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Dead in DC Chapter 3


Chapter 1
Chapter 2


Chapter 3

“This is Denny’s.” Walt answered. “John my boy it’s time to explain a few things to you.”

“The door to the afterlife is through Denny’s?”

“No.”

“Denny’s IS the afterlife? Is it heaven or hell?”

Walt looked like he was either gonna laugh or belt me. I get that look a lot. Then I got the pleasant sensation of Ashley shutting me up with a hand over my mouth.

“Let him speak.” She admonished me. Hey when a hot girl does that, you listen. Or I do anyway, I’ve always been fond of girls’ hands. Over the mouth was a new one for me though. Again with the touching. I got kinda used to not being able to feel anything, that’s twice that she…

Wait a minute, now that I think of it, I was suddenly aware of being able to feel the bench under my ass. And the coolness of the table. Ashley must be good at reading people’s eyes.

“That’s right John,” she said, taking her hand from my mouth. “Your corporeal again.”

“How and why?” I hissed. If I could be touched, that means I could be seen and heard, and hey, only a few blocks from my house, suppose someone I know walks in? Plus this is a conversation probably best not had loudly.

“That’s what we have to explain to you.” Walt said. “Congratulations John, you just got a second lease on life. You’re a Reaper.”

“…And you were going to tell me this when?”

Walt looked at his watch. “Right about now.”

“Every Reaper has a set quota of souls they have to reap.” Ashley explained. “We have no idea what that quota is. Not until we’ve reaped the last one. Then we move on. From what I hear we get big bonus points for participating.”

“So, that girl,”

“Susie.”

“Right, so I was Susie’s last reap? And so now I take her place?”

“You got it stud.” Ashley grinned happily. “You caught on faster than I did.”

“You never know until you’ve reaped your last soul? So it’s, kinda just like death the first time.”

Walt raised an eyebrow. “Actually yeah. Philosopher?”

“Musician.”

“Close enough.”

“Hey you folks ready to order?”

I hope not too many people noticed me jump. Was she a waitress or a ninja?

“I’ll have the grand slam breakfast with orange juice.” Walt ordered. Ashley ordered French toast and coffee.

“And you sir?”

Guess I was gonna have to get used to being visible again. Damn I was kinda liking being, well, not. “Uh, nothing for-“ I seem to have left my wallet in my other life.

“Special occasion I’m paying.” Walt assured me. “Get something you’ve had a big day.”

No shit. “In that case, gimme the pancake platter with side of hash browns and apple juice.”

“Coming right up.”

Soon as she was gone I whirled on Walt. “Okay so how’s this work? Do I get a cloak and scythe? Do, I have to kiss people?”

“Uhm, no on both counts.” Walt said. “For one thing I don’t think we’d appreciate you stealing Susie’s shtick.”

“Right. Got it. So…”

“Most of this is a learn as you go, hands on thing.” Walt said. “But here are the basics. I give you a post-it, on it is the first, and sometimes middle, initial, last name, location, and estimated time of death for your reap. You get there in time to take their soul out, before they die, if at all possible. After that, you see them on their way.”

“Okay, sounds simple enough, except for the whole thing. How do I take the soul out?”

“You touch them.” Ashley explained. “Doesn’t have to be a big touch, just a hand shake, or brushing your hand lightly. But just bumping them won’t do it.”

“It’s instinctual.” Walt said. “You’ll figure it out. And you can quit casting nervous glances at the door, even if someone you knew walks in they won’t recognize you.”

“Oh.”

Walt probably noticed my not so subtle disappointment. “Yeah, so no going up to your parents and telling them who you are. They won’t appreciate it.” He looked up at the door himself and nodded in satisfaction. “Ah, here’s the others.”

Coming in the door was a trio of people who looked like something out of one of those sesame street sketches. You know, the one that goes `Two of these things belong together…` An Asian lady, who could have been either 30, or 50 as far as I could tell from her appearance, an old black man in a severe business suit and glasses, and a tall, black haired guy dressed in expensive looking, trendy clothes. He was glowering at me.

“This the newbie?” he asked without preamble.

“Yes, are you the oldie?” The guy rubbed me the wrong way, what can I say?

“Oh this is off to a wonderful start.” The Asian woman said.

“Don’t start.” The older guy said. “I know, too late, but try to keep it civil at least?”

Oldie and I scowled at each other a bit while the others looked either annoyed or amused.

“John, meet Vince, T’ing, and Mack.” Walt introduced Scowly, the Asian woman, and the business man respectively.

“Pleasure.” Mack said cordially.

“Don’t mind Vince,” T’ing said, sinking into the seat beside me, sandwiching me between her and Ashley. I really didn’t mind. “He was rather fond of Susie.” She whispered.

Mack took a seat beside Walt, while Vince stole a chair from another table and sat in it backwards. Oh Vince you rebel you.

“Everyone,” Walt said. “This is John. In case you hadn’t heard already, Susie has moved on. John has taken her place.”

Vince scowled deeper, T’ing smiled at me, though she looked a little sad, and Mack crossed himself.

“God be with her.” He said.

“And this,” Walt smirked. “Is the External Causes Reaper Division of Washington D.C.”

“The fun division.” Vince said with a slight smile.

“External causes?”

“Murder, suicide, accidents.” T’ing said.

“Occasionally, very bizarre accidents.” Walt smirked.

Mack remained serious. “I believe, some of us may want to hold a memorial service of sorts for Susie. I’m offering up my place for just such a thing.”

“Thanks man.” Vince said sincerely.

“That sounds lovely,” T’ing said. “Should we bring anything?”

“Liquor and plenty of it?” Ashley suggested with a grin. “Susie’s favorite?”

Mack’s turn to scowl, but Walt laughed. “Sounds good to me. Say, tomorrow, 7 o’clock?”

They all agreed, and I just sat there feeling awkward.

“I guess you should come too.” Vince said reluctantly. “Not a good idea to leave the newbies on their own so soon.”

“Thanks.” He was so nice to me.

“Glad you feel that way,” Walt said. “You can take him to Mack’s house after the ride along.”

Vince blinked. “Excuse me?”

“John’ll tag along on your reap tomorrow, show him how it’s done.”

“Why do I get stuck with the newbie?!”

“A couple of reasons. One, it amuses me to stick him with you since you two got off so famously, and two, because I said so.” This was the first time I heard Walt use anything other than a jovial tone. Maybe the fact that it was so rare made it so effective.

*****

The next day I found myself strolling along the streets of DC with Vince. He was less scowly today, might have something to do with his `convenient reap`.

“So how is this so convenient?”

“Because I have to be there anyway.” Vince explained. “Y’see newbie, my reap today has pissed off the wrong people. And these wrong people wish to make an example of him.”

“And…how do you know this?” I asked, with no small amount of trepidation.

“I work for those same people.” He said calmly. “Strictly a desk job, but they expect me to turn out for these things to keep me honest. Relax, even if they spot you they can’t do anything to you. You’re already dead.”

“So, you work for the mob.”

“Yeah.”

“Doing, what?”

“Told you, desk job.”

“Er, right.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Vince assured me again. He looked up as we reached a Starbucks near the gallery place metro station. “Okay, the guy’s got a huge hard on for Starbucks, has a doughnut and latte every morning. Wait here, count to ten and then come in and find me. Get something if you want.”

“No money.”

“You’ll have to work on that.”

Waiit a minute. “Wait a minute, we don’t get paid do we.”

“No. Fraid not.”

“Well that sucks!”

“Yes.” That’s all he said before he went in.

I sighed and counted to ten. When I came in, Vince was standing in line for the register. As I watched, he `accidentally` jostled a guy while he walked to the pick-up counter. There was, I don’t know how to describe it, but I could tell that this was our guy, and he had just been divested of his soul. It was, kinda cool, and kinda creepy at the same time.

Vince smirked at me. “See?”

“Yeah, so, what happens now-holy shit what the fuck is that?!”

“Shh!” Vince hissed, casting a grin at the customers who were now staring in my direction. “Tourettes.” He explained. “Bro, you forget your meds this morning, c’mon.” he dragged me out of the store.

“That the hell-“

“That was a Graveling.” He said. “Those are the things that cause the…causes of people’s deaths. At least when it comes to our division.”

We were on the move again. “They’re scary, but they’re a vital part of the system. Long as you do nothing to disrupt the system, they won’t bother you.”

“What do you mean disrupt-“

“Wait here.”

“What?”

“Wait, here. What part of that was difficult for you newbie?”

“The motive.”

“The motive is I don’t feel like explaining to my boss a tag along. Wait here, and watch what happens.”

“Hey!” I called. He paused and looked back.

“What?”

“Your desk job requires you to be at or near the…”

“What kind of example would it be if no one saw it? Stay. We’ll pick you up.”

“We?”

*****

`We` turned out to be Vince, and Mr. L Prosser. Who, amazingly enough, was in rather good spirits.

“Bastard’ll never find the money.” He was boasting. “He won’t even know it’s missing until it’s too late.”

Vince smirked. “I don’t suppose you could do me a favor and let me in on it. It’d really make me look good if I find it.”

“I think you’re missing the point of the whole, revenge from beyond the grave.”

“Well,” Vince shrugged. “No harm in asking.”

And what happened next? Well Mr. Prosser, who’d been run over by the way, walked into a cave made of light, and disappeared. He never did divulge the secret location of the money. Vince didn’t mind. He said in retrospect it might just make his boss think he was in on it.


To be continued…