I bumped into death one day walking down the street. What an odd thing to say, but it's true. There was no denying it. He was death. He had the ID and costume to prove it. Why else would someone wear that? Its not like it was Halloween or anything.
"Watch where your going." He said.
I didn't know if he was upset that I spilled his coffee or if it was a warning so I apologized. I mean naturally, of all people you want to apologize to, it would be death.
"I'm sorry. I didn't see you coming." I said. When I look back now, it seems like the silliest thing to say. No one ever sees death coming. He sort of walks around completely unnoticed. When he spoke to me I have to say I was actually quite surprised.
He laughed and said, "No, it's ok. It happens all the time. Those who see me run in fear or never say a word. It's just a job you know. I'm still me."
His last statement made me wonder, 'Who is death?' Hmm I pondered. I mean when it comes down to it, I have never talked to him or about him. I have never thought about it accept to refer to Death, as the end.
"What is that like?" I asked him. My curiosity now sparked.
"What?" He asked." Being death? It's not so bad. The benefits aren't good. I don't even get a vacation. I do get to scare people when I get bored though."
I gave him a look of surprise and dismay to which he replied to, "What? It breaks up the monotony of it all."
"Wow that sucks." I said. "Why not. Isn't there a floater?"
I was pretty amazed, because when it came down to it, I might have hated my job, but at least I could quit when something better came along. Death, well he was stuck, being Death.
"Yeah, but he's always gone and so here I am." Death replied. He waved his hand around a little in one of those bowing motions. What an odd thing to do. Death it seemed had a since of humor and a flare for the dramatics. His mannerisms impressed me, I mean after all, just because he was death, didn't mean he had to walk around all scary and moody all the time.
"How long have you had the job?" I asked.
"Well, since about half past eternity. I wanted to take messages to all those who needed to hear. But Arch Angel Gabriel got that job. Then I wanted to be the one to watch over nature. Of course, mom got that one. I even tried to talk King Neptune into allowing me to play with his Triton. He said no." It almost sounded like he was pouting I mused.
When we walked into the coffee shoppe' all the people stared. Death was standing in their midst they had nothing they wanted to share. The shop cleared out one by one. Some looked at their watches others just left. We took a seat next to the window. I asked him to pass the cream then put two sugars in my coffee. My curiosity was aroused by the conversation we were having. Most people go through life with out a single, what I would call a paranormal experience. I knew I was running late, but I thought oh well, and continued my conversation.
"So, what do you do for fun?" I asked.
"You're a curious one. You're not afraid to talk to me. Let me think. For fun, I like to play chess. I also like video games. I especially like the zombie ones. They make me laugh. Now that's what happens when I take a break. The system breaks down. It's not a lot but it's my life. Ha that's my lot in life." He chuckled.
We drank our coffee and had a laugh. I looked at my watch, time had not passed. "Hmm," I thought, "I guess I won't be running late after all."
"Thank you for the conversation." He said. "You didn't run or even scream. You have no idea what it's like to be me." He put his hand on the side of his cheek and slouched a little.
In a weird way, I felt sorry for the guy. I mean after all, he wasn't the one who created the universe. He just worked it the way it was designed.
"You're welcome" I replied. "It was rather surreal for me. If you need to chat you know where I'll be."
A shudder went down my spine, giving me a chill. He would always know where I would be. No truer statement would be spoken in my life.
He took me to the moment where I had spilled his coffee. "Good bye." He said. "Oh, and lay off the smokes. "
"Ha ha," I said. "We'll see. Have a good one. Try not to kill anyone today."
"Ha ha you're funny." He returned the jab.
My surreal moment passed. There was no coffee shoppe. The street was just the way it had been just a moment ago. I went about my business and walked around the corner to pay the bills. In the middle of the street was a body that had been hit by a car. I walked over to the crowd and looked down to find the body was me. It seems Death had a since of humor after all.
He popped up right beside me again. "More coffee." He asked.
"Might as well." I said "Looks like I'm not going anywhere else today."
The coffee shoppe' appeared again the people laughed when we walked in. "What?" I asked.
"Oh, it's just a little after death humor. That's all. We get kind of bored here, waiting for the train. It's running late today, by about half a day. The conductor gets to set his own schedule. If you ask me, I think he should have to clock in like the rest of us." Death complained.
He handed me my coffee along with a little cream and two sugars. "What about my family?" I asked.
"Here, look in this." He said.
He handed me a cup of water. I looked inside. I could see my children, all of them sad at first. Then little by little they were ok. They laughed again, grew up and found love. My husband remarried five years later. He was still celelbrating my birthday though. That was something. It showed I existed. What a great thing to say. I existed.
"See, life goes on." He said.
"I guess it does." I said a little bummed out. The odd thing about it was, the images made me happy. I was glad to know they were going to be ok. A whistle sounded in the background. The train was coming.
"At last." Death marveled. "I'm so ready for a shower." He said.
"What?" I asked.
"I haven't been home in three days. I need a shower. I also recorded a movie, though I can't seem to remember the name." He said.
"What do I do now?" I asked. It was the first time since I woke up that morning I didn't know what to do next. There is a reason no one sees death coming. They would run the other way.
"There will be an orientation for all the new comers. You know, you really are a unique person. Sorry about having to do my job." He sounded sincere when he spoke.
I knew from our conversation he was not happy about taking me then. What could he do about it though. It's not like their is a reprieve or grievance form set up for people like me. I mean when your time is up, it's up.
"I would love to say it's ok. I kind of feel cheated though." I said.
"I know. The journey is just beginning though." He said.
We got on the train and it left the station. "Hmmm, really, orientation?" I thought as the train pulled out.
Nothing is what I thought it would be. A train station, a coffee shop and Death had a since of humor. What a strange thing that was. I climbed aboard the train, unsure about all that had transpired. Death assured me I would be ok. I sat on the train and watched out the window to see what else was different.
That is for another time though. For now, be content in knowing Death has a since of humor. All we think is true is not. Nothing in this life or the next is as it seems. To be continued another time. Perhaps next week I'll talk to you about all the different things I witnessed. I mean really, orientation? Who would have thought?
Chapter 1 written by JRH Buchanan