TITLE: The Obituist
Peter “Mac” Macris is mostly suicidal. He’s returned home to Ohio and already purchased a gun when he inadvertently confuses the issue by finding hope and human connections. Mac becomes the obituist, a man who writes personalized obituaries for the dead and dying.
Alice died in the back seat 10 miles West of the last exit to Allentown. Just one last sharp ragged raspy breath that went in and then leaked out slowly and wasn’t followed by another.
Her voice choked with phlegm, Becky announced the passing. Two false starts and a long throat-clearing before she could speak. Mac already knew what she was going to say. Lesser parts of him raged against the inevitable: “She ain’t breathing, Mac.”
With Becky’s mastered words thick and crackling through her throat, the larger part of him settled in. Relief overwhelmed grief. Mac looked into the rearview. The interior of the car was grim and black. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah. It’s been a minute.” The grief moistened her voice. She sounded briefly beautiful and young.
“Should I stop?”
She didn’t answer. He heard her lighter flick. Whiffs of cigarette smoke tickled his nose and he tightened his grip on the wheel. They should not smoke with Alice in the car.
He deflated. It didn’t matter anymore.
He reached into his pocket for one of his own.
When she answered his question, it was a whisper: “No. I don’t think so.”
He nodded. Slowed the car slightly. Alice was done.
He prayed to wherever Alice had gone and wiped his eyes with his sleeves. The lights of oncoming traffic were haloed and gauzy. It made it hard to tell what was where.
Another wisp of the fog cat-footed across his mind.