The Knock

Flash Fiction by Susan Walsh

An urgent knock. I looked through the peephole. A short, slumped little man with oily hair, a rumpled suit, ratlike nose started to push his way in. He said his name was Death.

“Well, be not proud, dude. And have a great day.” I slammed the door, or tried to. He’d shoved his foot between it and the jamb.

“A literary person, how nice,” Death said. “Biochemists and the like ask so many irrelevant questions.”

I had my car keys with the vial of mace attached. This neighborhood was full of psychos.

“That won’t work,” he said.

I stepped back, aimed, hit him right in the eyes. He sputtered politely, then smiled at me.

“I told you.”

“What is it you want?”

“You. I’ve come for you.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“That’s what they all say.”

He pushed his way into my living room. My Lady Smith was in my purse on the table. I didn’t waste time getting to it.

“How about you leave instead?”

I raised the gun.

“LOL. You can’t kill death.”

I pulled the trigger, shot him in the chest, then the head. I emptied the cylinder into his doughy paunch. He didn’t bleed; just stood there, still with a grin as cheap as his suit.

“I come for everyone.”

I stared into his rheumy pig eyes. Took a measured breath, then sat down on the sofa, crossed my legs, and started playing solitaire on my phone.

His pleather shoes creaked as he paced in front of me. The tip of his fleshy nose turned red and his loosely attached jowls quivered.

“Aren’t you going to grovel and wail, ‘why me, why now?’ ”

“Fuck you, Death, or whatever you are.”

Better people than I had faced down this little slob. Soldiers, heroes, artists.  Shakespeare, for God’s sake. People I’d known and loved. I remembered a wizened hand. The dove-like whisper of my sister’s last breath.

If I had to die, this was as good a time as any. I didn’t seem to be accomplishing much anyway.

“Aren’t you even a little terrified?” His crest was falling, his shoulders were slumping even more.

I had always been afraid of death—or what came after. ‘For in that sleep of death what dreams may come?’ All that.

Now, with this pathetic little man who smelled like the inside of a milk carton standing there, I  realized: Death is simply another one of life’s disappointments.

Death wheezed toward me. I didn’t even flinch.

© Susan Walsh 2014