#FridayFlash: At Last, We Meet

"You don't scare me," the old man wheezed, "you never have. I saw you take my Grandpa, you bastard. You, with your creeping ways and your red eyes... you don't scare me!"

Death crossed his legs and waited.

"Get the hell out of my house! I don't want you here! You have no right to come in here like a thief, taking the only thing I have left!"

Death said nothing.

"Don't pretend you never speak. I heard you. When you came for Mrs. Gulhaven back in '22, the old Dutch lady who lived across the street from us back in Springfield. I snuck around the back porch and heard you talk to her. Told her a bunch of nonsense about how she had nothing to fear. 'I am not here to harm you', is what you said, you liar. Yes, I call you a liar to your face! For ninety-one years I've been waiting to tell you to your face that you're a lying bastard, and now I have the chance!"

"And?" Death's voice was everything the old man remembered... warm and compassionate, but in the way that preacher's sermons were always funny and kind, just before he got wound up into fire and hellfire and damnation. What had that man's name been? Pastor Johnson? Pastor Jensen?

The old man shook his head. Fool! Getting distracted by memories. It had been happening so often of late, he could hardly keep the thread of conversations anymore. Even his daughter Jane didn't like coming to see him anymore. It was too hard, too frustrating.

Wait a minute, he thought. Jane? No, it was Joan. Joan, after his Aunt Joan. Joan? Joanne? My favorite aunt... she had the most wonderful lilac bush out at her farm. Aunt Jen? No, not Jen. Joanne? Joan?

He looked up from his thoughts and saw Death in the chair, sitting patiently. With a rush, the old man's fury returned and he remembered what he had been saving up for, what he had been waiting to tell the Dark Man when he came around.

"You are a lying bastard of the first water, sir! I have no need of your company!"

Death nodded, as if he had been expecting nothing less. "I see. It's very true, you know. Most people never see that."

"What is? Don't talk nonsense. I said you are a lying bastard of the first water, sir!" The memorized speech was one of the only things left to the old man. "I have no need of your company!"

"And yet..." Death trailed off, leaving the sentence hanging.

"And yet what? Why must you be so foolish! No one can ever say anything sensible anymore! Speak up! Speak plainly! And yet what?"

"I am a lie. I'm the second biggest lie in the world. In the universe, when it comes to that."

"The second biggest? What's the first? Come, sir, you introduced this... this..."


"This odious topic of conversation! What could be a bigger lie than death?"


The old man's mouth opened. His jaw worked as if to speak, but he had no answer for a moment. Finally, he said, "You talk nonsense. Why must you talk nonsense at a time like this? Why?"

"I am not here to harm you."

"Oh, yes, you are!"

"Truly, I am not. I'm here to show you the truth. Life and death are lies, half-truths at best. Behind them is the the truth. The one and only truth that we all move toward."

"Don't say 'we all', as though you have any share in our lot!"

"Ah, but I do. I've been allowed a glimpse, a peek behind the curtain. I know what the truth is. In return for having been granted this knowledge, it falls to me to see others safely on their way."

"To where? To see what? Come, man, talk sense! What is this 'truth' you keep talking about?"

"Do you really want to know?"

"Don't talk nonsense. I wouldn't have asked the question if I didn't want to know the answer. What is this truth?"

Death uncrossed his legs and stood up from the chair in the corner of the room. He crossed to the bed and extended his hand.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. Death is a lie, indeed. Well-done, Tony.

  2. This is one of the best Grim Reaper portrayals I've read, and I've written one myself!

  3. That's one smooth character, is Death. I like his laid back approach. I loved this line

    "What could be a bigger lie than death?"


  4. Thanks for reading, everyone. Death is tricky to present, since it's been done so many different ways before. I also wanted to make this about the old man, to portray his decline and deterioration, to make him querulous and argumentative yet still sympathetic.

    I'm glad you liked it!

  5. Excellent scene - I'm picturing Max Von Sydow (here and elsewhere today) in both parts (wouldn't that be fun?, you have such a strong, visual sense and such a perfect closing. A man's last moment, deliciously realized. Great stuff.

  6. Yep, the only way you COULD find out would be to give in and go with him. Brilliantly done.

  7. A very sweet chap, your old fellow. And Death too, come to think about it!

  8. An interesting read, Tony, though it seemed a bit abrupt to me. I liked the way you portrayed the old man, but—perhaps it's just me—I'd like to have seen him maybe recognize his own decline and come to terms with the fact that it's time to move on; might have had more of an impact that way. Nonetheless, like Peter said, a good spin on the Reaper genre, which, surprisingly, hasn't yet been done to death.

    1. He's aware of how hard things have become for him, with visitors, with his daughter, in conversations, etc. Maybe that's the first step?

  9. "Do you really want to know?"

    The most dangerous question in the English language. Beautifully done, Tony. Death has clearly been doing this long enough to know exactly how to reach each person.

    Nice work in the depiction of the old man, too. Very well captured.

  10. Thanks for the great comments, everyone. I'm glad this Death works for you all!

  11. What a sneak.. There was something of the Bergman about this.. I love the idea that life and death are lies.. and the truth is somewhere in between, but we have to take Death by the hand to find out.. what a paradox..

    As Dylan says.. "People don't live or die, people just float"
    Meditative and menacing all at the same time.. wonderful!
    .. oh and the line "she had the most wonderful lilac bush out at her farm" made me laugh out loud.. but that's just my sick mind..

  12. "What a sneak" ..death I mean.. not you.. har har

  13. Death seems quite deceitful, in the end he got what he came for! Poor old man.

  14. Nicely done. I found Death to be rather charming.


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