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Lady DeathIt was an uneventful night of Monday Night Football until I noticed a light under the bathroom door. My mind on that last field goal, I pushed open the door and reached for the switch.
"Close that door! Ain't you got manners? What do they teach men these days?"
Immediately I closed the door, thought a moment, and reopened the door.
"Pardon me, miss, but are you quite sure you're in the right apartment?"
The lady in the long black gown paused in her efforts to fix a second false eyelash.
"This apartment 7-B?"
"You John Doe?"
"Then this is the right place. I didn't want you to see me 'til I put my face on."
I was growing impatient. My beer was getting warm.
"Say," the lady asked as she put on some black lipstick, "you really named John Doe?"
"Look, I - "
"Alright! Alright! I was only asking! I mean, when I saw 'John Doe' on the impoundment sheet -- well, I thought it was some kind of a joke or something."
She walked out of the bathroom and turned off the lights in the living room.
"I like it dark and cozy," she said, giving me a wink.
"Hey, who are you? You're kind of small to impound a stereo."
"Ain't no one told you I was coming? I'm here to arrange your demise."
"What do I look like, the Avon Lady?"
"You mean -- you mean you're Death?"
She frowned. "Such a drab label. Can't you think of livelier name?"
"But, you're a woman!"
"What you got against that?!? You think I can't take you as well as anyone else? You want some troll to grab you while you sleep? I got style. Class." She sighed. "Nobody appreciates me. Not even a good looker like you."
"It's not that," I said hurriedly. "It's just that you're not quite what I pictured. I always thought Death came in a long dark robe with a big hood."
"Oh, that old thing. That went out of style a century ago. A lady's got to keep up with the times, you know. You should have seen me when the mini-skirt was in. Three guys died of laughter. My easiest cases yet."
In the darkened room her pale skin seemed to glow. She smiled.
"You do think I'm attractive, don't you?"
I decided to change the subject.
"Uh, you know, I once saw a painting of Death. Looked like Vincent Price, I recall."
"Vincent who?" She wrote the name down on a small pad. "I'm going to pay a visit to that imposter tomorrow." She glanced at a sundial on her wrist. "Are you ready to go?"
"Go?" My voice quivered.
"Yeah. You know - meet your maker, pass on, visit the happy hunting grounds, expire, check into that big apartment building in the sky ... c'mon, give me another."
"Join the celestial choir?"
"Good. You get the idea."
I walked around to the other side of the coffee table.
The lady flashed a cold look that squashed any argument. I decided to humor her.
"Is it legal?" I squeaked.
"Why not? I'm a respectable businesswoman, I pay my dues - not like that hussy, Lady Luck. Flirts with everyone, undependable. I think she's a real man hater. Now me, I love the men. When I get hold of a man, it's for life. Ha ha! Get it? For life! Ha ha!"
She laughed hoarsely and tried to poke me in the ribs with her elbow. I was not amused.
"Say John, do you make plenty of doe? Ha ha!" She went hysterical. I was sick. "Ha, ha, ha!"
"Come now madam, this has gone far enough."
Lady Death still giggled, wiping tears from her eyes.
"Sorry John, but I got a job to do. You know, it's a living. A living! Ha,ha,ha,ha!" She cracked up again. Her mascara was running down her face.
This can't be real. I must be imagining all this. I looked at my warm glass of beer on the coffee table. Next time I cut off at a six pack, I vowed. Lady Death leaned on me.
"Come, John, I got to get you there by midnight. I hope we can grab a cab."
Then an idea struck me.
"I can't be seen with you," I said. "Look at that mascara, that lipstick -- you're a mess."
She ran to the bathroom.
"Look at my face, my hair, oh my!"
"You're a mess!"
"I look terrible."
"You're a mess!"
"Where I come from witch hazel is important. You got any?"
"Are you kidding?"
"Oh my. I have an image to keep up, you know. I'm a public figure. Everything's ruined. It was so much simpler in the old days of plague and pestilence."
I was moved. Like the glorious day Hank Aaron broke 500.
"Look, it's not that bad," I consoled her. "You go get some sleep and freshen up. I'll come along later. Remember, tomorrow is Vincent Price day."
Her eyes lit up.
"That imposter. You're right, maybe I should rest up for tomorrow. It's about time the John Does of the world got a break anyway!"
Lady Death lifted her chin and walked towards the door.
"I hope it's not cold outside. I'm wearing a summer dress."
She turned and walked into the wall, blending with the yellow paint until she disappeared. My eyes popped out.
That crazy, psychotic lady I had been humoring for the past half-hour, that lady who said she was... No! It couldn't be! Could it? Could she, could she really be...? I ran to the kitchen for a cold beer - and if possible, find the phone number for that poor guy, Vincent Price!