When I was six years old my grandmother told me I’d die the same way my father did. She never told me how he died. I only bring this up because yesterday I was shot.
My name is Frank and I stood in line at the First National when a man came in with a gun and ordered all the customers to the ground. He got his money and as he left he twirled his pistol, hit the trigger, and a bullet went through my upper right arm. It stung. He ran, and the ambulance came for me.
I was released from the hospital today. The first thing I did was go to a hot dog stand. There was no real damage, the doctor said. I work at a foghorn testing facility. The guys there started calling me the bullet dodger. I corrected them and said I hadn’t dodged the bullet. It hit me, and I bled until the ambulance came. After that no one talked to me or made eye contact with me for the rest of the day. This happens sometimes.
After work I got on a bus and everyone on it had burned skin and they were dead. Most of the bodies were charred black. You could rip off one of their fingers and use it to draw on the sidewalk. I didn’t do this though. An officer came on the bus and said I needed to get off. He explained that there was a fire in the movie theater next door and a lot of folks died. Since they all died sitting up, it was easier to get them to the morgue in the bus. He swore to me they’d clean the bus when this was all over. I agreed it would be for the best. The officer gave me a ride home. He carried a handgun in his belt holster. Most cops do. I told him if he shot at me I could dodge the bullet. The fellas at work call me the bullet dodger, I said. He wouldn’t shoot me.
Today Sarah, my neighbor, asked me to babysit her eight year old son, Dennis. We ate ice cream, watched The Lion King, and I told Dennis about how I got shot, and then how the cop wouldn’t shoot me. He said his mom kept a gun in their house and said he’d shoot me if I wanted him to. I declined, but it was nice of him to offer.
My grandmother also told me my voice was like Buster Keaton’s face: deadpan. She’d taunt me by saying this. I’d run from her through the kitchen and dinning room and upstairs to my room, but she’d follow me and not stop taunting me. Quit it, I’d say, and then she’d say, if you want me to just scream or cry or raise your voice, and I couldn’t.
A guy at work told me I could look up my father’s obituary in the library. They stored everyone’s death, he said. I asked him why. He laughed and said, People come back from the dead and you can’t kill them the same way twice, so we need to keep records to know how everyone dies so we can stab people who were shot and poison people who were stabbed. I think he was lying to me, but it still made sense.
My father was shot to death. Most people only get shot once in a lifetime, unless they’re a solider. I’m immortal now.
Sarah had me babysit Dennis again, and this time I took him up on his offer to shoot me. Sarah came back though because she forgot her purse and caught us before Dennis fired the gun. First she thought her son was holding me hostage, but then I explained things to her. She called the police. They came and took me to an institution where they’re doing tests on me. The doctor who’s assigned to me said I can’t be immortal, but I told him if I wasn’t, then fate wouldn’t have stepped in by bringing Sarah back and stopping Dennis from shooting me. He said I was just lucky.
Tonight my father’s dead body visited me in the hospital. He had decomposed but his mind still worked fine. He brought a baseball and new gloves. Fathers and sons play catch, he said. I agreed, so we did in my room. While we did this we talked about his death and my immortality. He was proud of my immortality like I earned it in college. I asked him what happens when people die, and he said most people become mannequins in department stores. I don’t think he knew this, but when I was younger and grandma took me to these stores I’d dress up in new clothes, run from her, and pretend I was a mannequin. These were some of my favorite memories as a child. I told my father this. He said he’d see what he could do.
My father didn’t come back until tonight. He came with great news though. The man in charge of death said I could be a mannequin at Fuller’s Department Store. My father came to the hospital in an old station wagon and picked me up. On the car ride we talked about the time we played catch with each other. He dropped me off at the front door of Fuller’s. He said he couldn’t come in because it wasn’t his kind of death. He wished me luck though and said he loved me. I said this back to him. When I walked into Fuller’s my body turned into plastic and an obese woman in a green dress carried me to the back of the store. She put a white dress shirt on me, and khaki pants. She then tied a black silk tie around my neck with a Windsor knot. I told another mannequin about my life. He hated it. “Your story means life is meaningless.” He said. I told him my life wasn’t a story. We were quiet for a very long time after that.