So today here I sit. I have been up for some time as sleep is something that I don’t need much. I have the usual number of pick ups today. My orders were quite simple. I am awaiting my last appointment for the day, seems there is some problem with this one. So I have to await further orders before pickup. So, you wanna know more about me? Where do you wish me to start? I have lived a long time and seen the world you know go through countless changes. The wars, evolutions and revolutions of your era are but a page in my book of life. From the very beginning, I was there watching and waiting quietly, as I do now. Each of you will have a chance to be in my presence or in the presence of one of my staff. We are regional you know. Excuse me, I just got a page. It is confirmation of the pick-up. He should be here soon. And there he is, everyday kinda guy with family and friends. Mr. tall, dark and handsome wearing a custom pin striped suit and highly polished stacey adams. Hell, I can take him like he is, he’s already dressed. But before I go there, let me tell you how this works. He is going to have a seat and order his usual afternoon coffee. He will sit and go through his daily work log to make sure that he has covered everything for the day. He will call his wife and tell her that he is on the way and to kiss the boys for him. Then he will turn on his laptop and follow up on the final emails of the day as he sips his dark mocha. That’s when I will intervene. I won’t have to say a word. My mere presence will draw him in. We will have casual chat and I will play along all the while knowing that he is just another day at the office and my final job for the day.
Dillan sat quietly thumbing through his laptop and tying up his loose ends of the day. He wrapped up the final emails and reports and left strict instructions for upcoming meetings. He was going to be away for two weeks on vacation and wanted to make sure that nothing was out of place. His plans were to take the family on a historical tour of Savannah, Georgia and from there hit the condo on the beach in St. Augustine, another historical city. He had been planning this getaway for months and he knew his family needed a break. They had been through enough. The economy had dealt them a few hard blows and after losing one car and almost losing their home, they could start to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Allie had been laid off from her teaching job due to cut backs. She had her nursing career to fall back on and was able to secure a job working nights in the hospital ER. For the past two years they had not taken any vacation time. Their time was spent in front of the TV or in the backyard camping. It wasn’t the same as going away to a resort hotel and being waited on hand and foot, but it made for interesting conversation and cheap family fun. The boys loved making smores and taking in the sounds of the country. They had not realized how much wild life was right outside their very door until they camped in the backyard. But just as things were starting to look up, Dillan had to take a 5% pay cut at work. The firm did not want to lose its cleaning staff so everyone pitched in so that their salaries could continue. It made things a little more difficult but it was still manageable. The pile of bills was slowly diminishing and things were getting back to a more normal pace. The bill collector’s had stopped calling and now they felt as if they could breathe. That was when Dillan sat down and planned the two week getaway. He surprised Allie with the reservations on her birthday. She was very excited. He knew the break was well deserved and needed and now he could relax with his family and begin to breathe a lot easier.
Dillan had just finished tapping in his last email when he noticed a gentleman sitting quietly looking at a picture that was hanging on the wall of the establishment. What caught his eye at first was the clean cut appearance of the man. He wore a crisp white v-necked t shirt and black jeans. He wore a single ring that caught the afternoon sun and sparkled like nothing he had ever seen before. He smiled at the stranger as he caught his gaze. He motioned with his hand a simple gesture in hopes the stranger wouldn’t think him rude or interested in other things. He simply smiled back and continued to sip from his cup. Dillan looked up at the pic on the wall. It was a large picture of a graveyard with a woman standing in front of one of the tombstones. It was just a few days before Halloween so the coffee shop had changed its décor to match the season. There was something beautiful about the dark message given off by the picture. Was she standing there in mourning or was she a recent occupant? Just as he was about to stand to get a better look, he bumped into the stranger. He had wanted a closer look at the macabre image as well.
“Sorry, I didn’t see you there.” He offers his hand. “Dillan, Dillan Godfrey.”
“No problem, Dillan, I’m Chase Goodwin. Just had to get a better look at this photo. It’s amazing. I love pictures such as these, they could mean anything. What do you think?”
“I think it is beautiful. I was going to get a better look.” Dillan stands and moves in closer. “She looks like she is waiting for something or someone.”
“She might be.” Chase’s words were low and uttered in a single light breath. It was as if he were making a prophecy. He offered Dillan a refresh on his coffee, Dillan accepted. As they both refilled their cups, they sat and began to find out more about each other. Dillan was working his way around to asking about the brilliant piece of jewelry.
“So what cha doing? I noticed you here with your lap, you some kind of data guy?” Chase was very down to earth. Dillan had pegged him for blue collar.
“I’m an attorney, a prosecutor for the state of Florida.” Chase was smiling at him.
“Well, I was way off.” Chase laughed at his own misjudgment.
“So I look like a data guy? I think that’s cool. I often find myself looking quite confused when I have to work on some of the cases I get tossed.”
They both laughed as Dillan responded with his question.
“What do you do?”
“I’m a delivery guy. I work for a company up north. They send me some of everywhere meeting clients and customers.”
“Sounds interesting, what do you deliver?”
“Nothing you would really want.” He stopped for a moment and then stated simply, “funeral supplies.”
“Oh, I don’t know what to say.” Dillan was quiet for a moment.
Chase could sense the uneasiness in the man and quickly attempted to make him comfortable.
“It’s ok. I am used to the quiet when I tell people what I do. It’s just a job. A little odd, but a job.”
“Sorry for clamming up. I couldn’t imagine working in death. How did you get into that business?” Dillan was sipping his coffee and was interested in how one gets into such a morbid line of work.
“I was born into it. My father was also a delivery guy and his father before him. I have an inside joke. I say that we are recruited from birth. The minute we can walk we are handed a catalog and sent on our way.”
“So it’s a family business? Well at least you know you will never be laid off.“ Dillan raise his cup and sipped down the last of the black liquid.
Chase replied with a smile, “This is true.”
“So I have one other question, probably going to find out something even more strange, the ring you wear, it is quite an eye catcher. Is there a story behind it?” Dillan had finally gathered his nerve to ask.
Chase happily replied this time.
“Yes, this ring has been in my family for about one hundred years. It is a raw diamond, very old and ancient. One of the grandfathers, I don’t know which one had it placed in this setting. It’s passed down by the men in my family.”
Dillan remarked, “It‘s brilliant. I noticed it from across the room. It caught the falling of the sun and just brought out this light that was like fire.”
“It’s quite an eye catcher for sure. I am glad you like it.”
The conversation grew quiet once again. But Dillan was quick to recover. He asked about the supplies that Chase delivered.
Chase looked down at his coffee as if he wanted to clam up. But he continued slowly. The inlays for the casket, final prep supplies, the caskets themselves, stuff like that.”
Dillan could sense that he had brought up more than the stranger had wanted to divulge. Dillan’s time with the kind stranger came to a close. He kindly thanked the stranger for his hospitality and conversation.
“Well, it was nice meeting you. Take care and I am sorry if I got too nosey.” Dillan smiled.
“That’s ok. I enjoyed the conversation. Refreshing meeting someone with such curiosity.”
The two men bid each other good- by as Dillan heads home to his wife and kids. Chase quietly moved along and found himself at his hotel room. He could not take his mind off the kind man and his family. It seemed unfair that their lives would intertwine again and that meeting Dillan would be one more supply on Chase’s list. Chase laid back on the bed and began to drift. He felt his body give in to a deep sleep that only he knew. He could see the family packing and moving their luggage into the SUV. He saw them having dinner and laughing as they relived the better times. His boys were quite handsome. They looked just like their father. They had his dark curly hair and his loving brown eyes. They were going to be strong and tall. They were confident and full of joy and smiles. He could see their every move. He saw the joy in his wife’s eyes as she buckled up in her seat and smiled lovingly at her husband. Dillan rushed to the other side of the car getting in and cranking up for the rest of the journey. He kissed his wife for a moment as the boys gagged in humor. It was a picture perfect moment. The picture continued to unfold as hey drove away and headed for Jacksonville towards Savannah.
Chase arose from his slumber around 4am. He had heard the bell in his head and knew it was time. In a moment he was at the sight of the accident. It was a five car pile up. A fella driving a semi had fallen asleep and plowed into two cars sending them into two more. Dillan’s SUV was in the path of the massacre. He had been spun around by one of the cars as the semi plowed into the driver’s side. The highway had been cut off by cones and policemen redirecting traffic towards the previous exit or placing travelers in a holding pattern. Chase stood calmly by the road. He could see the mangled cars and the souls of those who would not make it. There were others there like him collecting their quota for the day. They knew each other by their demeanor. They simply nodded once their pick up was done and moved along. No one else could see them just their client. Chase looked closely as the paramedics continued to work on Dillan and his family. They were weakened but strong enough to survive. Dillan suddenly sat up and looked around. He saw Chase and smiled for a moment. In his mind he was back at the coffee shop. But there was something odd in his appearance. He could see him shake his head slightly as he reached out his hand. He stood and walked toward his strange friend as flashes of their conversation began to replay in his head. It was the remark about the funeral supplies that brought him to reality. He looked around as his family was being piled into an ambulance. His lovely wife unconscious but holding on. His boys groggy but showing great improvement. He then looked at one last figure. It was being covered with a blanket. He heard the men say that there was nothing more they could do. It was then that he knew he had not made it and that Chase was more than just a mere delivery man. He was death and at that moment he had become his final delivery for the day.
“They can’t see you, no one can. It is best that you come along.”
Dillan felt a sadness that he had never known. It cradled him and destroyed him to the core. .
“What will they do without me, what’s going to happen to them? Why must I go now? We were just getting back to life.”
It wasn’t the first time that Chase had heard these words but it was the first time that he had felt so much pain for the client.
“Your family will be fine once the pain has passed. I will not lie, it will take time but they will recover and move on.”
“Can I see them again?” Dillan was grasping at straws and anything that would keep him in the life that he had created. But Chase knew the tactic and could only respond as he had done so on those many occasions.
“No, it is best that you move on. If you linger, you become an apparition and that only makes thing worse. It is best to say good- by.”
Dillan walked slowly towards Chase.
“Funeral supplies, huh.” Chase’s look was somber. He felt like the butt end of a bad joke.
“Yep, pretty much. I didn’t mention the most important supply.” Chase looked at the man.
“So what happens to me now.” Dillan’s soul filled with questions.
“I don’t know, Dillan. It’s not for me to know.”
“Will I see you again?” Dillan feared the unknown and wondered had he made a friend.
“You may, but you might not remember me.” Chase held out his hand as they strolled away into a memory. As Dillan disappeared into his next room, he turned and looked one last time at the man who had delivered his final client for the day. He took in a deep sigh and disappeared as a fog on the morning horizon. Chase lowered his head as his pain began to subside. For now he would rest until the new pick up list would be delivered.