I sat in the far dark corner of that nameless pub that sits along a busy road in that average town in the corner of a state some people call “Home.” This wasn’t my usual pop in. Today had a purpose. This drink in my hand had meaning and I had an appointment. Rather, an interview with none other than Death, itself.
I had called it here to have a sincere conversation about the current state of affairs in transactions and avoidance. I wanted to probe deep, in hopes I might find out something about myself along the way. I’m not sure why, but I assumed Death would be tardy, but as Death would have it, he showed up right on time. I noted my own pessimistic attitude, and a desire to wish the worst on my guest. Immediately I knew It was just as perceptive, as it was punctual.
Like a cool breeze wrapped in a dark, but sensuous cloud, It slipped into the booth in front of me. Admittedly, I was caught off guard; caught in the reverie of some other time and place playing chess with the present future. I could see that Death was amused. It enjoys a surprise entrance, and I hadn’t given It that in a long, long time… a life time ago, actually.
I could feel It’s inquisition. And as perceptive as it is, It took a moment to realize I wasn’t calling to set appointments for It to “take me” or anyone, for that matter. I wasn’t “wishing for It.” I sensed that Death rarely had true “casual conversations.” It, is aware that It exists to serve a need at times unspoken; but this wasn’t my business today.
I needed to settle a minute. I needed to acclimate to Deaths’ temperature as It sat across from me in this two sided booth. I’m not sure why I had any expectations as to how this would go, or how it would appear.
It heard me. In my head, It heard me and responded. The sense of it was… straight forward. It was incredibly normal sounding. Like I said, I don’t know what I subconsciously expected, but this was just so… normal feeling. Not like demonic voices, or screeching. It was just a normal, calm voice asking why I set this meet and greet.
I could hear my own panicked response. I didn’t want to sound panicked, in my own head, telepathically talking to Death; but I did. I didn’t know my mind could stutter or sound so nervous. Death caught wind of my insecurities and quickly stepped in.
“This is a casual appointment. No need to be nervous.”
I immediately imagined a black t-shirt with a Grim Reaper silhouette saying those words in a cartoon bubble… I wonder if …
I cut myself off, because of course Death can hear this and see this image in my mind, and I don’t want It making any money off of my ideas…. I know It has a large market share, and I know It doesn’t need my help.
“I keep wanting to anthropomorphize you into a ‘him’ “ I think, “And I don’t want to do that because you seem to be so much more than that, but modern conversation has us all hung up on gender, and sometimes, even I get dragged down that nasty alleyway.”
I physically feel the entity that Death is, nod. Do you even know what that feels like? It’s like some one kicked on the AC really quick, turned it off and then turned it on again for slightly longer, and then turned it off. Death, as a physical manifestation is like gusts of air, shifting of drafts, faint and sometimes pungent whiffs… and thoughts, some really rational sounding thoughts.
I get the smell of a cigarette. Like a freshly lit cigarette. In my minds eye, I see this shadowy entity settle back, and light one, waiting to see why it’s presence was summoned. I sense amusement at my attempt to mentally articulate gestures of relation, and the attempt to anthropomorphize.
” I don’t want to die right now. I’m sure you know that…. and I really don’t want to be here right now… I mean I don’t want to be in this world as is, not specifically this meeting. You seem to have your hand in a lot of pots right now…. just casually stirring and occasionally straining off the debris on top…. all the while maintaining your ordinary routine. Your routine since the beginning of time…”
Geez, why am I here again. Surely It can hear all of this mental chatter, It’s probably use to sifting through all of that…. how can I articulate and inquire Death? How can I get to the point and move on?
The smell of cigarettes get’s stronger, as if Death knows that I wish I had a pack of smokes right now. As if Death is taunting me with the most accessible of vices as an easy escape route… I take another drink of my seltzer water with lemon. I contemplate whether or not the bartender thinks I am a waste of space in this near vacant hole-in-the-wall. I can’t help but inhale deeply as I take in the last dregs of my water and suckle a piece of lemon flavored ice as I attempt to settle my nerves.
“I need to know why you whisper to me.”
I know it isn’t a question or a statement. I know it may not be answered, but it is the only thing I can think of under this unseen pressure.
“I need to know why you visit me, and motion to me in regard to yourself. I need to know why… I am worth your time and knowledge.”
The air shifts again. It feels less like a draft, and more like a warm breeze blowing through an open window on a spring day… It smells, of… lilacs. Not a threatening thing upon this breeze. I feel a sudden sense of comfort in all of my senses. I no longer feel edgy or insecure. This breeze, this scent is so familiar.
Not long after this realization, I again sense smoke, but more the smoke of a large fire… a structure ablaze; the muscles that had relaxed, immediately tense back up. I feel “on call”, some one has a need to be filled. I have a sense I can meet that need, but I feel an overwhelming confusion.
“How can I fight a fire, when I am not a fire fighter?”
My mind becomes immediately obsessed.
“Where is the fire?”
“Who needs me?”
“How can I help?”
My mind races, I imagine scenarios. I recall all of my rescue skills…
I dig deeper into that smell, and feeling…. The fire is close, it also smells of lilac.
I realize that I am the fire, sitting in the dark corner, of that nameless bar on that busy street in that average town in the corner of a state, some call “Home”, and I panic.
“Am I on fire? Is there a fire around me?”
I somehow steady my unsteady breath, and realize, I am still in this saturated booth, water glass with dying ice and a filmy specter across from me. It knows what I am feeling and experiencing, and it’s laughter smells like a cross between buttered popcorn and Lucky Charms cereal. Sort of earthy, but sinfully delectable.
This interview isn’t going at all, as planned; but then again I didn’t plan. I didn’t think Death would show up, and I definitely didn’t think that Death had so many smells.
“What is this even about?” I ask this with a mentally forthright force. “I feel like you are playing with me. I admit to being slightly amused, but most of this just feels like a circus show. You know, I want to know, what you know.”
Ahh! Finally I was finding a point of reference. Death is just so illusive and intimidating. Maybe he is like my tattooed cousin; if you don’t know him, he is perhaps a scary person… but once you know him, he is a jolly teddy bear.
I was satisfied in that thought… telling Death it was just a misunderstood Teddy Bear, but Death wasn’t here to make me feel better; It knew I wanted some truth, so the air became a mixture of swift and still, hot and cold. The ozone was permeated with the smell of burning garbage and perfect baked cinnamon rolls. My heart rate went up as my body temperature went down. I was perfectly uncomfortable, a uncomfortably perfect. I wanted to throw up while feeling perfect ecstasy. I wanted to escape as well as sit still… I felt on the edge of ready and run. My body, mind and heart were over taken with a simultaneous pain and pleasure that I have never known.
It was a whirlwind that seemed to last forever, until It stopped. And when It stopped, It was gone.
In that moment I knew death. I had taken It in, full force, in every possible way. And it seemed unjust and totally right, all at the same time.
We didn’t have a long conversation. Death rarely needs words to get It’s point across… It is so poignant with it’s delivery. It never acts in vein, at least of It’s own accord. It’s with us from the moment we start living, and wonders why we treat It like a stranger when It does show up. We know all the signs It is there, if we choose to knowledge It.
It, isn’t impressed that Stephen King demonized It.
Death in and of itself isn’t bad, and It’s always punctual even if we think It is too late or too early. Your perception of It, depends on your relationship to It and your observation of It… but It, is malleable, and what It is for you, is not always what It is to someone else.
It is, what It is. An end to a new beginning. Sometimes new chapters are scary, but they are necessary for the story to continue, until the story is done. Either way, Death will meet you wherever you are, unless you opt out. But that is another story.