Silent but Tardy

Stan heard his door’s assailant before the knocking; a shush-shush against the cement leading to his flat. He rose; walked; opened; stared. There, upon his stoop, was Death himself.

“Er,” Stan managed. What does one say to Death?

In what should have been an anticipated reaction, Stan’s guest only stared.

Stan scuffed a foot against his carpet. He bit his lip. Swung his arms.

Death still stared.

“So….” Stan tried. “May I help you?”

A nod. Silence.

Stan hadn’t thought Death would be so awkward. *Ahem* “How so?”

Impossible as it seemed; Stan knew, somehow, that his somber companion frowned in thought. Death reached a skeletal hand from draping cloak-sleeve to internal robe and withdrew a scrap of parchment. Hand and paper extended toward Stan.

Stan received the paper; declined the hand. Stan Dubrough, 17:00, he read. His palms felt chill and his body followed right after. Both jumped at Death’s bony finger, tapping to point at the name. His name: Stan Dubrough.

“That’s-” Stan squeaked. “That’s me.”

His guest’s other hand appeared from near the door-post. It gripped an awful, glinting scythe.

“The time’s not right, though,” Stan said, as though observing the weather.

The scythe paused. Stan sensed confusion. He also, inexplicably, recalled his mother’s exasperated reprimand, “Always a stickler for accuracy, aren’t you, Stan?”

Death stared. Asking.

“It says ’17:00,’ right?”

A slow nod.

“And, that’s 5 p.m.; yes?”


“Well,” Stan concluded in a cheery tone, “It’s now going on 6.” He chuckled a bit till he recalled who his visitor was, and then wisely swallowed. “Hm; yes. Thing is: you’re a bit late.”

If a dark-cloaked being without voice could look gobsmacked, Death did. Without a word, he extended his non-scythe hand. Stan returned the paper and watched it disappear within the cloak folds. Then, just as silently, Death and his scythe turned and left.

Stan listened to the shush-shush of departure turn the corner before shutting his door. Returning to his couch seat, another of his mother’s oft-spoken sayings came to mind: “Stan, you’re so bent on being right you’d tell Death himself if he were late.”

“Well, mum,” he said, looking to the urn atop his mantel, “Looks like you were right after all.”


Submitted, at the last, for The 2019 Bloggers Bash Competition.


Photo Credit:
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

32 thoughts on “Silent but Tardy

  1. I nominated for you a Liebster Award on my blog. You can find the rules and questions to answer there if you’re interested. I didn’t realize WordPress doesn’t have a tag function so I’m telling people individually. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Greenwich Mean Time Meridian exactly is the only place where Death can be mean. Everywhere else, Death can be un-mean at a whim on the wind. I like how the relationship with Mother is developed as a whimsical method of humor for a story that might otherwise be a horror story. In a way it’s like the cozy murder mystery where gore is avoided and “the skies are not cloudy all day” except for the dead body on the ranch where Jessica Fletcher is visiting her niece who wants to be a writer. I wonder if the Grim Reaper from the middle ages was put to work in his spare time to use his scythe to reap the wheat on farms where the owners succumbed to the Bubonic Plague — a bargain with the Devil: I’ll harvest the wheat for the community and you succumb to the Black Death. The clergy (who wore hoods) who were around graveyards and funerals had the highest death rates, which led to questions of why they could do nothing and the new priests,who were of low quality, did less to engender confidence. Doubt led to the Protestant Reformation. I guess that’s why the Grim Reaper never moved to Germany to meet Martin Luther at the door but stayed in Greenwich. Mean times. The poor Grim Reaper has been through a lot.

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    1. 😀 Thanks for the compliments on the humor. My original intention was to have the punch line that Death only works 9-5. Between word limit and dialogue, what came out worked better. Stan’s mum came out on her own. 😀 Stan must have been the sort only a mother could love…


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