Susan dropped her purse, grocery bags, dog leash, and her jaw. Earthly possessions and her orange Pomeranian were completely obliterated from her mind by the impossible scene displayed before her.
A dead man walking.
“Hello, Susan,” the man said and smiled. “You’re looking good. Been dieting?”
Susan, a woman who had considered herself as a new person and had moved on with her life, felt the equivalent of receiving a smack to the face by life, reality, and karma at the same time. The man she thought she would never see again, the man who was her husband for eight long years, now stood before her, on the street in broad daylight.
“Angelo,” she whispered.
“I can imagine you’re surprised to see me,” Angelo said and scratched the back of his head. “Sorry I didn’t come to see you sooner. But, you know. With how things went between us …”
“I buried you,” Susan whispered, her Pomeranian wiggling her tail and sniffing the contents of the grocery bags. The people walking down the street curved their trajectories to go around the two of them, like water in a river channel.
“That you did,” Angelo said and laughed. He laughed. Susan killed him and he was laughing about it like it was a joke. “Must say, you totally surprised me. I did not see that one coming. Neither you nor the hammer swing.”
Susan remembered to breathe, blink, and pump blood using her heart. It was like her body and mind temporarily stopped working due to the sheer shock.
“How is this possible?” she gasped. “This is not possible!”
“Funny, that’s what my parents said too, the first time they noticed my peculiarity. I guess I should have told you when we met.”
“Told me what?!”
“That I’m immortal,” Angelo shrugged.
He sighed. “Baby, do I need to say it a third time? It makes me feel uncomfortable saying it like that.”
“That’s impossible, you can’t be immortal!”
“But I’ve just told you. And you know very well you’ve tried to kill me.”
“I-” The words got stuck in her mouth. No, she didn’t try to kill him. She killed him. He was dead.
“Do you want to sit and talk about it?” Angelo leaned closer so he could whisper. “People are looking at you funny. And milk is spilling from your bags.”
She didn’t give a shit about her milk. How was her dead husband not dead anymore? Was this some weird joke where somebody wore a mask of Angelo’s face? Or did he have a secret twin brother? But how did he know the truth, then?
Susan took a deep breath and looked him straight into his smiling eyes. “I smashed your skull with a hammer, feeling it sink into your mushy brain, Angelo. You are dead. Don’t stand here, living, go be dead.”
Angelo burst out laughing. Susan’s hands crumpled into fists, her dog started barking. Passers-by threw annoyed looks. She couldn’t cope with the situation. She grabbed Angelo’s arm and pulled him towards a coffee shop. “Come.”
He kept laughing but didn’t try to break her grip.
“Sit,” she said as she dragged him to the back of the shop. “Talk.”
“You know, ordering me around like that is one of the reasons why-”
“Tell me why you aren’t dead!”
The waitress and a couple of guests turned their heads, but Angelo waved at them with a broad smile.
“I told you, I’m immortal.”
“Look, I…” his voice trailed off like he had something embarrassing to say. “When you smashed me with that hammer I only pretended I was dead.”
“I know, I know. Horrible of me. I’m sorry, Susan. I just… I couldn’t take it being with you anymore. Our marriage died before I allegedly did.”
“You-” she noticed some heads looking at her again so she lowered her voice. “You couldn’t bear being with me?”
“I’m sorry, baby, but you got… difficult.”
“Excuse me?” Susan’s eyes were so large that she felt they could pop out at a sneeze. “I was difficult? Me?! What about you? Have you any idea how emotionally damaged you made me? All your neglect and hanging with your buddies and your smelly clothes-”
“-and your alcohol problem and anger management issues and all the laziness your ass could produce, and not to mention the fact I caught you cheating-” She had to inhale before she could continue. Angelo quickly seized the opportunity.
“I admit that I wasn’t the best husband, but was I so bad that you had to commit murder?”
“Oh,” he leaned back, his smile gone. “Okay.”
Susan’s eyes were two laser guns, drilling their energy pulses in the middle of Angelo’s skull, melting his cheating face away.
“But I really am immortal.”
Susan wanted to explode, turn over the table, take her dog, and ram her fluffy body down Angelo’s throat, but she managed to compose herself. She was a changed woman now, and a changed woman would not react to old triggers.
Though this one was hard to ignore.
“Are you sure?”
“That you’re immortal.”
“Yep. Can’t be killed by any means.”
“There is no way you can die?”
“Not even by old age or disease?”
“Hm, I’m not sure about those, but-”
“Do you feel pain?”
“Meh, not really. I mean, except for emotional pain. You know, killing me hurt very much. On the inside.”
“So if I were to take that fork there and jab it into your hand, you wouldn’t feel a thing?”
Angelo raised an eyebrow and glanced at the table. Indeed there was a fork there.
“No, I wouldn’t,” he slowly said. Before he could finish, Susan’s hand snatched the fork and jabbed it into his hand. Her face twisted in a sudden burst of anger, but the lack of screaming from Angelo caused her to lean back, stunned.
“Now why did you do that, baby?”
“You… don’t feel it?”
Angelo lifted his hand - he had to tug as the fork pierced through his flesh and into the table - and looked at the fork, sticking from his hand. He taped it and shook his head. “Not a thing.” He waved the hand at her face. “Mind getting it out now?”
Susan felt her stomach twist and began coughing. Angelo sighed and pulled the fork out himself, wiped it into a napkin, and placed it back on the table.
“Look, Susan, I came back to make peace between us. In the time you thought I was dead, I did a lot of work on myself. I realized I was an asshole to you. I’m sorry for that, Susan, I’m sorry that I allowed myself to become so horrible that murder was the only way out. And I’m sorry for not telling you I’m immortal sooner.”
“You’re an asshole.” She didn’t know what else to say. The fact that he apologized bothered her more than the fact that he sat there, instead of rotting in a coffin. It made her feel guilty.
“I know,” Angelo said. “But if I’m going to live forever, I cannot spend an eternity carrying the guilt of what I’ve done. Please, Susan, can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
His humbleness and sincerity annoyed the hell out of her. She killed him - or at least she thought she did - and now he was asking her for forgiveness? It made her look like the most horrible person in the world.
“Surely there’s something I can do to make you forgive me?”
“I want you to go back to being dead,” Susan said. “My life was fine before you reappeared. I went over you! I’m a new person!”
“So am I now! I’m truly sorry for what happened, I don’t know what I have to do to make you see that. But I’m willing to do anything.”
A thought entered Susan’s mind.
“Could you die for me?”
“You said you’d do anything.”
“Well, not any-”
“You want to spend eternity with your own guilt?”
“Er, if I die, then I don’t think it matters…”
“Exactly! We both win! Surely you’re tired of this immortality?”
“Um, no, not really.”
“We can put it to the ultimate test. See if you can truly survive anything.”
“I guess…” He rubbed his chin. “If that would make you happy?”
“I must warn you though,” he said. “You can’t kill me. There’s no way.”
Susan felt unbelievable rage but managed to give him a sweet smile. “Oh, a girl has her ways…”
Angelo sighed. “Fine. How do you want to try to kill me first? Again.”
“First, we’ll have a coffee, since I’m freaking out right now. But then… You’ll see. Oh, I’ve fantasized many ways of killing you, babe, before I settled for the hammer. I’m kind of excited I get to try them now.”
Angelo looked at her, his face showing a hint of regret.
Susan wasn’t kidding. Not by a long shot.
The two of them stood on top of Hoover Dam, the wind playing with their hair.
“Are you sure you can’t just forgive me?”
Susan crossed her arms. “I murdered you and you’re so selfish to deny me even your death. No, I can’t just forgive you.”
“Fine.” Angelo waited for the cars to pass by and then he climbed on the wall. “Let’s get this over with. You’ll have to push me, the idea of jumping seems like suic-”
Susan took a running start and slammed into his legs, nearly tumbling over the wall herself. She leaned over and watched Angelo flailing his arms and legs, falling.
“You think you can survive that, babe?!” she screamed.
“See you for dinner, honey!” he waved.
Susan watched him get smaller and smaller, bounce off the side of the dam, and disappear in the water. Her fingers dug into the concrete as she watched for any movement.
No one could survive that. Right?
There he was, lying on his back, waving. Her cursing was so loud that the words echoed from the dam and reached Angelo’s ears.
During the next three months, Susan and Angelo traveled around the country like a reunited couple celebrating their newfound love. Only, instead of celebrating, Susan was trying every means imaginable to kill Angelo. And so far, none worked.
She ran him over with a selection of vehicles; a truck, a bigger truck, a compactor, even managed to get her cousin to borrow an army tank for her. Nothing worked, Angelo came out saying he never had a better massage for his back.
Susan tried stabbing her ex-dead husband with all kinds of things; sharp and pointy ones as well as jagged and blunt. All she managed to do was ruin his clothes, but not his smile. She cut herself with a morning star, though.
Guns, sniper rifles, grenades, mortar… nothing her cousin could get worked. The standard devices invented and regularly used, to kill people didn’t kill Angelo.
Susan decided to take it up a few notches.
She submerged Angelo in a tank of oil and set it on fire. When he came out he was smokin’ hot, but not dead. She threw him off an airplane, no parachute. He landed on his feet, like a cat. They went skiing and she triggered an avalanche. He yodeled his way down, tumbling with the ice and the snow, giggling like a kid rolling down a grassy slope.
Susan grew desperate. She began pushing him under trains and passing vehicles off the freeway bridge, spilling poison into his food or getting him to chug on a gallon of cyanide for breakfast. Nothing seemed to have an effect on Angelo. His body couldn’t be bothered with pain or poison.
It was true. When she smashed his head with a hammer years ago, he only pretended he could die, allowing his skull to cave inward. Now that he didn’t pretend, hammers and knives bounced off his head like it was covered in a death-repellent ointment.
Susan was starting to lose it. She took Angelo to a voodoo witch and paid her a large sum of money to place every curse she could on him. The witch tried her best, but the curses barely made Angelo sneeze. Frustrated, Susan took him out drinking and got him to drink every type of alcohol the nightclub had. She got her hands on some drugs and did not hesitate to mix them in with his drinks.
Angelo hiccuped. And that was it. Not even a burp, let alone death from overdose.
Susan slumped down, defeated. She couldn’t kill her husband. Whatever she threw at him, the man smiled it off and teased her to try better. He even congratulated her on her creativity by coming up with ways to kill him. Unbelievable.
And something shifted inside her. Something she would never think possible. Susan began to fall in love with the man all over again. She was angry with him, but only due to herself not letting go of the past. If she put her anger and hurt to the side, she couldn’t deny that Angelo had changed. Grown. Matured. But remained as charming as ever.
Susan hated the feelings that stirred in her but couldn’t keep them suppressed. Sitting drunk in a nightclub, she rested her head on her fists and watched Angelo dance.
His shirt was gone and he wore those plastic party glasses that you couldn’t see shit with. Susan found herself smiling.
“Hey honey,” he said as he danced to her. “Tired of killing me already? C’mon, let’s try one more time! I’m all hyped up!”
He really seemed to enjoy her trying to kill him. He always was an adrenaline junkie.
“No, I think you’ve convinced me,” she said.
“What, that I’m immortal?” he asked, his mouth beaming with a smile.
“That too,” Susan said. “But more importantly, you’ve convinced me you’ve changed. That I was wrong for killing you the first time.”
She couldn’t believe the words she was saying and neither could he, apparently, as he stopped dancing and just stared at her.
“Does this mean you forgive me?”
Susan smiled. She was too drunk. “I do.”
“Let’s make out.”
She blushed. “I… I haven’t been with another since you… died. I guess it was the guilt.”
“Oh,” he said. “Sorry to hear it. I’ve been with a ton of women. Really delved deep into myself and learned a lot about who I am, and-”
“What did you say?”
“You’ve been with other women?”
“Yes, lots of them.”
“Why do you want to know?”
“There’s always a reason, Susan.”
“Oh, it’s nothing. Here I was, thinking that you’ve changed, and now you tell me that you’ve been cheating on me even in your death!”
Angelo sighed. “Susan, you killed me. What was I supposed to do, let it ruin my life? I moved on. Just like you said you did. Didn’t you?”
Susan’s face became red with alcohol-induced rage. “How. Many. Women. Did you sleep, WITH?”
She didn’t know what shocked her more. The fact that he answered so quickly - meaning he must have been keeping records - or that the number was so high.
“One woman every day, for the past four years or so. I learned a lot… Susan? Are you okay?”
She was shaking.
“You’ve got that look again,” he said. “You know, like the one you had when you killed me the first time?”
“I’m going to kill you,” she whispered under her breath.
Angelo sighed. “I thought we were over this. Baby, please-”
“DON’T CALL ME BABY, YOU MAN-WHORE!”
Susan jumped at him, smashing the glasses and turning over the table. Angelo’s eyes widened in surprise and he fell on his back, as Susan landed on top of him. She pressed her thumbs deep into his eye sockets, screaming. Angelo screamed too, the music stopped and every person in the nightclub turned to see what was going on. Security was making their way over.
“DIE, DIE, DIE, DIE!!!”
Something popped underneath her thumbs and a warmth spread over her fingers, Angelo’s screaming stopped. Strong arms wrapped around her and lifted her up, as she was screaming and thrashing around...
Susan opened her eyes with a sharp inhale and jumped up. Her heart was racing, her mind playing images and her whole body was sweating. She glanced around the room. It was dark, but it was not the nightclub. She was lying in bed.
Susan took a minute to just breathe and come to her senses. It was just a dream, it wasn’t real.
She sat up in the bed and searched for the night lamp. Strangely, she couldn’t find it. She felt with her other hand to the other side of the bed.
“Angelo?” she whispered. “Babe, did I wake you? I had a bad dream.”
Her hand searched through an empty bed. It was still warm.
“Over here, baby.”
Susan heard a click and a flash of light caused her to blink. Angelo stood next to her by the bed, holding the night lamp in his hands.
“What are you doing?” she asked, shading her eyes from the light.
Angelo raised the night lamp above his head. “You’ve said some pretty disturbing things in your sleep. Made me think you know what I’m planning. I’m sorry, honey. Our marriage is over.”
Susan’s whole nightmare flashed before her eyes as the heavy ceramic night lamp came crashing down on her head. She realized that her dreams were trying to warn her. Only the reality was in reverse.
The last thought that entered her mind was wondering if she was immortal too. Then she heard the lamp smashing, felt a sharp pain on her head and all went black.