By Tank Wilson <TankW1@aol.com>
Uploaded December 2000
Summary: A reworking of the classic — with the L&C characters — to give us a bit of the Christmas spirit.
Written Dec. 1999, submitted June 2000
Author's notes: There have been thousands of versions of Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol' from Mickey Mouse to Old Vic staged plays. So I thought what the heck, I'd write another one using characters from our own beloved L&C. This was posted to Zoom's board last Christmas season but I've finally gotten around to sending it in. All characters trademarked and copyrighted to their respective owners. All feedback welcome at TankW1@aol.com , and for the record; I liked the Mr. Magoo version the best.
Lex Luthor kicked back from his desk, enjoying the feel of the soft imported leather-covered chair while he took an extra-long drag on his Cuban cigar. He pointed the Havana at his aide de camp Nigel St. John as a self-satisfied look came over his face.
"So, Nigel, is that all the business we need to deal with for the day?"
"Yes, Sir, it is."
"Seems to have been a trifle light today."
"Well, Sir, it is Christmas Eve."
"Ah yes, so it is." Lex took another hit off his cigar. He blew several smoke rings before he turned his attention back to his aide. "Do you have any *big* plans for the holiday, Nigel?"
"Well, Sir, my mum is having a bit of trouble with her landlord. She's asked me to come over and *deal* with it."
"Ah, ever the dutiful son, eh, Nigel. And your mother is …"
"Ninety two, Sir."
"Ninety two, imagine that." Lex took another puff. "These slumlords can be such a bother sometimes. Do we know who owns the building, Nigel?" "We do, Sir."
"Really," Lex pursed his lips and raised one brow at Nigel. "And your plan?"
"To have her evicted, of course."
"Of course, well that will be all then, Nigel. Have a pleasant evening."
"And you, Sir." Nigel left the office, leaving Lex alone with his thoughts.
After Nigel had gone, Lex got up and went over to the well stocked bar that occupied one end of his sumptuous office. In honor of the holiday, Lex poured himself some eggnog and carried it back to his desk. He picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal and began to track the frequent ups and few downs of the stocks of his various holdings. Even though it wasn't now as late as his normal work day often went, he'd been up early and suddenly found himself getting a bit tired. As much as he enjoyed seeing how his companies were doing, the dry reading of facts and figures had the expected soporific effect and he soon nodded off.
Lex wasn't sure how long he had been asleep but he was pretty sure that the sound that woke him was the sound of rattling chains. He jerked his head up from the desktop where it had lain. Looking about him in the deep grayness of the office, he was surprised that for some reason the lights were off. He knew for a fact that the desk lamp had been on before he had fallen asleep. His attention was drawn to the far corner of the room when he heard the sound of rattling chains again. He noticed a white glow forming in the corner. It slowly coalesced into a figure of a stooped and aged man draped in chains. Lex was shocked as he seemed to recognize the black and white apparition which now stood in front of him.
Lex's initial shock quickly wore off as his rational mind took over and calmed him, telling him that he must be dreaming. He reached over and smelled the glass that still held traces of his earlier holiday drink. He shook his head once. It had to be a dream. He didn't believe in ghosts, especially not ones that looked like his old, long dead partner.
"Egoorcs, you old reprobate, what are you doing invading my dreams on this holiday eve?" Lex gave him a smile one might expect to see on a wolf just before it corners a helpless deer or rabbit. "I thought our business was finished years ago when I out-maneuvered you for control of the company." Lex inclined his head in a placating manner toward the specter. "I was surprised about the suicide though, thought you were made of sterner stuff."
The ghostly form of Luthor's former partner raised his manacled hand toward Luthor. "Mock me not Lex Luthor, you swindled me out of my own company. After I had taken you in and placed you under my wing, taught you everything I knew about business and finance, how do you repay me? With treachery and deceit, that's how."
"And you taught me well, my friend, but let's get serious, Egoorcs. Look around you, what do you see?" Luthor waved his hand in a motion that encompassed not only the office but seemed to take in the whole world. "You ran the company for twenty-two years and you were what… maybe the third or fourth largest in just Metropolis. In the seventeen years that I have run it, I've built it into one of the top five conglomerates in the entire world." Lex shook his head sadly. "Really, Egoorcs, do you honestly think that *you* could have done all this?"
Lex's ghostly guest seemed agitated. "Yeah, you've done all right for yourself, there's no denying that, but I never really got my chance. If you would've given me a little help, maybe together we could have …" The apparition's tirade was cut short by an ominous rumble of far off thunder. The ghost flinched. "Okay, okay." He turned his attention back to Lex. "Lex Luthor, I have been sent to give you a message. This night you shall receive three visitations in the forms of three ghostly spirits."
"Oh pu-leeze." Lex shook his head in disgust.
"Shut up and listen. These three visitors will each take you on a journey of discovery. These journeys are meant to serve as warnings, dismiss these warnings at great peril."
Lex was staring at the ceiling, then turned his attention back to his guest as if he just realized he was there. "Are we done yet? If we are I'd like you to get out of here so I can get back to a more restful sleep than I am obviously experiencing now." "Do not take these warnings lightly Lex Luthor." The apparition raised a chain wrapped arm and pointed a gnarled finger at Lex.
Lex laughed. "Be gone sad spirit, ply thy ghostly trade elsewhere for thee will get no satisfaction here this night." Lex broke out in more laughter. His ghostly friend waved both his hands toward Lex in a gesture of dismissal and began to fade from view.
"Thanks for stopping by, Egoorcs. It was nice seeing you after all these years. We'll have to do this again sometime; by the way, love the chains. Nice touch."
"Bite me." And with that the photo-gray phantom disappeared from view. Still chuckling, Lex decided that if he was already asleep he might as well be comfortable. He took off his imported linen tie, kicked off his expensive snakeskin loafers, and laid down on the massive couch. He closed his eyes and was soon back to sleep.
Lex heard the antique grandfather clock against the far wall chime midnight. He sat up on the couch just as a shadowy figure began to appear in front of him. At first fear started its icy grip on him, then he remembered his past visitor and fell back into an easy acceptance of what was obviously just the continuation of his dream. The figure took on a more solid, recognizable appearance though it still lacked any color.
The figure bowed to Luthor at the waist. "No, Mr. Luthor, I am the ghost of Christmas Past, and I am here to take you on a journey into your own troubled past."
Luthor smirked at the ghost that looked like his mystic associate. "Well that seems rather pointless doesn't it. I've already lived through that time, anything that it could teach me I've already learned, wouldn't you say?"
The apparition just smiled and waved his hand. The room immediately faded out and in its place Lex found himself in a tiny one bedroom apartment that he knew only too well. He would never forget the cracked plaster and the unvarnished woodwork of the dwelling on the wrong side of the tracks where he had spent too many of his earliest years.
"Do you recognize this place?" asked the ghost.
Luthor nodded silently. "Oh yes." He strolled over to where a harried-looking woman was working somewhat feverishly in the untidy little kitchenette. She appeared to be trying to stir a pot, get something in the oven, and put away a few meager groceries all at the same time. She was a plain-looking woman, with limp, mouse brown hair and a look on her face somewhere between fear and desperation. "Mother?" Luthor tried to touch the woman but his hand passed through her.
"She cannot see or hear you," said the ghostly Asabi. "We are not really here. We are merely spectators. Brought here to view a single event from your past."
The ghost merely shrugged. "Did you not say that this was — your dream?"
The fact that Luthor had never verbalized that thought to his current ghostly guide never crossed his mind. He was suddenly distracted by the arrival of a young child. Bursting into the room from the outer door was an energetic lad of about seven or eight, with an unruly mop of brown curls and a ready smile for his mother.
"Mother, Mother, guess what I did today?" The young boy's enthusiasm quickly died when he saw the haunted look on his mother's face.
"Lex, honey, Mother doesn't have time for that right now. She's had a hard day at work and needs to get dinner ready before you're father gets home."
As if in answer to her words, the front door opened again. Lex recognized the tired and angry looking man that had entered as his father.
"What are you doing?" The words were directed at Lex's mother. "Why haven't you gotten dinner ready yet?" His fist slammed down on the stove top. He cursed her. "What have you been doing all day?"
"I've been at work. One of the other girls called in sick so I went to fill in for her." Lex's mother's tone was soft but just a touch defiant.
"Oh … but why such an extravagant meal?" He pointed to the various pots and the oven. "We aren't the Vanderbilts you know. We can't afford to be eating like this." His voice kept getting louder.
His wife looked at him in puzzlement. "It's Christmas Eve. What's the matter. Did you lose another job?"
"I don't think I like your tone." The man raised his hand in warning then brought it back down. "Is it my fault that the *man* has it in for me. Hell I never got an even break there. The supervisor's had it in for me since the beginning."
Lex's mother frowned. "Well maybe if you didn't miss so much work because you are always out carousing all night with your buddies?"
A resounding slap echoed across the room which caused Lex to again cringe at the sound.
"Don't you go laying this on my friends, you cow. If you'd do something to make yourself presentable maybe I wouldn't feel the need to go out so often."
It was Lex's mother's turn to let her anger loose. "Oh, don't hand me that bull. I work long hours at a crappy job just to bring in some money to pay the bills, because you can't seem to hold down a job for longer than a week at a time. I'm *so* sorry that I'm not able to look as glamorous as those ten-cent strippers you and your *friends* seem to enjoy so much!" She tried to push her way past him but he grabbed her and swung her savagely back.
"Don't turn your back on me bitch!" He gave her another back hand slap. Lex Luthor tuned out the rest of the too familiar scenario which the ghost has so *graciously* provided. "I've seen enough, can we go now?"
"So you remember this particular Christmas Eve?"
"Oh yes, even though scenes like that one played out often, that was the night I vowed never to live like my parents did. Never to be poor. I would do whatever it took to get out of that life." Luthor looked over at the specter of Christmas Past and smiled. "And I did. Can we go now?"
The Asabi ghost waved his hand and the scene from Lex's past dissolved and was soon replaced by the more comforting locale of Lex's penthouse office. Lex found himself again sitting on his sumptuous couch. He addressed the ghostly presence.
"So what sage moral lesson are you going to impart to me based on that little unpleasant slice from my past?"
"Only that which you yourself can glean." At Lex's harrumph, the ghost continued. "You have two more visitors scheduled this night. I think you'd best prepare yourself for them."
"Really," Lex paced a bit in front of the ghost. "And just how do you suggest I do that?"
The apparition just smiled. "Sleep."
Lex frowned but was soon overcome by the desire, and made his way back to the couch and was momentarily asleep again.
Lex found himself again being woke up by the chiming of midnight by the antique clock. Lex frowned as he shook off the feeling of deja' vu. As before, a shimmering light appeared before him which caused him to put his hand in front of his face. Once the light dimmed enough for Lex to take down his hand he was greeted with the sight of a familiar figure.
"Nigel?" Lex stood. "What are you doing here? You wouldn't believe the dreams I've been having, I have …"
"I'm sorry, Sir," the figure interrupted, "I'm actually the ghost of Christmas Present."
"Christmas presents? What do presents have to do with anything?"
"No, sir, I'm the *ghost* of Christmas Present. I've come to take you on another journey."
Lex really looked at his visitor for the first time, noticing the photo-gray coloration and less than solid appearance for the first time. "Of course you are." Lex brushed some imagined lint off his pants. "Well let's get this show on the road, shall we?"
The Nigel ghost snapped his fingers and once again the office faded away and was quickly replaced by a scene of revelry and merriment.
"Do you recognize this place, sir?"
"Of course I do, Nigel." At his look of disapproval, Lex put up his hand in a placating manner. "Sorry, I know you're not Nigel, you're the ghost of somebody's Christmas presents or something. Nice hat by the way." The ghost reached up to self- consciously touch the Santa style hat that he was wearing. "It's obvious that we are at the Daily Planet. I assume the people here are in the midst of some sort of holiday party?" "That is correct. This is the Daily Planet's annual Christmas party which took place just a few hours ago."
Lex watched the proceedings for a few moments as people laughed and talked in small groups, sampled treats from various trays on various tables spread throughout the bullpen, and generally seemed to be having a good time. His eyes finally locked on one person in particular.
"Ah, the very talented, and lovely Miss Lane." His eyes followed Lois as she approached her partner from the other side of the room. His voice took on a decidedly unfriendly tone. "And the ever ubiquitous Mr. Kent." Lex turned his attention to his guide. "So, what am I to take away from all these disgusting examples of fellowship and good will towards men."
The ghostly spirit just shook his head and directed Lex's attention back to the tableau in front of them. Lex focused his attention onto Lois Lane.
"Clark," Lois came up to her partner just as Jimmy left him to try and get the attention of the pretty new copy girl. "There you are, I've been looking for you."
"And you found me." Clark smiled that 200 watt smile. "What's up?"
Lois seemed a little hesitant, almost shy. "Well, I know we've only been partners for a few months, but what the heck, I got you a present." She handed him a brightly wrapped, thin, flat box.
He tore off the wrapping and opened the box easily to reveal a navy blue tie with simple yellow diagonal stripes. Clark cocked an eyebrow at her. "A tie?"
"Yeah, I thought it might be nice for you to have at least one tie that looked like it was purchased by someone with a modicum of taste." She grinned. "So what did you get me?"
Clark gave her a mock look of confusion. "Get you, Lois, what makes you think I got you anything?" He edged away from her over toward his desk.
"Come on, Clark, I know you. You are such a sentimental softy about all this holiday stuff, besides I'm your partner." She followed him over to his desk, placed her hand on his chest and batted her eyelashes at him in a perfect imitation of some cheesy movie vamp.
Clark laughed. "Okay, Lois, you win. I did happen to run across something I thought you'd like." He handed her a small, stylishly wrapped box.
Lois tore the wrapping off like an anxious child on Christmas morning. She opened the box. "Oh, Clark, they're lovely!" She pulled a pair of simple yet elegant earrings out of the box.
"Well I know that you often like to wear your hair tucked back behind your ears." He reached over and gently did just that. "I thought these might look nice when you did."
"I can't wait to try them on." She looked into Clark's soft brown eyes. "Thank you."
Both Lois and Clark looked up toward the voice. It was Jimmy, and he was pointing above their heads. Hanging from an unbent wire hanger was a sprig of mistletoe. Clark shrugged and smiled, leaving it up to Lois.
Lois frowned at first, looked down at her present, and allowed a shy smile to steal across her face. "Oh, all right, it is Christmas after all."
The Daily Planet's hottest new reporting team leaned into each other as their lips met.
"I think I might throw up." Lex's voice disturbed the apparition's appreciation of the scene. "Can we go now?"
The ghost shook his head and snapped his fingers. The Daily Planet office faded away to be again replaced by Luthor's corporate office. Lex paced angrily about the office as he directed his tirade toward his ghostly visitor.
"You, know, I'm getting pretty tired of this. Why don't you just be gone, or whatever you spirits do. Let's get that last ghost here so I can get this dreary dream over with and I can wake up and carry on with my life." He glared at the visitor who looked so like a 50's TV version of his aide.
The apparition just smiled and then disappeared. Lex stalked back to the couch and threw himself onto it. Considering the agitated state he was in, he was surprised how quickly he was able to fall back to sleep.
For the third time that night the antique grandfather clock struck midnight causing Lex to rouse from his sleep state. Lex shook off the fuzzy-headedness quickly and stood to meet the third and final intruder.
This time it wasn't a bright white light that began to form, but instead one that seemed quite dark, almost black. He couldn't really describe it but the darkness got brighter and more solid until it formed into an imposing shape. It was a tall figure totally cloaked in a flowing robe of blackness. A oversized hooded cowl completely hid the features from Lex's view. This spirit's presence definitely caused Lex some trepidation.
"I suppose you're suppose to be the ghost of what? Christmas Future?" Lex affected a blustery attitude to cover the anxiety this silent specter caused him. "Don't you speak?" The apparition didn't utter a word, instead Luthor saw it merely beckon him to follow. "Yes, let's get this over with. I'm getting real fed up with this whole Christmas ghosts thing."
A mist seemed to appear in the middle of the room. The ghostly visitor just pointed to the mist. Luthor shrugged and walked toward it with the ghost close behind. Luthor heard the sound of thunder and the office was gone.
Luthor was confused. They appeared to be outside. The wind was blowing and lightning was crackling with a fierce regularity that was almost scary. Sheets of rain were coming down, which indicated to Luthor that it was no longer winter. The darkness was such that Lex couldn't tell where they were.
"Where are we?" He yelled over the sound of the wind to his tall, dark, and silent companion. Another flash of lightning illuminated their surroundings enough for Lex to tell where they were. "We're in the Metropolis Cemetery. Why are we here?"
He saw the robed ghost point to an ornate tomb standing just in front of them. Luthor tried to make out the name over the tomb's door, but it wasn't until another bright lightning strike gave him the necessary illumination to read it. Carved in the stone lintel in bold letters was the name — Luthor.
Luthor turned to the figure next to him, a look of impatience and disgust of his face. "Come now my silent friend. Is this supposed to scare me?" Luthor started to leave the cemetery. "Everyone dies someday. Is this tawdry little play supposed to make me realize the error of my ways? Make me change now before it's too late. Really, my ghostly chaperon, I think you overestimate your ability to frighten a rational mind."
The robed spirit merely pointed to a piece of paper blowing past. Luthor sighed, reached over and picked up the paper. It was a copy of the Metropolis Star, the banner headline read; "LUTHOR PLUNGES TO DEATH". Lex could see by the picture that accompanied the headline that the reported death dive would happen soon. He dropped the paper as if it were burning his hands. He turned to the mute spirit and attacked it. He grabbed at the robed figure.
"Why are you doing this to me! Who are you?" He ripped the robe from the figure as another flash of lightning bathed the scene in a flickering white light. "You!"
Before him, wearing the sickeningly familiar suit and an annoying smile was Superman.
Luthor bolted upright. He had been slumped over his desk and it took him a few moments to clear his head. He looked around and spying the vintage clock, noticed that it was nearly six a.m. The gray room was silent and smelled of sour brandy and cigar smoke. The desk lamp was still on. A slow smile spread across Luthor's face as he grabbed his jacket and headed for the elevator.
He stepped out into the street. He slipped on his suit jacket as protection against the brisk morning air. A few snowflakes made their way lazily to the ground around his feet. Luthor took in a deep breath and watched as the city began to wake up on this clear and bright Christmas morning. He spotted a young boy passing by on some errand. He called out to him.
"Oh, boy," the lad turned and looked to where the voice was coming from. "Could you come over here for a moment." The child did so. "That's a good lad." Luthor patted the child on the head. "Do you know who I am, boy?"
"Yes sir, Mr. Luthor, sir."
"Excellent," Luthor pulled a five dollar bill out of his pocket and handed it to the lad. "I would like you to take this money and run down to the corner and purchase me a copy of the Daily Planet. could you do that for me, son?"
The young boy smiled. "Sure thing Mr. Luthor," and he ran off down the street.
Luthor took in another breath. He could feel the pulse of the city as it slowly began to rouse itself for the day. Lex knew that given the holiday, things would be much quieter than normal, but some things were constant is a city this size, no matter what day it was. The boy returned within a few minutes. He handed Lex the paper.
"Here you go Mr. Luthor, and Merry Christmas to you."
"And to you, son." The lad turned to leave. "Hey, wait a minute you little thief." Lex grabbed the boy by the shoulder. "Where the heck is my change?"
The lad quickly handed over Lex's change and then, blushing, ran away as fast as he could. Lex shook his head as he tucked the paper under his arm and reached into his jacket pocket for another cigar. After lighting the cigar and taking a big satisfied puff on it he headed back into his building.
He contemplated what he would do today. Plan the downfall of a corporate rival, foreclose on a few windows and orphans, or perhaps he'd give Nigel a call and see how he was coming with his *mum's* eviction. Yes, Lex thought, it just might be a very pleasant Christmas after all.