And This Is Who We Fear
by Victor Clevenger
Death has a big Rolodex and blisters on his fingertips from spinning it. It always makes the same sound; swoosh…tisk tisk tisk….tisk tisk…tisk…….tisk. It stops and then he plucks the card out, reads the name, combs his silver thinned hair, ties his shoelaces, rubs the broad shoulders of his live-in, kisses her cheek, and then heads off to work.
Death has a lover? Of course, and I find it odd too that Death has a broad shouldered, normal looking woman. I mean, come on, it’s Death, a real bad boy that should be pulling the hottest lays that you and I could only dream about pulling, and yet he chooses normal? Maybe after his rough goings at the office pulling double shifts while working the weekends, weekdays, and holidays, his normal woman is a calm beautiful to him; maybe it is her simplicity that gets him off—her shoulder length brown hair and soft groomed fingernails, or maybe he has just ran himself bored with the hot lays in his youth, and this one now keeps him straight.
Death is centuries old and will tell you, “I have trouble these days seeing the differences in oranges and onions, but she peels them for me now, and slices them neatly.”
With that confession, I am now convinced that it is just the fact that she cares when most all the other people tremble at his presence.
“I am Death,” he says to her as they sit beside each other on the sofa, “Who is going to kill me when I can’t do this anymore?”
“You will always do it, darling,” she tells him each time the topic surfaces, “You did it way before I existed, and you will take me one day, then find another woman to pass time with. I know this and have to accept it.”
“AH, GODDAMN, CURSE IT!” he shouts.
“But, sweetheart,” she replies rubbing Death’s hand and fingers.
“You know,” he says, “I found a gut shivering admiration for the old bastard that I took last week. He climbed up under a bridge with a bottle of Gin, and suicided; it wasn’t a sloppy one this time. I kept it decent. He didn’t even shit his pants.”
“You liked that?” she asks still rubbing.
“I really liked it!” Death mumbles.
The doorbell rings and they ignore it, it rings again, and Death tells her, “Just see who it is, and tell them that I am throat deep in the wash tub.”
She stops rubbing, stands up, and goes to the door. It’s Hank. “Want to play some pinochle?” Hank asks her.
She shouts to Death, “Honey, it’s Hank, he wants to know if you want to play some pinochle?”
“Pinochle? I’m in the water, remember?”
“Oh I’m sorry, Hank,” she says, “I forgot that he is throat deep in the wash tub, maybe we can get together another time?”
“Another time,” Hank says.
“Yes, another time,” she tells him.
“Ok,” Hank says, and she shuts the door, walks back to the sofa, sits down, rubs some more, and starts whistling.
“I don’t play pinochle,” Death tells her.
“I don’t either,” she stops whistling, and tells him, “Cheer up, you are going to live forever, and nobody else can say that.”
“OH THAT SOUNDS MISERABLE!” Death shouts, “My legs feel like withered carrots already; I can’t take this anymore, TRY TO KILL ME!”
“OH, I COULD NEVER!” she sobs.
Death stands up casually, then dashes and hurdles himself towards the open window. She sobs louder. Death falls four floors into the yellow petals of a forsythia bush. She stands four floors above him at the window shouting, “YOU DID THIS LAST WEEK AND POKED YOUR EYE! REMEMBER? COME BACK UPSTAIRS!”
Death stands up, brushes his shirt sleeves and trousers off, hangs his head, and stares at the laces of his shoes as he maneuvers the stairs back up to the fourth floor. There is dirty green carpet in the hallways. He opens the door squinting and blinking.
“AH! IT’S HORRIBLE!” he hollers,defeated.
“Did you poke it again?” she asks him.
“Twice,” he tells her, “Once with the bush and once with my finger.”
“Why with your finger?” she asks.
“I never saw it coming,” he replies.
“Well, you are still alive,” she smiles as she walks over and locks the window down.
Death rubs an ice cube against his eyes and they sit back down on the sofa. She rubs again too, rubs his hand a little bit harder this time; he was sore, but tolerated it.
The forsythia bush didn’t survive.
Victor Clevenger spends his days in a Madhouse and his nights writing poetry and short stories from the kitchen table of his exwife’s home. Selected pieces of his work have appeared at, or is forthcoming in, Chiron Review; The Beatnik Cowboy;Dead Snakes; Blink Ink; Zombie Logic Review; Rat’s Ass Review; Lady Chaos Press; Your One Phone Call; BAD ACID LABORATORIES, INC.; Horror Sleaze Trash, among several others. His latest collection is titled, In All These Naked Pictures Of Us.