The Icy Hand of Death, Part 2

For fun I like to imagine death coming for me-don’t ask why-and in this short, I imagine being roused by goons. Enjoy.

I was admirably set in my high backed comfy chair, the fire aglow on the TV in all its cinematic glory, Rachmaninov filling the room with a gentle tinkling of the keys, and a glass of aged whiskey awaiting on the table beside me. In my hand, The Brothers Karamazov, was soon to be attempted for the 33rd time. Dostoevsky would not defeat me as he had on so many other tries!

A fierce pounding on the front door spooked me and an uneasy pain centered in my chest. I rubbed it to no effect.

In a huff, I rose from my chair.

Another pounding frightened me as I reached for the door handle. Opening the door I found myself staring down-actually up, as they much bigger than me-two goons filling the doorway. Covered by knee length overcoats and fedoras pulled low over their heads, they stood there breathing heavy. Both had black eyes boring in on me. The one to the left had a lit cigarette pinched between thin lips and both needed a shave.

“What do you two want?” I muttered.

The one on the right said, “We’re looking for a guy.”

“Aren’t we all, pal,” I said in my best Bogart voice.

“Hey, Mugs, looks like we got a comedian,” the one with the cigarette said while grabbing my arm.

“Looks like, Bugs,” said his partner, grabbing my other arm…

… And with that, the two of them hustled me out, dragging my bare feet across the concrete, which oddly did not hurt, and threw me into the back of a ’36 Packard. A mousy looking guy with a thin mustache was behind the wheel. The two goons squashed me between them in the backseat.

“What’s the big idea?” I whined.

“Boss wants to see ya,” Bugs the smoker informed.

“And who the hell’s your boss?” I demanded.

“Death, bub,” said Mugs.

“Death?”

“What’re deaf, bub?” Mugs elbowed me.

“Careful, there, pal, I know people,” I said, trying to sound important.

“Uh-huh.” Bugs took a turn with the elbow.

“Stop that!,” I cried. “And why would death send goons? Doesn’t he come by himself in a black robe and scythe?” I wriggled, trying to set my personal boundaries between the two goons.

“That’s yesterday, mac. These days he contracts out, so me and Bugs here collect. And tonight you’re it, bub,” Mugs chuckled.

I tried to sit up only to be pushed back down. “Where are we going? I demand to know where we’re going. I have rights, you know!”

“Told ya, mac, to see the boss.” Bugs pulled out another cigarette, again elbowing me in the process, and lit it with the dying embers of the last one.

“You know those things give you cancer, right, bub?” I stated righteously.

Bugs looked at Mugs and they both burst out in laughter.

“Why don’t you sit back and shut your yap. We got a ways to go,” Bugs said after the laughter had died down.

The ride was all it could be given the age of the car and the characters inside it. After an indeterminate amount of time we entered the garage of a poorly lit brick building. Once again I was hustled out of the Packard, past a smirking guy with a clipboard and a bowtie, and was planted in a metal chair across from a metal desk occupied by a matronly dressed woman wearing horn-rimmed glasses.

“Name?” she asked in a dry scratchy whine.

“Clem Kadiddlehopper,” I answered snidely.

Bugs, who was standing beside me, smacked me in the head. “Act it straight, bub.”

I grumbled and gave the name I assumed they wanted.

“Now was that so hard?” Mugs asked. He was standing on the other side of me.

“The difficulty of the question was not my main objection, Mugs,” I said, somewhat deflated.

Time passed, but I had no idea how much because the room had no clock, and I no watch. Neither Mugs, or Bugs, or the matronly woman seemed particularly concerned at the pace the proceedings were taking. I, on the other hand, was growing restless.

“How long is this going to take?” I blurted out in a fit of pique.

The matronly woman peered at me over her glasses. “You see a clock in here, mister?”

“No.”

“Then there’s your answer,” she said. “Now be a nice boy and let me get back to my job.”

I was half-tempted to ask what that was, but thought the better of it. More time passed, or what passed for time. While staring at my bare feet, a light went off in my meager little head and the veil of existence lifted. I sighed and slumped in my chair. I tapped Bugs on the leg.

“I’ll take a cigarette if you don’t mind, pal,” I said.

Bugs took a smoke from his coat pocket and put it in my hand.

©2019 David William Pearce

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