INTERVIEWING DEATH

My fame as An Important Blogger has apparently spread beyond the realm of the living into the nether regions. A few days ago, I got a call from Death himself. His text, asking for a “one-on-one” interview popped right up on my iPhone. What else could I do? I said “Sure.” I figured it would make a good feature.

Death is the character from whom you can run, but never hide. There seem to be quite a lot of people who don’t believe he’s real. Maybe that’s why they won’t do things to protect them from Death. They think he’s never going to come for them. Other people? Sure, but not them. Ever.

Ever?

When you meet Death, your first impression is of a quiet guy. The kind of dude you never notice. He walks silently, accompanied only by a faint rustling, like fabric gently ruffled by a breeze. He fades into the background. You only notice his nearness when folks begin to disappear. He’s had a devilishly good time these past two years and in other parts of the world, his party is gearing up for a real blow out this winter.

I suppose it goes with the territory, but I have a few questions for the old buzzard.  Speaking of old,  Death does not look old. His face is unlined. He could be forty. Or two hundred and forty. His voice seemed a murmur, yet I had no trouble hearing every word he spoke. I didn’t know a stage whisper could be so loud.

Let the interview commence!

ME: I know you get everyone, eventually. It seems you’ve been taking away my crowd. Is this a Karmic thing? Have we been particularly wicked?

DEATH: Not really. You’re a hard-living crowd, but not bad in the sense of righteous or not righteous. Everyone gets a limited amount of hard living. A lot of your kinsmen used up their portion early.

ME: So partying causes an early demise?

DEATH: Not partying. Living hard. That includes working hard, worrying, not resting properly. Wears out your spirit, not just your bones. Of course, there is also a DNA component. Some of you are heartier than others. You have bodies — and souls — that can take more abuse. And the opposite. Some people are not resilient.

ME: Abuse? What do you mean by “abuse?”

DEATH: Drugs, booze. Insufficient sleep. Stress. Danger. Never taking the time to step back and understand what’s happened to you. Failure to let your soul heal, not just your body. It’s all part of one equation — and that’s you. However you slice and dice it, all the things you do or didn’t do but should have done? It’s all about you.

ME: I don’t suppose you’d let me in on the equation? Like how you calculate life and death?

DEATH: {Looks amused}

ME: Moving right along, is there anything we can do to score a few extra points with you? On the plus side, I mean.

DEATH: I’m tough but fair. Like a good coach.

ME: I never played on a team.

DEATH: Let us not bandy words. You get my drift. They use that line on every cop show on television. I know you watch TV. I’ve come round and sat with you on many an evening.

ME: {I shiver} Maybe too much television.

DEATH: Television is good stuff. Extends your life. I’m such a fan! {Death chuckles and sends a chill down my spine} Unless I’m under special orders, I never take anyone who’s watching a good show or a playoff game. Have I mentioned how much I loved Law & Order? That was a great show. I was upset when it ended. I related to it.

ME: How’s that?

DEATH: Catching bad guys, making judgments. Deciding whether to lock them up forever or hand them to me. Well, I can tell you, we don’t “do” locking up where I come from. I always take’em out of the game.

ME: So there’s no Hell?

DEATH: Did I say that?

ME: Never mind. Why so many good people? Young people? Even little children and babies?

DEATH: I have a degree of discretion, but if the Boss says “that one,” there’s no further discussion. He’s got his agenda. I follow orders. Age, sex, ethnicity, color. Sexual orientation. Don’t care, don’t discriminate. To me — us — you’re all present or future customers.

{This made me uncomfortable. I shifted in my seat. Death noticed, of course. I could see the twinkle in his pale eyes. He was enjoying my discomfort.}

DEATH: We met before. Yes, I remember. You were young the first time. A teenager. But I was told you could choose to stay or go. You stayed. Not many people get to choose. Before you ask, I have no idea why. Just following orders. Then … what, ten, twelve years ago? You were in my court, but someone in the boss’s office told me to push you back to the other side. How did that work out for you?

ME: Obviously it worked. I’m here.

DEATH: I congratulate you. You are one of the few I’ve brushed against twice who’s still on this side.

Death cust serv

At that point, I realized I needed to end the interview. Beads of sweat were breaking out along the back of my neck. I didn’t like the way my interviewee was looking at me. I felt like a bag of potatoes in a supermarket.

ME: Time to wrap this up.

DEATH: {Grinning} You think, probie?

ME: I just wanted to ask you a couple of quick questions about some of your movie roles.

DEATH:The Seventh Seal (1957)” — Ingmar Bergman’s black & white classic — is by far my favorite. I think I should have gotten a nomination at least. After that — John Huston’s 1969 A Walk with Love and Death was pretty good.

ME: Do you have favorite periods in history?

DEATH: You can’t beat the 14th century. I was the King of the world! I ruled. All good things come to an end, I suppose. Not to worry. My time will come again. Plague has never reallly gone away you know. Not entirely. Then there was the 1918 Flu pandemic — and now COVID. From the way you humans are messing around with the Earth? I’d say it’ll be my time again very soon — and hey, this last plague isn’t over yet.

I also want to mention war. I love war. That humans make war is how I know you love me. Sending off your best and brightest to die in the mud — stabbed, shot, mutilated, mowed down. Blown up. Shattered. It’s a love poem to me.

ME: Well, that’s about all the time we have for today. Let’s get together again real soon.

DEATH: {Evil smile} I think the next time we meet will be the last time.

And he gathered up his black robes and slid from the room, dark as a shadow, soundlessly.

{Fade to black}



Categories: Death and Dying, Fiction, Sci Fi - Fantasy - Time Travel

Tags: , , ,

42 replies

  1. Death doesn’t seem like that bad of a guy.

    Like

    • He’s got a really snappy sense of humor, too. I can vouch for THAT.

      Hey, my eye doctor told me I have GREAT vision — for someone my age. Don’t you love that extra comment that every doctors now adds?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m shivering….

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  3. What can I say other than what you said. “From the way you humans are messing around with the Earth? I’d say it’ll be my time again very soon — and hey, this last plague isn’t over yet.

    “I also want to mention war. I love war. That humans make WAR IS HOW I KNOW YOU LOVE ME.. Sending off your best and brightest to die in the mud — stabbed, shot, mutilated, mowed down. Blown up. Shattered. It’s a love poem to me

    “It’s a love poem to me”

    Like

    • In a variety of books I’ve read in recent years, Death shows up as a character. Especially in Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Disc World series where everyone lives on a flat world and the only round ones are experiments done by the fat, lazy wizards. Who knew that the flat Disc World concept would actually be taken up as a belief by enough people to make it a “thing”? Makes you wonder.

      Anyway, Death was an active character and at least when Terry wrote about him, Death was often pretty funny. He has also shown up in a series I was reading about Arthur and Merlin. And of course, he is my favorite character in “The Seventh Seal.” Garry is less enamored of the character than I am, but he liked the post (phew).

      Until I wrote this, i didn’t know death was hanging around, watching TV with us in the evening. That was quite a shock. The things you can learn from your own characters!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. [Looks amused] that was great fun. All the iimportant things covered, with a huge dose of dark humour. Great!

    Like

    • Why thank you so much 😀 Between my own personal brushes with this character (which were not much fun, though in retrospect they are more fun than they were at the time), the various TV and movie versions, and of course all the places he has shown up as a literary character — he has become a rather favorite character in my hidden writer’s world.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That grabbed my attention. Fantastic execution of a good idea!

    Like

    • I have met death in many books I’ve read. I guess I thought maybe it was my turn. But you know, my character taught me a lot I hadn’t known until he told me. Weird how ones own characters can do that.

      Like

  6. Great piece of writing. Really! But I am not smiling. No worries.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I attempted a re-blog with the same spectacular fail as the last time I tried it. So I’ve put your link and directed folks to come read this. It was EXCELLENT! 🙂

    A Conversation With Death 10-22-2021

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Death be not proud.
    Death is the great illusion.
    And you’ve beaten death so many times, it’s not even a fair fight.
    Because Soul (the real YOU) is eternal.
    And Soul exists because God Loves It.
    Not rational. Not intellectual. Just True.
    Spiritual Truth. Spiritual Law.
    Only Realized – never rationalized.

    How then … can we know?

    Now you’re asking the right question.

    Liked by 3 people

    • If you believe in nothing else, Death is an easy one. The personification may be imaginary, but there’s a truth waiting — trying to get out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, it’s the most common fear. The BIG one. And we all have to face it and deal with it. I must have compassion as it’s not an easy thing for many.

        Like

        • And yet there are a lot of people who are in denial about death. It CAN’T happen to them. I would love to ask them why they feel that way but I don’t see much point to that conversation. There are far too many people who are ready to believe things that are too weird for me to even discuss.

          Like

  9. Fantastic interview Marilyn. Very important points here.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Blown away here, Marilyn. This is brilliant and inspired writing. At the end of the day, death’s algorithm is truly opaque. Great post. Best, Babsje

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I meant to write something humorous for Halloween, but it didn’t work out the way I intended. One of those times when the character about whom you are writing takes on a life of his own. Thank you! I’m still surprised since I wasn’t planning to get serious. Maybe Death is one of those things about which it’s hard to be light-hearted.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome. I read it as serious AND humorous at the same time. Your character Death had some great dialog, not laugh-outloud-funny but wry and sardonic. Possibly even ironic? I think your Death character is how he should be portrayed – with intelligence not ghoulishness. More Christopher Walken than Bela Lugosi. Speaking for myself the blogs are saturated with Halloween-ish posts but yours is a timeless piece for any month and I’m glad you wrote it exactly as-is.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Really thank you! Comments like yours make my day — and also remind me WHY I do this. Sometimes, when blogging is in a lull as it seems to be right now you wonder why you bother. Then, YOU come along and I realize there IS a reason and life gets just a little bit better.

          Liked by 1 person

          • How kind of you to say, thanks. There is a lot of dross out there and reading you and Garry is a welcome antidote. Some people just seem to crank ’em out willy-nilly but your blog is written with care and intelligence and passion.

            Like

            • Which is probably why I can’t turn out writing every day. But pictures, now THAT I can do every day, as long as I spend most of the day making the pictures ready for posting. I think it’s bedtime, but first — the shower!

              Liked by 1 person

              • I’m with you. The writing is the challenging part. They don’t say “a picture is worth a thousand words” for nothing! Your photos are great and from a reader perspective you have a good balance between photos and essays.

                Like

                • That is my intention. Sometimes I’m not ready to read but I can always look.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Yep I get it. The other day you used the word “lull”. I thought about that and treated my self to a Saturday lull and did not post in the morning like I always do. What a fantastic lull it was. No stress from WordPress at all. I just may have another lull soon. You get credit for inspiring it. Thanks for that!

                    Liked by 1 person

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