Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Life after Death

Life after Death?

Yes. Can I help you?

Well, you know . . . I saw your ad in that travel magazine.

AFAR? or Destinations?

I don’t remember. It was at the doctor’s office. Does that matter?

Just wondering. It wouldn’t have been The New Yorker would it? One of those little bitty ads in the back?

I look at the cartoons but I never read those back ads.

You should. They can be pretty weird. Weird as in interesting.

Well, it was a travel magazine. Which is what I said. Which is why I called.

Right. That would be AFAR or Destinations. There’s a discount deal with AFAR, but only if you are a subscriber.

That doesn’t apply to me. I just saw it at the doctor’s office.

There’s a website, too. You can Google it., all spelled out with no periods. It has all the information.

That’s where I got I got this number, from the website. I wanted to talk to a live person. It’s kind of a thing I have.

That’s ironic, sort of, if you think about it.

What do you mean?

Never mind. I can tell you everything you need to know over the phone. It will be my privilege. Can I start by asking your name?

What does that have to do with anything? I just want to ask a few questions.

It’s all strictly confidential, if that’s what worrying you.

I called to get information, not give information.

Hey, I understand. That’s perfectly fine. I’ll be glad to help. What can I tell you about Life after Death?

Well, that’s it. Life after Death. Is this for real? How does it work? What does it cost?

It’s for real all right. First you’re dead and then you’re not. It’s quite a ride while it lasts.

What do you mean, while it lasts?

It’s not Eternal. It’s important that you understand that. It’s in the ad I think.

It did say Not Eternal but it didn’t say it was temporary.

Temporary is not exactly the word for it; just not permanent. It lasts about three months, give or take. It can seem longer.

Ninety days. And then what?

Then you are dead again. Life after Death is not permanent, that’s what Not Eternal means. It’s not affiliated with any religion. And I can assure you, it’s not hocus pocus. It’s for real.

I know what Not Eternal means. So what does it cost? The ad I saw was careful not to mention that.


Ninety-nine thousand dollars?

It’s not for everyone. That’s why it’s only advertised in certain magazines.

Which anybody can pick up at the doctor’s office.

What do you mean?

Never mind. And what do you get, what does one get, for one’s hundred grand.

Ninety-nine. Life after Death. First you’re dead and then you’re not. It’s quite a ride while it lasts.

How long are you dead?

Not long. You don’t need a death certificate or anything. It’s all prearranged, and prepaid of course. The service kicks in within hours after you’re gone.

Gone where? What’s going on there? Where is it?

It’s not exactly a where.

Then how can I be there if there is no where?

The where is not the thing. Think of it as adventure travel. Have you ever been to Antarctica?

That’s none of your business. But yes, in fact. Once. Year before last.

And did you get to the South Pole? Did you hug a penguin? Did you trek to the top of a mighty glacier? Probably not.

It was on a cruise ship. You’re not allowed to go ashore. What’s your point?

The thrill was just being there, right? Even just standing at the rail of the ship.

There was a helicopter trip included.

That too. You were experiencing it. That was the adventure, the experience.

by Terry Bisson, The Baffler |  Read more:
Image: Amanda Konishi