DEATH WARMED OVER
I had lunch with Death last week. We ate outdoors on the
canal, watching boats roll shallow waves that reflected the blue
sky. He wore a white linen shirt, sharp trousers, and a trim
straw hat. We perused our menus and sipped our iced tea.
"I'm always misjudged," he said. "People calling me the
bogeyman or some kind of grim reaper. They treat me like
I'm a leper, something from an old horror film."
"I don't" I said, trying to get on his good side.
"That's nice of you to say." He placed his sunglasses on
the glass tabletop, wiping away condensation left from his tea.
"But you have your fears and repulsions like all the rest."
He leaned closer. "Don't you really want a rest, to let all
this all go?" He spread his hands, taking in the entire panorama.
"Would you honestly want to live on endlessly like this,
doing and doing, day after day? I could be your release and
relief, your ticket to the Pure Land, your reward of a thousand
"Right now all I want is a vacation" I said, "A little time
"I know," Death replied with a tired look that included
both of us. "Don't we all."
TEACHING AN OLD DOG
"Watch this," said Death, as he walked up to a wall. Suddenly
he turned transparent and walked right through. He
came back out the doorway. "What do you think?" he said.
"You try it."
I stood up and moved slowly toward the same wall. I took
a deep breath, and with a hesitant step flattened my nose and
chin against the wallpaper. My glasses tilted up and fell to the
"I don't think it's going to work," I said.
"Oh, come on," Death said. "Look out here." He took me
to the window.
"What am I supposed to see?" I asked.
"That window-washer on the sixth floor over there." He
pointed across the street.
"Jesus!" I cried. The poor man had lost his grip, falling
to the street below with a pulpy 'smack'.
"He just did it." Death said. "Go ahead. Try again!"
I walked quickly to my bedroom and double-locked the