I opened my eyes and glanced around at the crowded terminal. I took in the sights, the sounds, and the smells of people hustling and bustling about. I saw people scurrying past one another; each one convinced that arriving at their destination was of the utmost importance.
I have always found airports quite interesting. The concept of people walking, running, limping, crawling, or pushing the ‘FASTER’ button on their motorized scooter just so that they can sit down for hours is interesting. The concept of people, running, limping, crawling, or pushing the ‘FASTER’ button on their motorized scooter just so that they can sit down for hours in a flying machine that at any moment can cause their deaths…well, that’s just fascinating.
I sat there in my cramped seat, squashed between an enormous man eating a greasy bag of chips, and a nervous looking middle aged Woman. I glanced at her luggage tag and read her name: Rita Simmons. I felt a slight buzzing at my hip. I opened my Courier Device and checked for any recent appointments. Sure enough, the name ‘Rita Simmons’ was scheduled for tomorrow, April 13 at 10:47pm. I thought about opening my small carryon bag that contained my portable fax machine, printing out her appointment, and handing it to her. However, upon looking at her shaking, miserable state, I thought it was best to let things simply play out.
“The 5:25 plane to Toronto is now boarding on platform 9. The 5:25 plane to Toronto is now boarding on platform 9,” the loud voice on the intercom informed us. I was so happy that they had gone back to using actual human voices. Robotic recorders are just so impersonal.
I sat up slowly and smoothly in one fluid motion. I adjusted the buttons of my black suit jacket and smoothed out the creases of my matching dress pants. I grabbed my small black bag and proceeded in a slow, yet purposeful stride. I was in no rush. I would arrive at my destination when I arrived. I took my place in the line of people waiting to board the plane. I clutched my ticket in my hand and waited with a patient smile. My smile and my attire were juxtaposed next to the frumpy unhappy individuals in line with me.
My Courier Device vibrated slightly. I removed the Device and glanced at its contents displayed on the palm sized screen. The name ‘Mavis Garcia’ was printed at the top, followed by the usual statistics: age, height, weight, date of birth, place of birth, physical attributes, and favourite foods. Below the information was the date and time in bold pink letters. They read: April 12 6:24. I looked around and attempted to spot Mavis, but there was no real way to tell who was who without a short interrogation.
I tucked the Device back onto my hip and proceeded. I noticed that with each step I took closer to the check counter, the more the Device’s vibrations would increase. When I’d reached the counter, the Device gave a final (and quite violent if I may add. I made a mental note to take this up with my superiors) vibration. I had met Mavis.
Mavis was a short, raven haired Woman with a gorgeous smile and large brown eyes. When she took in my snappy garb, her eyes narrowed in-what she had probably read somewhere was-a sensual way. I smiled back, acknowledging her attempt.
“Hello Mavis,” I said. She blinked in surprise at my knowing her name. Although she had her gold name tag pinned to her chest, I hadn’t glanced at it once.
“Hello sir, how are you feeling this evening?” She asked.
“That isn’t really important at this point. The question is, how are youfeeling?”
Mavis blinked in surprise again. A sly smile spread across her face.
“I’m wonderful,” she answered.
How this end, I thought to myself. By the looks of things, there’s no immediate danger of any kind and she’s rather young.
“Wonderful?” I pressed. Mavis’ smile began to waver under my intense gaze.
“Well…not wonderful, exactly. My chest is hurting slightly, but it’s probably because I went jogging this morning,” she said. I closed my eyes and smiled inwardly. I had figured it out.
“I see. May I ask, what time do you get off work?” I asked. Mavis was taken aback by my boldness.
“Six o’clock. This is my last boarding of the evening. Why do you ask?” She said, blinking slowly and seductively at me. I smiled slightly at her.
She thinks I’m interested in her. She is right, I am interested in her however, not for the reasons that she thinks. I wanted to give her something important, and that ‘something important’ wasn’t something in my pants.
“No reason, I’m just curious,” I said. Her gaze didn’t waver, nor did she retreat.
“Can I see your passport, sir?” She asked. I removed my passport and handed it to her. She opened it and examined it carefully. “Mr. John Smith? You have an awful lot of stamps here. There’s some from countries I’ve never heard of. You like to travel, don’t you?”
My work has me going all over the globe. I never know where I’m heading to next. I just listen to the Boss,” I said.
“I wish I could travel,” Mavis said after giving a loud, theatrical sigh of envy. “I’ve been stuck here all my life, you know.”
“You’ll leave soon, don’t worry,” I assured her.
“You’re so lucky. I wish my boss would send me off to exotic locations. I wish I had your boss,” Mavis said as she handed me back my passport. I handed her my ticket.
“You do work for my boss,” I said as I pocketed the passport, “We all do. One could say…he’s in charge of everything.” Mavis gave me a flirtatious grin.
“Enjoy your flight, John Smith.”
I grabbed my bags, but as I took a step towards the boarding platform, I turned and stopped.
“Mavis?” I called to her. Mavis turned around, hopeful that I would ask for her number. Hopeful that I would call her. Hopeful that I would wine and dine her at a restaurant so exclusive and expensive that the tables would have cotton tablecloths. Hopeful that I would whisk her away to a glamorous location for a weekend. Hopefully that I would end the monotony of her life. “Try the best you can to enjoy what’s left of your day, please?”
Mavis’ face fell into a scowl full of annoyance and slight anger. She gave me a cold smile and nodded. As I walked along the platform, a Woman in a black power suit walked past me. I tilted my head in the direction of the check counter. The Woman gave me a slight nod and proceeded in a purposeful stride.
I boarded the plane and took my seat next to the window. I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the business class. I sat there alone for some time before a person took the seat beside me.
“I asked to be seated beside Ivana! I specifically asked to be seated beside my girlfriend!”
I opened my eyes and saw a white haired, barrel-chested man in an expensive looking blue dress shirt yelling at a frightened flight attendant. Beside the overweight man stood a tall, statuesque red haired Woman that looked to be about half of his age. She was not pretty, at least not by my standards. She was rail thin with an enormous silicone chest. Her cheekbones were very high and unnaturally pronounced. Her lips were full, pouty, and bright red. I could tell that this Woman was no stranger to a surgeon’s knife.
“Sir, the tickets are as designated. Your…” the attendant looked at the tall Woman with a look of disdain on his face, “wife will simply have to sit in the seat that she was given.”
I could tell that the larger gentle man was used to making demands and having them met instantly. His watery gaze fell upon me. He took in my out-of-place attire and instantly despised me.
“What about him? Can he move, and take her seat, then?” the man growled.
“Sir,” the attendant said after taking a deep breath, “that’s against our airlines’ security policy.”
“Be quiet! You! You, sir! I’m talking to you!” The man yelled in my directions. I lazily tilted my head in his direction.
“Yes?” I said calmly.
“Move so my wife can sit with me.”
“Firstly, I have a name. It’s John Smith, and when you address me, I suggest that you use it. Secondly, I don’t respond to demands and I don’t answer to you. Finally, my answer is undoubtedly and resoundingly ‘no’.” The man’s face turned an ugly shade of puce at my insolence.
The attendant seized this opportunity to muster up enough courage to deliver this bombshell, “Mr. Schakowsky, if you and your wife don’t sit down, you’ll be forced to leave this plane.”
“Fine,” Schakowsky said. He turned to his Woman and then pointed his finger at the seats behind us. “Ivana, sit.”
Ivana chewed her gum and took her seat two rows behind ours. With an eyebrow raised in amusement, I consulted my device. When I’d found Schakowsky’s name, I smiled broadly. Schakowsky put his bag in the overhead compartment, all the while mumbling expletives under his breath. He then took his seat beside me and scowled in my direction. I turned my head in his direction and gave him a lazy smile. He did not return it.
“You don’t know whom you’re dealing with,” Schakowsky hissed at me.
“No, Peter Schakowsky, it is you who doesn’t know whom you’re dealing with. I don’t answer to you, you answer to me. You have all your life and you will continue to,” I said. Schakowsky narrowed his eyes.
“Who are you?” Schakowsky asked.
“Never heard of you,” Schakowsky scoffed. His dismissive tone made me smile even broader.
“You may not have heard of me but my name isn’t important, it’s my job…now that’s what you’ve heard of. My job keeps you afraid; it’s always kept you afraid.” I said.
“What are you, some sort of drug dealer?”
“No, I’m not,” I said. I leaned back and laid my head against the headrest. Schakowsky watched me intently as he scratched his balding head.
He opened his mouth to respond to me but was interrupted by the flight attendants. The men and women began to instruct us on how the seatbelts work and other essentials. We buckled up and waited/ the plane slowly began to move on the runway. I noticed that Schakowsky had begun to inhale and exhale deeply. He was now gripping his hand rests so hard that his knuckles went white.
“Nervous?” I asked. Schakowsky glanced at me and then looked ahead. “Don’t worry; you’re not going to die or anything like that.” Schakowsky’s head swivelled back in my direction.
“Why would you go and say an awful thing like that?” he asked.
“When you’ve been doing this for as long as I have, you just know…you know? Relax, you’ll be alright, but only for a little while longer.” I said. Once again Schakowsky’s eyes narrowed slightly and he opened his mouth to say something but closed it when he realized that the plane was gathering speed on the runway. He braced himself for the takeoff. The plane slowly lifted itself off of the ground and propelled itself into the air. “See? No problems Peter. It’s all good, it won’t always be, but for now it’s good.”
“Ok, I’ve really had enough of this mystical nonsense that you’ve been spewing ever since I came here. What’s your deal, buddy?” Schakowsky asked.
“I suppose that I can tell you. I mean, who would believe you, right?”
“Out with it, man.”
“Well, here goes…I’m Death…well, actually, I’m one of Death’s employees,” I said. Peter was silent for an awkward amount of time before chuckling to himself.
“That’s a good one, buddy. You’re Death? Where’s your hood? Where’s your scythe? A cheap black suit and penny loafers? Come on, I’m Peter Schakowsky, if Death is going to come for me, he’d at least have the decency to wear Armani.”
They never believe us, I thought to myself as I sighed slightly. This must be how Jesus felt until he performed his magic tricks.
“I’m not Death, oh no. That job is taken. I’m merely an employee of the most important institutions ever established. I am Courier,” I responded.
“And,” Schakowsky asked raising a grey eyebrow, “what exactly is a ‘Courier’?”
“Well, death is a complicated business…and yes, it is very much a business. Speaking of, here’s my business card,” I said. I held my hand out towards him and a card instantly appeared in my palm.
“How-how did you do that?” Schakowsky sputtered in shock. “Are you some sort of magician?” I rolled my eyes.
“No sir,” I said. “Here, take a look.” I placed the card into Schakowsky’s trembling hand. The card read:
JOHN SMITH. Courier
“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.”
“Is this some sort of joke? What are you playing at?” Schakowsky demanded.
“Keep your voice down or you’ll alert the masses!” I whispered comically.
“You could have just as easily had some loon print these off for you…leave me alone,” Schakowsky scoffed. I snapped my fingers and the card flew from Schakowsky’s pudgy hand and back into mine. I gently placed the golden business card back into my suit jacket.
“Hardly, that’s printed on real gold. I’m working my way up to a platinum card. I need to collect a few more souls. Fortunately for me, I will do just that on my next job,” I said. I smiled smugly to myself.
“Yes, this is a job and business is always booming. There are only three things that are guaranteed in this life: death, pain, and taxes.”
“Alright,” Schakowsky said sitting up and giving me his undivided attention, “I’ll bite. What does a Courier do? Tell me everything.”
“What is with the living and wanting to know ‘everything’? You cannot know everything, you can only know and learn as much as you allow yourself to,” I said rolling my eyes.
“I’m allowing myself to learn whatever you know. Now tell me.”
“Two things, Schakowsky: one, what did I say about demands? And two, you’ll know as much as I want you to know. Do you understand?” Schakowsky gritted his teeth and nodded. “Good. Mutual respect is a virtue Peter, but you wouldn’t know anything about that now would you?
“Now, there are three levels of Death Inc: there is Number One, or Death as it is commonly called.”
“He’s the guy in the reaper suit and the scythe right?” Schakowsky asked with a smile.
“No, Death only wears custom made suits from a discreet, expensive tailor. Oh and Death isn’t a man either,” I said. Schakowsky was surprised by this bit of news.
“You mean to tell me that Death is a broad?” Schakowsky asked with wide eyes.
“Death is not a Woman either.”
“Well…then what else is there?”
“Death is androgynous. I cannot say anymore so let’s move on, shall we?” I said curtly. Schakowsky grudgingly nodded. “Anyways, every single person’s name in the world is in the database of Death’s computer. Every single second, a name is randomly generated. That name is then sent down to the Drones.”
“Drones?” Schakowsky inquired.
“Yes, Drones. These are the second level of Death Inc. These people function as…bureaucrats for the organization that examine each person and decide if they are fit to die,” I answered.
“You mean like in prison?”
“I’m sorry?” I asked, unsure of what he meant.
“Whenever the state is going to execute a prisoner, they have to give them a medical check-up to see if they are physically fit to die,” Schakowsky explained.
“Well that’s silly, isn’t it? Making sure that you’re healthy enough to die? Well, I suppose it would be rubbing salt on the wound if they sent you to hell with a runny nose,” I said. “No, Drones have to check your Priors.” When I saw the blank look in his eyes, I elaborated, “‘Priors’ are your statistics: how you’ve lived your life, how you treat others, how many crimes you’ve committed, your values, etcetera.” I noticed Schakowsky shift nervously in his seat when I mentioned ‘how you treat others’. He rightfully should have. “They then set aside your name.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if your name comes up, they set it aside and their computers keep track of you. If your name pops up a total of 3 times, then it means that you need to die. However, none of these ‘database business’ applies to wars. Wars are out of our hands. We’d have to send too many Couriers and the paperwork would be murder…no pun intended.”
“Could you explain how someone’s name pops up in more detail? What causes it?” Schakowsky asked.
“As I said, it’s how you live your life, how you treat others, if you have a disease…that sort of thing,” I responded. Upon seeing the empty expression on his face, I continued, “well, take for example a crooked politician.” Schakowsky gave an involuntary twitch. I could see beads of sweat pool on his upper lip. “I see that you’re taking me seriously now, Senator.”
“Am I going to die soon?” Schakowsky asked.
“Well, that depends on your definition of ‘soon’. Time is relative, isn’t it? I’ll get to your Death Date in a moment. So anyways, let’s say you’re a crooked politician and your name is generated once-keep in mind, the first time is completely random-it is cast aside.
“Let’s say that while in office, you were to take a bribe from a corporation that was notorious for its human rights violation and for its destruction of the environment. Now let’s say that said bribe…that bribe made on…hold on a second…” I consulted my Device. I scrolled down until I found the information that I needed. “June 1, 2009 at exactly 11:55pm behind the docks. My, that’s a very quiet and secluded spot for a political business transaction, don’t you think?”
“Who-who sent you? Who do you work for?” Schakowsky’s face turned slightly pale. He looked around wildly to make sure that our conversation was not being overheard.
“I already told you who sent me and who I work for. Back to what I was saying, so let’s say that said business transaction resulted in people dying, pollution, and the diminishment of at least one other person’s quality of life. Your name would come up again. This is all based on your actions, do you understand? I’ll take your silent shaking as a yes,” I said.
“How do you know about the deal that I did?” Schakowsky asked. He was now leaning forward and was intruding into my personal space. His voice was now a raspy bark. I held up my Device.
“This is a Courier Device. Only Couriers can own them,” I answered. Schakowsky took a swipe at my Device but I held it back. “Senator, I understand that you are morally bankrupt, but the least that you could do is be polite.
“Now, let’s say that this Senator has a wife. A wife who toiled with him night and day to help build his political career to the height that it is today. Let’s say this wife bore him five beautiful children. Let’s say his wife fell ill with terminal cancer one summer. Imagine if you will, this Senator in question having a string of lurid affairs daily, leaving his wife and children to suffer alone in the hospital. Pretty despicable, no? I know, this guy sounds like a real jerk. I should know; I’m trapped in a plane beside him.
“So once this jerk’s wife dies, one of his many salacious women uses her silicone gifts to convince him to write his children out of his will and make her the sole beneficiary. You can bet his name would pop up again in the database for those reasons. Oh and also for passing a series of bills that rob people of their civil rights, health care, and making sure that a certain group of people with a certain sexual orientation can never be happy. This Senator stands with a Bible in one hand and his other hand under the table accepting a bribe from big corporations.
“His name will definitely pop up, why? His actions have caused death, destruction, and misery. So the Drones email the memo to the Couriers’ Devices. We used to get it through papers and carrier pigeons; you can imagine the mess…Bloody birds following you at every turn. Now, we’ve upgraded to these Courier Devices. They look just like a cell phone and are lightweight. They also print.”
Schakowsky’s eyes began to shift uneasily. He swallowed a large lump in his throat but nodded for me to continue.
“This little device has all of the information a body would ever need to know about someone. This first page lists the vitals, but I have the option of scrolling down a page and learning everything about you. I prefer not to do that though. It would be like learning that your beef hamburger used to be a child’s favourite pet, complete with a name and everything. It’s a messy business investing emotion into something that is going to die shortly.
“Now, we Couriers receive the memo and rush over to collect you. You’ll know it’s your time to die because we’ll only be visible to you. We have a strict ranking system: Wood, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Wood is for beginners, you collect 1000 souls and you get to Bronze. If you collect 10 000 you become Silver, 100 000 gets you to Gold, and finally 1 000 000 gets you to Platinum. You even get a better suit with each upgrade,” I said.
Schakowsky began to inhale deeply in quick short bursts.
“Are you alright?” I asked.
“No, I’m not ‘alright’. You’re Death-I mean an employee and you’re here to collect my soul,” Schakowsky rasped.
“You obviously have poor comprehension skills. I told you that Couriers ‘rush over to collect you’. I didn’t rush, now did I? We simply met through a series of random unrelated events. Also, as I said, when we come for you nobody but you would be able to see us. I’ll prove my point,” I said. I reached up and pressed the overhead button. The attendant appeared quickly. He took one look at Schakowsky and his gaze shifted nervously to me.
“Is everything ok?” He asked.
“Yes. I was just wondering, can you see me?” I asked. The man blinked at me stupidly. “It really is a simple question.”
“Yes I can,” the attendant answered.
“Alright, that’s all. You may return to attending the rich scum now,” I said smiling. He left with an odd smile on his face. “There, I’m obviously not coming to collect you. You can relax and enjoy your flight.”
Schakowsky was silent for a moment. He looked down at nothing in particular for a while. He then closed his eyes, inhaled deeply, and then opened his mouth.
“January 4, two years from now at exactly 3:02 am,” I answered calmly with my eyes closed.
Schakowsky snapped open his eyes and asked, “I’m sorry?”
“That’s what you were going to ask me,” I said opening my eyes. “When you will die, right?”
“W-what? Two years from now? But…let me see that Device!”
“Say please,” I said smoothly.
“Please may I see that Device?” Schakowsky said through clenched teeth. I smiled and handed it over to him. I saw his grey eyes furiously scan its contents. “It’s all there…”
“I told you. They never listen.”
“May I ask you something?” Schakowsky asked.
“Shouldn’t my Death Date be written in blue?”
“Why on earth would it be in blue?” I asked.
“I’m a man, blue is for men. The Date is written in pink,” Schakowsky said.
“It’s written in pink for a reason. Whatever piece of flesh you have between your legs, whether it is dangling, tucked inside, or both, plays no part in what colour your Death Date is written in. Why pink? Well red looks too much like blood. You’re going to die, not bleed. We don’t want there to be any confusion,” I said.
“Do you know how I’ll die?” Schakowsky asked, still examining the Device.
“No, I just know when. Only Death knows how.”
“What happens when we die? Where do we go? Can you tell me that?” Schakowsky questioned.
“I’m forbidden to do so,” I said shortly.
“Can’t you just give me a hint?”
“The only thing I can say is that afterlife is truly unremarkable. Don’t press me any further; I’d get in serious trouble if I even slipped you the tiniest of details. The living cannot handle the truth of the afterlife. Besides, a long time ago, a Courier made a joke about a man with horns and pitchfork and you people ran with it. Now we’ve got misogyny, homophobia, killing abortion doctors, and Mormons. It’s a sad, sad business really, but there’s nothing to be done.”
Schakowsky closed his eyes for a few minutes before opening them. He opened his mouth and said, “Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?”
“What else can you handle?”
“Is my wife Shannon ok?” He asked.
“Shannon? Shannon…Shannon Schakowsky…where do I know that name from?” I said pinching the bridge of nose and closing my eyes. The answer sudden came to be as it always does. “You mean Number Nine?”
“Number Nine? What does that mean, ‘Number Nine’? Wait a minute…does she work for Death Inc as well?” Schakowsky asked with wide, fearful eyes.
“Oh yes. She’s one of the top Drones. As you can tell by her number, she’s in the top ten,” I said. I sighed enviously. “I bet she even gets to meet Death sometimes. I would give anything just to even have coffee with Death.”
“How does one improve their ranking?” Schakowsky asked nervously.
“Simple things like: the number of souls you collect, how soon you’re able to get to your destination, whom you collect, and your business ethics. Couriers can upgrade to Drones if they petition for it. Your wife did and she also had help. She used an inside Drone to assign her to top souls as well as to give her a heads up so that she could arrive on time. I assume you know a Mr. Roger Bennett?”
Schakowsky choked slightly. His face turned an ugly shade of purple.
“Roger is a Drone?” Schakowsky asked.
“Judging by your reaction, I’d say you two weren’t the best of friends. What did you do to him? Take away his Medicare or trick him into a shady sub-prime mortgage contract? Wait, why am I asking you? You’re a liar, a thief, and worst of all a Republican,” I said. I looked at my Device. My eyes lit up at my newfound knowledge. “Oh, Mr. Schakowsky…my, my, my. He was your childhood friend who, life your wife, helped to build your political platform. Through bribery and blackmail, you pinned the entire illicit deal with that corporation that I’d mentioned previously. You know, the one that caused death, misery, and woe? You pinned the deal on him thus costing him the election, his position, his credibility, and his life.
“A twist of irony here is that he took his life in his bathtub with the gun that you’d purchased for him as a gift,” I turned to face Schakowsky who now had tears rolling down his plump face. “No wonder Number Nine and Number Twelve campaigned for your death.”
Schakowsky’s neck swivelled in my direction so fast that I was surprised he didn’t sever his jugular vein.
“What do you mean ‘campaigned’?” He asked.
“Sometimes…and only sometimes, if enough souls, Couriers, and Drones really want somebody dead, they can petition for it. This is how it works: you have a Campaigner (in this case, your wife and Roger), went around to those poor souls that you hurt or killed, and got them to sign their petition. If you collect 100, the top Drones consider it. However, you Peter Schakowsky, managed to rack up a whopping 1 000 516 in the short span of two days. I actually have a couple of quotes from the decree that they issued. Would you like me to read them to you? They’re quite graphic.”
“No…I”-“‘He is by far the worst person that I have ever encountered. I hope everything that he does fails miserably’. Here’s another…oh, I don’t speak Arabic…here’s another…whoops, sorry that’s in Cantonese…French…Urdu…Bengali…Turkish…there’s quite a few in Portuguese…ah, here’s one in English: ‘he is a lying sack of’-well, you know-‘I can’t wait for him to die so that I can…’ Oh my, this isn’t something one normally hears in a civilized conversation. It apparently goes on for another six pages. It’s all expletives, mind you. Would you like to take a look at them?”
“No…I don’t want to hear any more of it,” Schakowsky moaned. He put his head in his hands. I looked at him curiously.
“You seemed surprised. Were you not aware that there were consequences for your actions or did you simply not care?”
Schakowsky began to cry silently. He looked up at me and said, “I didn’t want to hurt anyone.”
“Your reaction is almost comical. It would be like me pulling down my pants, defecating on my seat, and then demanding to know why there was a sudden foul odour,” I said.
“Just be quiet alright?” Schakowsky hissed. “Please?”
At least he said ‘please’, I thought. At last I’d made some headway with his manners.
Peter blew his nose into a silk handkerchief that he’d removed from his pocket. I drummed my hand lightly on the hand rest.
“Ah, the in-flight movie is on. Pardon me,” I said as I removed my headphones from my pockets and plugged them into the headphone outlet. After some time, I felt Schakowsky tap me on my shoulder lightly. I unplugged my headphones. “Yes?”
“Is there…” Schakowsky began but stopped. He sniffed lightly and then said, “is there anything I can do to push back my Death Date?”
“Yeah. Is there anything I can do to prolong my Death Date?”
“What are you going to do exactly, let gays get married, or hand out Christmas hams in the street from the back of a truck? Are you going to grab your Bible and start preaching? You politicians amaze me. You trot out your religion whenever it comes to gay marriage and abortion but you can’t seem to find it whenever the poor need your help. The poor, remember them? They’re the people that you’re supposed to help. What do you think that you can do to erase what you’ve done?” I said, getting a bit miffed.
“What about forgiveness?” Schakowsky asked.
“Forgiveness is given only to those who deserve it. Had I not told you of your fate, you wouldn’t change. The force causing the change must come from within otherwise it’s a desperate attempt from a desperate man. It doesn’t work that way Peter. You can’t spend your days wasting time and then think that if you cram for the final exam, you’ll receive top marks,” I answered curtly. Schakowsky leaned forward and put his head in his shaking hands.
“I should…I should just get it over with. I should just end it all,” he moaned.
“You mean suicide?”
He looked at me with what I took to be a sombre face and said, “yes. Suicide.”
“Oh no Schakowsky, don’t do that. It’s not worth it,” I responded.
“No…I need to,” Schakowsky whined. He clutched at his hair and pulled. “I don’t deserve to live…I should end my life. Once I land, I’ll go into the hotel room and cut myself.”
Well, you’re right about the ‘not deserving to live’ part, but cutting yourself? That’s just too messy, I thought with a smirk. His method of suicide was further proof of his selfishness. He would lay his pasty, flabby body into a clean bathtub and gaze at the shiny metal razor blade in his right hand. Underneath his repugnant bravado lay a shaking coward. He would probably need a bottle of alcohol to give him the courage and maybe even pain killers to numb the aching. He would slit his wrists and bleed out like a pig at a slaughter house. His big bloated corpse would be discovered hours later by a poor, unsuspecting worker. He would die the way he lived: big, grand, and would leave a big bloody mess for the minimum wage worker to clean up.
“Do you think I should hang myself?” Schakowsky asked earnestly.
“No, it won’t end well,” I responded. Schakowsky rolled his eyes.
“No, I mean it. You’re scheduled to die when you’re scheduled to die. Any attempt to speed up the process won’t kill you at all. However, you can be sure that your quality of life will be severely diminished,” I said. Once again, Schakowsky’s eyes were blank. I elaborated “look, suppose you decide to ‘end it all’, as they say. Suppose the mode of suicide that you selected was to jump off of a building. Personally, I think that this is right of your alley seeing as you have no regard for human life. Not only would your death completely stop traffic, potentially land on someone else and kill them, or judging by those love handles, a person of your girth would result in a very messy explosion. The cleanup would most likely come out of tax payers’ dollars. Not only have you inconvenienced the very people that you are supposed to serve, but you also get to die. It’s a win-win situation for you.
“Anyways, suppose all of this happens two days before your Death Date; you wouldn’t die from your fall. You would be severely incapacitated but you wouldn’t be dead. You don’t have the privilege of taking your life; We decide when you die. People that actually die by suicide are just purely coincidental.”
Peter’s bloodshot eyes narrowed at me. He gritted his teeth and let out a low hissing sound of fury.
“Well, you wanted to know ‘everything’, didn’t you? Ask and ye shall receive,” I said calmly. Schakowsky let out a low moan of sorrow. “Come now, cheer up. Dying isn’t so bad, it really isn’t. Dying doesn’t hurt; living does.”
After sometime, one of the flight attendants approached us with a tray of delicious food.
“Oh thank goodness. I would kill for a good sandwich right about now,” I said licking my lips. Schakowsky looked up at me with malice in his small eyes. “Oh…sorry. Wrong choice of words then, I suppose?” I paid for a sandwich, unwrapped it, and began to eat it.
Schakowsky began to sob even louder into her open hands. I tried to eat my food in peace but soon found that the sight was too pitiful and curbed my appetite.
“Peter, can I ask you to do something for me?” I asked quietly. Schakowsky choked back another sob and looked up at me. “Do try to enjoy the rest of your birthday, won’t you?”