NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 1 - Winter 2018 - Page 130

ABOARD THE AUTUMN HOUSE “OATS EXPRESS” Cooped in that small white bus, they seldom feel their oats, much less sow wild ones. They feel the urge to get away from their scoured room in the “home” where they’ve ended up, maybe visit some bright mall stores or watch a matinee, the air no longer sickly with piss and disinfectant, with warbles for “Nurse” or “Momma” or just a metronomic “Help me.” They’ve forfeited their cars, houses, their favorite food and drink that now disturb their bowels and no longer taste the way they ought to. Friends are dead or dying monthly. Yet most passengers stay civil, even gracious, smile instead of stew. Live long enough, don’t sour, and there’ll be a seat for you. OLDGUY: SUPERHERO VS. HIS NEMESIS II Oldguy wakes up from a noonday snooze to find Death once more setting up Oldguy asks. I said “metaphor,” snaps Death. “Maybe if you sharpened it . . . .” he says. his chess set, offering Oldguy the choice of white or black. “Black,” mutters Oldguy. “No, no” shouts Death, “Metaphor, metaphor!” “Still,” Oldguy continues, “Revealing choice,” grins Death. “Means you’ve been depressed, as well you should be.” Reeling off a list of famous suicides — Socrates, Cleopatra, Dudu Topaz — Death says that he’d like to join the club if he didn’t have to be Death. He explains committing suicide would be like kissing himself on the forehead: impossible, though it would be a breeze for Oldguy, who says he couldn’t kiss himself that way either. “No” says Death, “I meant a breeze to kill yourself.” He adds there’s a banquet of methods, many of them not all that painful or messy. “Why don’t you try shooting yourself in the forehead,” Oldguy suggests. Death counters that Death’s death is an ontological impossibility, “that’d make quite a mess, what with the flag jamming things up.” Death, declares he didn’t come all this way to talk about his goddamned suicide, that he didn’t ask for this shit job where everybody hates you and all you do is go around creeping people out, causing misery for no reason at all. “I could have been a dancer, if you’d like to know,” he sobs. “But ‘Dance of Death,’ right? Try to get an agent with that hanging around your neck.” He rakes the chess pieces into a bag, folds up his board, and clatters off. “How ‘bout trying one of them plastic bags over your head,” Oldguy calls after him. that the kissing thing was just a metaphor. “How would you do it with a semaphore?”