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Headline: "Does Kermit the frog Exist?" Russian Vetrinarians Offer New Evidence.

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A Date With Death


I glanced up from my tea and caught Death's socket. She picked up her tea and joined me.

"Greetings, well met being," I ventured. "I did not know jasmine had hallucinagenic properties."

"You have, without a doubt, overindulged," said Death.

"I suppose jasmine is also toxic in this dosage."

"No, I'm here on a strictly social basis."

I glanced at her cup. "You haven't touched your tea."

"Being a nonsubstantial metaphor, I am satisfied with the aroma."

"Of course." The conversation paused. "Do you come here often?"

"Yes. Only rarely, though, do I become visible and converse."

"To what, then, do I owe this honor?"

"You are warm, kind, well-respected and intelligent."

"Thank you," I mumbled.

"Therefore, nobody listens to you."

"You are brutally frank."

"Comes with the territory."

"So what, then, do you want of me?"

"I intend to seduce you."

A fresh cup of tea spent its glory on the iridescent linoleum. She did not smile, but that is not unusual for skeletal figures.

"Is it such an unusual request, then?" she queried.

"'Tis rare enough for flesh and blood to see me in quite that light. Never before has a nonsubstantial metaphor approached me with that in mind."

"You will adjust quickly."

"I think not. In fact, I must admit to a sense of disappointment. Mere sensualistic cavorting is painfully comic. It is becoming to neither your status nor your reputation. In the past, you have been a mighty figure, casting long shadows as you mercilessly scythed kings down. Now you appear again, in a setting unworthy of those classic scenes, and you wish to copulate?"

She made no protest, but I continued. "You would defend yourself? You would claim the right to mortal traits?"

"Yes."

I made to protest, but she continued. "I plan to smear lipstick on the skull that is my face, festoon its sockets with false eyelashes and mascara. Under this black robe I have a leather skirt and a torn sweatshirt. You and I shall go to Megaboogie Johnson's. I shall hang on you, whisper sweet nothings into your ear as we disco . . . and then, to my place: an inanely furnished studio apartment. Innuendo shall lead to double entendre, to soft, bony caresses. And in the morning I shall cook breakfast, and you shall send flowers. All trivial. All stereotypical. All devoid of any real merit or enlightenment."

"I refuse to take part in this. I cannot play the role in which you have cast me. You are too mighty a figure in my psyche for me to take part in that tired, unsubtle stodge."

"I appeal to your sense of humor. See me in another light and laugh at the dichotomy."

"You invoke that which is the greatest argument against your case. You ask me to laugh at a plot that cannot be considered humorous. It is an achingly inane parody. Away with thee. For I am a truly literary figure, a mighty, complex phantasm. I refuse to play across from a bromide."

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