(Mangia, south St. Louis)

Death has been visiting Jared in his dreams. According to Jared, Death is very tall and frail, with a long skinny neck that makes him look like a Pez dispenser with a skull for a head. He wears platform boots. Except for the skull business, he looks young. Jared says it's nothing like what he imagined Death should look like. He lights another cigarette.

Last night Death tried to pummel him with a block of cement. It didn't go well: The block slipped out of Death's hands and crashed down on his own melon instead of Jared's. In this way Jared escaped Death.

Now he's looking around to find the Death he dreamed about. Nothing but idle buggers here, though; apparently Death is too stylish for this place. Still, Jared's paranoid about Death, waits for it like a guy at a bus stop. He's self-destructive, smokes cigarettes recklessly and otherwise treats himself like a dump -- a fact his girlfriend seems to perversely admire.

"If you're so afraid of death," I ask, "then why do you treat yourself so badly?"

"..." Jared says.

I suggest that it's Life he's really afraid of. But he doesn't buy it, and I'm not inclined to press the issue.

More by Timothy Lane

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