Writing Prompt 3 (2011-09-11)

The secretary sat behind large walnut desk. Other than stacks of parchment set in neat orderly piles across its front, the only items to adorn her desk were a glass ashtray containing a single, smoldering, hand-rolled cigarette and an extremely ornate, silver pen. Looking up over the tops of her glasses, she asked the ubiquitous, ‘How may I help you?’

‘Of course you’re here to find out some one who just died. This is the the North Atlantic Records Office for the Recently Deceased. You wouldn’t be coming here if your friend was still alive and you probably wouldn’t be here if he was long dead.’

‘A hundred years isn’t a long time. I’ve been staffing this desk since before Columbus crossed that damn ocean and this office just had to handle Europe. I’ll tell you who expects the Spanish Inquisition, Monty: Me.’

‘Wait, before you give me a name, lets start off with how your friend died.’

‘You have to know how she died.’

‘Ok, he, whatever. You’re obviously still breathing and cared enough about this person to slip into the world of the dead–which I might warn you, if you get caught, might end up with you making a return visit here to have your paperwork for permeant residency handled–’

‘Look, its your life. I’m just saying, if you really cared enough about HIM to come all this way and risk all this, I’d think you’d know how HE died. That’s all. We file all new arrivals by method of death and if I’m going to look him up, I need to know how he died.’

‘A car crash. Ok. We’re getting somewhere. Was it intentional or accidental? and did the crash kill him or was it just the catalyst for something else?’

‘Why? Why is it so ‘fucking’ important? I’ll tell you why its so fucking important. Let’s start with if the crash itself killed him. If he crashed his car intentionally to kill himself, he’s a suicide. If he crashed his care due to neglecting maintenance of his breaks or lack of skill, he’s an idiot. If he crashed his car If someone else crashed into his car, he’s a homicide. If he crashed because he got struck by lightning, he could be a misfortunate or fated.’

‘It depends.’

‘Well, one, suicides require ‘special’ care. Can you imagine waking up after trying to kill yourself?’

‘Exactly. Two, what exactly to you call someone who dies due to their own negligence?’

‘Exactly. Three, if you died tomorrow, do you really think you’d care if the person who killed you didn’t mean to?’

‘In the long run, maybe, but we don’t deal with the long run. We deal with the RECENTLY DECEASED.’

‘Well, that’s a tough one. I feel for them both, really. The misfortunate are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Victims of obscure causality that defies probability. But at least they had a chance. Unlike the fated…’

‘We don’t really know much about them.’

‘Well, the fated are supposed to die, in a specific place at a specific time. Again, we don’t really know much about them.’

‘Well, because they come in with a… a handler. I-I don’t want to say to much. Sufficed to say, the handler… well, the handler makes sure the fated arrive here on time. Ok?’

‘You have nothing to worry about. Very few people come through here as fated. I think we’ve had one since the car was invented: and he didn’t die of a car crash. And the odds are against him being a misfortunate; but the odds always are. Why don’t we start looking under idiocy… Now, I just need you to tell me what he believed in.’

‘What? No. I don’t need to know what cult he was a part of.’

‘I don’t care what you call it up there. If its less than 1000 years old, its a cult.’

‘Look, his social club is not important. I need to know what he believed in–wai–n–don’t you dare interrupt me. I need to know what he believed in. Paradise. Castigation. Reincarnation. Lethe. We have a lot of options.’

‘Are you sure? I mean, it took you sometime to remember how he died. You really need to know what he believed, not what he told people.’

‘Well, it does make a big difference. Regardless of what he SAID he believed it, he’ll get what he ACTUALLY believed in. If he really thought he was going to a mystical land of clouds populated with flying babies, that’s where he’s at. If he really thought he deserved to be punished, regardless of whether or not he deserved to be punished, there’s a good chance he’s in a lake of fire somewhere.’

‘Ah, that’s funny. Lots of people say they believe in reincarnation, but, when it comes down to it, we get very few people for it here. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do it all over again as an ant.’

‘I suppose you right. Location, location, location.’

‘Well, they get just what you expect. Nothing.’

‘Oh, well then, we validate.’

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