“Have a seat. What’ll you have?”
The bartender, Wally, was glad to see a customer. The last one left 20 minutes ago and there was still four hours to go before closing. This was a strange looking guy, real tall, wearing a hooded cape or something.He hoped there wasn’t going to be any trouble. He flicked on the video camera.
“Real slow night. Glad to see somebody. What can I get you?”
“I don’t know, it’s been a long time . . . “The voice was deep and slow.
Must be from out of town, Wally thought
I know just what you mean. For some of my customers, an hour is a long time. How about a cold beer?”
“No, something to take the chill out of my bones. I’ve had a rough time, tonight. I’m not used to that.”
“A double whiskey will fix you right up. You want soda or water with that? No? Here you go, that’ll be eight bucks.”
Wally didn’t see him do it, but there was a stack of eight silver dollars on the bar. He turned to put them in the cash register and heard the glass bang down on the bar, empty. “Another.”
This guy is serious, he thought and turned for the bottle. In that split second, another stack of silver dollars sat on the bar.
“I can’t remember the last time someone paid with silver dollars, you a collector or something?”
“You might say that. Yes.”
Wally peered at the customer over his glasses, but couldn’t make out his face under that hood, just the eyes, strange, almost glowing.
“If you don’t mind me asking, you said you were having a bad night. What happened? ”
“I got mugged a little while ago. They took my tools. First time that‘s ever happened to me. I rarely come to south Philly. This place is more like a self-serve area. People usually don’t even see me, or at least, don’t want to see me. Maybe I’m just getting too old to do this job. I don’t know where in HeII I’d go though. This is very depressing for me.”
“Exactly, what is it that you do. Some kind of religion, maybe, a monk?”
“You don’t recognize me? No, of course you don’t. Without my tools, I’m just somebody in a robe. Let me show you.”
Now, Wally had been looking at the eyes under the hood, trying to figure out why they glowed like that. When the hood fell back, an icy chill streaked up his spine, panic and fear gripped his heart and he staggered back against the sink, his eyes wide, struggling to breathe at the sight of the Grim Reaper sitting at his counter.
“Relax, Wally, I’m not here for you. It’s not even close to your time. Get me another drink.”
He held out a bony hand, palm up and another stack of eight silver dollars appeared, which he sat on the bar.
“Just give me a minute here, Mr. Reaper, uh. . Mr. Death, ummm. . Grim? What do I call you?”
“Everybody’s got a name, Wally. You can call me, Seymour. Now, about that drink?”
“Yeah, coming right up, er. . .Seymour. I think I’ll have one with you, if you don’t mind.”
Seymour? Seymour Death? Oh, yeah, I get it, Wally thought as he poured out the two doubles and then watched as Death drained his without spilling a drop from his skull. Wally almost asked how he did that, but decided to leave well enough alone and raked up the silver dollars, looking at them more closely this time. Yep, they were real. Didn’t want to ask about that either. Normally talkative, Wally was at a loss for words for one of the few times in his life. Nobody was going to believe this. Then he remembered the video surveillance camera he had turned on earlier. Who knows what some TV Network would pay for. . .
“It isn’t going to show anything, Wally. You’re just wasting tape. Even if I could be photographed, no one would believe it. You didn’t even recognize me without the scythe. I’m just somebody in a costume without it and the hourglass. I’m useless. Nobody respects me anymore.”
With a deep sigh, Death crossed his hands on the bar and put his skull down on them.
“Hey, hey, none of that, Seymour. If a cop was to walk in here and see you like that, he’d haul you in for public drunkenness and I’d be in trouble for getting you that way.”
No sooner had the words left his mouth than the front door opened and two of Philly’s finest strolled in.
“Hey Wally, slow night, huh? Same for us, for once. Say, do you know you’ve got a big puddle out here on the floor?”