As Dead as New York City

I read about it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work. I read it and couldn't believe it, and read it again. There was something about it, the article in the front page of the paper that drew me to it. Maybe it was the story itself, someone falling asleep smoking, burning an apartment building down in Manhattan. Or maybe it was the picture of the burning building, the fire sewing itself into the sky, the people near the building having the same expressions: cold, deadly fear. Most likely it was the small, black print at the bottom of the page. It named all of the people that died in that tragic fire. Chase Williams, Amanda Perez, Lillian Anderson, when I got to the bottom I saw one name that stood out from the rest. Gus Smith. That's me.

You probably don't know what emotions you have when you find out you're supposed to be dead. Let me tell you. First you'll feel shock. I stood still, grasping the newspaper that stated I was dead tightly, till my knuckles turning a deadly shade of white. My eyes wide open, mouth gaping, palms filled with sweat. Then you'll feel denial. After slowly melting from my stillness I realized: this is a joke. I mean I'm not dead; I'm standing outside my office, under the scolding sun, sweating in my navy blue silk suit. I even tripped, felt the pain and saw the bloody scrape on my knee. I couldn't be dead. I walked through the doors of the skyscraper; the air conditioning hit me like a light blizzard. I walked up to the front desk.

"Hello sir, do you have an appointment?" the receptionist asked.

"No, I work here. I'm Gus Smith head of the company," I said furrowing my brow.

"I'm sorry," she said puzzled, "but Mr. Smith is dead. He got killed in a terrible fire."

"Oh," I answered surprised, "sorry, thank you for your time." How could I be dead? I was never at that building, never even near it. I walked out of my office and turned a corner, letting my brain and my feet wander. If I was dead then wouldn't I be scattered around New York, my ashes thousands of miles apart? After an hour of walking mindlessly I noticed a bank straight ahead. If I was really dead then I wouldn't have a bank account anymore, all of the money would go to my niece, Serena.

I walked into the small building, every step I took got heavier. There was a long line to the bank teller. I went to the back and stood behind a tall woman with blonde hair. She had a small girl next to her, about 10 years old. The inside of the bank was rundown. It had peeling, cream colored wallpaper with the stains on every wall. To my left there was a painting of grapes, the frame was tilted to just a little bit to the right. Something caught my eye, the woman in front of me was handing a piece of paper with a gold outline to the bank teller. In big, black calligraphy it said Death Certificate.

"So one of your relative's died and in his will he left all of his money to you?" the bank teller asked the blonde woman.

"Actually he left all of his things to this little one right here," the woman said grinning at the little girl next to her.

"Alright then so you are opening an account for who?" asked the bank teller.

"Oh the account is for Serena, Serena Smith."