And with a strong gust of wind, that made Gaknar shield his eyes momentarily, the Ghost of Falcons05 was gone. Never to be seen in this world again. There were times when Gaknar thought he could hear him, down at the far end of the corridor, reading Tigerboard and sobbing, but he could never be sure.

With that bizarre encounter over, Gaknar climbed into his bed and drew the bed curtains tightly shut around him. The whole thing did unsettle him, but only for a moment. It wasn’t long before this very logical man had arrived at the inventible conclusion that he had experienced some sort of mild delusion. Perhaps it was an undigested bit of beef from the Tennessee tailgate? Many stomachs were unsettled upon that day. There was even a failed coup d'état involving an attempted tackle of some sort. Is it so surprising that those effects might linger? This explanation was enough to drive away that fanciful nonsense (and whatever lesson might have come from it), and soon Gaknar was fast asleep and dreaming of a Bring on the Cats hostile takeover. But then he was awakened by the tolling of the clock in the center of town. His eyes snapped to attention.

Gak: Quarter past.. Half past.. Quarter to it. The hour itself! 1:00! And…nothing’s happened. Should have known. Mizzou is cursed.

Just as Gaknar was about to roll over and go back to sleep, a piercing light filled the room—even coming in through the seams of his bed curtains, as if a new star had been birthed right inside his bedroom chambers. There was no denying it any longer; his first visitor had come.

Gak: Are you the spirit whose coming was foretold to me?

Past: I am.

Gak: Who and what are you?

Past: I am the Ghost of Christmas Past, but you may call me Hermus. I have left my maps and the warmth of Tallahassee in hopes of teaching you this lesson.

Gak: Well, I didn’t ask you. I certainly didn’t invite you into my bedroom to wake me up at 1:00 AM with your bloody high beams. Turn them off or get out!

Past: That’s not how this works, Ebenezer. Because of your alliance with Falcons05, you have failed to seek the friendships of men of good will. I am here for your wellbeing and reclamation! You can still be saved, but we must go back to the beginning. And you don’t give me orders; you do what I say. Harken to me! I can force you to spend your days proofing every drewder from the dawn of Rock M to this day, and yet withhold from you the power to edit even one. Every instance of their/there confusion will be likened to a separate needle piercing your brain. This will be your fate without end, unless you comply fully and with a willing heart!

Gak: I had no intention of offending you, Sir. Please proceed.

Taking the spirit’s hand, the two levitated off the ground and the whole city melted from view. The hands of time spun backwards and an entire lifetime was lived in reverse—in the span of a few moments. Finally, they came to a stop in an old schoolhouse, somewhere in St. Louis. Gaknar is very much a Kansas City man, but bear with me on this one.

Gak: My goodness, Spirit! It’s my old high school!

Past: Yes! A solitary boy, still sits in Study Hall, while all his friends have gone home for the Christmas holidays. This is where your bitterness began, I believe?

Gak: Yes. My father, he sent me away from Kansas City, and to the wrong high school in St. Louis. Honestly, Spirit, I’ve no idea why he did that. [Sheds a single tear] But life is hard! One must steel oneself against it, or be drug under and crushed along with the weak and the infirm!

Past: It’s true. All your long life, you have been made to bear the shame of attending the wrong high school in St. Louis—as if you were to blame. It has haunted your every step. And now, as an old man, you hold all of humanity in contempt.

Gak: Well, humanity is contemptible, Spirit! Have you visited Red Cup Rebellion on your many travels? I think not! Else you would not be here trifling with the likes of me. They call it satire, and they have a disclaimer, but it’s awful! There’s nothing new there, nothing clever. Just a violent eruption of vulgarity the volume of which rivals the lava that conquered Pompeii. In fact many from Rock M remain frozen to this day, immortalized forever as little prude statues. Personally, I doubt blackfin will ever thaw, if he was ever not frozen to begin with. That is a small matter, but the point stands, Sir.

Past: Case in point, Mr. Gaknar. That they are worthless, do not blame the SEC. Would you so soon blame Iowa State for the transgressions of Kansas? They are much like your Bob Threadkiller.

Gak: Who? My clerk? You mean because both are worthless and instantly replaceable?

Past: No. Because both have kind hearts and do much with little! But we’ll come to that in another tale. Let us now turn another page!

Both figures now move forward in time to where Ebenezer Gaknar was apprenticed. He is both young and full of vigor, to his own surprise.

Gak: Really, Spirit? We’re at old Switzy’s library? Why?

Past: See for yourself, Ebenezer Gaknar.

Gak: Good heavens! It’s old Switzy, alive again! Oh, was there ever a kinder man!

Switzy: Okay, the library is closed for Christmas Eve. [Flickers lights] Everybody out! I want to go home! You, Tolstoy, beat it! [takes away book] My name is Marty, and it’s time to party!

After all of the patrons had been kindly shown the door, the whole library started rocking in earnest! Out came the karaoke machine, and Switzy broke into a remarkable version of Lonesome Loser by LRB. Wine and ale flowed in rivers. Index cards were thrown from the rafters and a burning smell emanated from the circulation desk. During the guitar solo, even the advanced Garknar could be seen playing the air guitar and making a metal face.

Past: Why do you celebrate? Christmas is just as meaningless to you now as it ever was, and Mr. Switzy didn’t even spend his own money. In fact, this might be construed by some to be a questionable use of public resources.

Gak: Spirit, if you can sit still through the Little River Band, then you’ve been dead for entirely too long! Swtizy had the power to make our work pleasant or unpleasant, to make our burdens heavy or light. It wasn’t the money or the free wifi. The joy he gave to all his employees was as valuable as if it had…cost a fortune.

Past: What’s the matter?

Gak: Nothing. I just thought about my own clerk for a moment, that’s all. I believe I heard once that he likes The Who. I suppose we could’ve hummed a few bars of "Baba O’Riely" together before I sent him off walking through the storm. Oh, well. Ahh.. But I did love old Switzy!

Past: Did you? Then why did you buy his library the moment you were able and destroy it? Now there sits a Panda Express and a Taco John’s where once free learning took place. Your old boss, his heart broken by you exclusively, did not live to see another Christmas Eve. What about all of that, Ebenezer Gaknar?

Gak: Haunt me no longer!

Gaknar grabbed a nearby recycle bin and placed it over the head of the Ghost of Christmas Past. All of his glorious light was extinguished inside of it, and Gaknar was instantly back at home and sitting atop his bed. His bedroom chambers were dark, just as before. And yet, and eerie light could be seen underneath the doorway to the parlor.

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