Merciful Death

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Painting the Grim Reaper in a kinder light.

Submitted: August 18, 2015

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Submitted: August 18, 2015

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"Rover's dead!" Jimmy cried to the man that struck the old hound with his old black Buick.

"I know," the man that was Death in disguise told the boy named Jimmy. "He was so old and slow, he couldn't get out of the way. The poor thing's hip was gone, Jimmy. I unfortunately saw it limping when I couldn't brake in time." Death kneeled down to Jimmy's level. "I'm sorry, son. Sometimes these things happen."

"I loved Rover," Jimmy told the man he didn't know was Death. "I don't want him to be dead." The boy sniffed and wiped in futility at his stream of tears.

Disguised in mortal form as just a young sad man in a dark jacket, Death hung his head for the boy's sake. "Rover's time was due, I bet?" he asked the boy.

Jimmy sniffed some more. "Yeah," he admitted. "Yeah, Daddy said Rover had cancer. He was...due soon."

"It was quick, Jimmy," Death told the boy. "Cancer is a slow, wasting death."

The boy looked up in Death's face. "You didn't do that on purpose, did you?" he asked.

"It was no accident, truly," Death replied. "Do you believe in fate, Jimmy?"

"You mean," Jimmy spoke through his tears, "that maybe you was sent this way by God or somethin'? To kill Rover?"

"'Kill' is a strong word, Jimmy," Death told the boy. "To put Rover at peace before the cancer could kill him with agony, yes, maybe."

"Who are you?" Jimmy asked over Rover's body.

"I'm just one who deals with fate," Death said, "like you and everyone else, including Rover." He looked at Rover. "Here," he told the boy. "Let's get Rover under a tarp or something before the flies can get to him. The flies have had plenty of their fill before-- Well," Death said, "let's just get Rover covered, okay? I'll help."

Jimmy's tears were drying. "Daddy says these things are a man's duty," he said, then looked up from the dead dog to Death. "You don't have to help."

"I struck your dog," Death said. "I should hold myself to account for seeing it at least a bit right."

"Thank you," Jimmy said, and let the man he did not know was Death carry the dead Rover under the shade.

Rover was rolled up in a tarp from the boy's house.

"Your Dad's at work?" Death asked.

"I shouldn't tell you that," Jimmy said. "You're a stranger."

"Yeah, I am," Death said. "It's taken care of here, though." He turned back to his old Buick. "Take care, little Jimmy, of yourself and Rover."

"Thank you," Jimmy said to the man's back.

"Sure," Death said, then climbed into the driver's seat.

Death drove out of sight, then disappeared from sight completely, heading through the dark places In Between to the next job.

Afterwards, as Jimmy's Dad came home and helped his son mourn and bury the dead dog, Jimmy heard his son's tale, then asked the boy, "Son, did you tell this man your name?"

"No," Jimmy replied. "Why, Dad?"

"It's just," Jimmy's Dad looked to the road. "Well, I guess maybe he knew you somehow, from some other place."


© Copyright 2018 Jack Motley. All rights reserved.

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