Death And Taxes #writephoto #humour #creativewriting

This was written in response to this week’s #writephoto prompt

‘About bloody time.’ Jefferson Holepunch rubbed his arms, against the wind. ‘If I’d known it would be so long, I’d have worn a cardy.’

‘I’M SORRY. UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES.’

‘Seriously? I thought you foresaw everything. I’m mean, if you didn’t, how’d you know to be here.’

‘I’D HAVE HEARD THE SPLASH.’

‘Yes, well that’s not a lot of consolation. I’m mean you must know I was serious about drowning.’

‘IT IS A SERIOUS BUSINESS.’

‘Well, aren’t you the bloody philosopher. I mean you knew I’d chosen this drop and this river for its record.’

‘NO FAILURES.’

‘Exactly. One hundred and seventeen jumpers and no survivors.’

‘I KNOW. I WAS THERE. EVERY TIME.’

‘But if I’d jumped and you weren’t about, then what? I’d have ruined a perfectly good record.’

‘I DON’T THINK THE BRIDGE IS ESPECIALLY PROUD OF ITS MONIKER.’

‘Are bridges proud of anything?’

‘YOU HAVE NO IDEA.’

‘Well, obviously, or I’d not have asked. Look, I don’t want to hold you up because you’re a busy.. busy… erm what are you, exactly?

‘DEATH.’

‘I think that’s apparent from the cloak and the scythe and the knobbly fingers.’

‘DON’T FORGET THE HORACE.’

‘Horace?’

‘THE HORSE.’

‘That too. What I meant was what’s your category? I’m of the order of mammals and the category of homo sapiens. You?’

‘I AM DEATH.’

‘We’re going to go round in circles, aren’t we? You’re not an elemental or a spectre or something?’

‘I AM D…’

‘Got it. So, you ready? Because I’m catching my death here.’

Death pulled out an ornate clipboard from inside its cloak, flicking through the slips of parchment and briefly terrifying Jefferson with a glance at the foul, putrescent and writhing demons inside its rib cage. Death realised why Jefferson looked terrified and pulled the cloak shut. ‘SORRY.’

‘Bloody hell, what are they? No, don’t tell me or you’ll frighten me to death.’

Death’s checking of the parchment became increasingly frenetic. ‘IT DEFINITELY SAYS DROWNING. THIS IS WHAT COMES OF BEING TARDY.’

Jefferson studied the skeletal features. If you could discern one emotion across the chiselled and enviable bone structure of Death’s mask it was consternation. ‘You look worried. Can I help? I mean counselling the bereaved was my job. And in a way you are the ultimate bereaved, aren’t you?’

‘BEING LATE ISN’T ACCEPTABLE IN MY LINE OF WORK.’

‘Whereas me being late is. Sorry, cheap joke. I think we can focus on drowning. The others are figures of speech.’ He took in the look of confusion and worry. ‘How do you do that?’

‘DO WHAT?’

‘Frown. Without any flesh, how can you wrinkle a skull.’

‘IT IS NOT A SKULL.’

‘It isn’t?’ Can I…?’ Jefferson reached forward, tentatively given who it was and then laughed.

‘WHAT’S THE JOKE?’

‘I was thinking you might mind if I tapped you on the head but then you getting angry isn’t likely to have a worse outcome than what’s coming, is it?’

‘YOU MEAN I MIGHT LET YOU LIVE?’

‘I suppose.’

‘BUT YOU PLANNED YOUR DEATH SO IN A WAY THAT WOULD BE WORSE, WOULDN’T IT?’

‘You are a bit of a philosopher, aren’t you?’

‘WHEN YOU’VE SEEN WHAT I’VE SEEN, YOU TEND TO THE LONG VIEW.’

‘Do you let people live? You know, as a punishment?’

‘AH, NOW THAT SHOWS A FUNDAMENTAL MISUNDERSTANDING OF MY FUNCTION. DEATH ISN’T PUNISHMENT. THINK OF IT AS HOUSEKEEPING.’

‘Like cleaning the toilet?’

‘MORE PUTTING OUT THE BINS. IF I DIDN’T DO MY BIT, THERE WOULD BE NOT CERTAINTY.’

‘Sorry?’

‘THE ONLY CERTAINTIES ARE DEATH AND TAXES. WITHOUT ME THERE’D JUST BE TAXES.’

‘I suppose. Going back a piece, can I tap your skull?’

‘YOU WONT LIKE IT.’

‘Why?’

‘TRUST ME.’

‘Oh sure. Some dude who’s out to kill me, and I’m meant to trust you.’

‘WE ARE BACK TO CERTAINTIES, AREN’T WE?’

‘So…?’

‘IF YOU MUST.’

Jefferson loosened his knuckles and leant forward. As he did so, Death tilted to meet him. Jefferson made a fist and went to tap. His hand swung through Death’s head and he nearly lost his balance. But the indignity of falling off the parapet was as nothing to the sensation of sadness that enveloped Jefferson as his hand went through where Death’s head ought to have been. He goggled the Great Terminator. ‘Oh my. You poor thing. You hate this, don’t you?’

‘WOULDN’T YOU? IT ISN’T ANYONE’S IDEA OF FUN, IS IT?’

‘How’d you end up doing this then?’

‘OH YOU KNOW. THE CAREERS MASTER SAID BANK MANAGER OR PROCTOLOGIST, NEITHER OF WHICH APPEALED AND I SORT OF FELL INTO IT. APPRENTICE AND THEN DEPUTY AND A FEW EONS AGO, I GOT THE GIG. IT’S NOT ALL BAD. THE HOURS ARE REGULAR, YOU MEET LOTS OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE AND TRAVEL IS UNLIMITED. THE PAY IS RUBBISH AND I’VE NOT HAD A HOLIDAY SINCE PONTIUS WAS A PILOT. BUT I GET TO WORK WITH HORSES AND…’ Death looked around. The parapet was empty and a sense of falling came to him. CHARMING, he thought. HE JUMPED WITHOUT MUCH AS A SWISH OF THE SCYTHE. Death leant over the side of the bridge and watched as Jefferson, all flailing arms, flapping hands and a huge yawn plummeted towards the water. He reached down with his infinite reach and dispatched him to his allotted hereafter with a swift turn of the blade.

That done he turned to his horse, happily eating grass and watching it fall out of its exposed ribs. He gently touched his second molar and winced. ‘BACK TO THE BLOODY DENTIST, HORACE. AND THIS TIME DON’T LET ME SLEEP. IT’S BAD FOR BUSINESS.’

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in #writephoto, creative writing, humour, miscellany and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Death And Taxes #writephoto #humour #creativewriting

  1. V.M.Sang says:

    I love this one, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was waiting for the Hawkmoth to come

    Liked by 1 person

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