Not Really Dead - 3/2

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Brian
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Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby Brian » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:31 am


Brian
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Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby Brian » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:31 am

One week after attending the funeral of a close friend, you receive a postcard in the mail with the words, "I'm not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido's Pizzeria. Tell no one."

You can post your response (750 words or fewer) here.

H. A. Fletchers
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Re: Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby H. A. Fletchers » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:41 pm

The world was bleak without my best friend Bob there to brighten it with his bizarre ways. Even his death was bizarre...dying in a skiing accident in July in Wisconsin? Something just didn't add up. So when I got the letter from the oaf asking me to come to his favorite pizza joint I didn't know whether to rejoice in his being alive or smack him for being an idiot. As I greeted him I settled for the second choice. "You selfish jerk! You had to go and fake your death without me!". He simply shrugged. "What's wrong with you?!", I asked, since obviously something was wrong. He hates pizza...he would much rather eat fried chicken. "The government's on to me...they're following me man", he said scanning the room nervously. "What?", I asked growing concerned. We had just finished attending the government conspiracy awareness seminar last week...I didn't think I would have to put my skills to use so soon. "How? Did they bug your house or something?", I asked quietly. "No worse. I won a free computer last week...and it has a camera built in. I knew there was a catch! The all seeing eye! They're watching!". Did I mention he isn't technologically advanced...at all? After sitting a moment contemplating on my life choices that had led me to such friends I finally made a suggestion. "How about a trip to Wisconsin?".

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RE: Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby FreeFlowing » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:42 pm

“I’m not dead
The letter seemed to say
I really could not tell
as I shook my confusion away.
I know you are dead
Because I was at the funeral, you see.
What type of cruel person
Sent this letter
from you to me.

“Meet me tonight at Guido’s Pizzeria.
Tell no one.” the note had said.
Who, for goodness sake,
would I tell
that I got a letter from the dead?

It was only 1’o clock.
So I had time to think and ponder.
How had I received this letter
From the Wild Blue Yonder.
Were you trying to tell me
something I should know?
Was this letter true,
should I push aside my fears and go?

By 5,
the time was drawing near.
A decision had to be made.
It was then that I decided.
My fate, it seems, was laid.

You were my close friend.
Thick as thieves, some would say.
It wasn’t only greed
that caused what had happened on that day.

The ticket was more mine than yours,
I’d put in more of the money.
It was the extra bit that
Increased the pot ‘til it was damn-near funny.

You knew I needed it the most,
As my spouse lay there with cancer.
Treatments, medication…
This would have been our answer.

Before we’d won the mega-pot
You were all too happy to agree.
That the majority of the money
Really should go to me.

But as the numbers,
They kept adding
and it seemed within our reach
It was our agreement
that you decided
you would breach.

I can’t say what happened
Something in me
Must have snapped.
It’s a decision that I’ll regret
and in my shame and guilt, I’m trapped.

So tonight while you’re at Guido’s
Or not
I will not know.
I’ve decided, my dear friend,
It’s really best
if I don’t go.

johnsonjg
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RE: Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby johnsonjg » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:43 pm

      The handwriting on the postcard was familiar. Michael’s face came to mind, and the faces of his wife and his mother and the rest of the people at the funeral. I could still see them, standing in the pews and wiping tears from their raw noses and sore eyes. Those same faces had smiled at Michael’s quick, easy jokes and that charm in his eyes when he smiled back.
      I gripped the postcard in my pocket and walked into the restaurant. It was Michael’s favorite, the place we always went to watch the games and have a slice of pizza. It was the only dependable place in town, never crowded, always cheap. I went back to the table where we usually sat, with a clear view of the TV mounted at the top of the wall. The news was on when Claire walked up to the table.
      "Hey Jim, how about a coke and pizza?”
      “No thanks,” I said. I hadn’t eaten. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. Not until Michael got there. “I’m waiting on someone.”
      “Okay,” she gave me a strange look. “Well, you just wave me over if you need anything!” She was still smiling when she turned to walk away. Maybe she knew about Michael, that he was okay after all. I laughed at the relief it was to know he wasn’t really dead. All the pain and tears, the sick feeling of losing my best friend that had kept me from eating for the past week, none of it would matter once he walked through those doors and smiled.
      I pulled the postcard out and read it over again and again, until a shadow blocked out the light. I looked up expecting to see him there, but it was Claire again.
      “What have you got there?” She looked down at the postcard, and I didn’t think to pull it away in time. “A postcard?” I nodded back at her, and stared down at the signature near the bottom. He had such a simple signature. “Don’t forget to put a stamp on it.”
      “What?”
      “A stamp,” she said. “You know – postage? I sent one out once without a stamp, and the post office sent it back to me.”
      “Right,” I said, turning it over a few times. She was right. There was no stamp. That meant he had to have put it in my mailbox himself. But why like this? Why didn’t he come in and see me at home?
      “Hey, Jim,” she said, watching me turn the post card over again, “I hate to do this, but we’re closing up soon and—” she trailed off, expecting me to get up. I wouldn’t. Not without seeing Michael again. “I’m sorry whoever you’re waiting for didn’t show. I hate being stood up.”
      “It’s not like that,” I said. I started to breathe heavy and quick, and my eyes were stinging from the tears that were welling up.
      “Hey, it’s okay,” she said, sitting down across from me. “I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.”
      “It’s not your fault. It’s Michael. He said he’d be here,” I coughed and sniffed hard, trying not to cry in front of her.
      “Michael? Michael Stevens?” I looked up through watery eyes as she said his name. “I hate to tell you this,” she stopped for a second, as if we both knew. “He was in a bad car accident. He didn’t make it, Jim. They had a funeral service for him last week.” She stared at the floor and stood up. “I’m sorry,” she said walking away.
      I looked down at the postcard and wondered how he could do it. How could he even deliver his message if he’d been in a wreck? I’d seen his mangled car. He wouldn’t have been able to drop the postcard in my mailbox, unless he walked! Or maybe he rode with someone else. But why?
I read over the card a few more times and stood up to leave. There was something in my pocket, a pen. I pulled it out and stared at it, tilting it in the light. I spread a napkin out on the table and began to scribble the message down from the postcard and signed Michael’s name at the bottom. That was it. The same color ink. The same simple signature. I was sure of it.
      I left the pen and postcard on the table. I remembered buying both at the drug-store earlier. I remembered his car, his face, dead and pale. I was there. I couldn’t stop in time. I couldn’t stop in time to save him. I killed my best friend.

 

- J. Garrett Johnson

 

 


daddyjbird
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Re: Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby daddyjbird » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:05 pm

My first thought actually was that it was just like Brandon. I just had never thought he’d pull something like this.

I wasn’t sure what exact time to be at Guido’s, so I took a book with me. I got to the Pizzeria at 6 pm that night. I sat, slowly eating and drinking while reading for a couple hours. I lost track of time before I realized how far I was getting into the book. It was 8:30. I still hadn’t seen a sign of Brandon. I was getting a bit impatient. But, I knew I needed to be calm. I just kept reading.

And as I was numerous pages into the book again, I began to turn the page when I saw someone sit down in the booth across from me.

There he was. I could hardly tell it was Brandon myself. He looked like he hadn’t bathed in days. He was wearing a dark blue Cubs hat pushed way down. His winter coat was like some black trench coat I’d never seen him wear before.

“Did you tell anyone?” Brandon asked.

“No, what’s wrong?” I didn’t know what to think, but was thankful he was alive.

“You aren’t going to believe me,” he said trembling.

I stayed attentive, nodded to confirm I would try to believe him.

“I’m scared. I’ve done something so wrong…. I, I, …” he started crying before he could even begin.

I couldn’t understand what could be so bad.

I put my hand on his shoulder, to show my compassion. I wanted him to continue. I wanted to help. Hell, I just wanted to know what he did.

“I was at my apartment a few days ago. And there was a knock on my door. Buster, (his dog), was going nuts barking at the door, like he smelled something. And I was worried. It was late at night. It was raining. I had a bad feeling. And I wish I didn’t have the gun in the house…”

Now, it was serious.

“I got it out of my dresser, then checked the peephole. I couldn’t tell who it was, so I tried to just open the door a little to find out. When I opened it, the rain was pouring something terrible and coming in. God man, I was already freakin’ scared. This guy burst the door open, he was so much stronger than I could imagine. I thought I could defend myself. But, I freaked out. And the sad thing was, I was chicken. I couldn’t keep him off of me, and dropped the gun. Then, he pulled down the hood from his face and I could see who it was. I knew him.”

‘Who?’ I asked, with my expression alone. Who the hell would burst in the apartment and have reason to scare Brandon half to wits like that?

“It was me, man! IT WAS ME! This guy that scared the crap outta me, was me. He held me to the wall, holding me there trying to tell me this story about how he had to warn me about something that was going to happen in the future. I couldn’t even figure out exactly what he was trying to tell me other than that. All I remember was that he said he was me five years from now. He was trying to explain something in detail, but for God’s sake, that was ME telling ME what to do! I was freakin’ out and I thought I was going nuts. I panicked. Before I even realized what I was doing, I grabbed the gun off the floor, I pushed him away and I shot him! I shot me, dammit. I killed myself, right there in front of, myself! How the hell, and why? I couldn’t stop myself before I did it. And in a few seconds there was so much blood on the floor, I knew I was dead. So I ran.”

I didn’t want to believe him, even if I could. But, something in Brandon’s eyes told me he was telling the truth even though he looked and sounded crazier than I had ever thought possible.

“And I’ve been hiding out ever since. I mean, what do I do? What, what would you do if you just killed yourself? And now I’ve got to live knowing that in five years, I’m going to be knocking on that door and I’m gonna die. And I’m gonna kill myself!”

By Jason Burchard
One idea after another….

daddyjbird
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Re: Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby daddyjbird » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:05 pm

My first thought actually was that it was just like Brandon. I just had never thought he’d pull something like this.

I wasn’t sure what exact time to be at Guido’s, so I took a book with me. I got to the Pizzeria at 6 pm that night. I sat, slowly eating and drinking while reading for a couple hours. I lost track of time before I realized how far I was getting into the book. It was 8:30. I still hadn’t seen a sign of Brandon. I was getting a bit impatient. But, I knew I needed to be calm. I just kept reading.

And as I was numerous pages into the book again, I began to turn the page when I saw someone sit down in the booth across from me.

There he was. I could hardly tell it was Brandon myself. He looked like he hadn’t bathed in days. He was wearing a dark blue Cubs hat pushed way down. His winter coat was like some black trench coat I’d never seen him wear before.

“Did you tell anyone?” Brandon asked.

“No, what’s wrong?” I didn’t know what to think, but was thankful he was alive.

“You aren’t going to believe me,” he said trembling.

I stayed attentive, nodded to confirm I would try to believe him.

“I’m scared. I’ve done something so wrong…. I, I, …” he started crying before he could even begin.

I couldn’t understand what could be so bad.

I put my hand on his shoulder, to show my compassion. I wanted him to continue. I wanted to help. Hell, I just wanted to know what he did.

“I was at my apartment a few days ago. And there was a knock on my door. Buster, (his dog), was going nuts barking at the door, like he smelled something. And I was worried. It was late at night. It was raining. I had a bad feeling. And I wish I didn’t have the gun in the house…”

Now, it was serious.

“I got it out of my dresser, then checked the peephole. I couldn’t tell who it was, so I tried to just open the door a little to find out. When I opened it, the rain was pouring something terrible and coming in. God man, I was already freakin’ scared. This guy burst the door open, he was so much stronger than I could imagine. I thought I could defend myself. But, I freaked out. And the sad thing was, I was chicken. I couldn’t keep him off of me, and dropped the gun. Then, he pulled down the hood from his face and I could see who it was. I knew him.”

‘Who?’ I asked, with my expression alone. Who the hell would burst in the apartment and have reason to scare Brandon half to wits like that?

“It was me, man! IT WAS ME! This guy that scared the crap outta me, was me. He held me to the wall, holding me there trying to tell me this story about how he had to warn me about something that was going to happen in the future. I couldn’t even figure out exactly what he was trying to tell me other than that. All I remember was that he said he was me five years from now. He was trying to explain something in detail, but for God’s sake, that was ME telling ME what to do! I was freakin’ out and I thought I was going nuts. I panicked. Before I even realized what I was doing, I grabbed the gun off the floor, I pushed him away and I shot him! I shot me, dammit. I killed myself, right there in front of, myself! How the hell, and why? I couldn’t stop myself before I did it. And in a few seconds there was so much blood on the floor, I knew I was dead. So I ran.”

I didn’t want to believe him, even if I could. But, something in Brandon’s eyes told me he was telling the truth even though he looked and sounded crazier than I had ever thought possible.

“And I’ve been hiding out ever since. I mean, what do I do? What, what would you do if you just killed yourself? And now I’ve got to live knowing that in five years, I’m going to be knocking on that door and I’m gonna die. And I’m gonna kill myself!”

By Jason Burchard
One idea after another….

hobbyist
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Re: Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby hobbyist » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:45 am

Awake. Wish I wasn’t.
I look at the clock-radio. 1.05 pm.
They say funerals help you move on. Well, life hasn’t moved on, not for me. It’s only been a week but I can’t remember how things used to be, before… before that happened. I scowl at everybody I see, inwardly screaming “Don’t you know what happened? How can you pretend things are normal?”
I wonder how long it will be before I can join the human race again. Will this immense grief I carry ever get any lighter? Today it’s so heavy I can’t even get out of bed.

I force myself to get up and go to the letterbox. If it’s the only thing I do all day, at least I’ll have had two minutes exercise and sunshine. It’s better than nothing – when you feel this poop unicorns and rainbows you have to find your positives somewhere.
What I find in the letterbox makes time stand still for a long, confounded moment. Has me wondering if I’m not still in bed, dreaming.
A postcard, with the familiar slant of her handwriting:
I'm not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido's Pizzeria. Tell no one.
I look around me. The world seems real enough, though I do find myself questioning reality from time to time. Especially this last week.

I read the card maybe fifteen times. It cannot be.
Perhaps...
No, it couldn’t be.
I searched for religion when I pondered all the questions that the bereaved ponder. I desperately wanted to believe in something so I would know my best friend was in a good place and, more importantly, that I would see her again. How futile all the years of friendship if they just come to nothing…
Is this postcard a sign? The answer to my prayers? If life has taught me anything it’s that this sort of thing doesn’t happen.
I must go to Guido’s, to find out.
It could just be a horrible prank. But I don’t know who would want to hurt me, when I’ve done nothing to hurt anybody else. Surely if you are a good person…
Well that argument clearly doesn’t stand up. I will stop thinking, and pass time until Guido’s.

I dial her home number for the fiftieth time this afternoon - I’ve tried her mobile over and over as well, but it’s turned off. Her mother’s strained and quiet voice finally answers.
‘Is Sally…’ I start. She lets out a sob.
Tell no-one. Not even her mother?
‘Sorry’ I mumble, and hang up.
Passing time like this is excruciating. My brain can’t seem to cope with the logistics of it all. The possibilities. She faked her own death and is on the run, but wants to meet with me. Her funeral was just a delusion and I am mad. Her funeral was real but this postcard is a delusion and I am still mad. The funeral and the card are “real” but “reality” is just a game we play, to experience depth of emotion, to learn how to love by losing love.
And then to get a postcard and find out it’s all OK after all.
Or not.
I just don’t know.
Not knowing what else to do, I get drunk. In the middle of the day. It’s a great way to get to sleep when you have already slept too much. It doesn’t make you feel any better at all – worse, actually. But at least you don’t have to bear the torture of clear thought. Because all “clear thought” does is raise more questions anyway.

At Guido’s, I order a slice of pizza. No, not the usual, because my usual company is dead. D-E-A-D.
Just a slice. I’m going to swallow it down even though it’s tasteless to me now, and will stick in my throat. I need to eat, because life must go on. I stare at it, willing myself to get an appetite.
‘Ah, I see you got my card then,’ says a friendly voice.
I look up, my heart pounds twice and then sinks.
Beth, an old uni friend.
Yes, I suppose her handwriting is similar to Sally’s.
‘You haven’t called me in, like, ages! I’m not dead you know! What’s been going on?’
I snort in contempt toward fate, and my own stupid misunderstandings and wishful thinking.
So nothing’s really changed, but at least I’m out of the house. It could be good for me.
‘Hi Beth. Long time no see. There’s a lot to catch up on.’

hobbyist
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Re: Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby hobbyist » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:45 am

Awake. Wish I wasn’t.
I look at the clock-radio. 1.05 pm.
They say funerals help you move on. Well, life hasn’t moved on, not for me. It’s only been a week but I can’t remember how things used to be, before… before that happened. I scowl at everybody I see, inwardly screaming “Don’t you know what happened? How can you pretend things are normal?”
I wonder how long it will be before I can join the human race again. Will this immense grief I carry ever get any lighter? Today it’s so heavy I can’t even get out of bed.

I force myself to get up and go to the letterbox. If it’s the only thing I do all day, at least I’ll have had two minutes exercise and sunshine. It’s better than nothing – when you feel this poop unicorns and rainbows you have to find your positives somewhere.
What I find in the letterbox makes time stand still for a long, confounded moment. Has me wondering if I’m not still in bed, dreaming.
A postcard, with the familiar slant of her handwriting:
I'm not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido's Pizzeria. Tell no one.
I look around me. The world seems real enough, though I do find myself questioning reality from time to time. Especially this last week.

I read the card maybe fifteen times. It cannot be.
Perhaps...
No, it couldn’t be.
I searched for religion when I pondered all the questions that the bereaved ponder. I desperately wanted to believe in something so I would know my best friend was in a good place and, more importantly, that I would see her again. How futile all the years of friendship if they just come to nothing…
Is this postcard a sign? The answer to my prayers? If life has taught me anything it’s that this sort of thing doesn’t happen.
I must go to Guido’s, to find out.
It could just be a horrible prank. But I don’t know who would want to hurt me, when I’ve done nothing to hurt anybody else. Surely if you are a good person…
Well that argument clearly doesn’t stand up. I will stop thinking, and pass time until Guido’s.

I dial her home number for the fiftieth time this afternoon - I’ve tried her mobile over and over as well, but it’s turned off. Her mother’s strained and quiet voice finally answers.
‘Is Sally…’ I start. She lets out a sob.
Tell no-one. Not even her mother?
‘Sorry’ I mumble, and hang up.
Passing time like this is excruciating. My brain can’t seem to cope with the logistics of it all. The possibilities. She faked her own death and is on the run, but wants to meet with me. Her funeral was just a delusion and I am mad. Her funeral was real but this postcard is a delusion and I am still mad. The funeral and the card are “real” but “reality” is just a game we play, to experience depth of emotion, to learn how to love by losing love.
And then to get a postcard and find out it’s all OK after all.
Or not.
I just don’t know.
Not knowing what else to do, I get drunk. In the middle of the day. It’s a great way to get to sleep when you have already slept too much. It doesn’t make you feel any better at all – worse, actually. But at least you don’t have to bear the torture of clear thought. Because all “clear thought” does is raise more questions anyway.

At Guido’s, I order a slice of pizza. No, not the usual, because my usual company is dead. D-E-A-D.
Just a slice. I’m going to swallow it down even though it’s tasteless to me now, and will stick in my throat. I need to eat, because life must go on. I stare at it, willing myself to get an appetite.
‘Ah, I see you got my card then,’ says a friendly voice.
I look up, my heart pounds twice and then sinks.
Beth, an old uni friend.
Yes, I suppose her handwriting is similar to Sally’s.
‘You haven’t called me in, like, ages! I’m not dead you know! What’s been going on?’
I snort in contempt toward fate, and my own stupid misunderstandings and wishful thinking.
So nothing’s really changed, but at least I’m out of the house. It could be good for me.
‘Hi Beth. Long time no see. There’s a lot to catch up on.’

FreeFlowing
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Re: Not Really Dead - 3/2

Postby FreeFlowing » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:23 am

I like the ending.

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