By: Terry D. Scheerer

“In that case, sir, you are still on our list, and I have been sent to collect you.”

“But, I ain’t dead, and I ain’t going anywhere with you!” he shouted, and then to emphasize his point, Cummings leaned over the edge of his bed and quite vigorously slammed the tip of his cane against the floor several times. “How did you get in here, anyway? Don’t I have to invite you into my room?”

“Um, I rather think that only applies to vampires, sir.” Cummings snorted again. “Really? Well, how did you get in here?”

“Um, I slipped under the door, sir.”

“Under the door?”

“Indeed. I, um… well, can become a mist and slip through the smallest of cracks to gain entry.”

“That doesn’t seem very civilized to me,” Cummings offered, “sneaking into a place like that.”

“Well, most of the clients we visit are not quite as recalcitrant as you are, sir.”

“Hmm. So, you ain’t leaving without me, and I ain’t leaving with you—is that about the size of it, then?”

“It would appear so, sir,” the Minion said, and slowly nodded its hooded head.

“What about a compromise?” Cummings asked, and the Minion’s head tilted slightly to one side in curiosity. “Suppose I agree to let you hang out here with me for… oh… say, twenty-four hours, just on the off chance that I might die during that time. Then you could collect me and everyone would be happy, eh?”

The Minion nodded its head. “I suppose that might work. But, what if you do not die during this time frame?”

“Well, then, you’ll just have to go back to… wherever you come from, and tell them that you couldn’t find me.”

“Oh, no, sir,” the Minion said and wrung its skeletal hands together, “I don’t think that would work at all.”

“Come on,” Cummings complained. “With the thousands of people who die every day on this miserable rock, you think they’re going to miss one eighty-three year old man at tomorrow’s roll call?” He paused for a moment. “Just tell whoever’s in charge that I wasn’t here,” he said, softly. “You searched for a whole day and couldn’t find me anywhere.” Cummings then gave the Minion a mostly toothless grin of camaraderie.

“Well… I suppose that might work. Perhaps,” the Minion admitted.

“Excellent!” Cummings said, and gave the Minion a thumbs up sign with his left hand. “But, I insist that we do this in a civilized way.”

“Er… what do you mean?”

“If you are going to be my guest for the next twenty-four hours, I insist that you be invited into my room in a proper, civilized way.”

“I am still not quite sure what you mean by that, sir.”

“I mean, my dear Minion, that you must exit this room via the door—not under it—knock on the aforementioned door from the opposite side, and then be admitted when I ask you to enter.”

“Um…” the Minion said, and then turned toward the aforementioned door. “I am, in point of fact, sir, unable to pass through a solid wooden door.”

“The Devil you say,” Cummings exclaimed in mock surprise, and then gave the problem a moment of deep thought. “How about this then? Suppose you change into your mist form, slip out through the key hole, reform on the other side and then knock for entrance?”

The Minion gazed at the antique brass door lock, with its large, key-shaped key hole, and turned back to Cummings. “I believe that will work admirably,” it said.

“Excellent, yet again!” Cummings said. “At your convenience, then, good Minion,” he added and waved a hand toward the door.

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