Jacob - A Denouement in One Act, Stave Final, Alternate Ending

12/31/2017 11:47 am ET Updated Jan 02, 2018

Dearest reader:

On this New Year’s eve, allow me to share an alternate ending to Jacob - A Denouement in One Act. Stave 1 can be read here; Stave 2 can be read here. The original Stave Final can be read here.

While this story remains for anyone who may ever have wondered, “What about poor, old Jacob Marley?”, this “other” ending is for anyone who, like me, recognizes the parallels between Dickens’ masterpiece and the Back to the Future trilogy, the Star Wars and Star Trek series, and all Sci-Fi fantasies where time travel and alternate universes are tapped, who cannot help but be tempted to illuminate some additional aspects of the rest of this story, because everything remains possible... A Christmas Carol is their ancestor.

As ardent free speech advocate - which is in singular danger these days, thanks to specifically targeted Prohibitionistic agendas - I want to exercise my right to let Art, in this case a personal literary project of mine, say something a tad deeper and different, to also serve as a Reflection of Life as I see it today.

Though the Arts, we can shake things up, ask difficult questions and point things out that need to be pointed out, all while leaving life and limb (literally and figuratively) intact for purposes of further communication and hoped-for evolution, be it personal or societal. Let’s f*&%@g talk about it.

Enjoy....

Stave Final

(Tim steps back from Jacob and walks to the door, which magically opens. An old man enters. It is Bob Cratchit. Tim takes his Father by the arm and guides him over to Jacob)

Father, may I present Jacob Marley. And Jacob, allow me to introduce you to my father, Bob Cratchit.

Bob:

Jacob Marley, sir, at last we meet!

(The men shake hands warmly in greeting)

Jacob:

Mr. Cratchit!

Partner and friend of my friend, I am honored to know you.

Bob:

And I you!

Jacob:

And you, friend of my friend, I know of you…

So well…

I have lived with you for a moment or two as a shadow against your walls, as uninvited guest, and for that invasion I beg your forgiveness.

Bob:

(Warmly)

Nay, forgiveness; there is to be none, for none is needed!

A welcome shade you were then, and welcome you are now. We great and grand men are droll creatures, rendering complex the simplest elements of our existence. I for one rejoice that you now too have the light of clarity to shine upon your books, Jacob Marley. The spirits hold aloft their torches so better we can see, but, sadly, only, long after the fact. May one fellow man have half a match to shine as bright while still in life….

But in light of our timelines interwoven, I bid you welcome to our midst. ’tis but a small contribution to this happy meeting. Christmas is in the spirit of this moment, Mr. Marley; and so in the name of all ghosts, I say ‘bless you’ and ask to call you, sir, ‘Friend.’

Jacob:

(The two men shake hands again)

Bless you, sir. Friend it is!

(They embrace)

Aye, ’tis a strong potion in which I swim, comrades! A heady meade flows in my veins and I can feel it! A warmth as real as anything I have ever felt, whether as man or shadow thereof!

Bob:

Ha ha! Good cheer, dear man, is as infectious as the plague. It flows not like a river; it is a deluge! Verily we shall drink our fill with each peal of laughter. We will be drunk, I say, on the stories to be told. Hours and hours we will have, for tales that will require neither beginning nor end!

Jacob:

This, dear sir, is how every story should end….

Tim:

What’s to say they do not, good man? Jacob, our time is come, and you will take your leave with us. But before we set off from this dark space, there is another to whom you must be presented; someone appointed to serve as your mentor and guide…

There is much to learn, leagues to recapture for so much has transpired and your legacy is yet to be imparted upon your soul.

And there is no one else for to tell you all you will want to know than a friend…

An old friend, an old soul; like yourself….

(A light approaches from off stage and comes to a stop at the closed door. Its rays spill over the floorboards from underneath the door)

Bob:

(To Jacob)

Jacob, you as I know this man well….

Jacob:

(Realization sets in. Incredulous)

No! Can it be? My stars, my heavens! Is it…?

(Tim waves an arm in the direction of the door, which magically opens)

Tim:

Come, Jacob Marley; greet with me your friend.

(Tim walks over to the man who has just entered, an old man dressed in English garb of the mid 1800’s. it is Ebenezer Scrooge. Tim takes Scrooge’s elbow and guides him over to Jacob)

(To Ebenezer, wryly)

Uncle, address once more your bit of undigested beef….

(Tim and Ebenezer embrace, then Ebenezer turns to Jacob. The two behold each other in profound regard, joy visibly building between the two as recognition sets in)

Ebenezer:

Marley!

Jacob:

(Crying out with happiness)

How now! Scrooge!

(The two men embrace)

Ebenezer:

Jacob...Jacob Marley!

Jacob:

In the flesh!

(Looks down at himself and laughs)

Ha! ’tis your old friend, or what is left of him, Jacob Marley, however manifested, however undigested!

Ebenezer:

’tis nigh too much for this 18th century’s relic! How now, ‘however manifested,’ yourself!

Jacob:

Better named the blot…

Ebenezer:

…or bit of beef, old friend.

’twas but and equal mix of fear and pomposity that sprang from trembling lips!

Jacob:

Clever, even in terror, Scrooge!

Ebenezer:

Clever indeed! You reduced me as was deserved, and well so. In life you were my partner Jacob; in death you became my angel.

Jacob:

Scrooge – say nothing of such exaltation. The gift of your presence renders my salvation complete. I beg of you, speak no such titles! Call me ‘Friend’ and I am redeemed in full.

Ebenezer:

Then, Marley; friend! Take my hand in greeting!

Jacob:

I take it, Ebenzer, in gratitude!

(Ebenezer reaches out. Jacob takes his hand. They begin to laugh, incredulous. Scrooge leans back to peruse Jacob)

Ebenezer:

Look at you, you blotiest of all mustards, scourge of many a pristine lapel! A coxcomb in life you always were. Such costuming served you well in your younger years, though but a mere hint of the grandeur you conjured up for me in the space of one glorious, terrible Christmas night!

Jacob:

I carried on with the best of them, eh?

Ebenezer:

You were a spectacle of a spectre! A spectacularly inspired thing of terror!

The saints of the stage surely bow to you! Why, no ruthless banker but thespian you should have been, as you yourself would oft times lament when the wine flowed and your surly guard was at spirit-induced ease! Rather than coins of gold, there should have been shouts of praise to rain upon you when your day’s task was done!

There was always the ruff of a ruffle about you, no matter how dank and colorless the spaces in which you and I both crouched, counting our coin and inking our ledgers. Fortunes may have found purchase in your bloated wardrobe, but did no one any good, least of all you, less more so me as the lone member of your workaday audience.

Jacob:

(Remembering, wistfully)

Scraps of joy I took from the velvets and satins, for which I spent fiendishly. It was my one weakness, I confess. I feathered my tail fit for a peacock.

Ebenezer:

(Shaking his head, remembering)

Aye, strut about you did!

Jacob:

(Paraphrasing Shakespeare, from King Lear)

… many a true word, spoken in jest!

Ebenezer:

Jacob, what good were those hoarded stacks of gold? Pharaoh’s purses, where now I wander, are as dust-filled as were ever the pockets of ragged drifters! The coin of the living, my friend, evaporates like a last breath gasped. It cannot, no matter how hard Man has tried, be taken into the next realms. Thanks the spirits, my wealth found purpose before it was too late.

If riches are only rich if spent, then wise are the fortunate ones who do it well, who task their gold to make joy, create healing, serve loved ones and self, as well as fellow Man. Why walk the Earth a miserly pauper, only to be laid out, flat as a king?

Jacob:

Aye, lessons have been handed out, lessons have been taught. Perhaps this is the first of wisdom in an old, trussed up ass. A dandy of an ass was I!

Ebenezer:

Old tricks, Marley, old tricks; we did ourselves in as we played! You have without fail always called a spade a spade. And an ass you claim to represent? Then surely a most odoriferous one at that!

Jacob:

You were always the flatterer, Scrooge; if a trifle more colorful than warranted. Your salty wit has not diminished with these decades past!

Ebenezer:

You taught me well, old blot….

Jacob:

Teacher indeed! Would that a foppish and twisted adjective had been my only success. I taught you your ruination! And for that I shall beg your forgiveness for a thousand years!

Ebenezer:

Forgiveness, old blot? No more of that! You, Marley, saved me! If though in mutual isolation we wallowed as mortals, you were a begrudging friend nevertheless.

We are now, however, assigned to rewrite our sum totals in tandem, thanks to the missive my dear ward, Tim, has delivered. Let us look forward together, not backwards in woe-filled unison.

Jacob:

’tis a weighty volume awaiting transcription!

Ebenezer:

You, Marley, as scribe outdid yourself, and splendidly!

’twas nothing less than my redemption you carved into my crusted shell. And for that, I will not merely forgive you but thank you in jovial companionship to the end of all days. My family will be your kin, and my legacy of good will be, henceforward, of joint ownership.

Jacob:

Truly, ’tis I who will forever be grateful. I who will thank….

Ebenezer:

(Jovially, interrupting)

Then in mutual gratitude we are even!

(Ebenezer begins to lead Jacob to the wardrobe)

But I must confess, mangy peacock, for all your frippery of yore, to look upon you in this moment is to behold the ghost of a ghost! We must find you different coat, something better befitting the pan-dimensional journey of a ripe old pair of cheeses.

Jacob:

The Vanities were no more generous to me in the after as they were in the before, Eb.

Ebenezer:

With fair countenance, we may neither one of us have been blessed, but we had little need of looking glass idles, did we?

Jacob:

The figure once cut is now but a dull plow put to pasture. I am but an effluvium of rust, dirt and rot. And vanity? ’tis wizened beyond recognition, for on crumbs of humble pie alone I have fed.

Ebenezer:

And the plumage has been shed….

Jacob:

Indubitably!

(Resignedly, paraphrasing Shakespeare, from All’s Well That Ends Well)

… there was to be no kernel in this light nut;…

(Tapping his forehead as he shakes his head)

… the soul of this man was in his clothes.

Ebenezer:

Dear, vain Jacob. I’ll warrant, we deserved no less than each other; what a pair were we!

(Gesturing to Jacob’s garments)

But this molded, tattered thing you wear?

Jacob:

(Quoting Shakespeare, from Hamlet)

… aye! The apparel oft proclaims the man….

(Ebenezer helps Jacob remove his old coat)

No longer a corpse’s coat for you! It has served its master and should next be relegated to wiping the cobwebs as we leave them behind.

Jacob:

My friend, I will gladly sweep them away, if that is what is asked!

(Jacob follows Scrooge in the direction of the wardrobe, but is abruptly halted, held by his shackles and chain grown suddenly taught. Jacob cries out in pain and frustration)

Ebenezer:

First things first, Jacob. These shackles are no longer fashion of the day…

(Ebenezer reaches into his pocket and withdraws an invisiblt key, which he turns in the air in the direction of the shackles. Magically, each shackle comes undone. The length of chain is pulled off stage by unseen hands, slithering noisily up and into the trunk on the floor, until it has been swallowed in its depths. The trunk’s lid slams shut)

Jacob:

(Lifting arms and legs, one by one)

Why, I feel as light as a feather!

Ebenezer:

Ha! Indeed; light as a feather!

Jacob:

Lighter than a feather! I am a wisp of a snow cloud, a perch for a cherub!

(Dancing a few steps)

Oh Scrooge, ’tis a heavenly waltz that calls these brogues. What joyous dance in a freely taken step! I am as giddy as a schoolboy!

Ebenezer:

’tis the joyous dance of an independent step, carried out by the freest of wills.

Jacob:

Blessed freedom!

Ebenezer:

There is freedom in dance, and freedom when one can feel, even if standing perfectly still, the dance in one’s heart.

Jacob:

What a beauteous thing that is!

Bob:

… though never to be touched by the hand of man, ’tis one realization that can hold the hearts and minds of a million men aloft.

Tim:

How true, dear father. And closer to heaven are we, with each protestation and every hand offered. To hold Christmas, Jacob, in one’s heart is to freely keep the smallest sliver in one’s pocket…

Ebenezer:

… by which the promised gates are thrown wide in welcome. ’tis not on rich puddings or in festooned banquet halls we feast…

Bob:

The richest feast is a precious hour, shared with one well loved.

Jacob:

… and in the light of understanding in an old friend’s eyes!

Ebenzer:

…as for that headgear, Brother Yule, such might do to frighten an old codger as he takes his evening gruel, but not a wit more.

(Ebenezer gestures to the bandage tied around Jacob’s head as Jacob reaches up to untie the knot. Before his hands touch the fabric, the knot undoes itself and the bandage is whisked up and off Marley’s head and sails away, as if caught in a rippling wind. The men watch as the bandage flutters up and away. Jacob is astonished but instantly grasps the happy magic of the moment. The bandage disappears. Jacob shifts his jaw back and forth and around, as if adjusting it and loosening it up)

Ebenezer:

(Watching the cloth fly)

Now, who would have ever known a white and skittish head cloth to fly off like a bat, dotty as had it tumbled headfirst into Pan’s bath.…

Jacob:

(Waving farewell to the head cloth)

Cheerio, yon scrap! My creaking, leaking jaw is once more well bolted and oiled!

(Turning back to Ebenezer)

Oh, Scrooge, the stories I want to tell, the thoughts I long to speak….

Ebenezer:

To be sure, there is much to share. Your jaw will be enthusiastically employed and I give my word I will listen for millennia, for time is on our side.

Meantime, Jacob, let us seek out a crackling fire and two chairs in some friendlier place….

Jacob:

If heaven is what we make of it, then might there be found, perhaps, a cup of warm broth?

(He shifts his jaw as if trying it out, gesturing as if drinking)

I might rather enjoy taking a sip of something warm… something nice….

Bob:

Where we are bound, there are cups, nay, rivers of broth to thaw the creakiest sets of bones!

Tim:

Then as sailors we are off. Let us head for the saltiest shores of the soupiest seas for the benefit of our famished colleague! Cups of broth, cups of cheer….

We will swim in the bounty of which we dream….

Jacob:

This room…the floor, it gives way…the drapes, they grow thin like the mist….

Tim:

Yes, it dissipates before our very eyes….

This room’s tenure is over.

Ebenezer:

And its lone tenant shall at long last fly his coop.

Tim:

(He picks up the lantern he held upon arrival)

Come, gentlemen, onward ho, captain and first mates! Her majesty’s ship the Infinite Tureen sails straightaway, for the spark of the log in the hearth that bridges our horizons crackles in welcome, and we, my fellow travelers, have a new sailor to instate!

(The men laugh)

Bob:

Friends; we must heed our captain. All hands on deck!

Ebenezer:

Farewell, dark corners, with glad heart I lay claim to your resident!

Yes, Marley, let our hearth find new harbour….

Tim:

Hoist the sales, ye hearties!

Ebenezer:

(He pauses, having noticed something amiss)

A moment; Jacob; there is one more thing. When traveling the universe, a gentleman must be suitably garbed.

(Scrooge and Marley walk together to the wardrobe, whose doors magically open one last time. The costumes of the spirits of Christmas have now disappeared and in their place is a fantastical, lighted coat, a pair of shoes and hat. This reveal is a costuming high point; the coat can be as over the top, magical and comical as desired:

Imagine the jacket worthy of the court of Versailles, with kaleidoscopic buttons and glowing, neon trimmed lapels. Imagine its luminous satin lining, which lifts the long coattails in never-ending, otherworldly flourishes.

Imagine brocade shoes adorned with bells and buckles, and a top hat with a brightly contrasting hatband, embellished with a sparkling sprig of holly.

Upon the reveal, Jacob gasps, expressing giddy delight. Scrooge appears shocked, holding is head in his hands and shaking his head, as if overcome with the garishness of the ensemble, which is far beyond anything he expected to find)

Jacob:

Oh glory! What a beauteous sight!

Scrooge:

Mercy!

Bob:

Dear me!

Tim:

Uncle, I now see you were true to your source; the stories you told were not in the least over done!

Jacob:

A coat among coats!

(Gushing)

A prince among coats! Had every dream I have ever dreamt taken needle to thread in divine fabrication, then this would have been their manifestation!

Ebenezer:

My, but the powers of your imagination have but painfully outdone themselves!

Jacob:

Glorious… what a most heavenly robe!

Ebenezer:

(Laughing)

How better to outfit a prodigal, old fop?

Ebenezer and Bob help Jacob into his new coat. Jacob shucks his old boots and dons the new shoes. He preens and bows to his friends in a humorous, theatrical display, who laughingly approve. Jacob places the hat atop his head and tips it to each of his friends, who return the gesture in playful deference.)

Jacob:

(Striking a pose)

I am truly and wondrously arrived!

Ebenezer:

(Teasingly)

I should have guessed as much! Redemption of the soul may yet lack a crossing over into the salvation of good taste….

Jacob:

Shall I lay this coat down, Sir, despite its pristine state? I will toss it as a rug over a mud puddle for you, if that were to score a point or two….

Ebenezer:

Aye, this prized goose though newly feathered, is prepared to serve a dual role!

Jacob:

(Flapping his wings)

I am at your service!

Tim:

(Interrupting the fun with urgency)

Uncle Ebenezer, Jacob, come now, finish! When winter dawns, the spectral fire of the infant sun is there but a few, precious minutes. We must go now!

Bob:

Mr. Scrooge, Mr. Marley! The time is nigh; this room fades as we jest…

The lighted path is opened and we must cross the hearthstone before the portal is sealed again! Our stage will soon fail us and the plane of this existence will be wiped clean. We must be off!

Ebenezer:

Away then! Come, oh trussed one….

(Linking arms with Jacob. The two do a quick dance step together)

Look, Jacob! The suns are stars and the stars are suns and all points to one great light! Foolish men, wise men, whatever we were, whatever we may yet be, we are now the travellers and this, our winding sea.

Jacob:

(Stumbling)

Aye, what’s this? I cannot keep a straight line! I am woozy of a sudden!

Ebenezer:

’tis the good cheer, old blot. It has gone to your head! Broth you will have soon enough, but not without first having drunk deep of the chalice that by the Spirits is kept filled and in hand! Right yourself, man... keep new time….

(The men raise invisible glasses in a toast)

Bob:

Cheers to good cheer!

Jacob and Ebenezer:

Cheers to good cheer!

(Jacob stumbles again, just a little)

Jacob:

Then joyously befuddled I hope forever to be. A best band of brothers from this day forward, let us forever be!

Eb:

Cheers, dear brothers and blot! Let us now away!

(The men toss their imaginary glasses over their shoulders with aplomb)

Tim:

(Tim holds the lantern high over his head, which glows with renewed strength. It will now illuminate their path to a new place of light and mirth)

Away, mates! The Tides of Time beckon and so we cast off!

Bob:

Onward ho! Cheers one and all!

(Linking arms with Ebenezer who then links arms with Jacob)

Jacob & Ebenezer:

Away! And Cheers! Away!

Jacob:

(Incredulous)

… and to think; never to be alone again!

Ebenezer:

Ever again!

Jacob:

I say, God bless it!

Jacob, Tim, Ebenezer and Bob:

…God bless us all, everyone!

(The group turns to face the back wall, which either slides away or collapses to expose a dark void, where at the center shines a bright, flickering light. It is to represent to the eternal light, into which the men disappear)

(The men sing the first stanza of the traditional carol, “I Saw Three Ships”)

I saw three ships come sailing in,

On Christmas day, on Christmas day,

I saw three ships come sailing in,

On Christmas day in the morning.

(Their voices fade as they walk into the light. The glow of Tim’s lantern appears to merge with the dazzling light. After a moment of brilliance, the light is quickly extinguished as it sinks into the ground, as if it were a winter sun on a low arc at the horizon.

Off stage, the full cast sings the final stanza)

And all the souls on earth shall sing,

On Christmas day, on Christmas day,


And all the souls on earth shall sing,

On Christmas day in the morning.

At that moment, snow begins to fall. Soft, pink-tinged illumination suggests the sunrise. It is the first full day of winter; the longest night of the solstice has passed. A street scene appears.

Cast members appear onstage, whose faces and hands are cloaked in randomly assigned green or purple stocking knit fabric so as to eliminate any suggestion of race or gender identity. They are dressed in drab colored, contemporary wintery clothing. Every adult cast member is carrying a cell phone as they move about. Every gaze is fixed on its owner’s handheld device. No one speaks to or acknowledges anyone else’s presence. Two cast members walk as a couple. One cast member is carrying two large paper shopping bags, slung over one arm. One cast member has a child in tow, which follows the adult in silence. The child resists and stalls and is pulled along by the adult. One cast member is engaged in a confrontational exchange over the phone, but mouthes his/her argument in silence. One adult is taking selfies and making a display of posing, clicking and posting on his/her phone. One adult is lying on the ground, holding a paperbag, from which a bottle can be seen. This cast member appears to fall asleep, dropping the bottle on the ground. One adult squats in a corner, holding a cup in hand and a cardboard sign in the other. These two cast members do not hold cell phones. The cast member with the shopping bags crosses the stage and pauses, setting the shopping bags down. Another cast member appears, dashes across the stage, grabs the shopping bags and exits at the opposite side. The “shopper,” engrossed on his/her phone, does not notice the theft and soon continues on his/her way. Next, an adult cast member steps onstage. He/she is not carrying a cell phone and looking up and all around, in great interest and repeatedly. This cast member is carrying a backpack. He/she pauses towards stage right, sets the backpack on the ground, and walks offstage.

[Reader: to this nutshell universe, add your own vignette....]

As this modern day street scene commences, Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley will have walked down an aisle and come to a standstill in front of the stage. They watch with the audience. As the cast member sets his/her backpack on the ground and begins to slowly exit the scene, the two men address each other)

Ebenezer:

Well, old Blot, what say you? If we do this, we will need to step it up a bit….amp it up, as they are saying it these days….

Jacob:

Oh, Eb, I do not know. Where to begin? Where do we even start...?

(As the stage empties, Jacob and Ebenezer exit to one side, shaking their heads. The stage goes dark. A spotlight, zeroed in on the backpack, soon goes dark as well.)

The End.

Photo, text & story by Kimann Schultz, copyright 2017, all rights reserved

Published by Dakeha Taunus LLC 2017

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