death

‘The Creator of the Universe had put a rattle on its tail. The Creator of the Universe had also given it front teeth which where hypodermic syringes filled with deadly poison… Sometimes I wonder about the creator of the universe’ – Kurt Vonnegut (Breakfast of Champions)

 

“The problem with omniscience is keeping track of what fashion is in vogue,” the mustachioed man thought as he strolled through the aisles of pews. He had a strange look along with a walrus mustache, the man had on a top hat, a dusty dinner jacket and a pair of sunglasses, with the left lens missing. Behind the empty frame, a bloodshot, bulging eye searched the room.

The oddest part about the man was the fact that no one in the crowded church seemed to notice him, even though his cigar–which he held loosely in his left hand–was emitting smoke plumes that swirled into a baby’s face. He looked around the church again and noticed no one had mustaches. His mustache came to the realization that it was not wanted and disappeared.

He scanned the room a third time and sighed with frustration. “The problem with humans is that they all look the same.” It was their noses that really put him off. They were all so small. He gave up being stealthy and shouted, ”I’m looking for Mrs. Eleanor Jeremiah!”

An old lady in the back of the church simultaneously stood up whilst still slumped in the pew. She shouted back, “Why are you making so much racket? Don’t you know we are in a holy place?”

The man looked around the converted gym and sighed. He replied in a flamboyant voice “Madame, you and I have a very different definition of holy.”  He beckoned to her. She ignored him. He said, in his most somber voice, “Come my child, to the great beyond.”

“No,” came the simple yet forceful reply. “I want to stay here. I want to finish the service.”

The man was not used to being disobeyed. He stared at the woman before asking, “Do you know who I am?” The woman dismissed him with, “of course I do, you’re Death. Now let me finish the service.”

Death was flummoxed, but then he shrugged and sat down. He could wait; after all he was everywhere at once, anyway. The service eventually ended and Death called out to Eleanor, “It’s time.”

“Are you kidding? This is why we’ve been waiting. I want to see them find my body,” the woman replied. Death smiled, it may be a cliché but he does have a very morbid sense of humour.

The person who realized Eleanor was dead was a woman named Kate Blandly. The discovery distressed Kate, which in turn made Eleanor very happy. Eleanor could not prove it, but she was convinced that Kate had stolen her mashed potatoes recipe. Kate had not stolen Eleanor’s recipe. Kate and Eleanor had a very similar recipe: potatoes and too much salt, but there was no thievery involved. It was the same recipe that everyone makes when they start losing their sense of taste.

After the furore of Kate’s discovery had died down, Eleanor called to Death, “Let’s go! We haven’t got all day.” As they floated up out of the church, Eleanor contemplated the likelihood of her getting into heaven. She thought that her chances were positive. She loved all of her three children, and even managed to like two of them. The only thing she was really worried about was her positive attitude towards homosexuality. Morally, she used to be correct about homosexuality, but then her youngest son brought home George, one Thanksgiving and she could not help but be fond of him.

“Hey, sonny,” she called out, “what does God really think about the queers?”

“I don’t think he cares,” came the terse reply. They floated on silence for a little bit.

The odd thing about floating is that after you have been doing it for a while, you cannot really tell if you are going up or down. If you are taught from childhood that heaven is up and hell is down, the feeling of not knowing which direction you are going in will cause a slight paranoia. Eleanor started to question her life choices. Maybe God did like black people. She knew logically that there was nothing wrong with blacks, but she just did not like them.

“What is God’s feeling on coloreds?” she asked.

“I don’t think he cares,” Death replied through tight lips.

At this point, Eleanor was convinced she was floating down. This made her panic. Maybe she had been practicing the wrong religion. Instead of pushing her further into a panic, the thought that she had been part of the wrong religion just made her angry. Not only was she going to hell, but also she had wasted all that time in church. Grumpily, she addressed Death, “Which religion does God like?

At this, Death spun, “Look, ma’am, your God doesn’t give a shit about anything. He’s very confused.”

Death was in a bad mood. He had seen the future and he knew he was not scheduled for a break for the next billion years. Usually, he floated with souls until they fell asleep, but because of his foul mood he did something that he probably should not have done.

“I’ll take you to meet your god. Would you like that?” Eleanor nodded. “Fine,” Death said. He snapped his fingers and blew a raspberry. Suddenly they were in a castle. Death flung his arms wide and cried, “This is Heaven, or Narnia, or paradise, or Oz. It is known by many names. Let’s go.”

A screaming came from a room in the back of the castle. “Hear that yelling?” Death asked. “That’s where we’re going.” Death began to sing, “follow the horrible screams, follow the horrible screams, follow, follow, follow, follow the horrible screams.”

Eleanor slapped Death, saying, “Be respectful.” Death’s one visible eye rolled.

Death and Eleanor followed the sound that was echoing around the white marble corridor. The echoing sounds played tricks on Death and Eleanor’s ears. As a result, they found themselves in a room with only a single bed in the exact middle of it. On the bed there was a thin, bone white, old man.

“Is that…” Eleanor started to say.

“No, no, no, that’s my cousin. I need to get something. One second.”

Death marched over to the sleeping man and shook him roughly, while shouting into his face. The man’s head flopped back and forth like a marionette without a puppet master. But the man didn’t wake. So Death started slapping him. The slaps only effects were to bring colour to the man’s cheeks, but the man did not wake up. Exasperated, Death snapped his fingers and a glass of water appeared in his hand. He poured the glass on top of the sleeping man, in response the man waved his hand and muttered “five more minutes,” then turned over. Death turned to Eleanor, “You might want to get out of the room, this could get messy.”

Eleanor did not need to be told twice. She left the room and closed the door behind her. From the other side of the door she could hear bleating. Curiosity overcame her, and she peeked through the keyhole. Death had turned the room into a stadium with sheep sitting in the stands. Two rams were playing volleyball with the limp corpse of the sleeping man. One of the rams’ head butted the corpse into the air and then spiked him down for a perfect point. The crowd cheered, while the man snored.

Death, looking dejected, snapped his fingers and the stadium disappeared. “I give up,” he sighed, and walked to the door. As he opened the door it made a squeaking sound and the sleeping man shot up awake.

“Who disturbs my slumber?” he asked in a voice that would have been menacing if it had not kept cracking.

“Hey, cuz,” Death cried, “I’m on my way to see God and I was just wondering if I could have my flask back.”

“You woke me up for that?” the man asked angrily. “Do you know how hard it is for me to get a good night’s rest? Fine, I’ll get you your flask.”

He got off his bed and on to his hands and knees. He started rummaging under his bed; throwing things he found around the room. “It’s gotta be here somewhere,” he said. “Which God are you going to see?” he asked.

“Jehovah” Death answered.

“Ech” said the man, who was now completely under his bed. “He’s so depressing. You should go and see one of the polytheistic gods, they’re much less depressing to be around. Giving a sole being the entire control of the universe is too much responsibility.”

At this point, odds and ends were flying out from under the bed with an incredible speed and frequency, as if they were being shot by a mini-gun. “I can’t find your flask,” said the man’s voice, disappointedly. “Wait a minute, what’s this? I think I found it.”

A propeller started to emerge from under the bed, and then the body of an airplane.

“That’s not my flask,” said Death, impatiently.

“No, of course not. This is Amelia Earhart’s plane, but if I remember correctly, I put your flask in the navigator’s compartment.”

Death had a look and found that his flask was there. “Thanks cuz! I better get going now,” the man did not respond. “Cuz?” Death asked. There was no response, just a snoring coming from underneath the bed.

Death turned to Eleanor, “alright, now we’re ready. Let’s go and meet your God.”

“Finally,” Eleanor said, rolling her eyes. “What was the point of all that?” she asked.

Death looked confused. “I wanted my  flask,” he responded. They walked out of the room and down the corridor.

After walking for an amount of time that was in-between a second and a thousand years, they arrived at a door with caution tape across it. Angry yells and the sound of hooves came from behind the door. Death opened the door. What greeted Eleanor’s eyes was a horrible sight. The walls of the room were made out of pillows. Eleanor had the sneaking suspicion that they were not originally brown; when the stench of excrement hit her nostrils she was sure. A man with horns, covered in lime green scrubs, was holding down a bearded man in a straight jacket, who was spitting and snapping. The man with horns shouted without looking up, “This isn’t a good time.” The man on the ground yelled, “I cast thee out Lucifer. I banish you.”

Although the yell was horribly loud and filled with anger, there was no power behind it. It was the helpless, lonely yell of a lost child. A tear appeared beneath the square pupil of Lucifer. “Hush, now, Jehovah,” he cooed, “Don’t be like that.”

At that, Jehovah, who had stopped jerking, redoubled his efforts. Lucifer snapped his fingers and a blue pill appeared in his hand. As Jehovah snapped Lucifer expertly threw the pill down the man’s throat. Jehovah, calmed down but his eyes retained a look of a hunted animal.

“You look like you need a drink,” Death said.

“Oh, it’s you,” grunted Lucifer, as he got off the man on the floor. “I’m kind of busy at the moment. I need to do Allah next.”

“ Oh you’ll need liquid courage for that. I heard some one took a picture of him,” Death wheedled. ”Come on Luci.”

Lucifer fought a losing battle with his mouth. Finally, he gave in and smiled, “Alright, go on then.”

Death walked over to Lucifer who tilted his head back and stuck out his tongue. Death slowly angled the flask so one drop fell on the snake-like tongue protruding from Lucifer’s mouth. As the drop of liquid hit Lucifer’s tongue, it smoked for a brief second. Eleanor thought she saw the form of a skull rise up out of the smoke and go up Lucifer’s nostrils. Lucifer coughed. “That is potent,” he said, before his eyes rolled back and he fell on the ground. Death turned to Eleanor and said “I don’t know how, but I always get him with that trick. We have time for one question before he wakes up, and we have to go, because he’s gonna wake up gru-mpy.”

Eleanor slowly walked over to Jehovah who was growling like a dog. She knelt down, cleared her throat and asked, “Did Kate Blandly steal my potato recipe?”

Tim Renkow

Tim Renkow was born in Mexico City. When he was two years old his family moved to North Carolina. In NC Tim was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy; which has turned out to be a great source of humour.
He went to art school in Memphis, Tennessee where he quickly discovered he was far better at making fun of people than he was at art (he always secretly knew that, to be honest).
After floating around the US for a couple years he ended up in London, England doing comedy and writing.