When the money people ran out of what ever made computer chips smart somebody floated the idea of using recycled dead people instead. There were plenty of them around after the same rich people had privatized heaven into a for profit situation, and not everybody wanted to go. The Bible ducks balked at the idea, plus most families simply couldn’t afford it. If the deceased were willing to have their consciousness transferred into a cheap little blank chip they’d be put it into some devise that related to their interests or work history. There were plenty of jokes about politicians and sex toys, but usually things worked out okay. Dead movie people became popcorn makers, dead lawyers became weed whackers, and down the list were the options of counter top appliances, robot vacuum cleaners, and the like. My recently departed Aunt was always an early bird and enjoyed being an alarm clock. She picked up temp work as a truck back up buzzer for the city to help fill her days. Eventual she was able to go full time as a Walk – Don’t Walk sign for the city.
She couldn’t tell, honestly couldn’t, if it was Carl or Bernice who came to the door and asked to borrow a cup of spit. They were spirit people (not nice to say ghost) and new to the neighborhood. She told whoever it was to come back later, maybe after dinner, and promised to work on filling a cup, but now she had her doubts. Patrick called them her “bardo buddies” dismissing the whole matter so he was no help.
What did they need it for, and borrow? “Borrow” as in bringing one back to replace the first? She didn’t want anything back, not even the cup. What could they need it for? Why can’t they use their own? Maybe spirit people don’t salivate, maybe they do. Who knows? Oh crap, just give it to them.
Say it’s a Welcome to your afterlife in our neighborhood gift. But then Bernice or Carl or whoever might feel obligated to give her something. Well, it would have to be better than a cup of spit wouldn’t it? Some unwanted swag-bag bon-voyage pre-death memento.
As long as it wasn’t alive. God knows the cat is enough to deal with.
Dear Grandfather Gerard,
I hope you don’t mind me calling you that, but it’s how we referred to you all these years. We assumed you were dead; lost in the war with so many others. Your letter was full of news, and we hunger for more. Especially about your “whole new family”.
There is much news here of course, and I promise to share more in my next letter, but business first. I must decline your offer to bequeath our family’s legendary sword on to me. Being out of touch for so long you wouldn’t know, but I have been an ordained priest in the Church of the Everlasting for a number of years. As a man of the cloth I can not accept an ancient sword that draws unholy powers from shall we say “the dark side”. A 600 year old broadsword carrying a blood curse would be truly unacceptable.
My sister Geraldine is first officer on a merchant spacecraft that travels a circuitous route through the outer mining colonies and alien worlds. She and her partner Zinnia find themselves from time to time in difficult situations. Be it a misunderstanding or an imagined slight, the potential for violence is real enough and a huge sword with glowing runes that as you describe as “a drinker of souls” could turn the tide as they say.
I spoke to Gerri and Zinni and they are just thrilled by the idea and will gladly assume the stewardship and responsibilities that come with the sword. Their address is listed below.
Till next time, In faith and prayer,
Fr. Charles Metronome
Everybody loved Uncle Zid. I know I sure did. He was hilarious, always with a joke. Like in the summer when he’d drive around in his old convertible dressed like Santa, blowing the horn and waving. He’d call the radio station and in a funny voice ask what day Cinco de Mayo was on this year (and the DJ would throw the question out to the listeners!). He was serious as can be though when he’d call in and insist they play the Tuna Fish Polka during Lent. What a guy, my Uncle Zid.
Grandma GiGi says he’s got an ice cream route on Mars now. He rings his bell as he pedals along through those tunnels. She says the kids love him, and he’s making good money. But then again, could be he’s back in prison.
Vernon was just as surprised as anyone when he hauled off and clocked stupid Buddy right in the side of his stupid fat head. Buddy when over backwards with a crash, and Vernon busied himself picking up the bar stool and wondering what in the world to say to explain his actions (which still remained a mystery to him).
Up from the floor came a groan and Buddy’s breathless voice. “No man, no… It’s not like she says!”
Vernon was perplexed. Who’s she? he wondered.
I wrote this for a contest run by 53 Press. I don’t remember much about it except it had to be 53 words exactly, and I didn’t win.
Rockwell Rhodes hated it when his cousin Patrice called him “Rocky Road”.
She would say it in an endearing manner so he would buy her drugs.
He didn’t mind scoring dope for her, but the sense of being manipulated just
fucking annoyed him. Maybe he’d buy her ice cream, and claim he misunderstood.
With a tip of the hat to Mr. David Bowie
The People Speak:
We love our frontline workers. They are most beloved and honored coast to coast and around the world. We show our respect, and gratitude with applause, and our home made signs. We all beep our horns and we bang our pots and pans waving joyfully and shouting out our thanks.
Then they march out some expendable corporate drone in a cheap suit and he says:
“Sure, sure, we love them too, but one dime, so much as one dime of increased pay is not consistent nor compatible with our court approved current compensation
Which just means no, and our heroes can take it or leave it.
Monkey brains love puzzles, love problems to solve.
Not enough gloves? Well sure, they are disposable and so many people need them now. Face masks? Same thing. Everybody needs them, and not enough to go around. And ventilators, I don’t know about them except that we need more.
Shortages, bare shelves, no supply. All problems for my monkey brain to solve.
What finally hit me was a cousin of my wife has a daughter who is an ER nurse
in a big city, and they ran out of body bags.
That’s not a shortage, that’s an excess. An excess of bodies, an excess death, an
excess of people slipping away. Too many people dead, too many people gone.
My monkey brain does not see the solution as getting more bags.
The bone was human. A femur. Probably a woman’s. They found it just off the trail where they were picking up the rosaries and food packets the vigilantes had trashed and discarded–the vigilantes who empty the jugs of water. Other volunteers will put up a cross for this unknown woman just where the small evidence of her existence was found.
She took her half of the money, got a nice brownstone apartment.
Third floor rear, doorman building.
She already has the dog, so with a big puffy down coat and sunglasses almost as big, she just disappeared.
Another dog-mom in Brooklyn.