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The doorbell rang. Death answered it. A mop-haired blonde guy looking every bit the part of the cliche surfer stood at Death’s door. Death sighed wistfully, he didn’t want to deal with anyone..
The surfer dude looked at his feet and said, “Hey man, I’m like your neighbor and stuff. Anyways, I was wondering if you might be able to help me out with this little problem I’m having…” He hesitated as he looked up from his feet to meet Death’s suspicious stare.
Though Death’s head was a skull, his brow ridge raised in surprise as his mouth fell agape as if the bone were formed of rubber. “Whoa! I’m not like that I’m afraid you’ve got me all wrong.”
“What?” The surfer guy was momentarily confused but quickly smiled in understanding. “Oh not like that Bro. You see I know who you are. You keep strange hours, real recluse type, that musty smell.”
Death’s brow ridge scrunched and his lips pursed. “You mean the black tattered robes, scythe and skeletal features didn’t clue you in?” he asked incredulously.
“Oh man, you didn’t meet the old lady who lived here before you moved in. I mean, Florida, right? Land of the old and crusty.” The surfer guy said with a straight face.
Death was beginning to grow inpatient, “Look, what’s this about?”
“Well like I said this is Florida. Lots of customers for you here. You were very busy when you first got here. I’ve been noticing you haven’t been getting out lately. Like at all. Anyway, when you ain’t out there doing your thing, ya know, things start to back up quick around here. The beach man, they are all over the beach. It’s getting so you can’t surf anymore.”
It was Death’s turn to look at his feet. He let loose another depressing sigh. In that moment the facade crumbled and Death appeared to be only a pathetic shell of a man or a skeleton at least.
The truth was Death was depressed. Though Florida should have been a boon to his business the long list of people on his harvest list was overwhelming. The senior population seemed an insurmountable task. Collecting the souls who were about to expire took every last second of his time. There was no play only work. That weighed on the soul of soulless.
Death’s bashful silence spoke volumes. The surfer guy quickly realized his neighbor was off. The long arduous hours working one of the busiest districts a Death could be assigned finally took its toll.
Death had become woefully depressed. He was now a shut-in. Death needed to get out, get away from the job. Death needed to get a life before the old decrepit bodies piled up upon one another on the beach.
So the surfer dude did what he needed to do right then and there on Death’s doorstep. He introduced himself as Johnny and told Death they were going out for the day.
Johnny brought Death out to the local mall first. Death’s wardrobe was atrocious. All black flowing robes and all tattered and musty. Even his undergarments were worn and crusty. Johnny figured Death had a severe case of swamp ass by the state of his underpants.
They made a beeline for the mens clothing store. The gentleman who assisted Death with his new wardrobe wasn’t Italian but still put on a cheesy accent and played the part. Death walked out of the store a new man. He did clean up remarkably well in Johnny’s opinion. His opinion was backed up when two young blondes almost broke their necks doing a double take as Death walked by.
It was clear to Johnny that it was time to go meet some ladies. Death was naively unaware of all the ladies gawking at him as they left the mall. Johnny hoped the blissfully unaware hunk routine would work for Death.
There were some jumping clubs even in the afternoons in this part of Florida. Johnny figured they were going to need a lot of time to get Death loosened up. They entered the club and Johnny immediately saw a young brunette near the end of the bar. She had immediately perked up from a slouch when she caught sight of Death. Johnny didn’t think it could be this easy.
They sat next to the young lady who couldn’t help but give Death her best pair of bedroom eyes. Johnny excused himself and whispered in Death’s ear to buy her a drink as he walked away. Death ordered two drinks and started in with the small talk albeit uneasily.
“Do you come here often?” he asked.
The brunette rolled her eyes. “You don’t need to make small talk with me handsome. I like your look, very goth. I like that. What do you do for a living?”
“I assist the living with crossing over to death.”
“Oh, a mortician! Goth, very goth. Did I mention I like that?” She gave a devilish scan of the room then looked Death in the eye socket. “Ya wanna get out of here?”
Death’s hand bones began to sweat. “Umm, I’m not sure where my friend went and I think if I left he may get ner–”
“Don’t worry about him. I think he may be a bit preoccupied himself.” She nodded into a dark corner and sure enough Johnny was talking up a platinum blonde who looked every bit the surfer part that Johnny did. “Come on, let’s go get some fresh air. My car is a convertible. Oh I’m Felicia by the way.”
“Death.” He introduced and held out a hand to shake hers. She giggled and grabbed him around the waist and led him out of the club.
Johnny figured he gave Death enough time for small talk. He took the cute blonde he hooked up with, Mindy he thought she said, to go meet Death. He was happy she seemed like the type of girl who was up for anything.
Death was nowhere to be found, nor was the brunette. They weren’t seated at the bar nor were they out on the dance floor. All the dark corners were unoccupied.
Johnny’s breath caught in his throat for a moment. Then he thought to himself, ‘ There’s no way.’ He grabbed Mandy -or was it Mindy – by the wrist and scampered outside.
Johnny scanned the parking lot for Death. A cherry red sports car with the top down caught his attention and the well dressed skeleton making out with the foxy brunette in the car caught his attention even more.
Death you devil Johnny thought as he smirked at the sight of the two of them. Johnny told Miranda (wait, Mandy?) to wait where she was. He approached Death and his new squeeze who were pawing at each other like two wound up puppy dogs.
The lovers let loose their passionate lip lock. Death looked over his shoulder at Johnny. He looked like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The brunette flashed Johnny a catty grin.
“Oh, hey Johnny. I’m sorry but Felicia here… Oh this is Felicia” he introduced her in a panic. “She just wanted to get some fresh air and she has this really nice car and we were just checking in out and–”
“Yeah I can see you were checking it out. Not feeling so shy anymore are we?” Johnny teased.
Death and Felicia could do nothing but blush. They had been caught red handed and they were acting like two kids getting caught playing seven minutes in heaven. Johnny suggested since everyone was getting along famously and the night was still young that they take in some evening surfing while there were still some vestiges of light burning from the deep summer sun. Death and the ladies were all in and suddenly they were out on a double date. A better night could not have been planned.
They got to the beach and Death could see right away what Johnny had arrived at his door that morning to complain about. There were old people carpeting the beach from end to end as far as the eye could see. Yet the ocean itself was void of any senior bathers. As far as Death could see there wasn’t a soul in the ocean.
Death, Felicia, Johnny and Amanda (maybe she said Murgatroyd, it was loud in that club) found a vein of space to make their way to the water through the swarm of old people laid prone on the sand. They were knocking sweet old ladies and ornery old men in the head, shoulders and legs with their surf boards as they navigated the sea of geriatric patients.
They finally made it to the surf and paddled out. The waves weren’t large but they were steady. The two couples were having the time of their lives surfing and getting to know one another a little better. Both Felicia and Rebecca (no wait, Mindy, right?) had surfed before but were a bit clumsy at it. Death had never surfed but under Johnny’s instruction he began to get the hang of it.
After a half hour or so of surfing they were all smiles. They floated out in the ocean waiting for another set of waves to come in but the twilight was quickly giving way to the dark and the sea was settling down. The four gazed back at the beach each lost in their own thoughts for a moment.
Death’s smile went flat as he gazed at that beach. “Seeing them from here, I had no idea how important my job really is. Taking those souls day in and day out and leading them on to the other side makes you lose perspective. I was thinking only of me and not seeing the big picture like I can see it now.” He scanned the mobbed beach from end to end to punctuate his thought.
Johnny reached over and patted Death on the back. “It’s okay man. Everyone’s job sucks but we gotta do it right? It’s easy to lose focus when you’re a slave to the grind day in and day out. You just have to remember to take time out for yourself when you start sinking in the work. If your heart isn’t in the work you’re just not doing the job even though you’re there. You gotta get a life Death, that’s part of the job too brother.”
Death’s lip bones scrunched together. A look of renewed determination flashed across his face. “Johnny you’re right!” he proclaimed. “Tomorrow I get back to the job. Thanks to you I feel like a new skeleton.” He thrust his breast bone out. “Death is part of life and life is now part of Death!”
He exclaimed to all those piled on to the beach, “I’m coming for you all tomorrow!” The droning of thousands of senior citizens complaining about children, television programs and the way things are nowadays suddenly stopped. “But tonight I’m taking my lady friend home with me to show her what it’s like to play with Death!” He turned and winked at her as she returned a wicked smile back at him. The old people on the beach broke into thunderous applause.
Mindy (he was positive it was Mindy) had hopped on to Johnny’s board and they were clearly not looking to find a bedroom. Death laughed and motioned for Felicia to paddle back to shore with him. When they got back to shore the old folks were suddenly making a wide path for Death and his lady.
Death was not seen the rest of the night but a wail could be heard for miles emanating from his house. Some say it was the cry of the Banshee alerting all those to their impending deaths. Some say it was Felicia being brought to climax like no woman has before or since.
+ + +
Johnny woke up with the sun blaring in his eyes and his face plastered to the sand. Beside him Mindy lie naked sleeping with a towel draped over her. The sun was harsh and he couldn’t open his eyes right away. He noticed a silence he had not heard in quite some time however. Only the sound of the water lapping at the beach and the sound of gulls calling in the distance.
He could feel space around him. He shaded hands over his eyes and opened them. He saw nothing but sand. Not a single soul was on the beach except for him and Mindy. He laughed out loud as loud as he could. The laughter woke up Mindy.
“What’s going on?” she asked as she sat up and used the towel to cover all the parts that mattered. “Whoa, everyone is gone. Finally.”
“Death is feeling himself again. In a big way. I can’t believe he took care of them all so fast. How in heaven did he do it?”
A ship’s air horn blew. They looked out on the water. A large cruise ship was sailing out toward the horizon. The ship was black as black could be. They could see all the decks were crowded with people. Standing at the bow as clear as could be was a tall, dark figure with long robes flowing about him. Death sailed off into the horizon with his lady friend on his arm. His smile was so bright Johnny could see the gleam from the shore.