A Day in the Life of Death

Sam Smith. That’s the name he’d been going by for the last 150-plus years and it suited him fine, like the 21st Century and it’s clothing styles, which he thought of as he adjusted his tie, making certain that the double-Windsor knot was as small and tight as possible.

He enjoyed looking impeccable for the job, which no matter how much he worked at it never received decent PR. That had always been a problem with his line of work – death.

Time after time, he’d hear how death came for someone who’d had an accident, or murdered or who committed suicide. It wasn’t up to Sam Smith to take someone as much as it was his duty to escort the person towards the afterlife.

In fact, in last the 997 years, he’d only used force once and that was on a Viking Heathen Wolf. There was no reasoning with the man and by the time the confrontation was over, Sam Smith had lost his right arm to mad-man’s sword.

It was embarrassing to have to go to the office the following day to file an on-the-job injury report and then over to the clinic to have the arm reattached. That was also the last time he’d transfigured himself from human form to what people called the ‘Grim Reaper.’

“Do it one time and they think you do it every time,” he’d complain to co-workers.

Finesse, it was the best way to hand anyone whose time it was to go. “Look, it’s going to happen one way or another,” he’d tell the targets putting up a fuss, “Make it easy on yourself.”

His day was nearly complete and he had only one target remaining on his list. But the 86-year old man was proving difficult to find as the man’s inner spirit had gone extremely quiet, something Sam had never encountered before.

For his part, Yoshio Watanabe knew his time was at hand and he had made all the preparations for his passing. The old World War II vet had also promised that when death came to take him, he’d put up one last fight.

Yoshio Watanabe sat quietly in the clearing amid the trees on the outskirts of Tokyo. He had dressed traditionally, a silken kimono, wooden geta’s on his feet, and both a Katana and Wakizashi tucked into the sash tied about his waist.

Sam Smith finally found Yoshio Watanabe. He instantly knew he was going to have a problem with the old man.

“Come on, Mr. Watanabe,” he spoke in perfect Japanese. “Let’s not make this any worse than it already is.”

“I knew you’d come for me one day,” the old man said as got to his feet. “But I will not go quietly.”

Sam Smith stood quietly, waiting for the target to move on him. But the old man stood stock-still as if he were assessing his future opponent’s skill level.

“The old man’s cheese has slipped off his cracker,” Sam Smith decided. “Might as well get it done and over.”

Sam Smith stepped to his left. This caused Yoshio Watanabe to respond by moving to his right and withdrawing only six-inches of his Katana from it’s scabbard.

It was easy to recognize a person who possessed fighting skills and even easier to recognize someone who understood how to handle a sword. Within a second, Sam Smith found himself defending against an 86-year old man flashing two swords around as if he were in his twenties.

Yoshio Watanabe wasn’t the least bit surprised when the man who stood before him changed into a Chokuto-wielding Shinigami, the eastern counterpart to the Grim Reaper. Sam Smith knew that he had to conform to the man’s belief system as he battled with the old man.

The two fought back and forth for nearly a half hour, with neither giving way to the other. It was clear to Sam Smith that he was going have to take Yoshio Watanabe’s head before the old man would be completely satisfied.

Sam Smith stepped to the right and to the inside of Yoshio Watanabe. That’s when he dislodged the Katana from the old man’s hand then wheel about to remove his head in a single stroke.

As Sam Smith’s blade drew through the old man’s neck, Yoshio Watanabe, never one to surrender, drove his Wakizashi through the Shinigami’s sternum with enough force that the tip of the sword became lodged in Sam Smith’s sixth thoracic vertebrae.

With the battle concluded, Sam Smith looked at the old man’s lifeless form on the ground. He knew it wasn’t real, but the sight left him feeling empty.

In the distance he could see Yoshio Watanabe still peacefully seated as he had been when he’d first found him. He could tell that the man had passed and that now his real work was to begin.

Sam Smith walked over to the severed head and picked it up. Next he pulled the headless body of Yoshio Watanabe into a seated position, then handed him his head before helping him to his feet.

Together they walked to the nearby ‘Sorting Ground.’ Once there, he left Yoshio Watanabe in the Sorters hands.

On his way home, he tried to pull the blade from his body, but it was good and stuck. All he wanted to do now was kick his feet up with a beer and watch the nightly news to see if any of his handy work had made it across the editorial desk.

“What happened to you?” Mrs. Smith asked.

“Long story,” Sam Smith said. “I had to duke it out with a guy who believed he was Samurai or something.”

“What do you think the Boss will have to say?”

“No idea, hopefully I won’t have to explain. Just go to the doctor, get it removed and return to work. But I still gotta fill out a work injury report.”

“So, how’d it happen?”

“Honestly, I have no idea. I went in to remove his head and next thing I know as I’m doing that, he ramming this stupid thing through me.”

Sam Smith flipped on the TV and headed into the kitchen to grab a brew from the refrigerator. He returned to the living room, kicked off his shoes, sitting down in his new recliner chair, the couple had purchased two days ago.

As he began to watch the news, Mrs. Smith walked into the room, “What have you done?”

Sam Smith looked up at her, a case of puzzlement showing on his face. He clearly had no idea what he’d done – but he was certain Mrs. Smith would tell him.

“That’s a brand new recliner and now you’ve ruined it by poking a hole in it!”

“I forgot…” he began to say, but she didn’t let him finish.

“You can be so thoughtless sometimes!”

She turn and stomped down the hallway to their bedroom, where she slammed the door behind her and when she did that, Sam Smith knew instantly where he was sleeping tonight. He’d have to let her calm down before they could talk about it, so there was nothing more he could do other than leaned back in the chair and enjoys what measure of comfort it brought him at the moment.

“What a perfect way to end the day,” he sighed as he lifted the beer bottle to his lips.


Poor Thomas’ Almanac for January 30: In 1835, Andrew Jackson survived the first attempt against the life of a U.S. president. Time’s are  changing as the media is openly calling for the assassination of President Donald Trump.

Third Night

There’s a Cherokee tale called ‘White Wolf and Black Wolf’ and I’m about to purposely screw it up.

Last night, I allowed Black Wolf to control me. In my darkness, Black Wolf bit down on my head like a vice-grip, shook me violently and kicked away at my innards.

Fortunately, I made it to the bathroom before exploding from both ends. Because it was solely my choice, White Wolf could do nothing but watch, knowing I made the decision to allow Black Wolf to toy with me.

Happily, White Wolf is forgiving and wants me to return to His pack.

The Bargain

My friend passed away. I thought her death unfair. She’d beaten cancer only the week before.
Grief consists of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Sometimes these five stages come one at a time or all at once.  In my case, they came at once, hitting me hard.
After a night of drunkenness and petition (okay…bargaining,) God gave an ‘answer’ about the ‘fairness’ issue I felt bitter over: He drew her closer to Himself through her illness because He knew His plan for the remainder of her life and I didn’t.
Life and death are beyond our ability to master.


Misplaced feelings (happy, sad, glad, mad) are common as I learned following the death of a good friend. All the night of her passing I whined about how sad I was that she’d beat cancer, only to be taken because of an infection.

To this end, I got blitzed, hoping to numb the pain brought on by my proclaimed mood. A the light of the next day, as I lay in the frosted grass, wrapped in a pony-blanket, freezing cold, it dawned on me, I was never sad.

No – I was beyond mad – I was angry. So add another feeling.

Cheryl Darnell, 1950-2018

“But I thought she was getting better?” I asked.

Kay responded, “Yeah, the doctor said her cancer has gone into remission.”

“That was three days ago, so why is she back in the hospital now?”

“Some sort of infection.”

That’s pretty much how the conversation went before this morning, when my friend Cheryl Darnell passed away. So, here I sit at my computer, in shock-mode – trying like hell to comprehend what jus’ happened.

Perhaps my shock is an after-effect of sitting by Cheryl’s side for nearly seven-hour after her passing, because I didn’t want her body to be left alone. I did this because her daughter, en route from Alaska missed a connecting flight at Sea-Tac, so she was not able to be at the hospital when her mother took her final breath.

It seems so unfair that less than a month after retiring from the airline industry, she would suddenly become sick with cancer. Cheryl had so much life left in her and had so many plans, including moving to Alaska to be near her daughter and grand-girls as well as to travel around the world.

She was a funny woman, in both her sense of humor and her personality. On one hand, she hated to see any animal suffer but she also wanted to “hurt the shit out” of those people who harmed them.

And her love of animal’s wasn’t only lip-service. For nearly thirty-years Cheryl helped rescue, rehabilitate and re-home hundreds of Nevada desert tortoises and turtles.

As for humor, her favorite phrase was “asshole.” I never met a person who could find so many uses for that single word – and it wasn’t always used in a derogatory manner, because she did jokingly call me that from time to time.

Call me a cad if you wish, but when I visited her in the hospital (she’d already slipped into a coma by then,) I whispered in her ear, “Don’t be an asshole by kicking-the-bucket. Besides you and I have a deal to complete and I don’t want you dying simply to get out of selling me that pistol.”

I added, “I love you, Cheryl.”

Thankfully, her friend Bobby was there when she left us, so she was not alone when she died. Bobby’s also the one who called Kay, who told me. Once Kay and I got to the hospital, Kay remained with Bobby, and I took over, sitting with Cheryl’s body.

A ‘shit-kicking cowgirl at heart,’ all I can do now is imagine Cheryl in Heaven, riding her favorite horse ‘Golden Boy,’ with her husband, Jim by her side. The thought brings a smile to my face, preventing me from crying anymore than I already have today.

And as I said the last time I saw her, “I love you, Cheryl.”

To Possess His Heart

A simple fling; a one night stand, that’s all it was to be, but it turned into much more than that. He wasn’t very happy with himself for screwing around on his wife, but it was too late to worry about that now.

She was dangerous, crazy dangerous, and he knew it, but still he couldn’t find it in his better interest to walk away until it was nearly too late. Shortly after he did end their affair, he realized she was stalking him at work, the store, his gym, and at home.

He felt certain that if push came to shove, he could handle her. And he also promised himself that if the woman even once threatened his wife or their son, he’d kill her, making it look like self-defense and if he couldn’t do that, he’d get rid of the body deep in the nearby forest.

Then one evening, he rushed home after his wife called to tell him that a strange woman had accosted her in their driveway, threatening to cut her throat and stab to death the boy. It took him the entire night to calm his wife, assuring her with the promise that he’d file a police report as soon as he got to work the next morning.

Three days later he called the woman to arranging a rendezvous at their usual place, her condo, telling her, “I really need to see you tonight — I gotta surprise I wanna give you.”  With great anticipation, she readily agree.

Unfortunately for her, his real plan was to choking the life out of her.  He allowed his anger to swell, depending on it to maintain the mindset he needed to complete the violent act he envisioned.

That night, he calmly knocked at her door and she let him in. Without wasting time, he wrapped his hands around her neck, crushing at her windpipe with his thumbs.

She struggled to break loose, but couldn’t. Instead, she drew the lengthy kitchen knife from behind her that she had secreted in the belt of her dress and drove it deep into his stomach and then up into his chest cavity.

His eye’s widened in surprise and his fingers grew weak, slipping as she shoved him backwards against the door he’d entered less than a minute before. As his hands dropped to his sides, he felt his body shudder as he gasped his last breath.

She felt it too and relished the sensation as it came through the knife’s blade and then it’s handle. She smiled, looking steadily into the eyes of her dying lover as slid to the floor, a massive puddle of blood forming around his frame.

She stood over him, looking at his body as it lay limp on the floor, daring it to move, but it didn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t. Finally, and with surprising ease, she filleted his now still chest open.

Having watched enough crime TV, she knew what came next. She retrieved the bolt cutters she has stolen from her now-dead lover’s home and began to ‘crack the sternum,’ exposing his heart and lungs.

“I told you that your heart would be mine, one day,” she said as she sliced the lifeless, but still warm organ from his body, holding it close to her face and looking it over. Her mental task list complete, she turned to her kitchen sink, washing the sticky, metallic smelling blood from her hands. “

“Oh, damn it,” she frowned, realizing she had ruined her favorite dress. But the disappointment was quickly replaces by a smile as she said, “And to think, the dumb-ass never once believed me.”