Deadman Was Dead
So why in Christ's ass he chose to shove his face through my door-knocker - the brand new door-knocker I'd just purchased for $49.99 plus tax, in order to spruce up my home in time for the inevitable wake that would follow my plunge into the icy depths below the Keystone Bridge - I will never know. It's not like he was ever particularly good-looking anyway, so why he thought his hideous features would improve the look of my property is beyond me.
Anyway, once I saw his horrific fizzog tarnishing the valuable metal of my door with ectoplasm, I knew I was probably in for some sort of lecture, so I got a quick meths in while I could. Sure enough, the deceased bastard burst through the wall in a self-consciously 'spooky' manner and proceeded to ramble on for several hours about the true meaning of Christmas and how if I failed to listen to his interminable warnings then an eternity of lugging around some heavy chains would be mine.
"Bah! Humbug!" I snorted, taking another swig of meths. "This is quite obviously a plot by a cosmic space supervillain to ruin my elegant suicide with Christmas-based foolery. There's more of Grayven than of grave about you, whatever you are!" But no matter how I tried to duck out of it, it seemed as though I was doomed to spend my Christmas Eve being moaned at by a ghostly trapeze artist and a trio of other assorted dead freaks. There was nothing for it but to finish my bottle of meths and steel myself for the worst.
Sure enough, the worst came strutting through the door in a red and pink suit. Oh Christ, I thought, it's the Red Bee.
"Ha ha! I'm the Ghost Of Christmas Past - the Red Bee! How kitschy is that? Heee-yuck! Look, I wore pink stripy tights! I fought crime with the aid of a pet bee named Michael! Ho ho! Go on, look at me! Aren't I fabulously post-ironic and filled with retro goodness? Don't you find me oh so amusing and hip, Ralph? Don't you? Don't you? Don't you??" But answer came there none as the mere sight of the Red Bee had already bored me to sleep.
"Wake up, Ralph! Am I not both hilariously rubbish and also indicative of a gentler and more innocent age of superherodom?" he mewled, waving one of his stripey legs at me and then cavorting about the room like some kind of bee-based Timothy Claypole.
"No, Red Bee." At those harsh words the spectre collapsed into a mass of ectoplasmic tears (which spattered all over the carpet - a further $29.99 dry-cleaning costs added to Deadman's bill) and flung himself into a corner.
"All I wanted was a scrap of legitimacy!" sobbed the spirit. "I thought that my post-death status as an ironic, cult joke superhero would make me popular - but now everyone's sick of hearing my name! And I've somehow managed to inspire some descendant to start using robot bees to fight crime as some sort of post-post-post-ironic commentary on my failed life! When will it ever end?" My heart was softened slightly by the ghost's anguish until I remembered that he was a whining little bitch.
"Bah! Humbug!" I shouted, tossing the plastic bottle that had once contained deliciously purple fluid at his ghostly face. But he had already left, the snivelling bee-based tool not even having the gumption to show me a heartbreaking tableaux of how the lonely child Ralph Dibny had first learned to spurn Christmas. As I remembered, I had begged for my parents to make me a gigantic cardboard sign to wear on my back, so that everyone would know that I was the World Famous Ralph Dibny. But instead 'Santa' had brought me a shiny red bicycle! How dare he! I immediately called a press conference to burn that bicycle on the front lawn, although my accursed mother stole the limelight by bursting into tears in front of the cameras. Clever work, Mother, but who's hogging the spotlight now? I'm the World's Greatest Detective and you're rotting in a pine box! Advantage Ralph!
Anyway, the next of the three Christmas spirits was due, presumably the Ghost Of Christmas Present, and I was drumming my fingers waiting for the whole charade to be over with. But I was shocked to find not one spook but two barging through my door - and even more shocked to see that they were those young turks Firestorm and the Atom, translucent and laden with ghostly chains!
"Are you two the Ghosts Of Christmas Present?" I asked in wonderment. Ryan Choi shook his head mournfully.
"No, that was supposed to be the Question, but he's dragging his own death out a bit. The drama queen."
"What?? Poor Tiny Charlie, at death's door?" The words I had spoken earlier to my idle nephew - "I hope that bastard the Question dies of cancer or something" - came back to haunt me. I blushed to my roots. Of course I had meant that I hoped he died of cancer or something after he paid the $10 he owed me, but it was too late now for taking back hasty words.
"Yes!" shouted the ghostly, fiery face of Jason Rusch. "Although it is a rare form of cancer which could be cured by the application of a truly enormous turkey, if only someone was filled enough with the Spirit Of Christmas to buy such a bird!" He looked at me balefully. For some reason.
"We are the Ghosts Of Christmas Future!" moaned Choi, rattling his chains.
"But neither of you are dead!"
"In the future, we will be!" sobbed the Atom. "We will be mercilessly killed within the next five years and replaced with the white Atom and the white Firestorm." Too emotionally overwrought to continue, he collapsed into an armchair, wiping his tears with a copy of The Oxford Book Of Scientific Quotations.
"Our one comfort is that at least we're both men. So we won't be sexually assaulted first." murmured Firestorm, blowing his nose on a billowing sleeve.
"But the worst of all fates is reserved for you, Ralph Dibny! Heed well!" The Atom's ghostly fingers waggled in the air, conjuring up misty visions of the near future...
I squinted. There was a figure in the mist. He wore a purple costume, as I once had, and a leather jacket with a giant E on it, along with an earring and a goatee beard. Somehow I knew - though I knew not how - that he was a huge fan of now, happening musicians like Eminem and possibly Limp Bizkit. As I watched the tattooed young person flip his skateboard into Desaad's wrinkly face - the face emblematic of 'The Man' that this cool new hero existed only to flip the bird to - a youthful voice came to my ears:
"Like, grody, dude! This Big Kahuna, Darkseid, is most totally heinous - or my name isn't The Elongated Beeeyotch! Westsiiide!"
"Yes, Ralph Dibny!" howled Firestorm, his head flaring up like the fires of hell. "You have been shot through the head and replaced with an extreme skateboarder as the controversial prelude to a galaxy-spanning cosmic event that will redefine our whole universe for the Noughties! And all because you thought Christmas was rubbish."
"Oh, Spirits!" I wept, "Tell me I may sponge the self-consciously hip graffiti from this wall!" But I was once more alone in the room. I was shocked to see the time - why, it was Sunday afternoon! The Spirits had done all their work in one week! Causing me to miss Christmas entirely. Nice work, Deadman, you bleached tit. You'll be hearing from my lawyer.
But just because I have no Christmas Spirit hardly means I won't be observing New Year's! In fact Steve Lombard has graciously allowed me to choose the tunes for his New Year's Funbag Dance Party Show at the stroke of midnight on GBS! I'm confident that my mix of "It's Raining Men" by the Weathergirls, "Free Falling" by Tom Petty and "Down To Earth" by Curiosity Killed The Cat will fit this New Year perfectly, and the Superhuman Skysoaring Neverplummet Dance Troupe performing above the GBS building will make quite an impact on those watching below!
See you there, everybody, and Happy New Year from Ralph Dibny!