Stave 1

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Marley was not dead to begin with. At least... not yet. If anyone should doubt whether or not Marley was alive and well, all one had to do was see the glean in his cerulean eyes. The rose in his cheeks. The rouge on his hooked nose. A smile on his thin, parted, pink lips could only have been performed by electrical impulse and living muscle. So yes, he was as alive as you and me.

Three weeks prior to his last breath, the shrewd accountant was lively, energetic, and ready to conduct business. All was well. The twitch of quill in his hand hinted to his able-minded alertness. More than able-minded, eager and willing. Marley was as alive as a blossomed rose. Mind I don't mean to say I'm a doctor or have any knowledge of the living. But I'm told the living know the dead when they see them and equally, the dead know the living when they hear them. Such sayings express themselves in the smile of wisdom. Whoever's hands seek to undo this, dead border; the world will most certainly be done for.

A rings from a door ajar. A cold gust of wind rushed into the counting office with such a force, Marley shuttered in his winter coat. Even Scrooge was forced to acknowledge the cold with a shiver. Which was odd to Marley, since his partner seemed to favor the cold. Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge seemed to be made up of the stuff.

"Gentlemen," the narrow-nosed counter said pushing his round gold rimmed accounting spectacles up. "Won't you come in?"

Ebenezer immediately set up in a small room across the hall upon witnessing Marley's excitement. Marley glanced past the two men and locked eyes with his partner, Scrooge. With a flick of his spotted wrist, he waved the long nosed, curled lipped vulture off.

Before inviting anyone into his office, Marley had his own way of screening legitimate paying clients from daily dilly-dallying hawthorts. The master counter took stock of the gentlemen's fashion the way single ladies take notice of men who have means. Much like Marley, the master counter was quick to scrutinize and dismiss. Especially anything to do with Christmas.

Fine tall beaver fur gentlemen hats were a dead give away. But Marley's attention quickly fell to their hands since their long coats covered their suits. He immediately spied expensive gold rings on the mens' fingers and costly italian leather shoes confirmed in his mind that his due could be met. This brought a bright inviting smile to the strangers.

Marley was welcoming and decisively warm. Affection was like an initial investment to him. Once deposited, if it did not fetch a quick sum, the relationship was to be terminated coldly and abruptly so as to make a "clean break." The difference between the two partners being the initial greeting, even though the result was regularly similar. Thus the powers of attraction are evidenced betwixt Scrooge & Marley.

Marley watched his hunched partner rub his bony hands together and grimace from across the way. 'It's a wonder he doesn't catch fire,' Marley thought of Scrooge's dry, twiggy hands. To Marley, Scrooge meant little. In fact, most things meant little, except the shiny array of sustenance. That he and Scrooge had in common. And Scrooge certainly served a purpose, but had it not been for his equal enjoyment in the pursuit of wealth, the collection of coin, the tallying of books, they would never have been... dare I say, friendly towards one another?

Something about the reflection of gold caught Marley's attention and held it. No commanded it! Had Marley a child or a woman who might have loved him, he may have transferred his love to something useful, something mortal, something less eternal than gold, but certainly of more use. For this old miser, it wouldn't be so. Marley found nothing more long lasting than lustrous gold. In fact, the twinkle in his eye sparked when he saw it. He would often boast that of all the collections in all the world, gold from the beginning of time could still be located from every empire. It could be accounted for and most important placed in a secure place to offer value against its weight. This thought pleased Marley immensely, for he knew the importance of his profession and he was quick to employ his skillset.

"Customers are always welcome," Marley creaked, welcoming the men into his office with an open hand and warm smile that fell to a wry half grin.

"Forgive the interruption, sirs," a young man with jewel blue eyes and bushy sideburns said as he brushed snowflakes off the older gentlemen.

"What a devil of a storm," the older man's voice boomed.

"Truly, it is," Marley promptly responded. "Allow me gentlemen to stoke the fire, if I may." Both Marley and Scrooge kept the temperature in their respective rooms at mild waves. Neither partner thought much of careless financing. Warmth was a frivolity with a limited resource that cost dubins. Of Scrooge it was said he had ice in his veins. And of Marley, it was rumored by clients new and old that he had mastered the ability to harness just enough warmth in his aged body that winter might not lay claim to his distant soul. For this reason he clung to his winter coat, the way a knight clings to armor. There the four men stood perfectly dressed for outdoors. Awkwardly dressed for indoors, to their guest who had reason for their long wool coats. On the subject of Marley's soul, a brave young lad lost a bet and accepted a dare. The youngster had put shoe to shin, in his words, "to test whether Marley had a soul or not." He fled when he heard a hollow sound.

Marley, "A Christmas  melody"Where stories live. Discover now