Yeah. When you wake up dead, it really does suck. Not the kind of start you want for your day or eternity. It leaves a shitty taste in your mouth.
“What’s the matter, cuz?” 2BN looks down at my sweat-slopped corpse, prone in the middle of the bed. We work together in a cubicle warren at an insurance company where we tap keyboards and move paper ritualistically for bi-weekly paychecks. 2BN is his desk number but I tell him it stands for Big Black Negro, because he dresses like Shaft.
“I shoulda put down newspapers before I took those pills. What a horrible mess.” I poke my body with a picture frame lying next to me. There’s a spreading stench of offal matter and bile. OD. Oh wow. “What’s the damn dosage on those things? Two a day? I didn’t eat more than four and I got the drug resistance of an 800 pound gorilla, so why did I cool?”
“You ate 24 and yo man. Who cares? It’s done and you can’t go back.”
I look at him and his logic. He’s pimped out in two-tone shoes with a zoot suit cut to his yellow sports coat. Normal, but I’m tripping. Something’s bent. His own conclusion doesn’t apply to him. “Tell me why you are here? You’re not dead. I am. And we’re standing here talking over my dead body. Kinda inexplicable.”
2BN clamps his hand on my shoulder. “Inexplicable? You get to find out what happens after you die. I mean this is it, bro. Keep moving forward.”
“So in my death you appear as what? An angel? A grim reaper? Could you always see the dead? Touch em? Do you have to go to work in the morning?”
I have a lot more questions but I feel calmer than I should, like I’m watching 9/11 footage on TV after downing a couple of beta blockers and vodka shots.
“You see the Grim Reaper as the last person who you interacted with in life. I told you that in the hallway before we came in here.” Suddenly he’s dressed like an EMT, a pimpin’ medic with a flashy silver-handled cane. I see a shiny wolf’s head with ruby eyes peering out from between his long sepia-toned fingers.
“How did I get into the hallway?”
“Dude. Really a slow day for you, huh? Dead. You died.”
“I’m the welcoming committee. Who did you expect? Cthulhu?”
“I didn’t expect things to be so abrupt. And I sure didn’t expect to be able to see and touch myself.”
“Touching yourself shouldn’t be anything new to you.”
“Very funny. Shut the hell up. You know, have some respect for the dead.”
“You just died. You got to put in more time before I respect you. Every one dies. Not everyone gets respect.”
“You know that’s just like in freaking life. Why am I always on the junior side of the team?”
“You’re fresh dead. That counts for something. People still remember you. You’re kind of alive in a way. Give it a few years and you’ll either be a legend or forgotten. Ain’t no other way around it.”
“What the hell are you talking about? I accidentally OD and suddenly I’m being penalized for what I didn’t leave behind?”
“Dude, that’s the real judgement. You seen any God hanging around here? See any heavenly host singing in the clouds? You exist because others think about you.That stops and so do you.”
I talk to the air behind me. “Suicide is overrated. I thought I’d get away from nagging realism, but now there’s this asshole afterlife co-worker/medic/wolf philosophizing about existence. Shit.” Even though I’m dead, I’m still passive/aggressive/profane.
“So you admit that you swallowed all those pills on purpose.”
We stand facing each other. 2BN blows through his lips a few times making a flatulent vibrato hang in my ears. And like I said, death leaves a shitty taste in your mouth so I spit on the ground right in front of his bi-colored footwear.
“You spit on my shoe and we got a problem.”
“I thought you were on the welcoming committee, dude. Where’s the rest of them?”
“Are we waiting for a larger group to form a tour?”
“The dead are not here for your amusement, dude. Get comfortable. There’s a reason why they call it eternity.”
“This is what happens after life? Okay. I got it.”
There’s a little black box on my bed. I stash a lot of pills in it. Over the last few months I collected pills my friends gave me, pills I stole from my friends, pills my doctor gave me, pills my dentist gave me, pills I stole from co-workers, pills I stole from my family. It’s really a big black box. And since I only ate 24 pills there must be at least 200 pills left. It’s been a crappy death so far, and it suddenly hits me. I know how to be a happy corpse. I pick a handful of muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, and opiate pain killers and stuff them into my mouth.
“Hey man, you already dead. You don’t need to do it all again.”
“Geff ee uh glahh uh wa-uh.”
2BN gives me a glass off of the table next to my befouled bed. “What makes you think that you can do this?”
I swallow the handful of pills with the water and hand him back the glass. “Why did you hand me the water? It’s because I’m right, isn’t it? I can off myself in this realm and then you can’t bug me with facts.”
“What if there’s something even worse on the other side of death?”
“I’m thinking that there’s nothing there, like the final time you empty the trash on your computer. Everything’s gone.”
“Forensic computer hacking could bring up that data again.”
“So? What’s that? Reincarnation? Pretty slick, I’m guessing. I’m going back and this time I’ll get it right!”
“Get what right? The only people that have died twice never came back to earth or anywhere for that matter. Ain’t no such thing as reincarnation.”
“That’s what I’m banking on, dude. Adios!”