A Curious Conversation With Monsieur Death:
Just the other day, I had the strangest conversation with Mister Death. Of course once I realized whom I was conversing with, I committed everything to memory. Hence I am able to provide this account of the exchange which took place between Senor Death and I. So technically, everything that follows is based on that amazing yet not quite entirely reliable tool of the mind; memory. Hopefully this account has not been doctored in any manner by imagination, memory’s spirited cousin who is rather prone to flights of fancy.
I began by greeting him rather vaguely, I recall. He courteously responded with an equally arbitrary greeting. Once he introduced himself, I did feel a bit taken aback and said “Monsieur Death, imagine running into you here.” ‘Here’ being the place that we were at that time, one that I frequented every day of my life.
He said “You do know that addressing me as Monsieur isn’t exactly proper?”
I was able to reply because of the rare courage that raises its head in the face of Death.
“Because you’re not French?”
“Yes, among other things, I am more of a… global citizen, if you please.”
I couldn’t really bring myself to come to terms with the fact that the immortal concept of mortality referred to himself as a citizen of the world, so I questioned him on that. I mostly meant to annoy him with the question.
He appeared amused, and laughed before he replied “Could you possibly name a single nation for the formation of which, not one person died? And understand that Death is universal, not merely global, my dear boy.”
This was when I realized that Death-San didn’t have an accent. No trace of a Texan twang, overdone fake French, broad Scottish or even an Asian accent of any sorts. His speech was quite neutral and devoid of inflections of any kind. On retrospection, I realize that I am quite unable to describe his laugh. I was merely aware of him expressing his amusement. Perhaps my mind thought to interpret this expression as a sound which it associated with mirth. Anyways, this question of his did stump me. I changed the subject, since I wasn’t into discussing my inevitable end with anybody, least of all the aforementioned end himself.
So I asked him about his origins. He seemed to ponder the question awhile.
“Suffice to say, I have been around a long time. However your species became aware of my existence only once they achieved sentience. They seem to be quite fond of the statement ‘All good things come to an end.’ I personally felt from the time of its conception, that it was a poor and somewhat untrue observation. A more accurate statement would have been that everything comes to an end. But then again, I suppose that’d be asking far too much from the same people who thought up hedonism and Jelly doughnuts. That’s all I can tell you since it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to keep this conversation to yourself. ”
Spurred on by the implicit confirmation of my immediate survival, but not quite sobered, I decided to ask Signore Death about his opinion on our representation of him, particularly in our works of so called art.
He sighed before launching into perhaps the closest thing to an animated response that an intangible concept could get to.
"I seem to have fallen prey to the Green Revolution centuries before it happened, it would seem. I wield a scythe and reap souls. I also seem to have a penchant for loitering about in graveyards and a fascination with skulls. I ask you this, why a scythe and not a cutlass, a falchion or even a penknife? I find it rather amusing that the very same beings, who view the soul as an intangible part of them, have me reaping it like paddy using a piece of metal."
The nearest thing to a twinkle in his eye was present on the otherwise blank countenance that accompanied this almost- a- tirade.
“I also consider the folklore, unusually poorly thought out motion pictures and indescribable works of painters that have popped up during the ages an indication of Rabelaisian taste than anything else. Being infinitely patient, I try to ignore them. And it seems to be working too. These wonderful beacons amidst the vast ocean of human art seem to be getting fewer in number, thankfully.”
Herr Death appeared to be growing impatient or maybe it was just my imagination, but I decided to make my next question the last I asked him before raising the rather worrying issue of where we were once again. I enquired about how he felt we human beings were doing as the overlords of an entire world, already looking to claim more worlds as ours. I did this because at that time, immortal advice seemed pretty hard to beat as far as advice went. However in hindsight I now understand that immortal advice isn’t really advice at all.
When I put the question before him, he spoke slower than usual while replying “I’m afraid it doesn’t seem to be going too well. I do seem to be making an awful lot of ‘permanent acquaintances’, shall we say, who hail from your species. Actually, I seem to be making an awful lot of ‘permanent acquaintances’ per se, would sadly be closer to reality. And it is rather trying when they try to worm their way out of my embrace. How would you feel when your hospitality is spurned by obstinate unpleasant guests that you’ve just brought yourself to accept? But now, I must leave. Rest assured that we will meet again in the future. After what span of time, is a question that I will not answer, so don't even try.”
Rather relieved and decidedly disappointed at losing such an alarming acquaintance and charming conversationalist, I bid him a farewell that I sincerely meant.
“Good day, Monsieur Death.”
He turned around at this, and with a twisted smile replied “My dear boy, you do seem awfully certain that I’m male.”
With this Parthian shot, Death rode off to be joined by three other riders a short way ahead on the path that I, nay we seem to find ourselves marching forward on.
The End. Or Is It?