The first time that I died I didn’t even make it to the gates. I was stopped by an angel with a baton and a can of pepper spray. Move along, he said. Where? I rightly asked him. Back to where you came from, Skippy, he said. I thought the use of ‘Skippy’ unnecessary and condescending but I went back anyway. My wife was asleep in the chair, her head hanging over knitting needles which had dropped from her drowsy hands. She was not attractive in this posture but she was my wife. She woke up. Where have you been, she asked, surreptitiously wiping drool from the corner of her mouth with a colorful, half-finished merkin. I went out for a while, I told her. You wanna sandwich, she asked. I told her I wasn’t hungry and went into the rec room because I felt like a wreck. I found some good strong cord. Next time, I thought, I will get pass that bastard with the pepper spray. The second time that I died was a week later. I did not have to use the cord. I was hit by a drunken teenager who had sneaked his father’s car out for a joy ride. I was blowing debris off my sidewalk and into the storm drain where it would cause trouble for the city. It was one o’clock in the afternoon. The sun was a pop-up hit to centerfield. I went down to the pavement slowly. I wanted my head to hit square but I glanced off the car’s bumper. The kid went back home. I showed up in the queue again and this time the angel bully was nowhere in sight. I reached the gate and the recording angel there found my label after a bit of searching. They had misspelled my last name. I told her that it happened a lot while I was alive, too. Just beyond the gate was a shining, snaking sidewalk, almost like the one out of Munchkinland. Up ahead I saw fields of milk and honey. Up ahead I saw the girlfriend who broke my heart in my sophomore year of college, Lynn Somebody, who later died of breast cancer. She was smiling like a tumbled stone. Up ahead I saw a unicorn mating with The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary. Up ahead I saw my own home and through the window I espied my wife, still knitting, still nodding off, still dreaming of me returning with a story better than the one I am telling you now.
Corey Mesler has published in numerous journals and anthologies. He is the author of four novels, three books of short stories, two full-length collections of poetry, and numerous chapbooks of poetry and prose. He and his wife own Burke’s Book Store in Memphis, Tennessee.