I met Death on the way home from work last night. And why not? He was standing on the corner in the same place he always was. I walked right up and asked for a light. Same as always.

I puffed on my cig for a second then asked, “So how’s work been going, man?”

He shrugged almost imperceptibly. “Same old. I’ve been gettin’ around.” He exhaled a spiral of smoke in my direction and leaned on the light post. “Lots of people dying lately.” There was no black hood or scythe, but in the dim glow of the streetlight, you’d almost expect him to look up at you with piercing red eyes. He wasn’t called Death for nothing.

He pulled his handgun out of its holster and fiddled with it a little. I don’t know a thing about weapons; just the sight of them makes me uneasy. I knew I wouldn’t see it coming — the day he got the word to use the damned thing. I flinched as it flashed in the light.

I kind of half-laughed. “Big Man keeping you on your toes, huh? How’s about we go grab a drink? Take a load off?”

That shrug again, and he finished off his cigarette, flicking the butt into the gutter. “The Boss…he knows what you’re doing…He always knows…” I eyed him nervously. It was just a matter of time until the Big Man pulled my number from his rolodex o’ destiny.

He paused to stare at the gun for a second, then quickly tucked it back into the holster. “So how’ve the days been for you? Usin’ ’em wisely, I hope. Well…other than the obvious.” I nodded, shaken. But same as always, he straightened up and started walking. “So, how ’bout that drink?”