Saturday, 11:54 PM

Hey, stranger. Name's Ash Gillik and I've got the shittiest talent on the face of the planet. How's life? Mine's awful.

Because I've known since I was born when I'll die. Tomorrow, in case you're wondering. Now don't get me wrong, I don't know how or why or anything like that. I ain't some psychic who gets visions or sees the future or whatnot but I do know for a fact that at exactly four fifty three tomorrow afternoon, for whatever reason, I'm gonna up and croak. And it isn't just me either. I know when you'll die too, and that old guy in the hat that looks like something a paper-boy would wear across the bar. Yeah him, the one who's been compulsively scratching his bald spot and then his beard whenever a girl talks to him, that guy; he's got about two decades left. Our lovely bartender for all her frugal ways is gonna die at around two pm on a Saturday sometime next month but I wouldn't go telling her that if I were you. Nobody handles it well. The schmooze who keeps hitting on women way out of his league, the one who's ordered another drink every time someone's rejected him, he's got a good fifty more years in him. The bimbo in the red heels tripping over herself with that uneven, boisterous laugh, yeah that's her over there leaning on the eighth guy to approach her since she entered the bar thirty minutes ago, the chick whose curly hair covers more skin than her dress. She'll live longer than you will no matter what stupid decisions she makes. I know, right? Doesn't seem fair.

Well fuck fair. Fair doesn't exist. If there's one thing this peculiar ability of mine—gift, curse, unfortunate circumstance, whatever you wanna call it—has assured me, it's that people who ought to die don't and the ones who do deserve to live long, prosperous lives expire as soon as they're old enough to appreciate what's important. My brother's girlfriend is one of those. She's a perfectly healthy musical genius but she's gonna die next week and Chase, that's my brother; I've always known he'd outlive her. I never had the heart to tell him. Didn't tell him about me either. He's gonna blame himself for the both of us. That's just the type of person he is.

God, that kid. I dunno what he's gonna do. Tragedy follows him around like… like one of them storm clouds that rains on cartoon characters. Perpetually, you know. It's a damn shame. He's a good kid. Young and naïve, but earnest. If there's an afterlife I'm gonna miss him. Funny though. Even though I've got whatever it is this is I never gave the afterlife much thought. Maybe I was scared, who knows. Well probably I just didn't want to deal with it. I haven't exactly lived an admirable life.

Oh yeah, I used to get in so much trouble. As a kid whenever someone pissed me off I'd tell them when they would die. Apparently that isn't a very common tactic eight-year-olds use on bullies. Who knew? But anyway middle school was a joke, high school I dropped out the moment the law would allow me to and don't even get me started on all the illegal things I did on the job in my late-teens. You know the incident with the traffic cones off I-53 a few years back? Me and my bro, man. Me and my bro. It was in the news and everything but they never caught us. Oh man, here I am on my last night on Earth and all I can think about are those stupid orange blurs flying one after another over the hood with Chase laughing his ass off in the passenger's seat. He was just entering high school then, not that that matters. Man, those were the days. I got Chase into so much trouble. But he needed it, you know? He's too cautious to have fun unless someone shoves him into it. Ah, I'm rambling. Point is nothing I did was too bad. I mean I never murdered anyone or anything. But I didn't do anything good either. Never helped my fellow man or did good deeds for the day or nothing. I just lived for myself with the knowledge that nothing is permanent.

Here, lemme tell you something. I'll whisper it in your ear 'cause it's one of them fancy secret bits of wisdom that only dead men walking can say aloud without consequence. Come on, little closer. Sorry 'bout the whiskey stinking up my breath but it's a bar and life sucks so what do you expect? There, that's better.

Let me tell you something. Nobody is ever gonna get what they really want outta life. Happiness is fleeting and stupid and some temporary ideal that people try and travel toward like it's a destination or some shit before they die. But what happens if they get there? Nothing. They just get a rush of chemicals swirling around in their brain for a while and then they go out and search for the next thing they assume will make them feel that surge of contentment again. It's cyclical, man. Like whoosh whoosh bam you hit bottom. Then everyone assumes you're gonna repeat it, climb all the way back up just to fall all over again. It's sick if you think about it. But it really don't matter if you get back up again because everyone dies in the end. Doesn't matter how fucking stable your finances are or how much you love your wife or how talented and hard-working and persistent you are with your business or whatever. You're still gonna die just like everyone else. So I say fuck it. Fuck all of it. I ain't trying anymore. I'm done with this shit.

Am I too close? Sorry.

Hey can I get another Jack over here? Yeah the honey kind. Same shit I've been drinkin' all night, dumbass. I don't got forever you know, and neither do you.

"I think you've had enough, sir."

Goddammit just get me another shot! You think I like this? You think I like sitting here pouring my heart out to some schmuck who isn't even gonna remember me in the morning? Well fuck you. And you too. Fuck all of you with your doe-eyes and your skimpy little outfits and the way you hang on every guy hoping for a better tip. Every bartender I ever met's been a slut like you, pouring the most service at the guy you think has the most money. Well I'll tell you what sweetheart I ain't got shit and I'm gonna die tomorrow and I don't need your ass hassling me on top of it!

Bouncers, really? I'm going, I'm going. Fuck this place.

Get off me. I'm gone.


Sunday, 3:53 PM

Mind if I sit here? Ah, man. You know I find it ironic that it's such a beautiful day today. Nah, don't mind me. I'm just gonna eat my Twinkies and get on with the rest of my life. Pfft, rest of my life.

You know I never thought these benches looked all that comfortable. I spent most of my time here walking, not sitting. Sitting never really did it for me, you know? I was always putzing around by the fountain. Park looks different from here. I guess because the perspective's lower or the horizon's obscured by the buildings on Main Street or something. Makes me feel small, not that I ever felt that big to begin with.

I'm Ash, you?

Nice name.

I feel like I should talk about the weather or something. Isn't that what strangers are supposed to talk about? Well I guess we aren't strangers anymore. Ah, I dunno. I guess I just don't have anything to say.

Yeah, I've seen you before. You always sit here. Sorry I never came up to talk to you but you didn't seem like the type who'd want idle conversation. Well I suppose when you think about it all conversation is idle conversation.

Funny, I'm about to die and here I am stuffing my face with Twinkies chattering nonsense at someone I barely know. Is it weird to crave sugar before you die? Well, it's probably just me. No use in counting calories now so I might as well enjoy it, right? You want one? I got plenty.

Am I making you uncomfortable?

Oh hang on I gotta take this. Hey ma. Yeah thanks I got it. It was thoughtful. No, you don't have to. Maybe. Uh, hang on a sec.

Hey. Yeah I'm back. Normally I would but today I can't. 'Cause it's almost four and I got shit to do. Alright, alright! You don't have to get all naggy with me ma. I ain't Chase. Yeah, yeah. Look, on any other day I would but today I just can't. Because I just can't okay. No don't hang up. I still have something to say. Just listen to me for two whole seconds would you? I uh... I love you, ma. And I mean sorry I'm unreliable. Anyway could you tell Chase when he gets out that I've got a package for him back at the apartment? Yeah it's on the bed. You can't miss it. Seriously it's wrapped in red duct tape there's no way he won't be able to find it. No nothing's wrong. I've just got stuff to do. Okay, yeah. See you later.

Goodbye.

Well, fuck. I never lied to my mother before. This what dying does to people? But I guess most honesty is wasted. Ah man, where were we? Sorry to cut this short but I gotta go. What is it with me and rambling lately? Guess deadlines will do that to you.

Take it easy, alright. You got a long life ahead of you.


Sunday, 4:22 PM

Whoa, whoa, whoa, take it easy. I got my hands up, see? Okay, okay, I'm on my knees. Don't shoot me or anything. Just take my wallet and get outta here. Buy yourself something nice. You got a girl back home? There's enough for some chocolate. You know they love chocolate. Who's being smart? I'm not being smart.

I mean, neither are you but I ain't one to judge.

No really, you're robbing someone in broad daylight. How is that possibly a good idea? And on Main Street, too. Average day has at least three cops sitting somewhere on this stretch of road. You really wanna do this here? Look I'm just saying you might wanna find yourself a real job so you don't have to risk being arrested every time you go outside. Must be a drag living in paranoia. You wear that mask to scare your victims or are you just hiding from consequence? Yes, yes, shutting up now. No need to be rude about it. Sheesh.

It's all I got. I spent the rest on Twinkies.

Yeah, it's the truth. So what? You got a problem with Twinkies, man? Ow, fuck!

Yeah, you better run! Lowlife. You're lucky you only got another two days on you.


Sunday, 4:44 PM

What are you? Don't gimme that shit, answer the question.

Because I can't tell when you'll die. It's a thing, okay. It makes sense if you're me. Look, I know when everyone else is gonna die so what's so different about you? Are you even real?

What? No. I mean fuck I'm only twenty-four I don't wanna die yet. But I don't have a choice. It's destiny or fate or whatever the hell you wanna call it.

Oh god.

I don't wanna die.

It's almost four fifty.

I'm thinking! I'm thinking! For fuck's sake don't rush me.

Alright, I'll do it. Whatever you want I'll do it. But only after four fifty three. Can't have you lying to me, can I? Look, whatever it is, fine. But not until five o'clock.

If you turn out to be just some crazy old lady I swear I'll come back and haunt you.

That is a promise. So how does this work exactly? That's it? Just poof I'm better? You really are nuts.

I can't believe I just wasted ten precious minutes on you. My priorities are so fucked.


Sunday, 4:56 PM

Call 9-1-1!

"My gosh, what happened?"

"An accident."

"Goodness, is anyone hurt?"

"Just the one. Looks like a teenager."

"What's that guy doing? Shouldn't we wait for the authorities?"

Don't just stand around gawking! Someone call an ambulance! I'm gonna try and get her out.

"Wait, mister. Mister!"

"Don't think he's listening."

Look, just… just try not to move. God, fuck. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. This is all my fault. No, no, shh. Don't talk. Just breathe, okay? In and out, right? Slowly. Here, lemme try and… there, that's better. I got you, just hold on. I had someone call an ambulance. It'll be here soon.

No! No-no-no! Don't give up now! Look at me. Come on, look. Look at my face. Stay with me. Keep your eyes open. Breathe!

Where the fuck are the paramedics?

"Sir, I need you to let go."

You gotta save her, man. She's so young and she's—

"Stand back, sir."

She's supposed to live for another seventy years.