BORN DIED BORN DIED BORN DIED

“What’s going on, Awesome? Never seen you look so happy.”

“I’m having the best time of my life, Stanley. All these people are here and they stroke me and love me and give me lots of attention. Best of all, they bring FOOD!”

“Oy, did I love food. Like what?”

“Soups and lasagna—“

“I loved lasagna! Not veggie, I hope.”

“Of course not veggie, Stanley, what kind of house do you think this is? Lots of cheeses and sweet potato something and crackers. Lots of cakes and salad.”

“I don’t like salad.”

“I’ve never had so much fun, Stanley!”

“What’s the occasion, Awesome?”

“The Man died.”

“Is that so! Are they putting him in with me, Awesome? That grave is so cool, especially now under the fall leaves. What’s Eve doing on the sofa?”

“She’s been sleeping there the last few nights. They’re all asleep upstairs, but she says she needs to sleep on the sofa downstairs. She wants to be close to the Man.”

“The woman just can’t get over her attachments, Awesome. That’s been her problem from the beginning. ‘You are not a proper Zen teacher,’ I told her again and again. Now the Man was the real thing. He looks like he plunged into death like he plunged into everything else.”

“People say he looks peaceful, Stanley.”

“Peaceful phooey. Dead is dead, Awesome. Humans make up so many stories, but not the Man. I lived with him for almost 14 years and I can tell you. He did nothing by half, everything was wholehearted.”

“There were lots of people here, Stanley, all this chanting and singing and sneaking me cookies and pieces of cheese. If only the Man could die more often!”

“The Man did die often, Awesome Aussie, that’s my point. In fact, the Man died more often than anybody. He got up in the morning, died. Reborn on the toilet, died. Reborn in the shower, died. Reborn at breakfast, died. Reborn to talk to his daughter on the phone, died. Reborn to talk to Eve, died.”

“Reborn to let me lick his bowl of oatmeal—“

“And died. See what I mean, Awesome?”

“I never thought of it like that, Spooky Stan.”

“You have a lot to learn, Awesome. You’re still young, but let me tell you, nobody died as often and as deeply as the Man. He was an expert. He was a professional!”

“So when’s he getting reborn, Stan? When’s he getting reborn to die again and get reborn and die again and get reborn and die again and get—“

“Who knows, Awesome? Maybe this is the last time he dies, maybe not.”

“Aren’t you there, Spook? Can’t you see what the Man is doing now?”

“My eyes kind of gave out on me when the brain cancer set in, Awesome. Do you know what they’re going to do with him? I wish they’d put him in the grave with me. We’d have fun together, especially once Eve hangs up the bird feeders for winter and all those sunflower seeds fall right on top of us. I LOVE—correction: LOVED—sunflower seeds.”

“I wish they’d put him in there, too, Spooky, that way I could dig up both of you.”

“I wish you’d stop doing that, Awesome.”

“Eve tries to stop me, but she can’t. Nobody can stop me, Stanley, I’m young and full of life.”

“You’re a juvenile delinquent, is what you are!”

“Prepare to see the light, Spook! Get ready for the light!”