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The Visitor
by Heidi Heimler

Death scanned his schedule and frowned. “Smithers is on my list again?”

“Don’t look at me.” His secretary cracked her gum as she filed her nails. “I just schedule ‘em.”

“But why’d you put Smithers on today’s roster? I visited him just last week. Can’t it wait a bit?”

“Like I said, I only schedule ‘em.” His secretary took the gum out of her mouth and gnawed on a hangnail.

“And it couldn’t have waited till next year? You know how busy I am these days. What with this idiotic war, the flu season, and a blasted tsunami coming up, I hardly have time to breathe.”

Death’s secretary stopped nibbling and shot him a look. “There’s a tsunami coming up? Nobody told me.”

“Yeah,” Death sighed, “invites were sent out a couple of weeks ago.” He inhaled slowly, willing himself to be patient. “But that’s not the point.”

His secretary returned to her nails. “So what is the point?”

“The point is I’m tired. I’m working much too hard these days. I’ve done this job since the beginning of time. It used to be OK, fun even. But nowadays…” He shook his head. “If this insanity keeps up, I’ll have to retire.”

“You can’t retire.”

Death threw a black cloak over his bony shoulders. “I know. I’m just venting. But do I really have to pay Smithers a visit today?”

His secretary hit a few keys on her coffee-stained keyboard and squinted at the computer screen. “Says here that Smithers' been hitting the sauce again. Hard. Apparently he lost his job a few weeks ago, and now he's finding comfort in a bottle.” She shrugged. “What’re ya’ gonna do?”

Death crossed the room and looked over his secretary’s shoulder. “I’ll be darned. It really does say all that.”

“Ain’t technology grand?” She grinned.

“If it’s so grand, can’t you schedule Smithers for next year? Or at least in a few months?”

“Nope.” She typed something, then paused and scanned the screen. “You’re booked solid.”

“For the whole year?” Death placed a bony hand on his protruding forehead. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”


With his head bowed and his hand still cradling his forehead, Death shuffled toward the door. “Fine. I’ll pay Smithers another visit, but I guarantee you he won’t come. He’ll probably give me the same old song and dance about not being ready, not expecting me just yet. Then the old bugger’s gonna throw me out, just like he did the last time.”

His secretary handed Death his lunch. “It’s a job,” she said. “Somebody’s gotta do it.”

And with that, Death left the office and mounted the up escalator. “Yup,” he mumbled to himself, “somebody’s gotta do it.”