SEE YOU LATER
Death comes to you and he asks you for a cigarette. He says “Can I bum
a cigarette?” and you give him one, you let him hold it in his long
thin fingers. He says “Got a light?” and you’ve got one, and as if in
a dream you move through air as thick as water. You strike the coarse
little wheel with your finger and make a flame appear there. Death
leans in and inhales. Cigarette lit. He leans back. You put your
lighter in your pocket.
Death takes a drag. You watch the white smoke pass through the holes
in his rotten throat. It leaks a little, smoke dribbling out of his
neck and some even out of his eye sockets as he exhales through his
His nose. Just two holes in his flat face, the rest of it gone. He has
lips left, but barely, just ragged black pieces, and no eyelids,
eyeballs bugging out of sockets, held in place by taut gray tendons.
Death is completely hairless, his head as smooth and round as a baby’s
except for the patches of white skull peaking through.
He can see that you are staring. “Pretty grim, I know,” he jokes.
“Smoking kills, kid.” He winks at you. You flinch.
“No need to be so nervous. It’s not your time yet.”
Whose time is it? He doesn’t say. He just sits next to you on the park
bench, smoking the cigarette you gave him, making small talk.
“Listen,” he says. “You seem pretty hip. What do you think of my
outfit? I’m trying to update my image.”
You look him over. He is dressed like he might be any of your friends:
blue jeans and a dark purple t-shirt, black sneakers, a thick metal
gauge in his one remaining ear.
“Where’s your scythe?” you ask him, the first thing you’ve said.
Taking a drag he shakes his head, explaining as he breathes out: “No
resonance. It’s meant to scare people. Obviously. But you all aren’t
afraid of that stuff anymore. The hood, the costume. Too much drama.
Too gimmicky. You kids are media savvy — what’s a shroud or a cloud of
smoke to you? You see that shit everyday. No. I won’t bore you. If
there’s one thing I refuse to be it’s predictable.”
He bends to put the cigarette out on the ground, tosses it into the
ashtray. A perfect shot. He looks at you.
“No gimmicks for you. No costume. No devil. No evil.” He slings his
backpack over one shoulder, standing up to go.
“No need for it. This,” he says, gesturing with one hand at his normal
clothes, his black backpack just like the one you had in high school.
“This is the scariest costume I could wear for you. Don’t you think?”
You can’t speak but he hears your answer.
Death says: “See you later.”