Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saving Mr. Potter

Shakespeare taught us that stories need five acts to be told good and proper. Since It's a Wonderful Life chopped off the last two, I faithfully provide them here, as best I could. It's long. Sorry about that.

Saving Mr. Potter
A Christmas reconstruction by C. G. Wagner

Sparkling merrily atop the Baileys’ Christmas tree, a tiny, tinkling bell winks at George and his beloved baby girl, Zuzu, perched pertly on daddy’s shoulder.

“Atta boy, Clarence!” George says, barely containing his joy and gratitude. He winks back at the bell, a symbol of his dear friend’s transition to full angelhood. “Atta boy!”




The winking, tinkling bell transforms itself into a tiny new star, awakening somewhere in the Milky Way. The mist clears away, and we see Clarence struggling to pull a fresh garment on over his new wings. Supervising Angel Joseph helps him, tugging down on the sides of the beautiful white garment with a cunning, asymmetrical neckline.

“I could do without the ruching, I think,” Clarence says. Joseph nods, thinking to himself that the new robe design competition was probably ill-conceived. “I hate to complain, but aren’t these things a bit small?”

“Oh, you mean your training wings? Don’t worry about that, dear Clarence,” Joseph says with a reassuring smile.

“Training wings? But I thought …”

“Wait now, here comes Mr. Jordan. He’ll explain everything.”

“Mr. Jordan? Oh-oh. Oh my, what have I done?”

A handsome, dapper gentleman with giant wings and twinkling eyes approaches them. Clarence nervously stands at attention. As he throws his shoulders back, one of his pathetic little wings falls and buries itself in the cloud at his feet. Joseph retrieves and reattaches it.

Clarence doesn’t know whether to salute or bow or slip into first position. Finally, he simply presses his palms together in front of him.

“Namaste, Mr. Jordan.”

“Now, now, now, none of that, my dear Clarence. Tush, tush, don’t be frightened!”

Mr. Jordan’s gentle tone eases Clarence’s concern, but only for a moment.

“You did splendidly with the Bailey case, dear one, but, well, to be perfectly frank …”

“I blew it? Oh my, my, oh my.” Clarence looks despairingly again at the tiny, fragile “training wings” poking through his gown at the shoulders. “I failed, didn’t I?”

“Well, let us not say ‘failed’ so much as ‘abandoned the mission prematurely.’ You simply misunderstood your task. Perhaps I should have made myself more clear.”

Joseph shuffles his feet and whispers confidentially to Mr. Jordan, “We did warn you he has the IQ of a rabbit.”

“Now, please do not speak disparagingly of one of His favorite creatures. Why, rabbits are one of our most vibrant evolutionary devices! And they’re soft, and warm, and gentle little balls of fur — like kitties.” Mr. Jordan allows himself to reflect on kitties, humming lightly. He presently awakens from his reverie and gazes sweetly at Clarence.

“My dear Clarence. Saving George Bailey was, shall we say, an easy trick. Here was a man who was virtuous and generous, patient and responsible. Beloved by family, adored by many, many friends. He is momentarily distressed by some minor misfortune and fleetingly contemplates suicide.”

“Yes, yes, I was right there, I stopped him.” Clarence, though eager to defend his record, reprimands himself for interrupting Mr. Jordan.

“Very clever work,” Mr. Jordan concedes. “Yes, quite resourceful. Not just the part about getting George Bailey to save you, as — well, we all knew he would. But also that business of showing him what life would have been like for his loved ones, should he not have been a part of their lives. Quite clever, quite clever.”

Clarence strongly senses a forthcoming “but” at the end of Mr. Jordan’s speech. He is not mistaken.

“But you don’t think for one moment you were really sent to save George Bailey, now, do you?”

As any good instructor will do, Mr. Jordan waits patiently for Clarence to understand. And waits, and waits, and waits.

“You left a soul behind,” Mr. Jordan prompts. “We don’t do that here. There’s enough of a competition for talent.” Joseph nods in agreement, throwing a disheartened look downward at the flames of that Other Place, barely visible through the misty clouds upon which the three angels converse.

Clarence ponders. “You mean Violet, the town naughty-lady?” Joseph shakes his head. “No? Um. How about Annie, the housekeeper saving up for a divorce in case she ever gets a husband?” Mr. Jordan begins to doubt Clarence’s prospects, angel-wise.

Clarence furrows his fuzzy brow and thinks just as hard as he possibly can. The effort begins to yield results. He reaches back to adjust his tiny angel wings, which he senses have just grown an extra inch or two. The epiphany erupts.

“Mr. Potter!” he exclaims with the joy of a schoolboy receiving an unexpected A in arithmetic. “I thought surely the Other Place had prior claim to him. After all, he did steal Christmas, that mean old Grinch.”

“We never surrender a soul when there is still an opportunity for redemption,” Mr. Jordan says sternly. “And everyone has opportunity for redemption, if they desire it. Even Henry F. Potter.”

Angel Joseph, anticipating the next move, begs, “Oh, can I do it, can I do it?”

“You’ll shoot your eye out.” A thunderbolt cracks as Mr. Jordan sweeps his giant wings across our entire view, knocking Joseph right on his keister and dumping Clarence back down to Earth with a thud.

“Sorry about that,” Mr. Jordan calls down.

“Fore!” Joseph calls down. Mr. Jordan glares at him. “Oh he’ll be fine. I’m sure.”

Mr. Jordan smiles tenderly. “Of course he will be. But keep an eye out, please, just in case. Thank you, dear Joseph.” He shimmers into the mist, humming and dreaming about soft kitties.


The old side street on the wrong side of town is filled with cars and bikes and wagons parked every which way. Bert the cop directs traffic, as neighbors flock to help save the Baileys and celebrate Christmas Eve. Ernie the cab driver drops off more passengers, who dash toward the house, which is brightly lit and filled with music and laughter.

Down the street a ways, lurking beyond the glow of that bright house and the street lamps, is a long, black limo. It is Potter’s limo. As Clarence approaches the vehicle, he can see the pale, sullen, sallow face of Mr. Potter, sitting in the back seat. Potter’s nose is pressed against the window as he gazes longingly at the Bailey house. Only Clarence, and Clarence alone, can see a single salty tear carving a slimy trail down Potter’s wretched cheek, a face contorted by years of bitter resentment.

Through the cheerful cacophony, Potter hears Harry Bailey’s toast to his brother, George: “the richest man in town!”

“Bah!” barks Potter. His driver knows this to be a command, and he obeys it. The limo pulls away, ignoring Bert’s instruction to halt to allow Ma Bailey to cross the street. Clarence, though invisible to her, blocks Ma’s way. She smiles and waves shyly at Potter, who pretends not to see her.

Clarence lifts his eyes up triumphantly toward his supervisor upstairs. “There’s another one, Joseph!”

A thunderbolt claps, and Clarence finds himself hurled into


“Ow, easy on the transporter, Scottie!” Clarence pulls himself up off his knees and fluffs out his wings, which are now another quarter of an inch longer. We’re making progress!

Mr. Potter is slouched in his wheelchair, his shoulders covered by a threadbare Army surplus blanket. He has his account books open and is sipping his evening cocoa, letting the marshmallows melt into puddles of disappearing dreams. The abrupt appearance of an angel in his office on Christmas Eve does not seem to startle him in the least.

“I’ve been expecting you,” he snarls at Clarence. “You’re late!”

“Really, you know who I am?” Clarence is slow to realize that Potter has mistaken him for someone else. “Well, the truth is, I didn’t know we had an, um, appointment.”

“Where are the handcuffs?” Potter demands. “And who turned me in, anyway? Was it that no-good rent collector of mine? That bodyguard? My driver? No one can be trusted.”

“What a remarkable thing to say, for a thief,” Clarence chides. He looks upward. “Doesn’t matter. We all know what you did.”

Potter looks up, as well. The spider in the corner on the ceiling waves her spindly arm back at him in friendly greeting.


Potter finally notices the wings peeping out on Clarence’s back. Joseph had been thoughtful enough to provide Clarence with appropriate dress for his return to Earth this time, but these inexorably growing wings betray his unearthly origins.

“Oh, I see,” says Potter, leaning back in his wheelchair. “So, which ghost are you. Past, present, or future? Let’s get it over with. I haven’t got all night.”

“Ghosts??” Clarence tries hard not to show his indignation. “Surely you don’t believe in ghosts, do you? What a Dick- ensian notion.”

“And what, where are the others? I only get one? What kind of cheap redemption is this? Hogwash.”

“Well, unfortunately, management tells me we have a bit of a talent shortage at the moment. We’ll just have to do our best,” Clarence confesses cheerfully. “How do you do, Mr. Potter. Clarence, at your service.”

Potter belches, hoping to dislodge the wretched dream no doubt caused by those infernal marshmallows.

“Bless you,” Clarence says absently, lost in thought. “Though I must say, you do give me a good idea. That past, present, and future stuff. Let me see.” Clarence ponders, putting his back into the task. “Time travel. Excellent idea. As you wish!”

“I wish to be left alone!”

Clarence studies his client’s face, so vile and uglied by years of habitual meanness. He looks about the dingy, stuffy office, cluttered with cash boxes, accounting books, all species of legal documents, the treasures of an unloved life. Not one single family photograph, child’s finger-painting, or even a bust of some cultural icon, no Beethoven or Shakespeare or Disney to inspire greatness of mind or spirit within these sagging, life-choking walls.

“You have been left alone. That’s your problem.” Clarence stretches out his training wings, ready to fire up the transporter.

Potter has no time to debate whether he even has a problem (other than an impending felony charge). He is, after all, the richest man in town — despite what that upstart, show-off war hero Harry Bailey says.

Clarence tenderly touches Potter’s shoulder, waves his wings, and crash! We find ourselves …


Forty years in the past. Clarence and Mr. Potter have tumbled onto a bright, summery country road. Clarence picks himself up and helps Potter back into the wheelchair.

“Oh, dear, dearie me, oh, I couldn’t be more apologetic. Are you all right?”

“Of course not,” Potter growls angrily. “I’m a cripple.” Potter closes his eyes, as the brightness of the vision before him is blinding. He catches his breath and slowly opens his eyes. Clarence squints as well, an empathetic gesture.

“You know where we are, don’t you,” Clarence ventures, feebly concealing his own cluelessness.

“Ma- Ma- Matilda!” Potter cannot contain his excitement. “Yes! Yes! This is her house, her farm! Oh look, it was always badly in need of a good paint job.”

Before Clarence can figure out what’s happening, Potter wildly pushes himself down the road to get a closer look at the farmhouse of this mysterious “Matilda” from his past.

“Careful, Mr. Potter! No wheelies! Please! No wheelies!” Clarence chases after him, stumbling only two or three more times.


Alas, Potter comes to a sudden stop at the end of the stone walk leading from the road to the front door. It is as though a supernatural force has applied the brakes, preventing him from approaching any closer. He is not to be a participant in the scene about to unfold; he must merely observe, disempowered to act.

Clarence understands this implicitly as he catches up. He gently lays his hand on Potter’s shoulder. The gesture makes Potter cringe, yet he does not complain. He is too happy. Man and angel alike take in a deep lungful of the rejuvenating country air.

“Oh, I like the cat smell,” says Clarence.

“Ginger cookies,” Potter corrects him. “Oh yes, she did keep cats, I recall.”

They watch a young, raven-haired girl, with sturdy build and delicate features, lumber through the door, lugging a heavy basket of laundry around the side of the house and out toward the backyard.

“I don’t remember a Matilda in this story. Tell me about her,” Clarence gently urges.

“She was … poor.” In Potter’s mind, that is quite explanation enough; in his heart, however, he knows it is wrong. On every level. “Move me, move me! Around to the back. I can’t see what she’s doing.”

A light angel-wing sweep transports the onlookers to the backyard, where a young business man in an ill-fitting suit, holding a large clipboard and with a second-hand leather case at his feet, has interrupted the young woman in her chores.

The onlookers cannot hear the conversation, but Potter knows the dialogue well:

“We ain’t got the money for the mortgage on the farm,” he reports the girl saying. “Sob, sob. Sob-sob-sob.”

Potter drops his chin to his chest, ashamed of his own cynical rendering of the scenario. “I would have done anything for her, really.”

“What did you do? Foreclose?”

“No. Propose. But no girl with her spirit would sell herself into marriage. Not to me, at any rate.”

“Well, she might have at least considered it. Look at you,” Clarence gestures toward the bright young man in the bad suit. “You weren’t so bad then.”

They watch the bright young man reach toward the girl with clumsy, poorly timed passion, but stop himself as she turns away. In truth, she seems not so much repulsed as startled, but the young man cannot see what his observers see.

“I tried to make it up to her. Here,” Potter grabs the end of Clarence’s right wing and tries to swing it himself.

“Ow! Quit it!” Clarence smacks his hand away and smoothes the delicate wing out. “That hurt. Must be growing pains.” Clarence proudly makes a sweep with the tiny but still-growing wing, and it is now …


The bright young Henry Potter stands on a rickety ladder, paintbrush in hand, applying strokes of pale blue paint to the side of the farmhouse, with caring precision. Matilda comes to the window, admiring the progress he is making.

“Oh, that’s fine, Henry. I am ever so grateful.”

Suddenly, another young man is heard calling out. “Mattie! Mattie, it’s me, Peter! Where are you, girl?”

“Peter Bailey!” Potter growls. “That man was a thorn in my paw for over thirty years.”

Peter bounds around the corner of the house. Seeing his rival attempting to buy Mattie’s affections with a little handiwork, Peter goes into a mad, jealous rage. He shakes the ladder with blind ferocity, throwing young Henry to the ground, crippling the man, and thus condemning him to a life of lonely misery.

A thunderbolt claps.

“You liar!” Clarence scolds. “Tell it right. This won’t work, otherwise.”

Potter sighs deeply. Young Henry is back on the ladder. He paints, but his heart is heavy. There is no Peter Bailey, and there is no Matilda. While he paints, they have gone off to a picnic. Henry’s gesture of sincere chivalry is unnoticed, unappreciated, and futile, and he knows it.

Suddenly, a cat bounds up the ladder to comfort Henry in his misery; the young man is startled and loses his balance. He falls to the ground, crippled, and condemned to a life of lonely misery.

“So, it had nothing to do with Peter Bailey. Your fall, I mean.” Clarence now feels even sorrier for Potter than when he first saw him, his ugly old nose pressed against the car window as he gazed on the happy home of the son of Bailey. Matilda’s son.

“Can we just move on? Aren’t you Ghost of Christmas Present, too, Cavendish?” Potter grumbles wearily.

“It’s Clarence!” This Potter guy is beginning to get on his nerves.





Potter slouches in his wheelchair. He cannot conceal his sadness from Clarence, who stands before him, glaring disapprovingly.

“You liar!” Clarence scolds. “Did any part of that yarn weave any fragment of truth?”

Potter weakly raises his hand, his thumb and forefinger pinched narrowly together. “A fragment,” Potter concedes.

“I’m waiting.”

“I did fall from the ladder. My Matilda and that Peter Bailey, they were away on a picnic. Yes, indeed, they were all away from the house, the whole family. And when I fell … er … there was no one there to find me for hours and hours. Only that infernal kitty cat kept me company while I was writhing in pain. That soft little …”

“But you weren’t painting Matilda’s house, were you.” Clarence feels his wings shrinking back to training size. He senses that Potter is infecting him with the worst of human qualities: cynicism. “Why, you dirty old man, you’re a peeping tom cat!”



“Never mind.” Potter waves his hand dismissively. “No, that’s not what I was doing. The idea.” Potter’s head sinks lower and lower onto his chest. “I wanted to see where her daddy kept the cash box.”

Clarence’s eyes widen in horror. “Oh, my goodness, and then you were going to come back in the middle of the night and shoot the whole family down in cold blood!”

Potter is honestly startled by the accusation, nearly falling from his wheelchair. “What? No! Of course not! I, a murderer?”

There is still such a guilty look on Potter’s face that it is impossible for even Clarence to overlook. The angel can only glare disapprovingly for so long before his face becomes as contorted and mean as that of his client. He draws in a deep breath, and lets it out immediately in a heavy sigh, not allowing the dank atmosphere of that corrupt little office to infect his temporary corporeal being any longer than necessary. Potter at last yields.

“They owed the bank back payments on their mortgage, and I was going to get fired if I couldn’t get them to pay.”

“Well, there now,” Clarence says reassuringly. “That’s at least something to go on.” Clarence begins pacing the room thoughtfully. “Money, money, money, always a problem. The risk of losing your job. That’s a problem. A girl you love, in love with another man. A problem. That was it, wasn’t it? Oh, wait a minute. You lied about proposing to her, didn’t you?” Potter nods. “She didn’t even know you loved her?” Potter nods again. Clarence shakes his head. “My, my, my. You really are quite a Dick- ensian.”

“Stop saying that!”

Clarence tries his hardest to make sense of what Potter has said — and not said. Best thing to do, he decides at last, is to move the plot along.

There is a light tap at the office door, and Potter’s rent collector (as played by veteran character actor Charlie Lane) meekly enters.

“Oh here, now. Here’s your own rent collector, visiting you in your loneliness on Christmas Eve. How very kind of him,” Clarence says sarcastically. “I bet you don’t even know his name.”

Potter reaches into his vest pocket and starts to pull out an iPhone. Clarence catches him.

“No fair looking it up! IMDb didn’t even get his occupation right. ‘Real estate salesman,’ indeed. He’s your rent collector. He’s what you were forty years ago.” Clarence takes a better look at the character. “Well, we might as well just call him Charlie. I’m sure he won’t mind.”

Potter looks sourly at his employee, annoyed that yet another interruption will prolong this interminable nightmare.

“What do you want, Cratchit?” Potter growls menacingly.

“It’s Charlie, Sir …”

“See?” Clarence smiles sweetly.

Charlie pulls a clipboard out of his second-hand leather case, which he places gently at his feet, and checks a list. He checks it twice.

“Sir, there’s more naughty than nice this year, I’m afraid. I knocked on every door and was told at every house to go to the Baileys. There’s some kind of big party going on there.”


“It’s true. Every renter of yours, every last one of them, was giving their rent money to help George Bailey. And all of the Building and Loan’s mortgagees, too. There isn’t a spare nickel in town that didn’t go into the Save George Bailey pot.”

The anger begins to rise from Potter’s very core.

“I even threw in my Christmas bonus,” Charlie says, braving a sarcastic tone to his employer.

“OUT! OUT OF MY OFFICE!” Potter turns red with ire. “TRAITOR!”

“Yes, yes, I know I’m fired. So what.” Charlie pitches the clipboard at Potter and picks up the leather case. “I’m heading back over to the Baileys to try and find Sally Hatch — Mary’s and Marty’s big sister (sadly omitted from Acts I through IV) — and beg her to marry me!”

Charlie charges triumphantly out the door, slamming it behind him. Clarence listens thoughtfully to the echo.

“I bet you wish you’d done that,” Clarence says quietly. “Forty years of regret. My, my, my.”

Flustered, Potter reaches for a carafe of stale water on his desk, knocking the clipboard on the floor. He drinks straight from the carafe, splashing water on his face. It is as though he is trying to drown himself.

At last, Potter recovers, straightening himself in the wheelchair. He reaches for the Army surplus blanket, and Clarence instinctively goes to help him. He pats Potter’s shoulder tenderly. Potter has given up trying to avoid such contact.

“Not even my doctor touches me,” he says crankily. Clarence stops patting and simply holds Potter’s shoulder for a moment before letting go.

“I suppose that was ‘Christmas Present,’” Potter growls. “You needn’t bother with the ‘Yet to Come’ part. You think I can’t face the future? You think I fear death? It will be a relief — to everyone.”

Clarence smiles mischievously. “No, I rather had something different in mind for that one.”

Potter impatiently pushes his wheelchair toward the door. He’s had quite enough of this.

“I don’t even rate the George Bailey treatment, do I. I suppose the world would be a better place if I weren’t born.”

Clarence peers back at his training wings, which appear once again to have begun growing slightly. He giggles.

“That’s a good idea! Maybe just a quick peek,” Clarence sweeps both wings together, and there is a light thunderclap.


The scene resembles the utopian country village of happy nice animated characters seen in the Mary Poppins chalk-drawing scenes. In fact, it’s probably lifted entirely from that movie: There’s a merry-go-round, cute dancing penguins, and a bandstand playing bright, merry tunes.

I claim fair use.

We see George and Mary Bailey, dressed as Bert and Mary Poppins, dancing a sweet waltz. A whole town full of animated family and friends cheer for them, including both the older Ma (Matilda) Bailey and Peter, who did not suffer a stroke after all. And bunnies and kitties frolic in perfect three-quarter time.

“That’s enough!” Potter is heard growling.

Animated Clarence emerges from the happy crowd and swishes his sparkling glitter-wings. A very musical thunderclap intones, echoing softly.


The house that Matilda grew up in has been lovingly restored, and now glows with humble warmth and honest cheer. Clarence pushes Potter’s wheelchair up to the front living-room window, and they peer in.

“I suppose this is where Tiny Tim has left his sad shadow across his heartbroken family’s future,” Potter mutters. “Well boo-hoo. I am Tiny Tim in this story, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“Don’t you recognize this house? It’s her house.” Clarence sweeps his wings across Potter’s view to retrieve an image of the house as it was in the past. The image fades as soon as Potter acknowledges recognition.

Clarence pushes the wheelchair closer to the window, and Potter presses his nose up against it. He squints at the bright room; there is a colorful, glittering Merry Christmas Tree, where three or four kitties bat their little paws softly at the lower-hanging ornaments.

The room is crowded with joyful family members of all ages, who gather in groups of different sizes and composition to take snapshots of each other. At the center of each of these pictures are the family matriarch and patriarch: a white-haired woman with sturdy build and delicate features, and her beloved husband. He is a slightly stooping but still standing bright old man, who slips his arm casually around his bride’s waist and pecks her cheek playfully.

“Matilda!” Potter cries in recognition. “And who’s that, now? You see, she was always the catch of the town. I never had a chance with her. Not really.”

“Oh, but you did, you did! Don’t you recognize this man?” As any good instructor will do, Clarence patiently waits for his pupil to understand.

Potter stares in horrified disbelief. “I?” He begins to feel hope for the very first time in his life. “This is my future? Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Goodness!” Potter is incapable of bringing any other word to mind. “Good-NESS!”

Thunder claps before Clarence can even lift his wings.


Potter sleeps in his wheelchair. He smiles happily, peacefully. That is, until he hears Clarence’s departing words:

“I did say that was something different. Not the future you were expecting, my dear Mr. Potter. The shadow I have shown you tonight was of a future that might have been. Perhaps some of it may still come about. Perhaps. The rest of it is up to you. Good luck, Ebenezer!”

“It’s Henry!” Potter cries out, awakening himself with a start and panting heavily. “Good-NESS!” He reflects for several moments on what life could have been if he had only had the nerve to propose.

“I would not have been a miser. I would not have been a thief. I would not have been — a MURDERER!”

The confession conjures Clarence back into the scene.

“Say what, now? Murderer?” Clarence checks the length of his training wings. They have shrunk back down to their original size. “Oh my, my, I blew it again. I didn’t see that one coming at all, not at all. Whom, may I ask, have you murdered?”

Potter buries his face in his hands.

“The kitty! That soft little ball of fur! She startled me on the ladder that day, and I fell — on her!”

Clarence wraps his now gigantic wings around Potter’s shoulders.

“There, there, now. It was an accident. It wasn’t your fault. Besides, all kitties have nine lives. Tush tush, now. Don’t cry.”

Potter cries like a baby, but gradually pulls himself out of his despair. Clarence stands by, patiently waiting for him to make his first decision as a redeemed man. Potter reaches for his iPhone.

“Charlie? Potter. Come back. I need you. Er, please. I need you to make a few deliveries. Yes, it’s got to be tonight. Don’t worry, there’s something in it for you, too. You and your dear, sweet, beautiful fiancĂ©e. Sally, right. See you in a few.”

Potter puts the iPhone back in his pocket and pulls out an envelope containing the missing $8,000. He then retrieves the clipboard that had fallen on the floor. It contains names, addresses, and account balances. He clamps the envelope of money to the clipboard.

Clarence smiles proudly at his client and begins to fade away.

“You’re all right, Henry Potter. You’re all right.”

Potter settles back into his wheelchair, satisfied with his decision, but still sad. A light tap is heard at the door, and Matilda Bailey shyly enters the room, lugging a large basket covered with a light checkered cloth.

“I hope I’m not interrupting anything, Henry – er, Mr. Potter,” she says quietly. “I saw your car earlier, and thought … well, and your light was on, so I thought …”

“Come in my dear,” Potter whispers. “My dear Mrs. Bailey. How kind of you.”

Matilda gazes lovingly into Henry Potter’s soft green eyes. She places the basket on his desk and lifts the checkered cloth.

“We were blessed with this lovely little family last week, and I thought you might like to pick one out. For Christmas.”

Potter peers down into the basket teeming with tiny soft little balls of fur.

“Kitties! Just what I always wanted!” He holds one to his cheek and weeps softly. “Good-NESS!”



One bright little star in the Milky Way twinkles happily. As the mist clears, we see Clarence sporting a new gown and full-sized wings.

“Oh this is fine, very fine. I don’t need any bling, of course, but I rather did like the glitter in that animated sequence.”

Mr. Jordan smiles kindly at his well-trained angel. “We’ll see what we can do. Are you ready for your next assignment?”

“Oh, another one, already?” Clarence comes to attention. “Yes, Sir. At your service.”

Mr. Jordan and Joseph exchange cautious looks. Joseph checks his clipboard and shows it to Mr. Jordan.

“Oh, I think Clarence should be able to handle this. Dear thing, we are sending you to a place called Oz. It seems a lonely woman has lost her only sister. Killed by a house that fell from the sky. Most unfortunate turn of events. She is quite bitter, and, well, somewhat vengeful.”

Clarence adjusts his wings and bravely throws out his chest. “Right, chief! I’m most assuredly ready! Bring it!”

A thunderbolt crashes.


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