Death and the Old Man

***This is a true story, or at least how I think it happened***

They said the Old Man was immortal.

He had a heart attack when he was fifty. As he lay in a hospital bed, Death visited him to announce his time had come, its creepy bony fingers pointing at him in the best theatrical manner.

The Old Man looked Death straight in the eye (if Death had eyes, that was), and said, “In your dreams, butthead.”

I guess Death was a bit stricken by that. I mean, butthead? People were still using that?

But the Old Man was right. He recovered fully. He even felt better than before. Thus Death was, for the first time in eternity, wrong.

Let’s not worry about the implications of that. Maybe Death had long sessions with its superiors, facing a sort of existential crisis, wondering, “Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going?”

It doesn’t really matter, because a few years later, the Old Man (who ate all kinds of fat and sweets in spite of being diabetic), found out he had prostate cancer.

Once again, he lay in a hospital bed, and thus Death came to tell him his time had come.

The Old Man snorted and said, “You know nothing, kid.”

Kid? I mean, KID?

But the Old Man was right again. He recovered fully, not a molecule of cancer left. He even felt 110% better.

Death was beyond puzzled. It must have repeatedly said “WTF” for five years in a row, and by the time it was done, the Old Man had just had a stroke.

Feeling dread all over, Death came to visit him, knowing what the Old Man had in store.

But for the first time, the Old Man didn’t look as fit and challenging as before. He could only move one side of his mouth and barely lift his left arm. If Death had ever felt pity, it was then, of the man who had become its biggest foe.

“Your time has come,” Death said, sensing that this time it would be true.

Through his slurred speech, the Old Man replied, “Nooot gunna haaa-ppen.”

And he was right once again.

Secretly, Death felt joy. The Old Man had become its Dr. Moriarty, the yin to its yang. Without the Old Man, Death’s existence would be boring.

Death visited him a few more times. The Old Man went to the hospital so frequently, he should have gotten a loyalty card. His resistance puzzled and amused Death.

They started talking about a number of things: the score of last night’s game, his children, food, places…At some point, Death couldn’t say if the Old Man was a former nemesis or a new friend.

Death decided that the Old Man must be immortal, as his children claimed he was. After all, none had escaped Death’s call for so many times like he had.

But it was diabetes, the silent killer, which got the Old Man in the end. No wonder. He ate burgers, fries, doughnuts, pizzas, everything he wanted.

So he went to the hospital for a surgery to save his leg. There were some complications with his kidneys, which had called it quits because they were done filtering all that shit. Then his brain, which was under a lot of stress, had an emotional breakdown, causing a stroke. Finally his heart was all “Fuck this shit” and gave up on him too.

“It’s all right,” the Old Man later said as he played chess with Death. “Those organs bought me a lot of extra time.”

“I don’t think it was the organs,” Death said. “It was your will over them.”

The Old Man half-nodded, considering it. Then he let out an earthy laugh. “We did have some fun times, heh?”

Death chuckled. “Yeah, we did.” It moved its king to the upper left corner. “Checkmate.”

The Old Man grinned. “In your dreams, kid.” And with four moves, he had Death’s king in his hand.

This one is for you, dad.


10 thoughts on “Death and the Old Man

  1. This was at once moving, poignant (I hate the “g” in that word) and hilarious. I hope I can be as funny when facing the death of a parent. I must ask, though: Can you see any possible scenario where Death would actually have “superiors?” Seeing as how everybody answers to him in the end anyway and all. I know I’m peeing on your existential party. Just sayin’. 😉

  2. Pingback: Holy Schnitzel, an Award! | C.S. Wilde

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