Scrooge: A Responder’s Tale, Part 2

This is the second of a five-part series. A new part will appear each day this week. Happy holidays to all who serve from EMS World.

Find Part 1 here.

Stave II

Okie had come and gone, warning Michaelmorser Scrooge that three spirits would visit him this night, the Eve of Christmas, his most hated day of all.

“Only three?” Scrooge reflected to himself. “Good, then, I’ll have a quiet night. Three after midnight. Humbug!”

The clock struck 1, and the tones remained silent. “Bah!” Scrooge turned in his bunk, closed his eyes and rested. Seconds later blinding light filled the office, and standing by the window was a man dressed in khaki pants and shirt, his eyeglasses nearly the size of his head and a belly the size of that loathsome Saint Nicholas.

“Who are you?” Scrooge asked the apparition.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past,” the specter said in a quiet voice.

“Long past?”

“No. Your past! You may recall my name. It’s Bub, and you were all little Bubsters once.”

“What do you want with me?”

“Come, you miserable little man. I have something to show you.”

“I’d rather not.”

Bub approached, and though Scrooge knew his appearance was probably no more than a vision conjured from a bad sausage, he was compelled to listen.

“Come with me!” the spirit intoned. Bub extended his arm, and Michaelmorser took his sleeve, and they flew through the night toward the Division of Training. They landed on the ramp, and though a light snow fell and a wind rustled the leaves and tossed litter along the sidewalk, they felt no cold. Scrooge rubbed the frost from the overhead door windows and looked upon the apparatus floor.

“I know these people! They were friends of mine! There are Chris Brown and Joe Brethana! That’s Joe Paiva dressed in the hazmat suit, acting like a chicken!”

“They appear to be having fun,” observed the spirit. “Who is that young man laughing along with them?”

Scrooge gazed at the scene. “That,” he said at length, “is the man I used to be.”

“Come,” said Bub. “To another Christmas.”

They whisked through the streets of Providence, dressed in nightclothes but not feeling the chill. The Branch Avenue Fire Station appeared in the distance, and they floated to the upper level and peered through the window. There, among a dozen firefighters, sat Scrooge, a few years older, opening a gift.

Michaelmorser started at the sight of more old comrades. “Those are Heidi and Al!” he exclaimed. “And Kenny and Arthur and Wayne and Roger! There are Steve Rocchio and Danny Brodeur! And Chief Moura! Look at us, opening Secret Santa gifts! I remember, I drew Heidi’s name and bought her a book—a mystery, if I recall.” He paused, and his voice became quieter. “Those were some good times. I do miss them.”

“Are not similar times being played out at your very station tonight, Scrooge?” asked Bub. “If I recall, a rather vigorous game of Monopoly was underway, and you chose to ignore it.”

“I didn’t want to, Bub,” said Scrooge. “It’s just so many runs, and all the paperwork and all the nonsense, then the shootings and overdoses—I can’t stand it!”

“Stand it you must, Michaelmorser,” the spirit replied. “You are needed, and needed to be well. Now come, I have one more Christmas to show you, and my time here is through.”

“I don’t want to leave.”

“You left a long time ago. Come, Michaelmorser, before it is too late.”

And they flew, leaving Scrooge’s friends behind. Again.

Now Scrooge Past sat alone in Rescue 1’s quarters, staring blankly at a computer screen.

“It’s so quiet,” Michaelmorser said to the spirit accompanying him.

“You came to the Rescue Division to make some extra money and never left,” said Bub. “But you found you enjoyed it and reveled in the opportunity to help your fellowman. You did well for a time. Then, as quickly as it began, the joy left you. You were alone, dreading the next call. Look at you, Scrooge! Your face is full of tension, your body is stiff. You are the very picture of misery!”

“It doesn’t have to be this way!”

“Right you are, little Bubster. You will be visited by two more spirits tonight. Listen well.”

The office was dark, cold and empty. And Scrooge was alone. The clock was nearly at 2. He rolled over in his bunk, and mumbled, “Humbug.”

Michael Morse, EMT-C, is currently captain of Rescue 5 in Providence, RI, and has served on the city's busiest engine, ladder and rescue squads as a firefighter, rescue technician and lieutenant during his 21-year career. He is the author of the books Rescuing Providence and Responding.