I'll try to make this short if not sweet (actually, it's pretty bitchy) because my monitor is slowly dying (somehow I got assigned the Designated Death Watch position by good old El Shaddai (no relation, although my Great, Great Grandfather tried to claim one, or so the story goes...) and I much punch it to life frequently to achieve and maintain not the thousands of colors Macintosh promises (and used to deliver), but an antiquey kind of yellow glazed gray. I know that the time is coming either when my fist goes through the glass screen (possibly killing us both), or the monitor will no longer respond to my punches... so if you are a regular reader and my weekly reviews suddenly stop for more than a couple weeks, assume the computer, not I have died (judging from how Hanoi Bao went, and some of my sporting accidents, it'll take more than a severed hand to put me 6 feet under).

Now, the Aftermath.

People fear dying. I fear dying, but it was only this morning I realized I feared that for me, and probably most people, it's only the active verb which is feared: i.e., not many fear being dead.

Or maybe they do fear it. I guess people who believe God (or the Gods or whatever) is a Board Certified Asshole and has set up some real nasty Son of a Bitch like Satan to be in charge of a real nasty place like Hell, they may fear being dead. Indeed, a bet there are a lot of last minute conversions, pleas for salvation, et cetera, with some folks trying to cover all the bases as they take their last gasps of air....

Int. hospital room -- guy dying in bed, priest and rabbi praying solemnly on either side as an evangelical tent type preacher rails in the background as nurses try to fix bed, administer IVs, et cetera

[Enter men in UPS uniforms with dollies on which are huge wooden crates.]


"Excuse me, where do ya wants this giant marble Budda?"


"We'll just move the guy in the second bed out we'll have room for that golden calf, and then the Wicca Coven will be able to meet, followed by...."

[Enter Hospital President in suit]


Hang on... I'm not sure his insurance will cover a private room....

Okay, not real funny, but hey, I'm in mourning... I think.

See, what happens after the person dies is he gets the biggest break in life, regardless of whether he ends up nothing/nada/zilch, goes to Heaven or even just haunts (unless God really is a prick and if He's that big a prick, well, I want a recount... maybe the God of Israel shouldn't be the Big Boss if he's going to give some Realm to a jack ass like Satan. Maybe we should get a revote if a man can do good deeds all his life and not get into Heaven because no one bothered to drip some water on his head or cut off his foreskin or some peyote crazed shaman cursed him while lobotomized drunk or whatever.

Anyway, what happens to those who just got through watching their loved one die (or just lost him or her) is this: he must call all relatives and friends, often guessing as to whether they are still alive/gave a shit about the dead guy and listen to them as they do everything from trying to console him to bitch about not knowing the deceased was ill to try to get the inside track on selling off any property to trying to sell the heir life insurance.

Then, or more like simultaneously, he's got to get the corpse out of where ever it spent it's last animated moments and arrange to dispose of it in a way which he thinks the dead guy would have liked and which will satisfy all the other friends and relatives.

Then the members of the family who never bothered to even call the dead guy on his last birthday descend and (some of them) decide they need to be put up for like a fucking week, during which time the heir must feed them, do their laundry and entertain them (because they really aren't all that mournful and if they are, the heir wants to cheer them up because he appreciates their sincerity).

Meanwhile, the heir needs to go to the lawyer who charges $275/hour because he only wants/can work 20 hours a month due to his active alcoholism, meet with various real estate people, and accountants, some of whom are genuinely nice and kind and bring cookies while others are just so full of bull shit the heir will hope that in their case, God really is a prick.

At the same time the heir must get rid of fifty to 200 years worth of crap collected by the dead guy (in his life and as an heir). Folks, the next time you think of giving good old Joe a huge iron cut out of the State of Alaska for farting somewhere near the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, or a gavel for chairing your stupid committee, don't. In the end, they'll end up in the trash and the world has enough trash.

All the while the heir is making insurance claims on policies which leave money to the hospital whose malpractice killed the dead guy and writing obituaries and trying to find the combination to some safe (having refused to listen when told where it was kept) and, if his relatives are anything like one of Hanoi Bao's grandchildren, hiding anything which might allow a crafty thief access to bank accounts or whatever, while trying to explain to his insane sister 3000 miles away that, no, her children cannot just have the dead guy's car, which the insane sister thinks is a Mercedes or something when in fact it's a 95 Ford Contour worth maybe $6,000, and no, "Daddy" ain't paying for your daughter's education anymore even if tuition exceeds the amount in the trust set up to pay it and even if he paid it in the past because there wasn't enough in the trust, while trying to explain to his sane and present sister who is going through much the same thing as the heir anyway that no, we can't just start giving stuff to whoever we want or lying to the insane sister even if we did somehow become the joint executors of the estate, and not because my half is bigger than your half.

At some point in all this a funeral/wake/memorial service/free eats must be planned and the heir must play host to anywhere from 10 to 2000 people he had no idea were still alive (if he ever knew them at all). Now admittedly there are always a few nice surprises which pop up... like people who travel 3000 miles for a half hour service, or a few of the heir's dear friends popping up (and being the only one known to the heir), but the heir then feels guilty because he wouldn't have traveled 3000 miles for the funeral of the guy who did, and knows the dead guy would not have either or he's schlepping away to say thanks to a bunch of strangers and introducing his best friend to the guy from across the street who tells you how to build a freaking clock if you ask the time of day.

And then, in the end, which has yet to come, everyone leaves and I suspect the silence is deafening.

But the dead guy... hey, all he had to do was die. This post mortem shit could kill a guy.

Rest in peace Hanoi Bao.