The Dead Man does not know what a fresco is. Never saw sunlight pass through stained glass windows. He threw stones at dogs in alleyways. Was never able to use “we” the way that couples do. Knew not the ceilings of cathedrals but the mundanity of factories and schoolhouses. Maybe that is OK. Saw a herd of animals from a bus window, in the distance. The streets he knew well could have been traced on the map of a small neighbourhood, the crooked path arachnid in its limited meanderings. Knew little more of poetry than the evocations of radio songs. Could sing a little, and gut a fish. Cobble together an eel soup if forced. Had one fight, as a child, in the classroom, and did not lose, so at least there is that. Paid no attention to sunsets and, as we all know, never swam at the beach – watched his friends wave hop from the safety of dry land, eyes cold and jaw set while the water sparkled and his friends whooped. The Dead Man’s teeth were crooked and he was always listening for tidbits of gossip. The Dead Man was an insomniac, a dreamer, is a dreamer, dreams freely now, forever. Waited on the steps in the town square that time, waited for three hours, long beyond what was reasonable, but the girl never came and he never heard from her again. How things could have been different. Still, dodged the filthy, pointless things men do with a long life, the mistakes and the embarrassments, the bankruptcies and shame.
Tell us, Dead Man, how much trouble does one get into with a long death?
Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Letter to the Author of the Letter to the Father and 926 Years, co-authored with Kyle Coma-Thompson.