[This is Chapter 2 of our 3-part "A Playoff Carol". Chapter 1 can be found here.]
Exactly one hour later, they are roused once more by a loud noise in the front yard. They are two seriously grumpy Ookies when they open the door and find themselves face-to-face with a gap-toothed Zach Parise, sporting slightly glazed eyes and profuse quantities of blood gushing from the empty parts of his mouth where his teeth used to be.
IPB: [Dryly.] Let me guess. You’re the Ghost of Playoffs Present.
GoPPr: How’d you know?
IPB: [Shrugging coolly.] Call it a hunch.
GoPPr: [Lisping so badly he whistles on his "S"s.] Sorry about all the blood. I think I got hit in the mouth by your garden gate there.
IPB: Right. Look, it’s really late, and kind of cold out. We’d like to get some sleep tonight, so whatever it is you want to show us, could you make it quick?
GoPPr: Fine, fine. I can do that…
He snaps his fingers, and the group is suddenly transported to the Prudential Center, where they are standing amidst thousands of Rangers fans in full, arrogant roar during the final moments of the first-round elimination game from this current playoff year.
IPB: [Horrified.] What the fuck are you doing??? Look, we’ve read “A Christmas Carol”, so we totally know what’s going on here. Okay, actually, to be honest, we haven’t read it. But we’ve seen lots of stage versions of it! And the Disney movie. And the Muppet movie. We totally get this, and you’re supposed to be showing us things right now that melt our cold hearts to learn to love the playoffs. Jubilant Rangers fans celebrating the Devils loss really isn’t doing it for us.
GoPPr: [His eyes grow even wider and more dewy with tears.] Am I not doing this well enough? Really? I thought I was good enough, but I guess I’m not… [His lower lip starts to tremble.] It’s okay. I can work harder. I can do it better… Just give me a chance…
The Ghost tries to snap his fingers but fumbles it a few times, growing more and more uptight and visibly distressed with each effort, but finally he succeeds, and the snap sends him and the Ookies to a new setting. They look around and realize it is the Penguins dressing room in the moments following their series-clinching victory against the Flyers.
GoPPr: [Regaining his composure.] Here’s some jolliness you might have missed, since you didn’t watch the end of that game.
IPB: [Bristling.] Look, Parise. We tried to like these playoffs. We put on the goggles, we chugged the wine, and when we woke up we were smeared with orange face paint and had no idea where we were or how we got there.
GoPPr: I don’t want to hear it. You’re supposed to be watching this scene now and feeling your black, black hearts melting. [Snidely.] You said you know the way this story goes.
IPB: Fine. We’ll watch.
The three wait while the Pens trickle into the dressing room, in full, Conference Final-winning celebration. Ryan Malone quickly tears off his uniform and swaggers around the room telling everyone who has the misfortune of not getting away from him that his tattoos are, like, totally hot. Petr Sykora keeps begging anyone who has the misfortune of not getting away from him to braid his hair, and when rebuffed, whimpers, “Larry always used to.” Marion Hossa sits off to the side, lighting cigars with $100 bills.
IPB: This isn’t winning us over.
GoPPr: Um, yeah. This is… not cool.
He snaps, and Sid Crosby suddenly appears, his creepy pedophile mustache even more terrifying up close.
IPB: *Screech of horror*
GoPPr: Oh come on! I thought you loved him! Everyone loves him! My father tells me every day how much better he is than me!
IPB: Look, Zach, no offense, but this just isn’t flipping our switch, you know? In “A Christmas Carol” there’s a cute little gimpy kid. Maybe we need to find one of those?
GoPPr: Maybe Sid’s ankle still hurts?
IPB: *Stony silence*
The Ghost Looks sheepish, and snaps his fingers. Suddenly Sid is limping dramatically, and squeaking, “God bless us, every one!”
IPB: That’s it. This sucks.
There is another phantom, metallic *CLANK!* and the Ookies are, for the third time that night, left alone in their front yard, still in the pitch darkness of late, late night. They wordlessly agree there’s no point going back to bed, and spend an hour playing Katamari until the Ghost of Playoffs Future shows up.
To Be Continued…