It hap’ned s’ fas’ I didn’ know what was goin’ on. Jus’ walked outta th’ store with a bag o’ groceries, an’ next thing I know all I see is red an’ then I’m standin’ there nex’ t’ my own body. Brains shot out. Blood ever’where. Those apples and oranges I took so long pickin’ jus’ rollin’ away. Didn’ know I had that much grey hair already. An’ man, I’d gained some weight too.
I looked up an’ there was Death grinnin’ at me like a damned fool. He always tol’ me it was b’cause his head was a skull, but I never believed ’m. Bastard thought this shit was funny, he did. I’d read enough comics in my time t’ know that death was only the beginnin’, all religious hoopla aside. Never cared too much for church. Thought maybe I’d be some kinda superhero now that I was starin’ Death down. Well, Death’s eye sockets anyway.
“Well, what d’ya want? Ya gonna show me my past or somethin’?” I said, crossin’ m’ arms an’ squarin’ my feet. I jus’ ignored the punk kid robbin’ the store, the screams, the sirens. Oh yeah, an’ my dead body makin’ a mess o’ the pavement. None o’ that mattered anymore. M’kids, m’wife. They were safe. They’d be sad, but they’d keep on goin’. Now me, well, I’ve always been a selfish bastard. Not much of a husband or father. Starin’ into Death’s face, I was more worried ’bout what he was gonna do with me. Survival instinct. Ain’t it a bitch? ’Specially when you ain’t e’en alive. Well, maybe I was alive. Jus’ not in the same way.
“Come with meeee…” he said. Don’t know how he said it. He didn’ have vocal cords, right? Lips? Tongue? Maybe it was ventriloquism.
“Where?” I said. By then the cops finally showed up. One of ’em flew outta the patrol car with his gun at the ready and ran over t’ my dead body. He took one look an’ made a face like he jus’ smelled somethin’ funny. Probably did. There was a cadaver on th’ ground after all.
“Christ,” he said. His partner had ran into the store while he was busy lookin’ at the Rorschach test my blood was paintin’ on the concrete. “Rodgers! We got a stiff!”
“Judgemeeeent…” hissed Death. “It is time.” I turned back t’ the skeleton.
“What if I don’ wanna go?” I didn’ know who was doin’ the judgin’ but I wasn’ exactly a shinin’ example of faith an’ humanitarianism. Thought I’d have a few more years lef’ in me t’ find God an’ all that, jus’ like so many did near the end o’ their lives when they got desperate for some continuity an’ comfort. But then that punk kid came an’ shot me an’ ruined my chances for sainthood in my old age. I wouldn’ get old anymore or get that chance t’ square away my debts an’ make peace an’ all that garbage.
“Thennnn you stayyyy.” If I’d still been alive I think I’d ha’ shat m’self.
“Wait, it’s that easy?”
“Being a shadeeee is not a simple existenceeee.” I didn’ know then jus’ how right he was. Or what kinda hell I’d hafta endure. Sure, it was fun at first. Everythin’ usually is. Sooner or later though, th’ truth of it all set in and I wished I’d ha’ taken the blue pill.
But c’est la mort…that’s death.