When Death showed up on a broken-down pony, I scoffed.
What, Death said, looking around, unsure as to who or what I was referring.
You’re Death, right?
You can check my I.D.
And you’ve come to collect me?
When it’s your time, it’s your time. Nothing personal.
I’m not upset about that . . . it’s just . . . look at what you rode in on.
Death dismounted his pony and gave it the once-over.
A pony? And not just any pony but a broken-down one that looks like, like . . . well, like this!
Death was perplexed.
What’s wrong with this pony?
Death slapped the pony on the rump. The pony let out a sound that was half-cough, half-snort.
I filed through a laundry list of all the things that qualified the pony as “broken-down,” and when I was done, Death laughed, thin and metallic, the teeth of a comb scraping aluminum.
This is about you, isn’t it?
Yes. You. And your ego. You feel that Death, your death, deserves more of a ceremonious farewell, that Death should ride in on some mighty steed when coming to take you away. Am I right?
Well, now that you mention it, a mighty steed would be more suitable for someone of your . . . stature.
I think it is your stature, not mine, that is in question.
That’s right. To be carried off by Death on a broken-down pony does not confirm the powerful and poetic exit you imagined for yourself.
Now hold on there, Death, you’re the one that came for me. I’d be happy to stay here and forego this powerful and poetic exit plan you imagine I’ve fantasized about.
Very well then.
Very well what?
Just like that.
Just like that.
Let me get this straight—You, Death, rode in on a broken-down pony to carry me off, and then when I say I don’t want to go, you say, Fine, and that’s that.
Wow. Death is nothing like I thought it would be.
I work in mysterious ways.
Isn’t that God?
Death grinned a glowing skull-faced grin. It was equal parts comical and terrifying.
Well I guess … bye for now?
For now, yes.
Where you going next?
I have others to collect.
Will you be picking them up on that broken-down pony?
What broken-down pony?
I somehow had missed the part when Death’s broken-down pony had been transformed into a hobbyhorse with a frayed mane.
Death riding in on a hobbyhorse. This somehow made sense.
Through a gaping sleeve, Death’s skeletal hand emerged, waving goodbye, before he reared back on his hobbyhorse and rode away, kicking up trails of dust.
Okay, then. Review. Death had come for me on a broken-down pony, accepted my suggestion that I should remain among the living, and had galloped away on a hobby horse en route to collecting other poor souls.
I looked at the clock. It was still early. I wondered what the rest of the day would be like.