“Death is hard to come to terms with,” I say. “I know that first hand, but when I think about the prospect of dealing with death and financial ruin at the same time, that to me is terrifying.”
I am trying to sell a married couple a lucrative life-insurance policy. They smile and nod every so often. I have not had much luck lately selling much of anything.
The man stops nodding and raises his finger and points towards me. “Your eye is falling out of your head, sir.”
Being a member of the living-undead tends to distract people from the finer points of your talking points. I put my extended hand out and nod. I touch my eyeball, which feels like a wet stress ball in the form of a large marble, and pop it back into its socket. “You get used to it after a few months I guess.” I say, I’m slightly embarrassed.
The wife looks down and tries to smile.
“See I’m a prime example,” I smile. “If I had gotten life insurance I wouldn’t need to provide for my wife and kid right now and I could go and do things I enjoy.”
“What sort of things do you people enjoy?” the man asks.
“I like the beach a bit. If it wasn’t for the gaping hole of scar tissue in the center of my chest that shows my graying and moth-eaten organs that makes me feel like an old coat in an attic, I might go out and catch a tan. You’d be amazed what a tan does for the self-esteem.”
“Mostly though, I like eating garbage from outside of Wal-Mart and reading Eastern European literature.”
“Is it hard?” asked the man.
“Well the Russians were always a little dense…”
“No, I mean the zombie thing?” he half-whispers the word zombie.
I do my best not to cringe at the word. “As a living-impaired member of society, I have found that life is different. My wife won’t kiss my cheek ever since the time she got a piece of worm on her lip. My daughter has nightmares if I read her a bed time story, but I still can think and I feel a good portion of what goes on around me.” I do not want to lose the sale. “If you’ll consider these brochures” I say and quickly toss the literature in their direction.
The woman looks at me for the first time in the meeting. “What happened?”
I try to focus on the wall behind her. “I was walking home and I got bit by a large dog. It got infected. I didn’t last long…maybe a week. I should have gone to a doctor. I remember the last day I was conscious my daughter was watching Spongebob Squarepants and I kept waking up to the sound of his laughter. I kept thinking that I was in some sort of purgatory or hell.”
The family kept looking at me. “How did this happen?”
I smiled. That’s what people called it, “this”. “Not sure.” I say. I readjust my foot and I notice that my leg has popped out of place. I quickly reach down to pop it back in. It makes a noise that sounds like twigs cracking in a bucket of jello. “It works out, you know, my wife Chris needs to take care of Jessica, so I can still work.”
“Have you always been in health insurance?” the woman asks.
“The past five years.” I fight the urge to start drooling and moaning.
“And you never thought to get life insurance yourself?” asks the man. His wife slaps his wrist and mouths a silent warning to stop talking.
I smile at both of them. “I never thought it was important. Now I think differently. I mean, if I had life insurance, my family would be set. Sure, they would still have me drooling around the house and they would still need to find new places to hide the cat more often so I didn’t eat it, but they would know where the next meal was coming from.”
There is an uncomfortable silence. I can see my wall clock ticking. It has no numbers and it says, “It’s a great time to be alive” in their place. I suppose I keep it up as a joke for the rest of the office folks. They are good sports about this whole thing. I guess when you get down to it, I’m sort of a good sport too. I mean I’m practically a billboard for life insurance. Don’t end up like this undead son of a bitch who has to pay taxes and satisfy his craving for brains after work! I can see the commercials, me walking around yelling brains and then shaking hands with a satisfied customer, brains still inside his head.
“Well, you’ve given us a lot to think about. We appreciate your time.” The man says, rising. “We’ll be in touch.”
I get up and shake both of their hands. They recoil from my clammy handshake. I know I will not see them again.
I sit down in my chair, defeated. I really need a sale as I am paid largely out of my commission pool. I fight the urge to say, “This business is killing me!” loud enough for everyone to hear. I think that joke is getting old. I slam my head on my desk; I see the picture of me standing next to a tree, my wife and child standing slightly apart from me with confused looks on their faces. This picture was taken last week. Most people would be upset, but my tear ducts don’t work any longer, and I’m not really sad either. I pick up the phone, think positive thoughts, and hope that this call leads to something new.
"What Comes Next"
Copyright: 2010 Andrew Kaspereen
Andrew Kaspereen is a young, moderately attractive writer/educator from Northern New Jersey. Andrew is a regular contributor to the Broad Set Writing Collective (www.thebroadset.com), and founder/editor of Revistion Magazine (revistion.blogspot.com). His work has been featured in Avanlanche Tinder 1 and 3, Lo-Fidelity magazine, Foreveryyear, 50-to-1, and Six Sentences. He likes rap, books, and being ironic. You can learn more at his blog, The Sloth of Righteousness (theslothstillknows.blogspot.com)