Well within the first two hours of his unlife, Gerald found himself waiting on Death again. Sitting cross-legged against the wall like some scolded school boy, he watched as the Grim Reaper stalked from windows to wall. Having spent several accumulative hours on hold to the local pizza parlour in his past, Gerald certainly appreciated the change in tempo the latest song blaring from Death’s phone provided. Several bars into the song, the phone buzzed with static as it broke into the occasional pre-recorded message.
Her love shines over my horizon . . . we thank you for your continued patience. All of our friendly angels are currently helping other souls, if you would like to leave a message press one now. If you would like to arrange a call back, press option two. Alternatively, please hold the line and we will be with you soon. . . she’s a, slice of heaven.
Death deflated, his shoulders sinking as he exhaled long and hard. Shooting the occasional glare Gerald’s way, he continued his circuit around the living room floor. Ever the master at negotiating social encounters, Gerald interrupted his pacing.
“So, you’re saying that this silver string here is my soul?” he said, confidence plastered on his face as he finally began piecing the bits and pieces together.
“Have you even been listening?! You are truly a daft man Gerald,” the Grim Reaper offered back. “For one last time. People on Earth are the sum of two parts; the body and the spirit. You, in all of your shimmering stupidity, are the spirit; or soul if you’d prefer.
“That,” he said, stabbing a bony finger at the bloated lump near the armchair, “is your body. Now, that precious little silver thread that you have so monumentally desecrated, is the Styx. I don’t know how those old Grecians managed to get that one wrong. A river? Ha!”
“So what is this then?” Gerald asked, holding up the worm-shaped sack at the end of the silver line.
“That is your appendix,” Death said as he resumed his pacing. A token glare back toward Gerald confirmed that he still was not following. Somehow rolling the empty sockets he had as eyes, Death continued his explanations. “The appendix acts as the connection between body and soul. . . what did you think it did?!”
Gerald let the hysterical fit of laughter continue for a few moments before, once again, offering to place the thread back.
“For the thousandth time Gerald, you can’t just go putting the Styx back in. How would you even do that? How do you put an appendix back in? It doesn’t work like that.”
“Can’t you take me with you then?” Gerald asked.
“Look. I know this is all confusing for you and I will explain it one more time,” Death stepped before Gerald and crouched so that he was looking him directly in the eyes. “Your body contains all of the memories of the things you did while alive. Through the Styx, those memories are connected to your soul, but the soul doesn’t hold them. I am a facilitator of sorts; a train conductor; a ferryman. When I cut the Styx, your memories are weighed and you either go to heaven, or the other place.”
“And that’s what the scythe is for?!” Gerald said, his face plastered with a smug grin; so proud of his unfamiliar foray into comprehension.
“No, that is for my sciatica. I only need to cut a piece of string Gerald, I use these scissors,” Death held up a pair of baby blue safety scissors, the handles decorated with pink unicorns and rainbows. “Idiot.”
As Gerald opened his mouth to ask another scintillating question, Death’s phone squawked.
“Thank you for calling Angelic Assistance this evening, my name is Gabriel. How may I help today?”
Gerald tried not to take offence at the string of laughter echoing from the phone as the Grim Reaper explained his current predicament.
“. . . and as you can tell, I can’t sever the connection whilst there’s no memories; he’d be left to wander down here.”
Death took a few steps away from Gerald, covered his mouth and tried to whisper into the mouthpiece, “you. . . you don’t suppose I could just. . . put it back?”