“I really wanted to write a best selling novel,” Author said. “In fact, I would still like to one day. Then I decided to write a great short story.” He sighed. “Lately I’ve been trying to write a good love song, but I thought any song might do, as long as it isn’t just bad poetry set to music, you understand.”
      “Well, Author, tell me more,” said Tall Man.
      “Right now I am at a point in my life where if I write anything, I’ll be happy. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, you see. But I have had writers block all of my life. Anytime I try to write something I just break down. I freak out. I can’t write more than three words without beginning to doubt my spelling abilities, grammar capabilities, and quickly I drop into a pit of depression. Quickly, like within three seconds.”
      “More than I wanted to know, little guy,” said Tall Man. “Though perhaps the three word three second thing has something to do with the fact that you are only three feet tall… just a thought.” Tall Man winced- “Ouch,” he said, “I didn’t mean to say ‘only’.”
     “That’s quite alright. I am quite used to being short, and being referred to as such, for instance, “little guy”. Anyway, I think my parents did me a disservice when they took me out of school in third grade and put me to work as a freak in the circus sideshow. Even though I quit performing when I turned thirty, I stayed on the circuit as an owner of games of chance booths. But when I would walk around, I would here “look at that freak! He’s only two feet tall!” to which I would respond that I was only eighteen inches tall… until it got old. But Midge and I became best of friends, then of course we married. A midget marrying a dwarf, quite a spectacle to some I’m sure, but to us it was truly our day. A day when the universe seemed to finally come together and make sense. A day that all of the stars seemed to align in perfect heavenly harmony seemed to create a chord so crystal clear that every living being throughout infinity- time and space- heard the music and smiled. She finally has quit calling me ‘freak’. It’s a shame that Fat Boy had to choke on a bone during the reception. That was kind of like the fart heard throughout the garden of beauty that is all God created… may her soul rest in peace. Fat Boy, such a stupid name for that sword swallowing beauty. She really demanded attention when she limped into the room. Only she could limp so lovely, and of course everyone loved to see her perform her sword swallowing act- so phallic.” Author sighed, and coughed. “This is too beautiful a night to die, Tall Man. I’m sure you’ve another nickname than the one I’ve pinned on you…”
     “Yes. Death.”
     “That sucks. Tell me where you’re from.”
     “I am from everywhere, I touch everything that is touched by life. I am necessary, part of the plan, an artist if you will. Tonight I have come to harvest you, Author. To cut you down and replant you elsewhere, in a better environment than you could possibly imagine. For even though I have such a horrible nickname, I am a talent scout for a prominent short story and novel publishing company. Your wife Midge sent me samples of your work, we’ve decided to publish three of your stories and retain you for a novel, with certain conditions of course. Why is tonight too beautiful to die, Author? What made you say that, and why did you ask my nickname?”
     “Well,” Author said, “I’ve been feeling under the weather lately. Stressed out. The whole I can’t write thing, you know.”
     “I have one thing to say,” said Death. “Well, two. One is dictation. The other is that Midge insisted that if you were pulling that ‘I’m a dwarf, my wife is a midget crap that I should ask you to stop.”
     “Fair enough. I was in the circus, though.”
     “Yes, and you are a dwarf. But no one notices, really.”
     “Kind of you to say.”
     There was an extremely, more than three minute pause while Tall Boy and Author simply sat still. They stared at each other, at the scenery, at the napkins and silverware and the other patrons of the restaurant. They were both momentarily lost in thoughts deep and meaningful yet simple and fancy-free.
     Someone in the kitchen dropped glass, it broke. The restaurant erupted in applause, startling Author and he dropped his glass, it broke.
     “That is why I wear stilts.”
     The moon had slowly crept up the horizon and was lighting the world with it’s ghostly glow. Flowers took a break from the heat of day and the chore of being beautiful to sleep and dream dreams of blossoming into yet something more beautiful. Nighttime critters came out and crittered about. Cricket wings rubbing sang songs of mating so softly. The stream continued to flow towards it’s goal of becoming a river wishing to be a sea, dreaming of being an ocean…. With memories of being a single snowflake recurring now and then like a pull towards reality, a benchmark, against which all dreams are measured.
     “I wear stilts so people won’t notice how short I am. I wear these false arms to help with the illusion. I can’t type with these damn things. Midge says “take’em off, for cryin’ out loud!” but I can’t. I just can’t. You wouldn’t understand, you just wouldn’t.”
     “Maybe I would,” said Tall Man. “You see, I was born without a head.”
     The silence between Author and Tall Man was thick, it could be cut with a knife, it was suffocating them and then Author coughed, breaking it.
     “Born without a head. You are, kind sir, pulling my leg.”
     “I wish I were. I am Death, I have come to harvest you, Author.”
     Author coughed again, and winced. “Waitress, bring a beer for me and Death, here.”
     The waitress looked right through Tall Man, as if he were not there.
     Author looked nervous.
     Tall man said, “I told her I would I would tip her well if she did that. See… it’s my professional line. I am Death, I have come to harvest you.”
     “You were born without a head, I hear.”
     “Yes. It sucked. You see, my twin who they called “Life” had to die for me to live. I was twenty when I killed him.”
     Author looked shocked, he reached for his drink and his artificial arm knocked it over. Death reached out like lightning and caught it, not a drop spilled.
     “Author, don’t be so gullible. We were separated shortly after birth. That is why I have three arms. Yes, like you, I was raised in the circus and I always wanted to be a writer. But I was born with three arms, a doomed brother, and no talent.”
     “Your Story sucks. It is depressing. I don’t like it.” Author reached his two fake arms out and grappled his beer. He took a good, long swig, spilling only a little upon his face and shirt.
     The river flowed and the fish within swam with passion. They could not be seen but their movements were a mathematical dance, a swirl of numbers, currents, friction and life. The clouds overhead echoed the movements. The breeze birthed this, and satisfied moved on to journey the world and enhance the flight of countless birds and butterflies, and dandelion seeds.
     “I know. I’m sorry. I really want to publish your stories, Author. That is why we have met here tonight. I’m sorry about my story, I live with guilt, I guess. Brought into this world without a care we care as soon as we can think, our thoughts a balance between dreams and guilt, fear and an ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude. Man, as soon as I was born a doctor hit me! Can you believe that? How many kids lived without being hit? How many kids died for the lack of this wisdom? It is all about balance. I mean, it all has to be about something, doesn’t it?”
     “Yes,” Author mumbled. “To me it is all about the climax. Of the story, that is. My thoughts run on and on, like a melody we continuously hum though we don’t know the words. I think I just don’t know how to end a story. I hear I tell a good one, for an old dwarf.” He chuckled, then coughed again. He took another swig, another spill, again.
    “How does your story end? And mine?”
     “Well, I sign you to a contract, we both get something out of it, and though neither of us was given a choice at birth we can make a decision now that will show that as adults we control our destiny. What do you say?”
     “I say yes,” said Author.
     It was a happy ending, and the world rejoiced. Leaves danced against the breeze, showing independence. Waves flowed against the tied, full of determination. Much more happened in that very moment though nobody, no one was noticing.
    Two beer bottles clinked together, neither broke, an agreement was made and a friendship born of similarities immediately began to blossom into a friendship born of Destiny, who sat back and smiled. Once again, all of the stars seemed to align in perfect heavenly harmony seemed to create a chord so crystal clear that every living being throughout infinity- time and space- heard the music and smiled. Destiny coughed, something happened, and then it was called a night.

A short story by Scott C. Stuart

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