An elderly man walked down the street of a town he had known his entire life. Even with his age he still stood tall among the young crowd. As he walked in the sun, the blistering heat strained his brittle bones making him feel faint. He took a seat in a nearby park, the bench perfectly hidden from the sun underneath the green leaves of a tall oak. He leaned back and shut his eyes, he thought to himself; ‘If I were to die now, I’d be happy. I’ve raised a beautiful family and my wife is waiting for me up there.’ The old man smiled.
As he began to relax a feeling struck him, as if his heart had skipped a beat. The old man looked over. A long lanky man in a black suit and fedora was sitting next to him. ‘How did he get there?’ He thought to himself. The stranger adjusted his cufflinks and tipped his hat forward. The shadow from the brim kept his face hidden. The old man observed him, he looked down and noticed the stranger’s corsage. It was a bright blue rose, it glowed and emanated a feeling, a passion. It was intoxicating. He leaned over and asked, “Where did you get that amazing blue rose stranger?” The man turned toward him his face still hidden.
“Oh, this little thing. I grew it myself, in my shop just down the road.” The man said in a deep, calming tone.
“No kiddin’?” The old man said excitedly, “I would love to buy one.” He paused. “That is if you don’t mind.”
“Normally I close up shop on sundays, but I’ll make an exception, you seem to be a kind man.”
“Wonderful!” The tall well-dressed man stood and beckoned the old man to follow. Without a word the stranger lead him through town. They walked and walked, the old man looked around the town he once knew. Everything started to become unfamiliar. ‘Is the heat getting to me?’ he thought to himself. He turned his attention back to the stranger who walked slowly in front of him, the heels to his leather loafers clicked against the ground. The tapping seemed hypnotic, mesmerizing the old man. He looked on and began to fade from consciousness, from reality.
“We’re here.” The stranger’s deep voice rattled in the old man’s ears.
“Marvelous!” Ignoring the ‘closed’ sign the suited man opened the door and lead the old man to the counter. He pulled on his collar and moved behind the desk, he looked around then sighed contently.
“If you like this blue rose, you’ll love this.” The gaunt man brought out a silver rose. It radiated a metallic shine as the light reflected off its perfect petals.
“It’s amazing!” The old man stared in awe. Even the blackened stem seemed to create a wonder in his mind. The stranger changed his hold on the flower from a delicate pinch to a tight grasp with his fist. The black stem extended to a long pole and the metal petals changed to form a shining blade. The old man backed up to see the stranger for his true self. The black suit was merely a modern disguise. Removing his black fedora, he showed his true face. His emotionless skull stared deeply into the old man’s pale blue eyes. “I understand.” The old man mumbled as Death himself stood before him gripping his scythe.
“It’s your time Ernest.” His voice became sinister, haunting even. He swung his scythe, removing the old man’s head from his shoulders. The limp body fell to the ground, blood flowed from the neck staining the hardwood floor. Death moved over the corpse and sniffed the still glowing blue corsage. He gently placed it upon the deceased and tipped his hat. Death opened up a small notebook: a page with dozens of names all crossed out but one, Ernest Sullivan. Death dipped his boney finger into the old man’s blood, then carefully crossed out his name. “Now who’s next.” Death flipped through his notebook, “Shirley Jane Temple.” Death laughed. “Well curly-top, looks like it’s time to take a bow.”
© Copyright 2016 Tucker Haase. All rights reserved.
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