Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Grim Reaper, part one

An excerpt from an unfinished book of memoir.

*  *  *

The Grim Reaper is dressed in Chinos and an over-sized windbreaker. His name patch says Grim in golden letters. He sits opposite Erin, a dark-haired woman in her late twenties.

"You're not what I was expecting," says Erin.

"I get that a lot," says Grim. "No idea where the black-cloak-and-scythe thing came from."

"So what's with the jacket?" she asks. "You hiding Mini Grim in there?"

The Grim Reaper cocks his head and gives Erin a quizzical look.

"Never mind," says Erin. Her eyes dart around the room. "I have a question."

"Shoot," says Grim, who then starts to chuckle. "Get it?" he says through a laugh. "The Grim Reaper?" He quakes. "Saying 'shoot'?" He hissles and snorts.

"Hysterical," says Erin flatly. "So where is he?"

"Where's who?" says Grim.

"My brother," says Erin. The Grim Reaper blinks at her in confusion. "Hello?" says Erin. "Your latest arrival?"

Recognition blooms. "Oh, yeah," says Grim, "yeah yeah yeah yeah. He was the Leaving Las Vegas guy, right? And you’re the sister."

"Brilliant," says Erin, indicating her tee shirt upon which SISTER is printed in bold letters. "But yeah, that's right," says Erin, "the Leaving Las Vegas guy. And I'm the sister. And his name is John."

"You mean his name was John."

"Fine," says Erin. "Whatever you say. Just tell me where he is."


"What do you mean, gone?"

"Gone," says Grim. "Dead. He croaked. He's gone."

"But what about the guy with the horns and red suit? What about the reincarnation people and all that Déjà vu stuff? What about the light?" asks Erin, her irritation rising. "I'm talking about the hereafter. There must be some sort of hereafter." her voice rises. "He can't just be gone."

"Yes he can, Sis. I know what I'm talking about. Hey, I'm the Grim Reaper. And if you don't believe me, just take a look at my name patch."

Fury colors Erin's cheeks. She stands and squares her fists on the table. "You prick," she says, "you tell me where he is. You tell me now."

The Grim Reaper lets out a big sigh. "Ms. O'Brien," he says, "I wish I had your answer, but I don't. I'm just a working stiff." He stifles a giggle. "What I do is a one shot ... um ... I mean .... one time transaction."

Erin does not respond.

"You drive that baby off the lot and it's a done deal," says Grim. "Get it?"

"Done deal," says Erin. She stares at him blankly for a long beat before deflating back into the chair.

"Mind if I smoke?" says the Grim Reaper.

"Be my guest," says Erin, pushing an ashtray across the table. Erin gazes at nothing while the Grim Reaper smokes. Neither says anything for ten thousand years.

"You do realize," says Erin finally, "that once we're all gone, you'll be obsolete."

The Grim Reaper exhales a plume of smoke with disgust. "Did you really have to remind me?"

*  *  *


Anonymous said...

"It was...the salmon mousse"...


Dave Levingston said...

I'm impressed.

Bill said...

Excellent as always! Neither said anything for 10,000 years. I'm hoping to read part II much sooner than that. What a clever and beautiful and real way to address that age old question. Bravo!

DogsDontPurr said...

Wow. Very powerful. Extremely.