Walking my route, gloomy late afternoon, spring fog rising from the ground. Maybe it was that moody mist that got me in a spooky trance, rounding the long curve on Cadet Street especially, where the mist hovered over the drainage ditch (well, in the Wordsworthian mood I'm in, I'll call it a rivulet), and I wouldn't have been surprised to run into Sherlock Holmes stepping nimbly over potholes somewhere in the pea soup by the nine-hole.
Exactly. Coming out of the parking lot to Sunnyside, ahead of me I saw a hulking figure, all in black, black cape, a head covering (a hood?), standing still. Some sort of stick in hand. Looking at me. My fur -- or my vestigial fur, those hairs along my spine -- stood up.
When the Grim Reaper comes do people have a chance to see him in the distance? Does he stand there waiting while a woman (who as a matter of fact has quite recently and freshly declared she's in her prime) strides forward, taking in big gulps of air? I checked all my body parts. Lungs clear. No chest pain. Digestion fine. Slept well last night. Bones fine, muscles flexing. Quick communique to liver, stomach, pancreas, lymphs, cervix and cerebellum: hey -- you guys okay?
Wouldn't it just figure this would be my day, some regular Tuesday, nondescript March 18, feeling good, checks in the mail, spring on the way -- that would be the day, wouldn't it?
I drew closer, keeping up my pace so as not to appear cowardly. I squinted my nearsighted eyes and plastered on an alpha female smile, trying for "devil may care," so to speak. He looked big: maybe the drizzle exaggerated his girth. He seemed to turn away -- good sign. Then I realized his cane or walking stick or shillelagh or whatever the hell was really a thick, long leash, and at the end of it, sniffed a big loopy hound. Only one hound, not seven. Only a mournful basset, growling melodiously. And the man? A wide-faced smiling fellow with, I think, a small, endearing gap between two teeth. The Grim Reaper, I'm pretty sure, would not beam like this out of a face like a big banana cream pie. His scary cape, actually a fabulous great coat, brightened with a tartan scarf. And his hood -- not a hood, but a handsome black fedora. How stylish. How distinct.
"Her name's Daisy," the gentleman said. "Notice that her tail's wagging."
I could have said, "I'd like to stick around and chat but I thought you were My Death -- so you'll pardon me if I just move along."
Instead I shouted, "She's gorgeous!" which she was, and I trucked out of there.
"Have a nice walk," the neighborly man in the Great Coat called after me.
I'd like to imagine that I disappeared quickly into the mist -- like the reconciled victims in Cold Case -- but I don't think I did. I think he could see me clearly, almost running now, entirely vivified, for at least three blocks.
Not a hero
4 years ago