By Benjamin Davis
Welcome to “What Happened When Frank Died.” In this column, for as long as I’m allowed, I’m going to kill Frank. Like—a lot. Worse, every two weeks, he will then be subjected to a multiverse of afterlives: absurd, funny, brutal, depressing, wild, creepy, heart-wrenching afterlives. Some will be based on existing theories, some on my own demented imaginings. In each, Frank will begin anew, searching, as always, for his lost family in the messy business of the many potential Great Beyonds. Frank (thankfully) does not remember his past-afterlives. Yet, attentive readers who pick up clues along the way will be able to solve the mystery of what happened before Frank died.
Frank died. He tried to move. He couldn’t. He was wet. He was meat. He lay in the bathtub, still aware. He felt like an ant trapped under a big fat foot; crushed, unable to twitch.
Frank lay in the bath like this a long while. He still felt the pain in his wrists. He felt the blood petering out of him, not ready, itself, to die. But, Frank was dead. He knew it. His eyes did not work, his fingers didn’t wiggle and his heart certainly didn’t beat. Frank wanted to panic. Wanted to scream in exasperation. But panic, without a beating heart, is impotent.
Frank waited, listening to his fingers prune. He waited until strong arms dragged his corpse from the tub. They let his feet slam on the cold tiles. He heard one of the men carrying him wonder aloud, “Who frickin’ kills themselves at this age?” “You’d be surprised, actually,” another man responded. “Statistically, it’s not that uncommon.” He heard the other man grunt.
Frank was loaded into a car and taken away. He eventually felt dry, and then cold, very cold. He didn’t feel like panicking anymore. He didn’t feel like crying, though the thought had crossed his dead mind. All he could think was how much crueler a thing life turned out to be. He thought this, and then he thought about pigeons as it seemed as good a thing as any to think about.
He felt every prick, pinch, slice, stitch, and stab of being taken apart and put back together. By then, Frank had lost all reason. He didn’t understand the words spoken over his suited corpse. He didn’t understand the air being sealed around him or the six-foot roller-coaster ride to peace.
He then lay there; still, stone, stiff, dead. He only thought one more thing. Not words. Only, when his skin began to fall off his bones, he felt the urge to giggle.
Benjamin Davis has stories & poems in 25+ literary journals like BOOTH, Hobart, Maudlin House. His first book of poems, The King of FU (2018), was such a smashing success it shocked the indie press who printed it into an early grave. He is now working on his first six novels.