Henry’s long ride with death

twistedvintage-deathride2

Henry rode with Death his entire life, but it never really cramped his style.

For the most part, other people couldn’t see Death, hanging on his coat-tails wherever he went, and whatever he did. It was usually the very old and the terminally ill, and Henry learned not to frequent hospitals and old folk’s homes after a (bad) decision to entertain his grandmother and all her friends in the Gentle Repose Rest Home. (There was nothing gentle or restful about the walker-enabled slow stampede away from the Henry’s constant companion.) In the early 70s, Henry had an intense relationship with a sensual hippy who was into transcendental meditation and tantric sex. The latter, especially, seemed to help her pierce the veil, and during an hour-long climax she spotted Death, hanging around in their bedroom.

“He looks bored,” Jenny had said.

“Yes. I think Death is bored much of the time. You’d think there would be a more efficient way to do it.”

“To do what?” she’d asked, and then adjusted her position a bit. “There. That’ll keep it going.”

“Well, everyone has their own Death. I can see them all.”

“Oh, me too?”

“Everyone. Your’s looks more bored than mine.”

“Hmm. Let’s ignore them, then.”

But for the most part, human beings were unable to see Death, hovering around them at all times. For Henry, it made the world seem a bit crowded. For every person, there was a dark doppelganger. A cloaked figure with that signature scythe.

It always seemed a bit cliché to him, that Death would represent itself in such a hackneyed way, and one day, Henry asked his Death about it. This would have been years before the incident.

“So, what’s with the scythe. Why do you all have them?”

Death was speechless. It had never realized that Henry could see it. “You’re aware of me? Like, my physical presence?”

“Sure,” Henry said. “I can see all you guys. Or whatever. It’s hard to tell with those cloaks and masks.”

“It’s not a mask! It’s my face, man.”

“Oh. Sorry. Well, what is the deal? Why the outfits.”

“We thought it would be helpful branding. You know, so when you’re supposed to see us, you know what’s about to happen. That way we get fewer ghosts. Most people become ghosts because they don’t see us coming, or the just don’t believe it’s us.”

“So what happens after?” Henry, like all humans, always wondered.

“I can’t tell you that! Who says anything happens?” Death said.

“Fair enough. You’ve got to keep the mystery alive. All part of the brand, right?”

“I suppose so. You have no idea what happens to me if I tell you anything about what happens after.”

“Bad?”

“It makes me seem like a pussycat. Now, let’s go back to me pretending you don’t see me, okay?”

“So you did know?”

“Of course. I was there when you were doing your tantric thing with Jenny, you know.”

“Right. I wonder whatever happened to Jenny?”

“Died of a heroin overdose in 1977.”

“Bummer,” Henry said. “She was one of the good ones.”

Death was non-committal.

After that conversation, Henry got back to the job of living his life. After Jenny he’d met and married Diane, and they’d had two kids. He worked in a large corporation, building a career that eventually led to upper management. He was the kind of boss that everyone liked, even the shareholders. He had a joy in living, in engaging with people, helping them when he could, that was infectious. He lived every moment as fully as he could

Then one day Death spoke to him again. He was at the carnival with his kids — it was a spur of the moment kind of thing. He’d taken the afternoon off from work, and pulled his son and daughter out of school, and they’d spent hours riding the rides, playing the games. The rollercoaster looked too scary for the children, so Henry said he’d ride it first, to show them it was okay. That’s when Death said:

“I’m really not suppose to do this, but I have to warn you not to get onto that rollercoaster.”

“Oh?” Henry said.

“Yes. Because, you know, there are many times when you could die and this is most assuredly one of them. Definitely one of them.”

“So you’re saying I’ll die if I get on the rollercoaster?”

“Well, all the probabilities say that. I don’t make the final decision,” Death said, and then added. “Shit, I’m really not supposed to tell you that.”

“But you have an impact.”

“Of course. I have some impact. In fact, I’m the guy who pulls the trigger, so to speak.”

“So it is up to you?”

“Ultimately. But I have to have really good reasons to not . . . follow orders.”

“Understood,” Henry said. “Now, let’s go show my kids there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The FatnessThe End

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Alltop laughs at death. Photograph via Twisted Vintage.

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Remembering The Beard Wars

bearded gentleman with an extremely long, matted beard

by Mark A. Rayner

“Captain Chiggerson, can you hear me? Captain?”

“I can hear you! I’m blind, not deaf.”

“Sorry Captain, but you didn’t seem to be responding,” the historian asked. He was a young man, and was frankly shocked by the Captain’s long beard, his lifeless eyes. He’d met many veterans of the Beard Wars, but he’d never gotten used to their dead stares, their broken minds, their creepy long beards.

“Well, I was thinking,” Captain Chiggerson explained.

“About the war?”

“Of course I was thinking about the war. What the hell is wrong with you, are you simple? You just asked me about what role I played in the war, ye whippersnapper!”

“Of course, Captain. I didn’t want to interrupt your train of thought, but these Flannigan pornograph recording cylinders are expensive, and they’re only good for a half-hour of recording time.”

“Well, it’s not a thing a man wants to think about. All the lives lost. The horrors”

“Naturally, but it’s important that future generations understand what happened during the Beard Wars. You know, so it never happens again,” the historian said. He sported an impressive set of friendly mutton chops, which left his chin bare, but otherwise covered his face with hair. It was an old-fashioned facial hair style, but he found it made his interview subjects more comfortable, and likely to answer his questions, because their hero, General Hiram I. R. Sute, made the style so famous.

Of course, his current subject couldn’t see, so it wasn’t helping. “So, you were going to tell me about the start of the wars. What did you do before the wars began?” the historian prompted.

“I was a barber.”

The FatnessThe End

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Alltop is always in need of a trim. bearded gentleman, a photo by Foxtongue on Flickr. Originally published June, 2012.

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One of the Magi Explains About the Myrrh

three magi at night
Everyone keeps giving me crap about my gift to Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, and King of Kings.

“Isn’t myrrh basically perfume for mummies?” these ass-clowns keep asking me. “Is that an appropriate gift for a BABY?”

Look, first off you have to realize that I planned to bring gold.

But Caspar called dibs on that. Fair enough, I thought, he is the “Keeper of the Treasure” or whatever those freaky Chaldeans call him. I don’t know. Those people have some weird habits. Ever heard of doing the Chaldean Donkey? But they have lots of gold, and Caspar is wealthier than Croesus.

So I thought, no problem. I’ll give Him some nice Frankincense. That stuff rocks. I would wear it every day if it didn’t make me smell like a Babylonian prostitute. But then I found out that bastard Balthazar already had a pearl-encrusted, gilt box filled with the stuff.

“WTF Balthazar? I was going to give The Messiah Frankincense.” He just flipped me off. That Balthazar is an Indo-Parthian twat, and a show-off to boot. Pearl-encrusted, my ass. We said one gift.

I was happy to represent though. I mean, of the three magi sent from the East, I was the only one who was a real magi. I went to Zoroastrian High, did my undergraduate degree at Azura University and my doctorate at the prestigious Zoroaster School at the University of the Great Whore of Babylon (a party college, but the program is well respected.) Without me those tools — who are kings and members of the high caste, but who never finished their basic studies — wouldn’t have even found Bethlehem. I mean, they couldn’t even identify their own asses, let alone The Star.

Myrrh, for those in the know, is one of the most holy of essential oils, which is why those decadent Egyptians use it for their mummification rituals. And yes, it’s a little bitter, but really, I have to object to the freakin’ hymn:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

It’s about salvation, not just death and dying. It’s meant to represent that He was going to help us rise above death again. AND it’s got freakin’ medicinal values. Suck on that gold!

But I must admit, I probably shouldn’t have given it to Him in a lamb’s bladder. That was taking the symbolism too far.

The End

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Alltop loves a good lamb’s bladder cup. Originally published in 2010.