*Author’s Note- This is an excerpt from a fiction story I’m working on called Dead Man Living. It is a story about the Grim Reaper reconsidering his line of work after meeting a revival preacher who is resurrected from the dead. This moment in the story Death comes to reposess the revival preacher, Ronnie’s soul. If it seems dry, well it’s a comedy about death so…

“Ronnie! There you are! Are you ready to go?” Death asked

“Not quite. I seem to have misplaced something,” Ronnie’s soul said.

Death was almost immediately annoyed. He was hungry for one. And for seconds, Ronnie of all people should know you don’t get to take anything, and I mean anything with you. He also had seen this before: stalling techniques; the souls of the formerly living want to linger. You know all the hubbub with ghosts and such, just stubborn people refusing to let go of honestly who knows what.

Usually it’s trauma, some distorted attachment that they can’t let go of. Sad really. 

“Ronnie, I’d hate to state the obvious but you’re pretty much ethereal, you can’t take things in this state.”

“Oh pish posh. It’s not a thing, it’s hope: a substance of a different kind. Do you know of it?”

Death paused. He couldn’t register whether Ronnie was offering some kind of ironic sarcasm or was getting theological or philosophical. Either way, he hated it and knew if he did not act fast, lunch would hardly be enjoyable, and he would be required to get something quick and likely unhealthy which screws up everything because he had been trying to be more conscious of his figure as of late. Death counted to five and gave a sigh to calm himself.

“Is it possible we can look for it as we move? Certainly it is not confined to this rented tent.” Death said.

“Yes, I believe we can,” Ronnie conceded. “Though this tent belongs to my brother Bobby. He owns the tent, but he does also rent tents so it’s an easy mistake to make.”

“Interesting… Shall we go to my car?”

“Lead the way!” Ronnie had an odd enthusiasm about him.

The short walk to the car was awful for Death. Somehow a gust of wind had carried over the smell of manure from a nearby farm. The view was fine, in fact it was pretty good, hilly, green, and a valley to the left. 

Death opened his trunk and motioned to it with his left palm facing upward, clinging to his scythe with his stronger hand as he glanced back and forth from the trunk to Ronnie.

Ronnie looked displeased. “Really? Why?”

“I don’t particularly feel like I have to explain myself,” Death said.

“Why not the passenger seat?”

“First of all, we’ve just met. We aren’t exactly old chums nor are we colleagues. Plus I get weird looks when people in your state are sitting in the passenger seat. Secondly, the scythe goes in the back seat which makes that off limits. And I have to point the sickle part so it hangs over the passenger seat which adds to the weird looks, and I don’t want to cause an accident. Admittedly, in my line of work you might wonder how that’s a bad thing, but I have morals. Lastly, in this state your propensity for comfort is practically obsolete, and it’s temporary.”

“Fine, I’ll get in the trunk.” Ronnie reached towards a blanket sitting inside.

“Hey! What’s the big idea? I’m not sharing this blanket,” said another voice from the trunk.

Death felt nervous.

“What! There’s someone else in there. You didn’t say that!”

“This isn’t a limo service.” Death nudged Ronnie with his scythe into the trunk and closed it. 

Audible noise echoed from the trunk for a few moments while death carefully placed his scythe in the back seat so as not to scuff up the interior. Ronnie and friend settled down, as usual, because they are souls and don’t need “space.” 

Getting into the driver seat of his all black Ford Fiesta, Death pressed the ignition, took several deep breaths as the classical station prepared him for the road ahead. He almost closed his eyes for a nap until he thought of lunch.

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