• author
    • Donald Sanders

    • October 26, 2014 in Columnists

    Dealers of Death

    Death and I have been compatriots my entire life. If I have gone anywhere in my life, Death has been right beside me, laughing while pointing at, first one, then another in a facetious way. In so many ways, Death is always snickering because he knows he’s ahead of any game he might wish to play. To him, all is a game. He knows he will win every time.

    Death wants to play his game with everyone. He cares not for lists or turns. He likes it random and out of place so it keeps you and I off balance, all of the time. He fixes his game by mixing love and hate, truth and lies. In the end, when you think of those you love the most, down deep you’ll worry about Death’s game creeping in to hustle them away.

    Death comes with a fog that dulls your mind and turns you from hot to cold. A mist fills your very thoughts slowing everything, almost to a standstill. Death likes it that way because it provides you opportunity to digest what is happening by putting things in frames one at a time, like slow motion, for your viewing pleasure. Death likes you to remember everything.

    I was certainly aware of Death at a very early age but I never really paid attention to him until he came for Butch King. Death wasn’t partial to any one of us, but it was Butch that chose to dig a tunnel in the sand hill. I saw him in the sand cave and he was summoning me to come inside. His younger brother was breathing hard on his way to the top of the pile, the sand was coarse. It was hard for him to climb when four steps up were met by four steps sliding backwards.

    In an instant, Butch was gone. At first I thought it was funny until I found I couldn’t move. You see, the slow motion that Death deals out was upon me. I could hear the younger brother laughing for the longest time. In, I don’t know how much time, my eyes found him pulling his legs from inside the pile. The slow motion had yet to find him.

    “Help me get out,” I yelled to him.

    The sand grew from waist to mid-chest when he swam down the sand towards me. The younger brother was having a hell of a good time but fear had ahold of my legs and it was moving up, and up, and up. I thought it was going to burst out of my mouth but the slow motion kept it back for long, long moments.

    It was instinct, not knowledge that made me want to find Butch. That is the very moment that Death changed the game again. Suddenly, the sand hill grew to the size of a mountain. It was no longer the pile of sand. The younger brother looked at me and at that instant the slow motion overtook him. His face no longer reflected the joy of childhood. I thought he had instantly grown to be 10 years older.

    I was thinking so slowly. One moment I was thinking the tips of my fingers were raw and red and the next moment a fireman was bodily picking me up from behind. I remember distinctly trying to tell him about Butch but no sound could come from my mouth while my lips were making the motions. I now know that this is common to us all when Death plays his game.

    Days later, I stood in front of Butch’s casket with the younger brother. He told me Butch was dead. I nodded.

    “Touch him, he’s cold,” he said in his young and playful manner.

    I complied, pulling my hand back at his touch.

    “He’s hollow” said younger brother as he rapped upon Butch’s chest.

    Until this very day, whenever Death plays his game, I rap on the chest of the deceased for it signals the game is over and you can wait for it to begin again. Some understand my rapping on their loved ones, some don’t. This alone keeps me away from funerals and the paying of my respect comes in other ways.

    With the passage of time, I have played the game over and over. I even felt ahead of the game at times. I found myself on a big jetliner on my way to the war zone in Vietnam. I played the game by looking at each soldier around me thinking, “He will not make it home” or “He will make it home.” Within a few short months Death became like a drug and I was the dealer, the “Pusher Man.”

    The only good thing about the Death Game is the slow motion fog because after Vietnam, the fog never went away and I am still in slow motion.

      • Madgew

      • October 26, 2014 at 10:09 am
      • Reply

      Beautifully written Donald. So sad to read about your first experience with the death of your friend at a young age.

    • Hell of a piece Mr. Sanders, sorry it had to come at such a price.

      • Maya North

      • October 26, 2014 at 7:38 pm
      • Reply

      Oh, Donald, I can hardly imagine, even though I’ve lost most of my original family and my father is fading. Big hugs, dearheart…

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