Excerpts from “Mr. Deadman”
Peter Cherches, Mar 06, 2009
A One-Day Sale
Mr. Deadman learns that his favorite coffin showroom is having a one-day sale. Perfect, Mr. Deadman thinks. This
couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been running low.
At the coffin showroom, the salesman recognizes Mr. Deadman. “Back again so soon?” the salesman asks.
“Well, you know how one runs through these things,” Mr. Deadman replies.
“Indeed,” the salesman replies, perhaps humoring him. “So what can I show you today? Something in mahogany? Oak?
I have some beautiful numbers with gold handles.”
“No, no, nothing like that for me,” Mr. Deadman says. “Much too fancy. A plain pine box is more my style.”
“Indeed,” the salesman says, thinking “cheapskate.” He gets a pine box from the storeroom and begins to package
it for transport.
“Don’t bother,” Mr. Deadman says. “I’ll wear it home.”
The Dance of Death
Mr. Deadman goes to a dance, a dance of death. All the other dancers are dead too. Mr. Deadman loves going to
dances of death. These are my kind of people, Mr. Deadman thinks. I can be myself at a dance of death.
“Shall we dance,” Mr. Deadman asks a woman, a beautiful, well-embalmed woman.
“I’d be delighted,” the woman replies, and they dance a minuet.
“This is so much fun,” the woman tells Mr. Deadman. “I haven’t danced a minuet in ages.”
“Nor I,” Mr. Deadman replies, “but when you’ve been dead long enough everything comes back eventually.”
Mr. Deadman notices some faded graffiti on the side of a building in his neighborhood, scrawled in large red
capital letters, but barely visible, as time and the elements have taken their toll: BIRD LIVES! This message
dates back to the 1950s, after the death of Charlie Parker, the great jazz saxophonist whose nickname was Bird.
BIRD LIVES! was ubiquitous for a time, started by a fan and picked up by others until the slogan appeared on
walls all over New York and other cities. BIRD LIVES! reminds Mr. Deadman of that other famous graffiti of days
gone by, Kilroy Was Here, and its funny little drawing. Mr. Deadman served in WWII with Kilroy and he saw Bird
perform at the Onyx Club on 52nd Street a few years later. But graffiti notwithstanding, Bird is dead and Kilroy
is no longer here.
Mr. Deadman crosses out Bird’s name and replaces it with his own.
Recent online publications include The Cafe Irreal, elimae, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, 3:AM and
Snow Monkey. Print publications include Harper’s, North American Review, and Fiction
International. Peter Cherches blogs about food, travel and writing at