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Contemporary Fiction Funny

This story contains sensitive content

Trigger warning: Mentions suicide, death, and mental health

Dr. Miriam Brooks opened the door to her office and shuffled her client back to reception for check out. Miriam’s next client wasn’t scheduled for another half an hour. To her surprise, however, a man, who looked to be in his early forties, was sitting in the waiting room. His hair was short with a mix of black and grey. He had a tattered leather book in his hand, and he was intently reading it. Written in gold letters, Miriam could see the title, The Bible. 

“Excuse me.” Miriam said softly.

The man jumped. Miriam apologized for scaring him.

“Oh, it’s alright. I was just caught up in my reading. Can you believe my favorite character gets killed off?” The man said.

Miriam furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.

“You know, Jesus?” He said.

“Oh, yes, I see.” Miriam answered.

“Don’t worry, though.”

“No?”

“Spoiler alert, he comes back.”

Miriam chuckled. “Clever. Well, I suppose you should come into my office. I’m assuming that’s why you’re here?”

“Yes, yes.”

The man followed Miriam into her office.  She directed him to pick a comfortable seat, and then she sat across from him on the sleek leather chair. It had been a gift from her parents when she completed her PhD a few years prior. They had wanted her office to look professional. It definitely looked nice, in Miriam’s opinion, but it wasn’t terribly comfortable and she wasn’t surprised when her clients chose the couch instead. 

“I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t get your name.”

“It’s Joe.” The man said.

“Did you sign in with the receptionist?” She asked.

“No, I didn’t have an appointment, but I really need to speak with you. Please?”

“Hmm. Normally, I can’t, but my next client isn’t coming in until 3, so I can give you a half hour.” She said.

           “That’s all the time I’ll need.” Joe said.

           “Do you have a last name, Joe?”

           “I do, but for now, all you need is my first.”

           “Okay.” Miriam didn’t like the lack of information. Especially since, she needed to be the one in control of the appointment for her safety and his. On the other hand, some clients just needed to warm up before they opened up. Against her better judgment, Miriam decided to wait and ask him again later. “You don’t have any thoughts of harming yourself or others, right?”  

           “No, I am not going to harm myself.  Others may be harmed, but I do not harm them.” He responded.

What an odd way to answer the question, Miriam thought. She proceeded anyway. “What brings you to see me today?”

“Nobody understands me.” He said.

“What do you mean?” She asked.

“Nobody understands my job or me for that matter.” 

“What do you do?” She inquired.

“I’m a chauffeur of sorts.” 

Part of Miriam’s job required her not to judge the patients, but this man was strange or maybe unique was more polite. She was determined to help him, though. “Do you drive a limousine?”

“Haha, I wish.” He said. “Actually, I don’t drive per se.”

“How do you chauffeur, then?” 

“It’s hard to explain.”

“Try me.” Miriam said.

“I chauffeur souls”

“You, what?” 

“Chauffeur souls.”

Miriam was losing her professionalism. This man needed more help than she thought. He might even need to spend some time in the mental health unit at the hospital. 

“I can see you’re skeptical,” he said. “I’ll explain.”  

           “Yes, please.” Miriam said.

“You see, Dr. Brooks, people avoid me like Cov-the plague. Always cautious, they are. Keeping six feet away is better than six feet under, I suppose. Everybody pines for life in the known world just as equally as they fear the unknown one. Uncertainty hides in the shadows waiting to prey on the unsuspecting foe. As for me, I frolic in the uncertainty. ”

“Six feet under? Death?” She questioned.

“Yes, dear.” He said. 

“But, how..what..”

“What is my role?” He asked.

Flummoxed, Miriam could only nod in response. 

           “It’s a lot to absorb. Am I here or there? Demonic, I must be, labelled as evil so everyone must flee. But, they know me not. I am not malicious. I cast no judgment. I don’t make any deals with the devil nor do I curry favor with God Himself for that matter. You can call me your guide, if you’d like, as I bring you to your final destination.”

           Miriam let out a deep breath. This man was downright crazy. She knew her colleagues would harp on her for thinking the “c” word, but she didn’t care at the moment. If Miriam wasn’t intrigued, she would have treated him as demonic and fled.

           “Fear not!” He continued. “I am not the one that took your life, but you will see me if your life was taken.”

           “Stop right there, mister.” Miriam interrupted. “I am clearly not dead.”

           “Right, right, mea culpa. You’re not dead, yet.”

           Miriam’s eyes widened. She leaned back in her chair. “You’re going to kill me?” She choked.

           “No! Have you not been listening to me? I don’t kill people. That’s the whole point. I get a bad rap, but I don’t kill people.” He said. “Now, where was I? Aw, that’s right.  Let me chauffer your soul. You might be affright the first time we take flight or we might descend if you are condemned. I do not decide which way we go only the higher powers know.”

           “Joe. Have you ever been to the mental health ward?” Miriam asked.

“Yes, of course.” He said.

“Maybe, we should arrange for you to go there?” Miriam said.

“Why? I’m not collecting any souls from there right now.”

“I just think that maybe you need some medications to help you.” Miriam said.

“I know you think I’m crazy, but hear me out. I’m truly an uninterested party. Don’t let that fool you. I have feelings. I wouldn’t be a decent…er..being, if you will, if I didn’t care. Despite the circumstances, I am pleased to greet you. Although the time we spend together is short, it’s what gives me my reward.”

           At this point, Miriam decided that maybe she should play along and maybe he would acquiesce later. She let him continue.    

           “If you’re lucky, you’ll only see me once; however, I did meet a man twice. His name was Vinny. Yes, like the movie and yes, he was Italian. He was in a motorcycle club. One day he was riding and a car didn’t stop at the stop light. The car plowed right into poor Vinny. He was clinically dead. I appeared; ready to take him, of course. He was about to come with me when he sensed that we weren’t going in the direction he wanted. He started pleading with me, and I told him that I don’t make the rules. Then, he was gone. He had been shocked back to life. Apparently, being dead changed him and when I went to collect him the second time, we ascended.”    

           “That’s quite a story. Was Vinny a friend?” Miriam said.

           “No, I hadn’t known him before.”

           “Before?”

           “Before I collected his soul.”

           “That’s right, of course, how could I forget.” Miriam responded.  

“Let me ask you this, Doctor, how can there be life without death? For if there was yin without yang, then yin would have no purpose. We only appreciate life because we know that it will end in death.”

“Yes, I suppose you are right. Miriam said. If life was guaranteed then nobody would cherish it.” Miriam said.

“Exactly!” Joe said. “Now you’re listening to me. We’re running out of time.”

“Oh, you mean my next client?” I almost forgot.” Miriam said.

“Don’t worry about her.” Joe said. “Someone else will take care of her.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital?” Miriam said, although she had this funny feeling that she couldn’t shake.

“No. I am right where I need to be.” 

“To collect my soul?” Miriam asked.

“I’m afraid so.” Joe said. “Will you take my hand?” 

“How…how does it happen?” Miriam stammered.

“You shouldn’t trouble yourself with those thoughts.”

Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door. “Dr. Brooks! Are you in there? Your next client is waiting.” The receptionist called out.

“I’ll be right there.” Miriam called, but she couldn’t be heard.

The receptionist opened the door to Miriam’s body. 

Miriam took Joe’s hand.

 “It’s Black, by the way.” Joe said.

“What is?”

“My last name.”

June 24, 2023 00:13

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19 comments

Janet Boyer
05:46 Jun 28, 2023

Early on, I wondered if he was the Grim Reaper! 😁 Suggestion: pay attention to punctuation (forgotten quotation mark, misuse of comma, 2 dots if an ellipse when 3 are needed, etc.) 🙂

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Kate Winchester
14:50 Jun 28, 2023

Thank you! Oops, I can’t believe I made those mistakes lol.

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Janet Boyer
01:30 Jun 29, 2023

It happens to the best of us! I'm an eagle-eyed editor and my husband and son STILL find errors as my beta readers. 🤦

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Kate Winchester
01:42 Jun 29, 2023

🤣

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Mary Bendickson
01:41 Jun 26, 2023

Kind of suspected he was there for her soul. But she sounded too young still breaking in her furniture her folks gave her for graduation. And no accident or mysterious disease. Of course you never know when your number is up. Good story and I agree with Joe about keeping it simple to understand but still enjoyable with the unexpected. Thanks for liking my 'Hour-Glass Figure' No need for cause explained. Kept us on edge. Thanks for liking my 'Fancy Ranch'.

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Kate Winchester
02:05 Jun 26, 2023

You’re welcome and thank you. Yeah, I thought about adding the cause of death but decided to keep it a mystery.

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Amanda Lieser
16:19 Jul 18, 2023

Hey Kate, Oh, what an interesting concept for this piece! My mother is a therapist, and I remember as a child, asking her what happened to all her clients upon her death, at this time retirement wasn’t something that I truly understood. She explained that the good news is she works with a lot of great individuals who know how to handle death and mental health so each of her clients would probably end up having a meeting with one of the other clinicians, and they would perhaps consider taking on that client’s Case. I appreciate the fact that ...

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Kate Winchester
04:15 Jul 19, 2023

Thank you! It’s always extra special to me when readers connect with my stories. Shout out to your mother for being a therapist. It can’t be easy. My stories tend to be on the more realistic side so it was fun to play on the notion of what death looks like. As always, I really appreciate your feedback on my stories. 😊

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Michał Przywara
20:35 Jun 29, 2023

The idea of Death seeking out a psychiatrist is amusing :) Unfortunately, while it was a professional call, it was his profession and not hers. So it goes. We don't find out why she died, but that's okay. That's not really relevant to the story, and it's no longer one of her worries - she's letting go. Thanks for sharing!

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Kate Winchester
21:29 Jun 29, 2023

Thank you! I had considered adding why she died, but I agree that it’s not the purpose of the story. I’m glad you appreciated it. ☺️

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John Werner
18:51 Jun 29, 2023

I really like the notion of death being an affable fellow who arrives while you're on a break from doing something meaningful. Great read! Thank you for sharing!

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Kate Winchester
18:58 Jun 29, 2023

Thank you! Glad you liked it. 😊

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Tommy Goround
09:49 Jun 29, 2023

Good concept.

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Kate Winchester
10:48 Jun 29, 2023

Thank you!

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John Siddham
01:19 Jun 26, 2023

Oh my, what a story! Kept wondering where it was going but did not expect that ending. Very clever!

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Kate Winchester
01:29 Jun 26, 2023

Thank you!!

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Joe Smallwood
15:04 Jun 25, 2023

Fun story. About halfway through I was thinking of the movie, "Meet Joe Black." Then the ending. I really like stories with the twist. Just one suggestion, what about physical descriptions or if Joe had a peculiar smell? Set the reader on edge a little more! Now I always know I've read a good story when I wish I had written it! 😏 Thanks for reading one or more of my stories. Oh before I go, just would like to say how much I appreciate how you don't throw too much at the reader. Your plot and characters are easy to follow and make sense of. T...

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Kate Winchester
16:02 Jun 25, 2023

Thank you so much! I agree, I should have described him more. I got caught up in the dialogue lol. I’m glad you got the vibe even before the end. 🤗

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Joe Smallwood
22:50 Jun 25, 2023

👍

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