Me and My Friend Jerry, The Angel of Death
Me and My Friend Jerry, The Angel of Death
(Or, How I Learned to Stop Fearing and Love the After Life).
Today could arguably be called the worst day in my life. I am certain you have heard many people tell you that throughout your life, in fact you may have said it yourself a time or two. I hope you don’t feel as if I am diminishing your woes, but believe me, they do not compare to mine at the moment.
You know when you watch movies, how the hero of the story is faced with some life or death struggle yet he, or she still finds the time to do a narration so the audience knows what they’re thinking? I never thought that was realistic…until now. It turns out you can narrate in your head when you are about to die.
But I digress.
By now you are asking yourself- why is this guy having such a bad day? To bring you up to speed I am surrounded by flames from a tanker truck that exploded in front of me and my friend, Jerry. In addition there is an Angel of Death named Nebuchadnezzar coming toward me (and no I am not using colorful, literary devices here, I mean he is literally an Angel of Death- not the Angel of Death, he is on a sabbatical), and there is also a dead circus clown at my feet. Knowing people like I do, you probably were willing to accept everything except the dead clown. Forget the fact that there are cosmic entities after me, all you wanna know is where the clown came from.
Nebuchadnezzar is making his way to me and he is mad, Jerry is screaming and crying, and I am out of options. I don’t think I have much time, so let me tell you how I got to this point, and I pray this never happens to you.
Debatable, this could all be blamed on Jerry. I’ll never tell him this because he is sensitive about things, and because I am probably about to meet a very horrible end...but yeah...I blame Jerry.
Jerry and I have been friends since before either of us knew how to walk or talk. We shared the same crib, the same toys, even the same vomit they call baby food. We’ve been inseparable since birth; the best of friends.
When we learned how to walk and talk we got into everything and made a disaster wherever we went. To be fair, Jerry was always the one who made the mess and I was always the one who got blamed for it. I remember whining to my mother, telling her that it was Jerry, but she never believed me. It’s not that Jerry was a perfect kid or anything; it was just that she couldn’t see him. In fact no one could, but me.
Jerry was not a ghost, nor was I like the kid from that Bruce Willis movie; for whatever reason, Jerry and I always had a connection. Eventually I learned that Jerry was not from this world.
When I was about nine years old I realized something was different about our friendship. My mom and dad called me in for a “talk”, and they informed me that they were concerned because I was still talking to and blaming my imaginary friend, Jerry for everything. I argued for awhile and pointed at Jerry several times indicating that he was right in front of them. Jerry, to his credit, did his best to be vocal, but they couldn’t hear him. It was at this point that I began to wonder if Jerry was real or not. However, by the time I was twelve and Jerry was still around I knew I wasn’t imagining, crazy maybe, but not imagining.
Jerry didn’t have it any easier. When he went to school, he was constantly ridiculed by his other classmates. His school never sounded fun. From what he said, it was constant work, learning how to file papers, fill out forms, and take ethics classes, plus no recess! He was an Angel of Death in training.
I never understood this when I was young, but it made sense when I was older. Jerry explained it to me in simple terms. Death, was a busy man and had a quota of at least 40,000 people to fill every day, therefore he needed help. Like any good businessman, he hired helpers, mainly illegals, started a training program, and was finally able to take vacations.
Jerry started school when I was ten years old; he told me that made him twenty, even though he still looked nine; something about him aging similar to a cat or dog. In class, he would always talk about me and our friendship and the good times we’d have. Half the class thought he was nuts, the other half thought he was an attention seeking. Either way, he was always the object of scorn. Jerry used to cry to me about the kids who would call him a “homo lover”. Jerry wasn’t gay, but the fact that he was friends with a human and we’re homo-sapiens, made for endless jokes and ridicule.
It was about Jerry’s eleventh birthday, (twenty-two in his years) that everyone realized that Jerry wasn’t making things up and that he really was friends with a human. Jerry apparently was able to cross over planes of existence and be seen by me. I don’t think he even knew how he was able to do it, but it was strictly forbidden for the two worlds to interact. The only time a person is allowed to see an Angel of Death, is when it was their time to go, or if that Angel of Death was a graduated student and knew how to blend in without causing a commotion.
Jerry was punished severely for breaking this law of the universe by being put in charge of animal control. That is to say he had to help with the killing of animals. Even in the spirit world they hated killing animals, soul or not (especially kittens). When he first told me about it, I was appalled when he told me what he had to do all I could say was, “wow, that’s pretty messed up!”
Jerry was pretty depressed about it, and I became his unofficial therapist, but I made sure to keep my pet away from Jerry for awhile. I finally had to accept the fact that he had no choice. Everything dies eventually and it was Jerry’s job, and others like him, to facilitate the transfer to the next world.
Jerry continued his visits to me despite stern warnings from the people in charge of him. He managed to keep his visits a secret until his graduation. I was fifteen when Jerry graduated and was promoted to an Apprentice Angel of Death. It was a training program in which recent graduates tag along with a more experienced Angel and learn the ropes and tricks of the trade.
He would come back to my house, usually late at night and tell me stories of his day or week, depending how long it had been since we saw each other. He told me the story of a scuba diver that was found dead on top of some Sequoia trees. Turns out that was Jerry’s mentor. Apparently it happened to be the appointed time for that person to check out, but Jerry’s mentor decided it would be funny to have a fire plane scoop him out of the water and drop him over a forest fire. Jerry was appalled, I laughed. Truth be told, Jerry did not like his job very much. In the history of death, he took the longest to gradate out of the apprentice program.
It took me awhile to get used to what Jerry did for a living, but after a time, it became routine to hear about people that he “transferred”, as he liked to call it. Death is a horrible business; we had to make it entertaining. After awhile I was able to laugh at the absurd stories and learned to comfort Jerry when he transferred someone that he didn’t want to.
I will always remember the day he was promoted out of the apprenticeship. There was a knock at my door, my mom answered, and there standing in front of her was Jerry. She was polite and said hello, and Jerry informed her we were college friends and he was part of my study group. It was a great day for Jerry; he always told me when he graduated the first person he would physically appear to was me and my mom so she could finally meet him. Upon being awarded the certificate of completion, an Angel of Death is allowed to appear to anyone he or she wishes and make “transfers” in the manner they saw fit.
When my mom came to get me she said “A really pale looking guy named Jerry is here to see you.” At first I freaked out and asked her if he shook her hand or hugged her. My mom looked confused, but the fact that she was still alive answered my question. I explained that he suffered from a pigment problem, like Michael Jackson. She told me that explained the gloves he wore. “Didn’t you have an imaginary friend named Jerry once?”
We hit the town that night, and Jerry was a big hit with my friends. He had to be very careful not to touch any of them without his gloves; otherwise they would have instantly died. It was one of the drawbacks of his new position. Needless to say I was a little nervous that night, and made sure to keep an eye on his gloved hand. While he was able to appear to people, he also now held the power of living impairment at his fingertips. From then on out I was very cautious before shaking his hand.
The next few years went by well. He started dating a girl in the Life Factory (Jerry told me they are the ones who put souls in babies), and they seemed to be pretty happy together, and Jerry was happy to be around a giver of life, considering what he had to do. My life was going pretty good too. I was a college graduate now, had a great job trading stocks, and a pretty hot on and off again girlfriend. I remember thinking to myself, “self, life can’t get any better.” I was absolutely right, it didn’t get any better.
Two days before my twenty-fifth birthday, Jerry stopped by my apartment and asked me to accompany him to a funeral. I thought it was ironic, but reluctantly, I agreed, despite the fact that I knew this would turn into a very long therapy session. Jerry, was feeling very guilty over the his latest client, a guy named JoJo, partly because Jerry, prior to sending JoJo to his maker, bumped into him at a bar, had a few drinks with the guy and found him to be an incredibly deep thinker. Jerry said he was a poet of unmatched depth… whatever that means.
He talked endlessly about the guy till we get to the funeral home. Walking into the chapel hall I was greeted by a nightmarish sight, that I thought was going to give me a heart attack. All I saw in front of me was a sea of white painted faces and red and orange hair. They all turned back to Jerry and I and gave us a quizzical, disapproving look.
Apparently JoJo, was a professional clown at the circus. The deep poet, was a card carrying member of the North American Clown Association (or NACA as the pros called it), Bozo the Clown was a charter member; and there right before me, was my worst nightmare, a room full of clowns. Most people might see this as abnormal, but I hated clowns. If dentist are no more than medical school dropouts, then clowns are nothing more then out of work Mimes. The fact that they wore a mask to hide their faces spoke volumes of their true nature.
Jerry and I sat in the back row and listened patiently as the ordained minister, who also happened to be a clown, recited his sermon.
“I’m a monster!” Jerry exclaimed to me.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“I killed a clown…a clown for Godsake!”
I had to remind Jerry that it was simply his time go and that’s how it works. I reiterated the same speech Jerry gave me when I became apprehensive about staying friends when I realized that he killed people for a living. It is simply the natural order of things, we are born, we live, and we die. Death is not a bad thing, it’s just that Death’s publicist did a lousy job during the Middle Ages and subsequently everyone is afraid of dying. The speech did not have a positive effect on Jerry. He either needed a break from work or had become disillusioned. At least he died doing something he loved, I told him.
“He had an aneurism while going to the bathroom. That is not a dignified way to go!” He said.
“Wait, you killed him while he was going to the bathroom? What's a matter with you?”
“It wasn’t my fault,” he said. “I took too long and got a text message that I needed to do it fast or else they were going to assign it to someone else, and God only knows what they would have done. You may not know this but clowns are not very popular within our circles.”
“Personally, I hate them,” I said.
“Well then maybe we should switch jobs and you can go and kill as many clowns as you would like,” He responded fighting back what I think were tears.
The clowns around us stood up and we did the same to pay our respects and in unison they all pinched their red noses and made a honking sound…it was touching in a creepy kind of way.
As we walked out of the funeral home, Jerry’s phone rang. Agents of Death have phones, it was recently agreed upon by the union that Jerry belonged to that it was time to upgrade to the modern world and make things more efficient. However, Jerry said the system was constantly screwing up and had created quite the backlog. I could tell the phone call wasn’t good because Jerry’s face looked more white than usual. He hung up the phone and took a deep sigh.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I have to pull a double shift all next week, apparently there’s going to be some Tsunami in the Philippines next week, so I have to finish all my other assignments this week.”
“I hate it when that happens,” I responded.
“Well, I’ll catch you later, and if I don’t see you on your birthday, happy birthday!
I heard him mutter something about checking his inbox as he vanished before me.
Life is full of irony. Take mine for example. I hate clowns and the circus as a whole, so my girlfriend, Lyla, decided to take me to a circus for my birthday. First of all I wasn’t turning eight, so I was thinking a different venue. Apparently one of her co-workers was part of the clown act that evening as a charity benefit to help children with that condition that makes their skin flaky. He and some others were supposed to do three shows over the next couple of days.
I sat in utter disgust as clowns smacked each other’s with paddles, climbed into a small car, and shot water out of a plastic flower. I always believed in both Heaven and Hell. You see Heaven had a no clowns allowed policy, and Hell was this, stuck in a room full of grown men wearing make-up. It wasn’t that I had a problem with men wearing makeup- I mean, not my thing- but hey, to each his own- it was that I suffered from a debilitating condition called Coulrophobia. It’s the fear of clowns; total petrifying fear. Since I was a kid I always imagined that some demon was hiding behind that mask, just waiting for me to get close enough so he would swallow me whole! Needless to say, I hated every minute of that night.
After the show we went back stage and met up with her co-worker, some guy named Dean. He seemed like a nice enough guy; tall and lanky and he looked like a clown, even without the make-up.
“Dean, this is my boyfriend,” Lyla said.
“How’s it going?” Dean said as he extended his hand out to me. When his palm touched with mind a shock went through me and a loud buzz went off.
“Oh, I am so sorry, I forgot that was there,” he said as he removed the shocker.
“No problem,” I said rather aggravated.
“So how did you two like the show?”
“Oh, we loved it, an absolute blast!” Lyla exclaimed rather cheerily.
“I really don’t like clowns,” I really thought I used my inside voice.
“Really? Well, you know, they are a very selfless group. All they want to do is make people laugh,” Dean said convicted.
“I thought that was a comedian’s job!” I said with a loud laugh.
No one laughed with me; instead I was greeted by icy stares from both of them. The conversation continued, mainly with me listening and only nodding occasionally. When Lyla and Dean said their good-bye’s we walked to the car. I could tell she was mad at me. The hint came when she said…
“I’m mad at you!”
Apparently she felt that I was rude to Dean and insensitive to those kids with the dandruff on their skins (I know there is a name for that condition but it eludes me at the moment).
“Do you ever realize what a jerk you are?” She said out loud.
“Not often,” I replied, and I really did mean it.
Well we agreed to disagree and Lyla slammed her car door and drove off, leaving me at the Big Top stranded.
“Well, happy birthday to me.”
I had to wait twenty minutes for the cab I called to arrive, and then I had to pay fifty-five dollars to get to my apartment.
I walked in, and was at least greeted by a friend. Jerry sat there in my couch looking rather morose.
“Sorry about what happened with you and Lyla.”
“How did you know about that?” I asked.
“Oh, we have our own version of Google earth, I can type in any name and it’ll show on a video screen what’s going on.”
I turned my back to him and threw my jacket off.
“Yeah, it sucks. I don’t know what her problem is. I’m seriously thinking about calling it quits after tonight. That’ll make what? Four times we’ve broken up in a year! I am too young and have too much more ahead of me to be burdened by her crap!”
I felt Jerry’s hand go on my shoulder and took a deep breath. He was always a great friend.
“I’m so sorry,” He said sobbing loudly.
“For what?” I asked.
I turned to look at Jerry, and he stood there with his eyes shut and tears streaming down his bone colored face.
“Jerry, what’s the matter with you?
He opened his eyes wide and stared at me with bewilderment for a moment. Then he stared at his gloved hand.
“Oh my God, I forgot to take off the glove!”
“I can’t do it! I can’t!” Jerry was yelling now, well wailing would be a better word.
“Jerry, what the---“
Then I realized it. Jerry stood before me, puppy dog eyes and all. He had screwed up, (which happened often), his glove was supposed to be off when he touched me; I was supposed to be his next client. I stared back for a moment, tears welling up in my eyes. I felt betrayed. I didn’t know what to say. But then I came up with something.
“You've got to be kidding me! After all we’ve been through! You were going to…you meant to…”
“I’m sorry, they don’t leave me much of a choice, I got an email forwarded to me that it was your time to go. They actually assigned you to someone else, but I begged and pleaded with them to let me be the one to do it. I was going to do it painlessly, you wouldn’t have felt a thing”
“I guess I should feel grateful you didn’t do it while I was in the bathroom! I can’t believe you. How could you not tell me sooner?” I yelled.
“I’m not in upper management; I don’t get the list until they come out!”
“So that’s it, my time to go? I can’t believe this!”
I fell onto my couch while saying this. Jerry sat down on the floor, his head hung low. I could tell he felt
bad about the whole thing, and I felt bad for yelling at him. It wasn’t really his fault after all, and he was
trying to be a friend about it.
“Jerry, I can’t die yet. I just turned twenty five! I mean, today is my birthday! You know how much living I have left to do?”
“According to my notes you are actually in negative time right now. You should have been dead three minutes ago.”
God bless Jerry, the guy never new what a rhetorical questions was.
“I mean this can’t be happening! I’m not ready!”
“Stop being selfish! How do you think I feel? I get to go through eternity knowing I took out my best friend. Do you know how much my insurance rates are going to go up because of the therapy I’m going to need?”
It was at that moment Jerry’s phone rang. I knew it was his work calling. He answered and gave very short answers to their questions. I knew the verdict would not be good. He hung up the phone and began to weep again. He looked more sad than I did.
He was right, I was being selfish. Jerry was going to have the most difficult time with this why should I make it worse.
“Okay, okay!” I shouted. “If this is it then this is it! Fine, I forgive you for doing your job, can I at least call my mom and say bye?”
“Hang on, let me check,” He said while hitting the call back button on his phone.
The conversation was shorter, but Jerry looked somewhat satisfied with the answer.
“Okay, you have to do it fast. Like within the next two minutes. Apparently we are going in que at work because you are still around.”
I know he didn’t mean for it to come out callus, but it did. I sighed and shook my head and muttered a few curses under my breath as I dialed my mom’s number. It rang twice and went to voicemail. She never answered the phone. I thought about leaving a long message but simply said I love you and hung up.
“Wait, one more thing!” I said.
“What? No! You already used your one more thing!”
“No, you said I have two minutes, I’ve only used one.” I said while dialing numbers.
“Who are you calling now?” He asked.
“What for, she doesn’t like you, and seeing that you are supposed to be dead, I can tell you that I never liked her!”
“Well you picked a great time to tell me!”
She didn’t answer, so I hung up and started calling again.
“If you’re calling her to apologize then-“
“Why would I do that? I’m calling to tell her I done with her.”
“Okay, listen, you’re in shock, okay, you are not making sense. You have less then a minute left of life, and instead of making peace with your maker, you want to tell off your girlfriend!” He said.
I called again, no luck. The third time I called, she answered, or she at least hit the answer button by accident. Before I could say a word I heard moans, groans, and I could have sworn a honking noise.
“I can’t believe this!”
“What?” Jerry asked.
“This day can’t get any worse. My best friend is going to kill me and my girlfriend is cheating on me right now!”
“Look I’m sorry, but we can’t delay this anymore. I wish there was more I could do,
But we can’t, and besides didn’t you just say you were through with her?”
Before he could finish I was putting on my jacket and heading to the door.
“What are you doing?” He asked behind me.
“What does it look like I’m doing. I am going to go over to Lyla’s and confront her about this!”
“What for? You are supposed to be dead!”
“Well that is your fault for screwing that part up. I don’t care if your call center is getting backed up, I’m going now. You coming with me?
Surprisingly he came with me. He was nervous the entire trip. His phone was ringing off the hook and he received one hundred text messages.
“I am so fired! I’ll be lucky if they don’t just banish me from existence, and for what! So you can end things with your girlfriend you don’t even like.”
I pulled into Lyla’s driveway and turned off the ignition.
“You know what, this is what your problem is, you always have to have the last word, literally in this case!”
“I promise this is the last thing I need to do and then you can do your thing, okay? I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m fine with it, you know, whatever, it’s fine”
“You are in shock. I’m going to be extinguished because of you!” He said flatly.
I could tell he was preoccupied with other worries. I felt horrible. There I was putting my friend in the most difficult situation of his existence and I all I could do was focus on what I was going to say to Lyla. Maybe I was selfish, maybe I was a jerk, and maybe if I had a few more years of life I would have realized this at some point.
I had everything planned out as I gently turned her lock with the key she had once given to me. I could hear two people giggling upstairs as I ventured slowly in that direction. Jerry was close behind not saying a word. We had made it to the door which was slightly cracked open. I peered through the opening and saw my girlfriend deeply entrenched in a kiss with another man, wearing red shoes five sizes too big for him!
I stormed into the room and made sure the door slammed to the wall for affect. Lyla was lifted off the guy in a panic and she hit the floor. He jumped up, and put his hands in the air like I was there to arrest him.
“It’s not what it looks like!” Lyla screamed at me in panic.
“Really, because it looks like you’re making out with this clown!” I was being literal, Dean was wearing his clown make up and kept the shoes on.
“I am so sorry, she said you guys were breaking up anyway,” Dean said in terror.
“I can’t believe you! Do you have any idea what kind of day I am having? And on my birthday, you couldn’t wait till tomorrow! Tomorrow would be fine for this…you know why? Because I won’t be here tomorrow!”
I was pacing around the room now, fists and teeth clenched.
“Okay, no more, don’t put yourself through anymore. Maybe it’s for the best I’m here” Jerry said, trying to help.
“What's he doing here?” Lyla asked
“Don’t worry about it. Hang on Jerry, I need to do one more thing.”
“Of course you do! Need I remind you that my existence is on the line here!”
“I know and I’m sorry, but for all the years of helping you with your issues, I need your help now, alright?”
Jerry looked ready to say something, but he finally nodded.
“What is he talking about?” Lyla asked still on the floor.
I didn’t bother answering. I walked straight up to Dean and punched him in the bright red nose. His head snapped back and the honking noise echoed in the room. Dean shook his head and looked back at me.
“I deserved that, but wait,” He said removing his red, rubber nose. “Do it again, because I honestly can’t feel anything with this thing on my—“
Before he could finish I decked him again across the jaw sending him to the floor. Lyla screamed and ran to him.
“I’m gonna call the police!”
“Go ahead, I’m heading to greener pastures, baby,” I looked back to Jerry, “I am right?”
“Not my department, but I will put in a good word for you. Can we please get this over with, I’m starting to get an anxiety attack.”
“Fine, but not here, outside.”
Jerry and I stood on Lyla’s lawn, neither of us moving or talking. His glove was off and he was trying to psyche himself out for the inevitable. I was making mental notes of my life and was pleasantly pleased. Minus this fiasco, it wasn’t a bad run. Granted, too short of a run…it was more like a sprint actually…ah hell, who was I kidding, I didn’t want to die!
“Jerry, hurry up and do this before I start crying and die like a wus!” I said this while crying.
Jerry walked to me, the tears were back and snot was coming out of his nose. Poor guy, I thought. We were face to face now, the bestest friend I had ever known.
“I love you, man!” He said.
“I love you too, Jerry,” I replied. I meant that in the most hetero-sexual way possible.
Jerry leaned into me and hugged me, his ungloved hand touching my back. He cried and kept on saying he was a monster. I patted his back and tried to console him, like a good friend should. Then I realized I still wasn’t dead.
“Uh, Jerry, I think we have a problem.”
Jerry stopped his dramatics and broke off his embrace. He stared at his hand making sure the glove was off. He touched my shoulder, then my check and then he flicked my forehead, which really annoyed me.
“Oh no,” He said.
“What! Oh no, what?” I asked.
Jerry grabbed his cell phone and looked at his text messages.
“We regret to inform you but your certification has been temporarily suspended due to job performance.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means they removed some of my authority,” he replied while thumbing through the rest of the messages.
“That’s great! Does that mean I get a reprieve?” I asked hope filled.
From behind me Lyla’s door opened and Dean walked out in full clown garb.
“What are you guys still doing here? Come one you already hit me…twice, let’s just call it even.”
A loud noise screeched in the distance. It sounded like a million tons of steel being crunched together. We all looked up and saw a large eighteen-wheeler skidding on its side heading right for us. The signs on the side of it read “flammable material” in several languages, interestingly enough, I read it first in Spanish. The company’s logo was directly in our view, and the words “Pale Horse Chemicals” kept coming closer at an alarming rate. On top of the skidding metal monster was a pale rider standing tall and not in the least bit worried. I knew it was Jerry’s replacement. Jerry ran first (he always scared easy), followed by me. I looked back and saw Dean still standing there in shock. I ran back and yanked him just before the truck slammed into my car. The tanker ripped open and a clear liquid poured out of it. I saw the rider moving his finger and the liquid seemed to obey his command an encircle us.
“We are so dead!” Jerry screamed.
“Why? Who is that?” I yelled back not knowing where to run to.
“That’s Nebuchadnezzar! He is by far the best of the best. I mean he makes what we do an art form. The Bubonic plague, the Spanish Flu, spontaneous human combustion…all him!”
Nebuchadnezzar jumped down and landed a few feet from us. He was tall, at least eight feet, and evil looking…Jerry was right, we were dead. I wanted to run but there was no where to go.
“You’re in a lot of trouble, Jerry.” He said slowly, with such a deep voice it made James Earl Jones sound like a mouse.
“Excuse me. I don’t what is going on, but it was nothing to do with me, so I am going to leave now.” Dean finally said. He talked in a dreamlike manner and started to walk away, his red shoes sloshing into the flammable liquid.
“Dean Carlson?” Nebuchadnezzar spoke.
“Yes, sir.” Dean said, childlike.
Right at that moment Dean exploded into flames. He did not catch on fire, he EXPLODED into flames. Poor guy was dead before he knew it. My jaw dropped in shock.
“I hate clowns,” Nebuchadnezzar said.
“Was that really necessary?” Jerry screamed!
“Yes, it was! Because you are backing us up and we are behind by weeks now, so I am having to transfer people every chance I get to clear your mess, Jerry! And because I hate working overtime, I am going to transfer these people with extreme prejudice!”
The flames from Dean’s body ignited the liquid around us and Jerry and I were now encircled with a wall of flames. Nebuchadnezzar started walking toward us.
I was absolutely still, paralyzed with fear. I was watching my death walk to me. He stretched out his hand, only inches from me.
“Leave him alone!”
Jerry screamed as he tried to put himself between me and Nebuchadnezzar. Jerry was a true friend, he didn’t stand a chance, but he still tried. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t even touch him, he just flicked his wrist and Jerry went flying into the upper window of Lyla’s house. I could hear Lyla scream, and I was at least relieved to know she was okay, although part of me would have liked to have seen her spontaneously combust too. Not really, but I was still mad at her.
I tried to remember everything Jerry ever told me about death and dying. No endings, just new beginnings.
“You’re not supposed to be afraid of death.” Jerry told me once.
I decided to meet my death head on. I stood straight up, dignified, and trying to look like there was no fear in me. That lasted for about two seconds. He was standing right in front of me now, his face so close to mine I could feel his breath. He smiled at me, and I lost my bladder at that point.
“Michael Anthony Tamlyn?” He asked in an almost declarative kind of way.
“Yes,” I started. “I’m Michael…wait, what?”
“Michael Anthony Tamlyn?”
“No, I’m Michael Alexander Tamlin.”
“What?” He face looked surprised for a moment. “You’re lying”
“No, I’m not! I’m Michael Alexander Tamlin!”
“Tamlyn with a Y or an I?” He asked, very annoyed.
“With an I.” I was very unsure as to what was happening.
“Let me see your driver’s license, now!”
“He’s telling the truth,” Jerry said, walking out of the door, holding the back of his head.
“You stay out of this, you’re in enough trouble, and your father is very mad at you right now. Hey, hey, I don’t have all night, give me your driver’s license, and so help me God if you’re lying I will make what I did to that clown look like a mercy killing.”
I was so thankful I had me license with me. He stared at it, and then at me, and then back at the license.
“One moment, please.” He said as he got his phone out.
For the next few minutes the conversation went from him telling a Quality Assurance Rep the problem, to him yelling at some IT guy about the new systems screwing up again, to finally talking to a manager about Jerry. When he hung up, he stared right at me and Jerry.
“Okay,” Nebuchadnezzar started, “We’ve never done this before, but I am supposed to issue you an apology for any inconvenience this may have caused you. I am further ordered to tell you that this never happened. If anyone asks you, have no idea how any of this took place. Because of our screw up, which I would like to say was not my fault, but a computer glitch in the new system we put in- and if I have any say so in the matter Bill Gates will be the next person who explodes- because of our screw up we are letting you know you will not have to worry about seeing us again till you’re a great grandfather, at which time you will pass away… peacefully. Is that acceptable?”
“That works for me. What about Jerry?” I asked, looking at my sad friend next to me.
“While Jerry is a pain, he will be reinstated immediately without any loss of benefits. Now if you two will excuse me I have work to attend to.”
“Wait!” I said. “What about, Dean? I mean come on, that was uncalled for.”
Nebuchadnezzar stopped for a minute and stared at what was left of Dean’s charred torso.
“Fine, I admit, I was a little angry at the time, I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? Come on, you have the powers of the universe at your finger tips, you can do better than sorry,” I said.
“It was his time to go…can’t help it.”
“Hang on, for all you know he was a computer glitch too, I mean for all we know we need to re-evaluate our whole upcoming quarter.” Jerry said.
The eight foot tall, grim man, thought for a moment, then flipped his phone open.
“Yeah, I’m gonna need the Life Factory to recycle back Dean Klaterton’s soul, and we better cancel the tsunami next week till I can sort all this out.” He said hanging up the phone.
The ashes surrounding Dean began to swirl and coalesce with a green glow emitting around them. Before our eyes Dean was layered back together. After a moment he was intact, clown nose and all.
He took a gasp of air and his eyes were wide in panic. He sat up screaming and yelling.
“Hey, hey, calm down and look at me!” Nebuchadnezzar said with authority.
Dean looked at his former slayer. Nebuchadnezzar waved his hand in front of Dean who stopped yelling and became calm and lucid.
“You’re not going to remember any of this. Now go back in the house and tell your lady friend there was a car accident, but everyone is alright.”
Dean nodded and walked back to the house.
“Happy?” Nebuchadnezzar asked.
“Yeah, thanks.” I said.
He began to walk and then turned back to us.
“Out of curiosity, did you like my entrance?”
Jerry and I looked at each other and decided it was not wise to push our luck anymore.
“It was spectacular!” Jerry said.
“Scared me to death, no pun intended.” I said.
Nebuchadnezzar smiled and disappeared, the wall of flames around us being extinguished as well.
“Jerry, I don’t know what to tell you, but thanks”
“For what, I nearly killed you!” Jerry replied.
“But you didn’t, and you stood up to that guy for me, seriously, you couldn’t ask for a better friend.”
“Really, after all this you still want to be friends with an Angel of Death?”
“Jerry, death is not such a bad thing, you told me that. I think I’m starting to get it.”
“Thanks, that means a lot to me. So now what? You gonna to try to patch things up with Lyla?”
“No, I’ll let Dean put up wither her. After a month, he’ll wish he was dead. But I do think we should leave before police and fire trucks show up and we have to explain everything.”
“I’ll get the agency to clear it up for you, no worries.”
We stood there a moment longer and began to walk away.
“You know, it’s still your birthday. How about a drink?”
“Jerry, after the day I’ve had I need one.”
I put my arm around my friends shoulder and he was about to do the same when I realized his glove was off. I jumped back and decided it would be safer to walk next to death than stay in his way.