly as he anticipated Frank's answer.
    "I'll tell you what, I'll give him all the time he wants.  In fact,  I'll give you all all the time you need.  You're all fired.  Now get out."  
    Matt was so shocked that he simply backed out of the office.  When Matt returned to the conference room,  the others were not prepared for what he had to say.
    "Well, gang.  I have some good news and I have some bad news.  Pete, the good news is that I got you your time off.  But,  don't celebrate too soon.  The bad news is that we all have time off.  Like the rest of our lives."  They all gave Matt dirty looks.
    "I knew better than to let you go and talk to Elsinger."  Peter said.
    Matt smiled weakly.
    The next day, a Saturday, Elsinger came into work.  He was still in  a bad mood about the firings from the day before.  His guilt was keeping him from enjoying a good firing.
    As he approached his private office and prepared for his retinal scan,  he blinked at the sight that appeared before him.  The retinal scanner had transformed into a ghostly figure.  It was Michael Kelly.
    "Kelly.  What are  . . .Where is this transmission coming from?  Is this some kind of a joke?  Ax-on!"
    "Peter's not here.  It's just you and me.  mano es mano.  You fired Peter Axon, remember?  I'm not here to talk about Peter,  I'm here to talk about you."
    Elsinger was still having trouble believing that Kelly was really there.  He was looking all around the figure and putting his hand through it.  All the while, he was muttering something about  a holographic image.
    "Come on Frank.  You should recognize a ghostly apparition when you see one."
    Elsinger was half way believing that the sight before his eyes was real.
    "What are these chains attached to you, Kelly?"  Michael Kelly let out with a maniacal laugh.
    "These old things?  These are the chains that I forged in life.  They represent the deals  that I made to get certain information.  The friends I had to screw over to get certain information.
    Elsinger nodded as if he understood about Kelly's life.
    "Don't be so quickly to judge me.  Your chains are twice as long as mine.  There's twice as much dirt under your bed as there is under mine.  Just as many skeletons in your closet. . . dirty laundry. . . "
    "Enough  with the cliches.  What is the point of all of this?"
    "I've come to warn you."  Mike wore a smug look on his face.
    "Warn me? You don't even like me.  Hell,  I don't like you.  What do you have to warn me about?"
    Elsinger was getting angry now.  He resented the smug look on Mike's face.
    "Oh, don't mistake my doing this for you out of some kind of affection.  I'm doing this because the more good works I do,  the more I shorten the length of my chain.
    Elsinger was ready for his visit to end.
    "I know that you want me to leave.  But,  before I go, you know the routine.  You will be visited by three ghosts.  Hopefully,  after these visits,  you will change your evil ways.  Although,  I gotta tell you,  I don't think that you will."  Again, Mike started in with the maniacal laughter and then, he was gone.
    To say that Elsinger was rattled, was an understatement.  He tried to get back to work, but he couldn't concentrate.  He tried to think if the incident had really happened.  He brushed it off.
   "I just need to eat.  That's it.  I'm light-headed because I haven't eaten."
    At just that moment,  there was a bright flash.  It was so bright that it was painful.  The light seemed to be absorbed by some unknown source.  And there, standing in front of Elsinger, was Connor Doyle.
    "Doyle.  But, this can't be.  You're dead."  Connor smiled  ever so slightly.
      "Yes,  you should know that better than anyone.  I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.  Come with me and take a look at your wretched past."  Elsinger didn't like the way Connor said wretched.
    He walked with Connor right through the wall as the building dissolved around them.  They were strolling down a street in what looked like a desolate neighborhood.  Presently, they saw a little boy running down the street.  He had newspapers clutched in,  his tiny hands.  He was stopped short by two bigger boys who grabbed his papers and took his money.  The boys ran away laughing.
    "I didn't know what to do.  I couldn't go back to the paper station.  They wouldn't believe me if I told them what really happened.  So, I ran home."  Elsinger's rough exterior cracked somewhat as he remembered what happened next.
    Doyle and Elsinger  could not be seen by people from that dimension, followed the little boy as he ran into a dirty apartment building.
    "What are you doing home?  Where's your pay?"  Elsinger turned his back and winced.  Oh, yes. . .   He knew what was coming next.
    It was as if the adult Elsinger felt the blow that came next even though he wasn't looking.  He winced at the same time the junior image of himself did.
    "It's hard for you to relive this, isn't it?"  Connor asked sympathetically.
    "I was a bad child.  I needed to be disciplined."  Elsinger repeated lies that he had heard all the time as a child.
    "But,  you didn't do anything.  It wasn't your fault."
    Elsinger stood rigid as stone.
    "It doesn't matter.  It just made up for the times I did things and wasn't caught."
    Connor shook his head sorrowfully as they moved on.  Again the scenery seemed to dissolve around them.
    As Elsinger watched,  as a much younger self and Edie were sitting on a lovely park bench.  They were kissing passionately and Elsinger remembered how much in love he felt.  His heart ached as he thought of the beautiful woman sitting there.
    Edie was a Remote Viewer.  They had used her on several cases in the past.  
    Frank Elsinger had just made the rank of Case Manager and was very proud.  When his friend Edie found out she teased him.
    "I guess that makes you my boss now."  She was smiling at him,  but he looked serious.
    "Have dinner with me."  He waited for her answer
    "Let us go to another Christmas Day."  Connor was saying.
    They arrived at an office that wasn't familiar to Elsinger.  It looked like any other office of a young executive of some non-discript job.
    At the desk sat a younger Elsinger, but there was no mistaking the fact that it was Elsinger.
    "No, please.  Can't we leave this place?"  Even though this scene looked like a scene from any other day,  Elsinger knew exactly which day it was.
    Before Connor could answer,  The door of the office opened and in walked a beautiful woman.  The elder Elsingers eyes teared as he beheld her.
    "Frank."  It seemed as if this scene had been played out so many times before.  The younger Elsinger did not even look up from his papers.
   "Yes."  He answered softly.  He was going to make her do the talking.  The elder Elsinger shook his head as he anticipated what was to happen next.
    "We waited for you . . . at the rehearsal."  There was a pause.
    "I had to work."  Any other woman would have been strangling him at this point.  But, not Edie.  She remained as stoic as could be.
    "Are you saying that you don't want to get married?"  He wouldn't say.
    "Why did you ever ask me to marry you?"  The younger Elsinger stopped.
    "Say it, you fool, say it.  Tell her that you love her,  but you're afraid.  Tell her."   The last part was said shakily as the elder Elsinger fought to hold back the tears.
    The figure behind the desk remained silent.  Edie waited . . . and waited.  It seemed as if she had been doing a lot of that lately.  Finally,  when she determined that there was no answer forthcoming,  Edie turned and left.  The whole time that she was there,  the younger Elsinger never looked up from his desk.  However, there was a small tear that trickled down the face of the younger Elsinger.
    Gain as before the office faded and another off appeared to take its place.  The elder Elsinger thought that the visit was over,  but he was shocked when the real Connor walked into the office.  He remembered the conversation that he and Connor had on that day.  He looked at the Ghost Connor to see if there were any reaction.  There was none.
    The scene changed to the factory in Russia just as it exploded and burst into flames.
    "You knew that I was going to die when you sent me there, didn't you?"  Elsinger began to shake.  He knew the answer to Connor's question.
    While Elsinger was still reacting to this,  he didn't realize that he had returned to his office.  The antique clock in Elsinger's office chimed two o'clock.
    Elsinger waited.  Elsinger listened.  There was no sound.  A slow smile spread across Elsinger's face.  He thought the second ghost wasn't coming.  The moment he had thought this,  there was another flash.  Matthew Praeger stood before him.
    "You rubbed the lamp, here I am."  Matt smiled.  Elsinger was still too shocked to say anything.
     "I was supposed to have a great song and dance number here,  but it was cut."  The one thing that Elsinger hated most about Matt was his sense of humor.
    "Who are you supposed to be?"  Frank muttered.
    "Come on,  you know.  I'm the ghost of Christmas Present.  I'm here to tell you about all the people you are screwing over here in the present."  Matt's cheery disposition was really getting on Frank's nerves.  As if Matt had read Frank's mind,  he said,
    "I'm the ghost of Christmas present,  I'm supposed to be cheery."  Frank was taken aback,  but continued questioning.
    "How are you going to help me?"  Matt started walking and, just as before,  the scenery started to dissolve.
    This time they were in what appeared to be a pub.  At a table in front of them sat Lindsay, Peter, Matt and Anton.
    "I know.  you plan on making me feel guilty about firing them.  Well, I don't feel guilty.  You people have been whining about the way things are run here for years.  You really didn't seem to be happy here." Matt chuckled.
    "Boy,  that was convenient."
    Elsinger and the Ghost Matt turned their attention to what the others were saying.

    "Okay Anton,  you're next."  Lindsay was saying.  Anton opened a package and sat looking at a picture of a book.
    "That's the gardening book I would have gotten for you if we hadn't gotten fired."  She said enthusiastically.  Anton thanked her and then gave her a package that was also wrapped in holiday paper.  Lindsay tore open the package to reveal a picture of a lovely silk scarf.
    "Oh,  its lovely.  You have great taste,  Anton."  The rest of them smiled.  Matt gave a package to Peter.  Peter looked at Matt and then opened the package.
     "'A tree was planted in your honor.'"  Gee thanks Matt."  Pete said.
     "'Course,  I wasn't able to actually do it."  Peter gave Matt his package.
    "Oh, thanks, Pete."  Matt's package included the same, identical letter.
     While they all enjoyed a good laugh, Lindsay got a serious look on his face.
    "I wonder what Frank is doing right now."  Everyone stopped laughing and looked at her.
    "I mean,  did you ever hear about him talking about a family or a wife?"  The others thought for a minute.
    "He probably sold her."  The others got a good laugh from that as well.
    "I just think that we should give him a toast . . . you know.  He's probably all alone for Christmas."  The others started to laugh it off again, but they saw that she was serious.  They slowly raised their glasses and toasted the man who had just fired them.
    "You see, they don't hate me.  They know I had to do what I had to do."  Ghost Matt chuckled as he took in the pathetic sight.
   "They weren't doing it because of you.  They were doing it for Lindsay and Lindsay was doing it because she felt sorry for you."  Frank sobbed as he came to this realization.
    Frank continued crying as the scene dissolved revealing a cozy living room decorated for the holidays.  The fire was blazing and the tree was lit and the couple seated on the sofa looked very happy.  It was Edie and her future husband.
   "I don't want to see this.  I want to leave."  Ghost Matt ignored his pleas and they remained glued to their spots.
    "John,  I am so happy."  Frank heard Edie say.  The next thing he knew, they were kissing.  This was too much for Elsinger.
    "Please,  take me from this place."  Frank begged.
    "As you wish."  The scene dissolved and frank found himself back in his office.  He was alone.
    Frank was still sobbing as he sat down in his chair.  He pulled open a drawer in his desk and extracted a picture.  It was of Edie.  She was beautiful,  he thought.  Her long, dark hair complimented her round olive complexioned face.  He gently ran a finger across the curve of her chin.  He still loved her.
    The antique clock struck the hour.  The temperature seemed
to drop twenty degrees and a wind blew from an unseen source.
     "Okay ghost,  come out, come out wherever you are."  Elsinger wanted the third ghost to come and be done with it.  Suddenly,  as if out of no where, the third ghost appeared.  He was wearing a long, dark robe which completely covered his face.     
    "Are you the third ghost?  What am I saying?  What would you be doing here unless you were the third ghost."  Of course,  the third ghost didn't say anything.
    "Well,  let's be off.  I want to get this over with."  The scene dissolved around them and they seemed to be still in his office.  The only difference was that now it was full of people.
    The people were milling around.  They were dressed in black and were eating and drinking.  It was some kind of morbid party.
     Suddenly,  laughter broke out in the corner of the room.  Frank went over to get a closer look.
     "Okay who wants this one?"  The people there were laughing as someone held up one of Frank's toys from his desk.
    "Put that back.  That doesn't belong to you."  Of course,  the people couldn't hear him,  and he couldn't 'physically' take back the items that they were handing out.  this seemed to frustrate him to no end.
    "Why are they doing this?  Why are they here in my office taking my things?"  The Ghost began walking and as he did, the scenery changed.  They were now walking in a graveyard.  They had left behind the office and the party.  The Ghost was now pointing at a headstone.  Elsinger, who knew the story, was afraid to look.
     "Okay,  I know, its my headstone.  But,  what an I do to change all of this?  Can't I have a second chance?"  the Ghost continued to be silent.  It was as if the Ghost was speaking to him without speaking.
    "To change,  I have to go back - back to my past?  But,  how can I do that?  You can't turn back the hands of time.  But,  if it were possible,  I would be willing to do that.  I'd be willing to go back to a time when I cared about people and they cared about me.  Just don't let this be my end.  I beg of you spirit."  Frank was sobbing again as he thought of Edie.
    Suddenly the scenery dissolved as it done so many times before.  Frank found himself again in his office and sitting at his desk.
    He didn't fully remember what had taken place before.  It was as if bits and pieces were hovering around the fringes of his brain.
    Frank was just going through his mail,  when he came across a letter.  It was from Edie.  He seemed to remember going through all of this before.  It was like a kind of deja vu.  He opened the letter and read.
    Dearest Frank,
            I have been thinking about you lately and I really want to see you.  Call me and maybe we can have dinner.  

   A smile spread across Frank's face.  Just then,  Peter stormed into his office.
   "What is this, Elsinger.  What's the hold up on the equipment I ordered."  Frank smiled.  Peter was so taken aback that he almost stumbled.
   "I'll call this very minute and have everything arranged."  He said.  Peter was in shock.
  "Oh, O- kay. Thank you."  Peter stumbled out of the room.
That felt good,  he thought.  He rose from the chair and headed for the door.  There was a spring in his step as he headed for the lab.
    "Anton, can I talk to you for a minute?"  Anton was surprised to see Elsinger there in the lab.  They weren't working on anything pressing at the moment, and Elsinger looked a little too happy.
    "Sure,  I guess."  Elsinger very comfortably came over and sat on the stool near Anton.
    "Would you like to have some time off for Christmas?  I know that your wife has just returned and how much you would really like to spend some time with her."
    Anton was astonished.  He had been thinking about asking Elsinger to have some time off,  but dismissed it thinking that Elsinger would deny it.
    "I don't know what to say.  Thank you."
     Elsinger rose from the stool and left.  Was it Anton's imagination, or was there actually a spring in Frank's step.
    Next,  Frank went into the conference room where he found Lindsay, Matt and Peter.  They were staring at the conference table.  It was covered from end to end with food.
    "Ah,  good.  It arrived."
     Even Matt was speechless as he realized who had provided the sumptuous meal.
     Frank went back to his office satisfied in what he had done.  He sat down at his desk,  picked up the phone and called Edie.