“After a combination of breakthroughs in health and longevity, mysterious rays from outer space, and the soaring popularity of high octane coffee originating from the blood soaked island of Kupaio, Fiji, the US Supreme Court has ruled that death, as it now stands, “does not negate the deceased’s obligations to paying one’s bills, taxes, college loans etc. until the responsible human’s body reaches such a state of decay that at least three out of four limbs will not stay attached.”
The Working Dead
DEAD Neal Orestein, despite having all of his monetary responsibilities paid in full was determined to return to work. Work was his life, uh death. You know what I mean. We all know someone like this.
Two days after his death, after scraping through the mound of loose dirt over his grave, Neal was able to see daylight and the exasperated face of his long suffering wife, Stella.
“Just look at those fingernails,” she scolded. “The dirt! Just where the hell you think you’re going, Neil? Certainly not inside our home like that.”After 60 years of marriage, Stella, holding flowers, could read his workaholic mind, even if it was becoming worm chow.
“Oh, crap,” Neal said feeling all used up. He sat up and spat out soil. “Stella, what are you doing here so soon? I thought that I was the one who was to supposed to haunt YOU! I’m off to work. I got to get a coroner’s note or that young punk Cabebe, will fire me. He hates old people.”
“You mean, dead people,” she said. “Now, lay down and relax. I’ll call your boss and tell him you’re not coming in, ‘CAUSE YOU’RE DEAD!”
“Dead I can handle,” he said, “but unemployed and dead? Pour some coffee on me, Stella. Look at the time.”
“We don’t need money and Happy Hills Cemetery doesn’t have a Starbucks. Go back to endless sleep, old man. There is no more job and there’s no more you! I came here to grieve your death. I feel like a fool wasting my time trying to talk sense into you.
“Please, Stella, I love brains. I mean I you. Your brains, brain. Your mind,” Neal sputtered.“Where’s my tie? What time is it?”
“It’s 8 a.m., idiot. They just opened the cemetery gate.”
“Give me your hand. Help me get up. I’m already late.” Stella reluctantly pulled her husband to his feet. She was shaking her head, accepting he’d never change.
“I gotta catch the Long Island Express bus,” Neal told her, spitting out a beetle. “Is this burial suit okay?”
“Except for the slit down the back, it’ll do. Just don’t walk on my carpet until you get cleaned up.”
Neal stood and wobbled unsteadily, brushing himself off. “Stella, after my first heart attack Cabebe said that myocardial infarction is not a good enough excuse to skip work. I’m gonna need duct tape to patch this cheap jacket. I’ll stop by Target.”
“Listen. I’ve got a hair appointment. Have a nice afterlife, fool. You never needed me.”
“Oh, thanks. I’m barely cold and you start in with the guilt. So, you’re saying I no longer have a job?”
“That would seem logical, Neil.”
“Who are you, Mrs. Spock?” asked Neal. “I gotta go.”
“You don’t need a job,” she pleaded. “The office staff never got the memo that you’d died. I never had a chance to call them. Hey, watch where you’re tossing that dirt! I just bought this dress. The next time you talk to God, tell him to treat you to a nice manicure. Neal ——You’ve got a worm in your nostril. Ugh. Don’t kiss me. Go get some cologne.”
Neal promised to make it up to Stella the following weekend, but today, he had obligations. He got on the bus and was told by the driver to “Hey, Mack. Go sit in back with the other ‘stinkers.’” That’s what the ‘smug’ living called the dead these days. Neal had never been a victim of discrimination before.
Neal arrived at work an hour late and was given a warning by Cabebe. The slick, young exec sniffed the air and suspected that Neal had passed on. He assigned the stinker a new desk in the basement.
The next day, after a restless night shambling around town in pursuit of an ambiguous protein snack, Neal was able to make it to work — right on time.
Young Cabebe, was happy, because he no longer had to pay ‘old, faithful’ sucker Neal a living wage. No one else knew that rotten Neal was still working and helping to make CEO, Milton Armstrong, rich.
By the following week, Neal had realized that Cabebe was taking him for a —nearly free ride. He began to lose the feeling of pleasure of work. He left the office while the blinding sun was still high and the season was moving toward Daylight Savings. Neal stumbled toward the station thinking about how his grandkids maybe could use some college money. Tomorrow, he would hit the pavement, seeking the American dream like the other millions of recently deceased workers. Over 20 million of the dead wandered the boulevards.’ You could see the dead, worn out executives, in every city, shuffling and mumbling “Job. I neeeeeeed job.”
Neal’s commuter train passed his final resting place at Happy Hills on his way home toward his old house. Graveyards are for slackers, he thought. A real man needs to work.
While waiting at the 5th Avenue crosswalk, he saw a hopeful sign. Just a literal literal sign — on a telephone pole, illuminated by the ghostly moonlight.
Highly Motivated Executive Services Wants You! YOU need $$$ and WE need BODIES to fill our Diamond Lane Passenger and Ticket Line Holder jobs!
We’re also seeking Parking Space Blockers and Human Speed Bumps (No limbs required).
— Downtown, Full Time. 24 hours shifts available.