Me, Death, God, the Devil and Santa Claus

Mister Death Comes to Visit

A while back I sold my soul to the Devil, because Vesta and I needed some cash. I was pretty sure I could get it back and I eventually did. But getting it was a long drawn out process and it led me down a strange and twisted path.

Sometimes it veered toward the Dark Side, sometimes the big guy upstairs pulled it to the light. Through it all, the whole roller coaster of a ride, me and my friends, God, the Devil, Death and Santa Claus had one heck of an adventure

And it all started, really, because Death showed up at my door one day uninvited. Here’s the story.

Vesta and I were getting ready to go out when there was a knock on our door. Four quick raps, than four more. I went down to answer it and there was Death.

“It’s time,” he said.

“Which one of us?” I said.

“You decide,” he replied.

“Neither,” I said.

“How about you flip a coin,” Death said, “because one of you has to go.”

“How about heads and no one goes, tails and you get us both?”

“It’s a deal,” Death said.

“Alright.” I pulled out my two-headed Kennedy half dollar and flipped it. It landed on my doorstep, heads up.

“Another day,” Death said.

“How about a photo?” I said.

“Just one and make it quick. I’ve got other stops before I sleep.”

Death came in and Vesta took the shot. Then he stuck out his bony fingers and I shook his hand, just before he vanished before our eyes.

“You did it,” Vesta said.

“Did what?” I said.

“Cheated Death.

That was my first run in with Mr. D, but it wouldn't be my last and eventually we became kinda friends.

My second encounter with him came after I'd hurt my knee doing the tango and had been laid up for a week or so, but it seemed to be getting better, so I thought I’d walk in the park, but before setting off, I went into our little studio to get a camera and that’s when Bob, our photographer’s dummy, who looks curiously like Mr. Death, came to life.

“Going somewhere?” he said. Then he shouted out, “Vesta come down here!” And Vesta came running. She stopped in her tracks when she saw Bob was alive and as real as you or me.

“What’s going on?” The look on her face was ashen grey.

“We’re taking a trip the three of us,” Bob said, “to a place where you just float and it rains marshmallows.”

“And where is that?” I wanted to know.

“The underworld, of course.” He raised his hand and in an instant, it was dark, our bodies were gone and marshmallows were falling all around and I really, really felt good. But then, I’m a huge fan of marshmallows, especially the roasted kind.

“You’ve been good to me, the two of you have,” Bob said, in what sounded like Yoda speak. “So I thought I’d show you where you go after you pass on. You know, if good you haven’t been. While alive, you were.”

“This doesn’t look so bad,” I said.

“Marshmallows are the only food. Old, they get.” He frowned. “You have no hands, so catch them by your mouth, you must. Always hungry, you are. The good feeling you feel, goes away very soon, it does.”

And in fact I felt it fading. But for some reason, Vesta kept smiling, she’s always smiling.

“So,” Bob said, “if in the land of marshmallows you don’t want to end, you better not shout, you better not pout, because I’m telling you why—” He paused. “Well, you know the rest. It’s all true.”

And not so much later, when Vesta and I were out at Burning Man, sort of a festival for people who think right out in Nevada's Blackrock desert, I ran into Death's Minions.

These guys work for Mr. D and they are the rowers of the Death Catcher. Mr. D's cut off their feet so they can't go off on their own and start up their own franchise.

In this shot, they're rowing across the desert sand in Black Rock City, trolling for souls. You can see the three on the right are looking at a good one they missed, someone whose time has not yet come. It's the one on the left I'm worried about, as he's got his empty eyes trained on me.

I didn't realize it when I took the shot, but it appears that I'm mighty lucky to have gotten away, because I'm not ready yet.

One of the reasons I can walk so closely with Mr. D., why his Minions can't get their grimy clutches on me anytime soon, is because I had his arch enemy, the evil, vile, despicable, lowdown, stinky and cussed evil witch Zeldina—twin sister of the not as quite evil but much more savage witch Maeveen—put a spell on me.

It's not so easy to get one of the vile ones to cast a spell that wards of Death, because even though the evil twins, the Witches Zeldina and Maeveen, loath Death and his Minions, they're in the same business, competitors so speak. They thrive, the Witches and Death and his Minions, because Saten and the Lord have been far to busy these last couple centuries to do their own harvesting, so they've farmed it out.

Now the Witches and Death and his Minions would happily send us all down to the Halls of Hell, being as evil and vile as they are, but they gotta grill us, find out if we've been naughty or nice and if there's even a hint we've been more nice than naughty, they've gotta turn us over to Santa Claus for further questioning.

But Santa too has been very busy, you know, with his eleves and his reindeer and having to distribute all those toys every year, so you gotta have been pretty bloody nice to get by him, because he just doesn't have the time to mess with us if he doesn't have to.

The only thing that keeps the Witches and Death and his Minions from by passing Santa and the only thing that keeps Santa from ignoring us all together—because he'd rather be spending his time making children happy, rather then seeing if we're good enough for Heaven—is because all of them, the Witches, Death and his Minions and Santa Claus too are afraid of pissing off the Lord, because when he gets mad, look out. Remember the flood? And he wasn't even all that pissed off then.

So, what does all this have to do with me? Well, after that time I cheated Death, Zeldina invited me to stop by her place one Halloween for a spot of tea and a photo. I didn't want to go, but I knew if I turned her down, I risked being turned into a toad and who wants to live their life as a toad? Not me, so I went.

She stunk to high Heaven, Zeldina did, but her tea was okay and I told her so and I gave her a bottle of perfume as a gift. She cocked her right eyebrow at me when I gave her the gift and I told her it was for a special occasion, like if she was going to take a president or a king or a pop star. It wasn't for everyday, I said. It was a special perfume.

"For a minute there," she said, "I thought you might have been saying I had a problem with my odour. Some people think that, because I don't bathe."

"Ah, no. You smell fine to me," I lied.

Then we drank the tea and she asked me what my encounter with Death had been like and I told her not so bad, that he wasn't too bright and she laughed at that and told me Mr. D. wasn't too happy with me, because he knew he'd been cheated and that he'd be coming back soon and it wouldn't be pretty, because he had me figured out as a toiler in Saten's boiler.

She offered to take me right now and to get me a fair hearing with Santa straightaway. If I went with Death, she said, I wouldn't be getting anywhere near Santa, much less Heaven.

Well, I didn't want to be shoveling coal for Saten, that's for sure. I'd rather be a toad, but I didn't to be that either, and I was wondering what in the world the evil and despicable Witch Zeldina was even doing talking to me.

So I asked her.

And she told me they sorta had rules between them—the Witches Zeldina and Maeveen and Death and his Minions—and because Death got to me first, he was able to put his mark on me. And since I was wearing Death's mark, I belonged to him, which ticked off the witch, because like us all, she wanted what she couldn't have and because I was wearing Death's mark, she couldn't take me unless I went of my own accord.

But I didn't want to go, so we made a deal and sealed it with spit on our hands before we shook. She'd put that spell on me to ward of Death and his Minions for a number of years, then she'd come back one day and we'd go together.

"And that fair hearing with Santa?" I wanted to know.

"Ah," she said, "Unless you go now, that I can't guarantee."

So what I gained from all of this is a reprieve from the Witches and Death and his Minions. Now I am just like everybody else, I don't know when they're coming and I don't know for sure if I'll get that fair hearing with Santa.

"There is only one way to guarantee a hearing with Mr. Claus," Zeldina said to me. "You've gotta be a lot more nice than naughty. A whole lot more nice." And that's almost impossible in this day and age," she said, "and that's why Hell is bursting at the seems.”

Well now, after having met Death and seen his Minions and after having tea with the Witch Zeldina and having no desire to meet her savage twin the Witch Maeveen anytime soon, I'm working at being nice. I've working very, very hard at it.

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